What Would Lazyweb Do?

In relation to my recent hardware issues I now have a bit of a dilemma, although it’s not a bad kind of dilemma to have.

Yesterday afternoon memtest86+ locked up after 10h28m running. It didn’t report any memory errors but clearly there are hardware problems there if even memtest can lock it up. So I got myself into the mindset of returning the whole server and getting a refund, going with a different vendor.

I asked for recommendations of who else to try, and someone suggested a company I will call Vendor C (I don’t know why I am hiding the identities of the vendors involved but it feels like the right thing to do until this is all sorted out).

I sent off a mail to Vendor C, showing them my quote for the system I’ve bought from Vendor S and asking them if they can match it. Here is the spec of the hardware in question:

  • 1U generic Supermicro chassis, 4xSATA hotswap
  • Pentium D 940 3.2GHz dual core
  • 4x1GB ECC DDR2-677
  • 4xWestern Digital 250GB SATA RE 16Mb cache 7.5KRPM
  • IPMI 2.0

Vendor C mailed back within 30 minutes to confirm that they could match Vendor S’s quote, but also suggesting that I may like to have a Core 2 Duo-based system instead as it would be a more modern CPU that uses less power. Their suggested spec for a system based on a Core 2 Duo Conroe 2.13Hz comes in slightly cheaper than the Pentium D 3.2GHz dual core.

I was a little concerned that 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo would not compete performance-wise with a Pentium D 3.2GHz dual core (Intel claims that Core 2 Duo is 40% faster than Pentium D at same clock speed and uses 40% less energy) so I had a look and a system from Vendor C based on the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo (which also has 4MiB cache as opposed to 2MiB) is only slightly more expensive than Vendor S’s original quote. I’d be willing to pay a few more $ for that.

So at this point my mindset is “return server under RMA, get refund by yelling as loud as I need to, then buy 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo-based system from Vendor C”. I compose the email to Vendor S informing them of the bad news that the server’s hardware is flaky and I am returning it under warranty. I did not indicate if I want a refund or not as I wanted to see how they dealt with the matter first.

I was expecting Vendor S to be unhappy and give me a little bit of a hard time in returning the server. I was mentally preparing myself for a battle. Their reply then came as a bit of a shock, but a good one. They have been very reasonable about the whole thing and have offered me three choices:

  • Return the server and get an immediate refund.
  • Return the server and have them try and identify and replace broken parts.
  • Return the server and have the updated model from their range shipped to me instead at no extra charge. The updated model is based on a Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz.

The second one doesn’t sound too appealing to me, but to have the other two options immediately offered to me is really good customer service. So much so that I would feel a little bad just asking for my money back.

I have a slight issue with the third option in that I don’t think a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo is going to be comparable in performance to a Pentium D 3.2GHz dual core. It may well compete in performance/Watt but if it hasn’t got the overall performance I need then it’s useless to me. Ideally I’d want the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo here.

It appears that my options now pan out to:

  • Get refund, spend it with Vendor C to get 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo-based system.
  • Have Vendor S send me the 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo-based system and hope it performs well enough.
  • Be a ballbreaker and ask for a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo-based system from Vendor S.
  • Be a bit cheeky and ask Vendor S how much extra for an upgrade from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz.

I should probably point out that although Vendor S came highly recommended, and have always been polite and helpful, they already annoyed me by taking my order and saying they could supply within one week but actually taking almost four weeks to deliver what has turned out to be broken hardware, all the while giving me excuse after excuse. Do they deserve a second chance? They are clearly eager to maintain a good relationship if possible.

Lazyweb, what would you do?