A Cautionary Tale for PC Builders & A Sad Rant

Almost two months ago, near the tail end of June, I had made the decision to purchase all of the parts I would need to build a computer rig that would be strong enough to play the latest and greatest computer games that were coming out. That’s all I wanted out of it.

That’s right, I was joining the ranks of PC builders everywhere.

I chose to purchase practically everything from NCIX because they have convenient locations for me, their prices were great, and I’ve purchased some gaming-related peripherals from them before without any issues. Sure, there was that initial snafu of “your motherboard isn’t ready yet, so… wait a week, thanks” which was fine by me, I was off to Los Angeles for a week, so I could afford to wait.

I came home and picked up all of computer parts on July 11th, a day after I got back, and promptly assembled my computer. It booted up, I installed everything onto it, and it ran like a dream.

An hour after I finished installing all the right drivers, I was off playing the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta. Perfect.

Problems? Let’s get some.

Fast forward three weeks: I had been playing co-op Borderlands, when I started noticing some weird artifacting on the screen. I didn’t think much of it, maybe chalking it up to a one time glitch or the graphics card, an MSI Radeon HD 7950, may have been running hot that one time, so I slept on it.

I woke up, they were still present, to the point that my Flash player was no longer working and any sort of process that involved the graphics card could (and would) crash my computer. Checked the temperatures and the graphics card would run at 35 degrees MAX, so it wasn’t overheating or anything.

Crap.

Sent an email to my local NCIX to ask what the hell is going on, and they suggested bringing it in. I brought in my entire tower into NCIX on August 7th, being told almost immediately that my graphics card was defective (was showing artifacts ALL over the screen during testing) and that I could exchange it.

Fun fact: did you know that you can’t do a straight exchange without a box?

I did not know that, being used to just dumping my Apple computers onto the desks of those Geniuses at Apple Stores and being given replacements, so imagine how awful I felt after learning this and having thrown away the boxes the week before. Yes, exactly one week before.

After learning that fun fact, they said an exchange was still possible. Oh good, good good. The real problem: they didn’t have any MSI Radeon HD 7950 Twin Frozr cards in the store. Or in Ontario. D’oh!

Good news: they could take my card (as my 30 day warranty wouldn’t last until the cards came) and hand me a new one as soon as they got them in the store. Their predicted date was August 13th, as they had already placed their orders.

Awesome, I could wait five days. Five gaming-less days. No problem.

Oh, today is August 27th. Where has the time gone?

In the span of the 21 days that I have had a useless gaming computer, I spent 11 of those days (weekdays since the 13th) calling my local NCIX to check if they have it in stock yet (nothing in Ontario still!) and I have tweeted and have been in contact with their Customer Care department.

Nothing has happened. At all.

This week marks an interesting intersection in lengths of time: I have been able to use my gaming computer for just as long as it has been non-operational. I take full responsibility for not having the box (which prevented me from getting a replacement card) but I could have flown to Vancouver, picked up a new graphics card from NCIX, and flown back here to make the exchange.

So a few lessons for those of you who want to build a computer:

  • Do not throw away boxes. I had no idea this was an actual issue, but I guess when you’re just the retail part of a supply chain, you don’t have much say in the matter.
  • A 30-day warranty is not enough. If this graphics card failed after the 30 days that NCIX gives each purchase, you can definitely bet that I would be completely out of luck considering I had no box.
  • Customer Care cannot do a damned thing. They are all great people manning the phones, emails, and Twitter at NCIX, but all they can ever do is investigate. I have had zero progress through any of these channels.
  • Compensation wouldn’t mean much for this. Maybe my situation is a bit on the super-rare side, but I’m not even sure how to feel anymore. An apology would be nice, but I don’t think I could even ask for anything to compensate. What are they going to offer, the crappy AR drones their phone system keeps advertising?

If you plan on building a computer anytime soon, I hope you can avoid the frustration that I have had to suffer through. This isn’t a cautionary tale against NCIX, just an example of some of the stupid things that can happen.

Best of luck.