Let me start off this story by stating right up front that both my wife and I love the little CherryPal Bing we bought her, it’s a great little machine that does exactly what she needs to do and does it very well. It’s a sleek little Netbook that gets lots of ooohs and aaahhhhs from everyone who sees it. It’s sexy and smart. It should have been an amazing success story for Max Seybold ( founder and CEO ) but unfortunately it’s turned into a train wreck.
The problem that they have isn’t clear, they seem to be pointing a lot of fingers at China ( where they sent their off shore production to ) and they certainly have some pretty scary stories to tell about that, like this one ( click on the title to get the full story ):
The Cherrypal Underwear Crisis
… It took us four weeks until we found out that the shipping company actually didn’t ship the laptops to our customers, they sold them in Mainland China to their own distribution channels. During this nerve-wrecking four weeks some of our customers got faked tracking numbers, others cheap underwear, others nothing at all. Only after we got the first emails from “customers” in China praising our laptops we found out what was really going on…
That’s not the only horror story coming out of China for CherryPal, but it’s a dramatic one… From my point of view it falls down to service. They depended heavily on lip service and not too much on the real thing. I was dealing with the CEO of the company, Max Seybold, which initially really impressed me, unfortunately in the coming months after he first contacted me it went from being impressed, to dismayed, to anger, to frustration, to giving up… Here’s the chronology and story:
- January 5, 2010: After doing research and verification on the CherryPal Bing and being impressed with it I ordered one for my wife for her Birthday
- January 7, 2010: Shipped from San Fransisco
- January 14, 2010: Enters Canadian Customs
- January 20, 2010: Arrives at my door ( 15 days from order to delivery…. not bad…. )
- January 28, 2010: Hiccups/minor problems appear and I start dialoging with Max himself… ( I’m very impressed ) Problems are: 1) The system in configured as being someplace in China 2) The keyboard is configured as Chinese US ( didn’t even know such a thing existed ) 3) Several items/programs were installed as Chinese versions with no English menus ( I was to discover later that Windows Media Player was one of these. )
- January 29, 2010: Major issues now appear: 1) In order to upgrade Windows Media Player to version 11 it fails Windows Verification. Microsoft reports that the VLK/license is a blocked Vendor License Key and must be replaced. 2) Calling the CherryPal support number gets just a ringing phone, no one ever answers 3) The hard drive has been partition into four much smaller hard drives, which could lead to many problems for the less tech savvy. 4) The manual included with the Bing is written in very poor English and describes ports and functions that do not exist
- January 29, 2010: Max Seybold says that they are working on the problem and that the issue is with this first batch of CherryPal Bings coming from China. He assures me that the license keys are valid, but that they will check with their manufacturer just in case. In the meantime they will also be contacting Microsoft to “get the COA validated.” He promises that if they cannot fix the laptop, they will replace it. He also apologizes for no one answering the phone as their offices were ?”upgrading our call centre as we speak”
- February 09, 2010: Max Seybold says that he will be sending me a new machine, to the same address, today. No deposit is necessary as he believes we can trust each other by now.
- February 14, 2010: I inform Max that the Bing worked admirably while on holiday, but we discovered that there was no telephone modem in the laptop. Which was an oversight we thought in the design as many people (especially in the country ) still do not have high speed and need dial-up telephone modem access.
- March 02, 2010: Still no replacement computer in sight. Nothing has arrived. I ask Max for an update as time wise ( based on the previous order ) it should have arrived by now.
- March 03, 2010: Max replied that he dropped the ball. He was waiting to confirm that my computer was indeed part of a bad batch and that he ” will express ship you a ‘good’ bing today” and “will also send you a 7 inch Africa Linux to make up for the inconvenience“
- March 15, 2010: Counterfeit and “you are a victim of fraud” warnings are popping up more frequently on the CherryPal. Sometimes even blocking access to programs. The desktop picture has been replaced with a black background and Windows Genuine Advantage Failure notice. Frustration and anger are showing and I ask Max for a tracking number to confirm that the Bing has been shipped this time.
- April 19. 2010: Still waiting for Max to get back to me. I again ask for information about the replacement’s whereabouts. I even voice that I am still hoping to write a favourable review of the Cherrypal ( the computer itself is still a great little machine ) if I can get one that works properly.
- April 23, 2010: I send a broadcast email to every CherryPal address I can find or think of. Their listed phone number still doesn’t pick up, regardless of the time of day. No one has replied to any of the emails that I have sent ( the ones listed above are just the highlights .) I inform them that still nothing has arrived and my planned articles are going to start having a definitely different spin to them. I also mention that I am now researching how to fix it myself, and will probably have to buy a new Windows Professional License for it.
- April 23, 2010: This was my final message from Max. It was almost sad in it’s wording and probably says it all “ I don’t understand how this could have happened. I am really sorry. We will fix the problem immediately, no need to buy a Win XP license??. I will get back to you shortly.”
- May 03, 2010: Max still hasn’t gotten back to me. When I call their help line I now get “This is Cherrypal. All phone lines are busy. Please call later again. Thank you.” The message sounded like it was recorded in an empty warehouse. I ask Max one last time for an update. Is anything happening…. ( No one ever gets back to me )
- May 04, 2010: I write an introductory article on my blog on what I am about to attempt with the Cherrypal.
- May 05, 2010: I send Max and CherryPal an email that I have started my repairs and am writing my articles ( To date still no response )
- May 07, 2010: I write “The Bloom is off My CherryPal“
- May 10, 2010: I acquire a new Windows Professional License for the machine and write “Bing! A new License for my CherryPal“
- May 12, 2010: After a lot of prep work, I fix the disk partition problem on the computer and write “CherryPal Pie, Re-Cut“
I haven’t heard anything from Max Seybold since April 23, I hope he is doing all right. Unfortunately I would say that his company isn’t. My wife and I still like the Bing, even more so now that we got all the bugs fixed. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it to anyone else, in spite of all the ooohs and aaaahs it generates. The service the company gave killed that chance, and may very well ( if it hasn’t already ) killed the company. What a waste.
Oh and just in case you thought that mine was a unique case, here’s some more links to check out…. again what a pity.
- CherryPal Customer Service: lies, ignored emails and technical incompetence
- Beware CherryPal Laptops – I made a mistake
- CherryPal F Rating with the Better Business Bureau
- CherryPal Mistakes and Customer Relations
- CherryPal Cancels Shipment on Africa
I think thats enough, I feel like I’m kicking a guy when he’s down. Hopefully CherryPal will get their act together, hopefully… and maybe one day I’ll get that replacement too…
You’ll hear it here first if I do, I’m just not holding my breath any more.