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Thread: KarPC.com, one person's amazing customer experience

  1. #1
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    KarPC.com, one person's amazing customer experience

    Figured I should share with all of you my amazing experience with KarPC.com because it was so exceptional someone ought to know about it. And before you ask, I'm not a shill, just an ordinary customer who received extra-ordinary service.

    Here's my experience, it's as short as I could make it while still retaining the important bits.

    I e-mailed KarPC to inquire about a computer and display. Steve (president of KarPC and its parent company Industrial Computer Solutions) got back to me an hour or two of my sending them the e-mail. He offered to come by my house to show me the products I was interested in (his company is 30-45 minutes away). We scheduled a day and time and he came by. He brought his truck with carputer installed, and showed me a couple of alternate case options, let me try out his carputerm, and talked me through all the options, sharing his recommendations. He must have spent 2 hours at my place helping answering all my questions. And all of this was with absolutely no pressure, not even a hint that he expected me to buy anything from him. Even to the point that he was telling me I should get this component and that from Fry's (for those who don't know, it's like the best of Best Buy mixed with the best of Radio Shack all in a somewhat folksy atmosphere) to save money over what he could give me. It was almost the opposite of pressure, I felt more willing/eager to buy than he was to sell (not that he wasn't willing, just that he didn't 'expect' anything from me); he never tried to get me to buy anything. He left. I thought about it, detailed what I wanted, he walked me through matching up parts/power supplies, answered more questions I had. I checked the price he gave me with every other site out there selling the same cases/mother boards/displays and his prices matched or beat them (and he was local to me). He had some parts in stock, others he was out of. The ones he was out of he got within a day or two (he ran out of Xenarc displays a couple of days before and they were already on order, same with power supply). His employees assembled the order and shipped it to me FedEx Saturday delivery at no extra charge to me. I couldn't have asked for any better treatment than he and his employees delivered. But, wait, it gets even better...

    So I get the carputer, the display, the power supply, and everything. I swap out the case's power supply for the automotive one, hook up the shutdown controller, and test it on a AC-DC inverter. Everything works but there's no audio coming out of the jacks. I assume it's a driver issue, I try this driver and that one. I contact Steve, I've run out of things to try. I'm worried maybe I shorted something out, damaged the motherboard, who knows what. He offers some suggestions, and when those don't help, he offers to come by my house again, bringing another motherboard in case mine really is having problems (versus a driver issue). The next day he comes out. He discovers a jumper on the motherboard wasn't set right, they accidentally forgot it needed to be set since I don't have audio coming out of the front panel (no connectors for it in the C137 case). He is very apologetic for having not realized they would need to put that jumper in place for my case (their testing harness used a connector on F_PANEL to test). His offering to come by, swap out the motherboard, etc. more than made up for this minor oversight.

    The next day I go to install the carputer in the car. I immediately have a problem. The car won't operate on battery power (with engine not running); it won't boot, drive failure (the power supply/ITPS isn't supplying 12 volts to the 12 volt rail). It will only operate when the engine is running. I don't know if it's something I've done, something the power supply isn't doing, etc. I contact Steve and he has his tech support guys help try to reproduce the problem with their hardware. Through my voltage/current measurements, and with KarPC's help, we realize it's the ITPS and PSU (later that night I find mp3car.com threads on just this topic, damn!). Some drives apparently work fine with the low voltage the ITPS is delivering to the 12 volt rail, but not mine. Steve suggests using an OPUS PS, and offers to let me swap out the ITPS/PSU for an OPUS paying just the difference in price. He helps me make sure that the OPUS will fit inside my small case, he orders it. I call to check on the order status a couple of days later, he warned me OPUS can take a couple of days. It was Friday mid-day and I was really hoping to work on the car over the weekend. Still no OPUS. Oh well, I didn't have any reason to expect it so soon. To my absolute amazement I get a call late that afternoon from Steve. The shipment just arrived. I offer to drive out to pick it up and instead he offers to deliver it to me (personally) Saturday morning. And when he comes over, he even stays for a long while, making sure the PS fits and works (shutdown/restart/etc.) (he also brought with him an OPUS 90W and the 150W just in case the 150W didn't fit). It fit, and all is well.

    Short of him giving everything to me for free there is nothing he could have done to make my experience better than it was. He gave me personal attention, he gave me the best price I could find (without asking), he gave me great advice about how to set things up, he helped me save money by telling me to get certain parts from suppliers other than himself, and when I had problems he was right there to help (especially when his extra help didn't mean any extra money and would in fact mean less, with the extra time he spent, with swapping out parts, etc.).

    And so, that's it. I can't guarantee your experience will be anything like mine, but, I think the odds are in your favor, that he and his company treated me as they'd likely treat you, and as they've likely treated many before me.

    So, if you're looking for a carpc, or parts for one, I would _strongly_ recommend www.karpc.com.

    Quincy

  2. #2
    FLA gospeed.racer's Avatar
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    In a day and age where you cant even get a simple email answered, it is nice to see some companies go that extra mile. I have bookmarked them, and will be sure to keep them in mind.
    2005 Ford Focus ST

  3. #3
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    This story made my eyes teary.

  4. #4
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    Some of my other experiences building this carputer were a lot less pleasant in the customer service department.

    From another vendor I bought CoPilot Laptop Live 7.0 USB only to be shipped an incomplete product (it had a wrong part inside that meant it couldn't be used). ALK (CoPilot's manufacturer) responded that there had been a mix up at the assembly plant and they'd screwed up a large run of them. They sent me a replacement part on the slow boat, I got it 5 or 6 days later. But, besides just inconveniencing me, they didn't refund the money I spent to have my original shipment expedited. In such situations the company really should do something to demonstrate their regret, such as sending the replacement part overnight, including an extra set of maps, something.

    Also, I bought a Gyration wireless keyboard/mouse and discovered after an hour or so of trying to make it work that it was defective. They had a notice on their site, apparently they had produced and distributed a very large number of defective units. I contacted them for a replacement. I was told there was a good chance if I returned it to the store I'd just get another defective unit. I was told they would ship a replacement same day, and that I'd have it in 3 days. Instead, it arrived just over a week later. I complained, and very much to their credit, the vice president of sales responded very appropriately to my complaint and put the matter right.

    I understand that accidents do happen, but when I make them, I certainly try to make sure everyone I negatively impacted by my mistakes are made "whole", and I expect the same of those I do business with as a consumer.

    Oh, and since it relates to my intent of the thread, when Steve from KarPC was over dropping off the power supply, and I mentioned that ALK screwed up the CoPilot shipment (something I didn't order through him, but through another site), he offered to lend me the part I needed to make the GPS receiver work. That's pretty generous and amazing, in my opinion.

  5. #5
    FLA gospeed.racer's Avatar
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    It sounds like he is in the pleasing the customer mode, trying to get business and hopefully he doesnt outgrow that like so many companies do once they have a customer base. That is what makes me shop at the Mom and pops shops...I firmly believe that the product is not ALL that you are buying
    2005 Ford Focus ST

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    I think it's more than that. In the conversations we had while he was here, I learned he's been in the carputer thing since 1997 or something. But, if I understood correctly, most of his business isn't consumer carputer related but industrial computer solutions for mobile environments (computers for use in small planes for collecting images from wing mounted cameras, computers for use in government/corporate vehicles, etc.). I think that market is probably much bigger and more reliable than the consumer/hobbiest carputer market. So, again, I can't guarantee anyone else's experience will be like mine, but the treatment I received did seem like it was part of their operating philosophy, and not something lightly thrown out for the sake of profit.

  7. #7
    Newbie JamShady's Avatar
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    I value CS over price any day, have bookmarked them for future reference

  8. #8
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    man, I wish they were near me.
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