Not happy, Dell!

Early today, I checked the transactions summary of my credit card again to see if the promised refund from Dell has gone through. The good news is, it did. The bad news is that it is short by several dollars. I was erroneously charged $1,458.02 by Dell New Zealand Singapore but the amount they refunded was only $1,443.53 (that’s a difference of $14.49 plus the foreign currency conversion fee of $36.45 because the charge was made in Singaporean dollars. That came out to a total difference of $50.94).

Meanwhile, I have yet to receive the laptop that I ordered from Dell Australia. The delivery status as reflected on the order tracking system in their website reports a status of “futile delivery” last Friday afternoon. There’s no other information available and I assumed that the failed delivery happened on the courier’s warehouse after it has been checked out of Customs. So I didn’t call them straight away. After all, the estimated delivery date yesterday morning was February 27. Perhaps they’ll delivery it in the afternoon?

The day ended yesterday with no calls from the courier nor any shadow of a delivery man carrying a Dell box. Early this morning, I checked the status again. There were no further updates since the “futile delivery” on the 24th and the estimated delivery date has changed to today. I sent out an email to the sales rep. and told her about the refund being short and the delayed delivery. She called me on my mobile within an hour and said she’ll refund the difference to my credit card (I just hope she remembers to make it out in Australian instead of Singaporean dollars) and then gave me a number where I could check on the delivery status of my order.

I rang the number and finally got a live person who told me that the failed delivery might have been because there was nobody home to receive the goods. I replied that the delivery address is my office and that there is always a receptionist manning the front desk. That flustered her a bit and she put me on hold. When she came on again, it was to say that she’ll have the delivery re-scheduled this Thursday afternoon. Would that be okay? I asked if she could have it delivered tomorrow? Nope, saying something about a cut-off time.

Okay then, how about have the courier call me beforehand so I could receive the laptop? Sorry, they don’t do that service (this, even if they have a “Call Required Before Delivery” tick box in their order form). The best they could do is call a few days beforehand. Yes, and yet I didn’t get a call at all when they allegedly delivered my order last Friday. In fact, I could categorically say that the couriers NEVER called me at all, how ’bout that?

The lady said she’ll organise the delivery to be made on Thursday afternoon and said she’ll call me back once she has everything arranged. An hour later, I got another call from Dell from yet another cog in the wheel. The lady at the other end of the line asked if I ever got a call from the couriers? No. She’ll arrange the delivery to be made on Thursday, is that alright? Yes, in the afternoon? Her answer was, “anytime from 9AM-5PM on Thursday.” She proceeded to let me know that they don’t have any control on what time the delivery would be made. Aha, and yet the lady I talked to previously asked me if I want to have the thing delivered in the morning or the afternoon. I wonder, was that merely a rhetorical question?

Trying hard not to scream, I calmly enquired whether they could be certain of a Thursday delivery. She said she’ll call me back tomorrow morning at the latest. By this time, I was wondering if I should yell at her or laugh hysterically. Having worked at a customer-service center previously, I did neither. I thanked her and hung up. What’s so difficult about scheduling a delivery anyway that they couldn’t do it while I am on the line? What’s with this inefficient process of calling the customer with no real results nor any new information? And what could have happened had I not called them checking on the status of the delivery? Why not publish the number to call in their website, perhaps something like “Futile delivery. Please call this number to re-schedule delivery”?

At this rate, I looks like it would take a miracle for the refund amount to be correct and receive the laptop on Thursday. Heck, I wouldn’t put it past them to deliver a totally different thing when they eventually get down to delivering it. I could just marvel at their incompetence and rant. Don’t think I’d make any phone orders through them ever again, thinking about it is already giving me another headache.

Meanwhile, I just noticed the slogan in my sales rep’s email signature – Our Passion is Delivering a Great Customer Experience. I think not. Certainly not by a long shot!

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Published in: on February 28, 2006 at 6:34 pm  Comments (5)  

Reconnected

At last! After four days of having a dead phone line and, in effect, no Internet, we are connected again.

We came home Thursday night to discover that we couldn’t connect to the Internet through our broadband connection. At first I thought the problem was with the wireless router and the ADSL modem. After fiddling around with the settings, I finally tried to pickup the phone.

It was only then I realised that there was no dial-tone at all. I switched phone sets just to be sure it wasn’t just our usual phone. Nope. Still dead.

We could’ve called up our service provider, iiNet, but since we didn’t have a phone line to begin with, the only way to call them up was through my mobile. But, that wouldn’t happen.

We know from past experience and from other people’s that before you can talk to an actual person on their support number, you’ll have to wait an average of thirty minutes on hold. On a mobile phone, that would just be too expensive. We ended up waiting to call iiNet the next day instead.

In the morning of Friday, I gave iiNet a call and, as predicted, I had to hold for over thirty minutes before I got to speak with their support person. Fortunately, I could continue doing my work (programming) while waiting on the line.

I explained the problem to the support person. After taking in the details, she told me that it was possible to get somebody from Telstra (the company that actual owns the telephone copper lines here in Australia) to drop by our house later that day to check the problem out. She added that she’ll give me a call to let me know if I needed to go home so that there would be somebody to receive the Telstra technician. If it wasn’t going to be fixed by Friday evening, it’s possible that the technician could drop by on Saturday morning.

Friday ended with no call from the iiNet support person and our phone line was still dead. We figured that maybe the technician would drop by the next day. The problem was, Raquel and I was supposed to go all the way to Frankston to pick up a second-hand TV we won on eBay.

On the off chance a technician might suddenly drop by that Saturday morning, one of us had to stay at home. So, Raquel stayed while I had this near four-hour return car trip.

Raquel was bummed because she wanted to go out instead of being stuck at home. She was further bummed when no technician showed up to fix our dead phone line.

So we ended up having no phone and Internet access the whole weekend. What a downer.

Although I was hoping that the phone would get fixed today without any further intervention on our part, we decided to give iiNet another call anyway. Just to be sure.

After another thirty-odd-minute wait, I told the support person that even though we were told that the line would be fixed in 48 hours at most, our line is pretty much dead. The guy on the phone assured me that Telstra estimated the job would get done by 6 pm today.

I didn’t really believe him but what else was I to do. I just said thanks and hung up. All we could do was wait.

Even though I was at the office, I could still find out if we got our line back by dialing home. If I get the answering machine, then I would know that we have a phone connection again. At the time, when I call home, all I get is endless ringing — as if the line is okay but no phone was connected at our end.

A couple of hours after talking to the support guy, I gave our house a call and instead of a continuous ring, I got a busy signal instead. Woohoo! It wasn’t the answering machine but at least it wasn’t the expected continuous ringing.

I gave our house another call a few more hours later. “Hello, nobody is at home to take your call,” answered our answering machine. Yes! We have our phone line back and our Internet access!

At the end of the day, I didn’t get a phone call from neither the iiNet support or the Telstra technician. But we did get a card in our mailbox from the technician when we got home. We were hoping he’d say what the problem was but all we got was, “your phone line has been repaired.” A little more information would have been nice.

It didn’t matter. We have a dial-tone and I can surf on the Internet from home again.

Published in: on February 27, 2006 at 10:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Stuff ups

Early yesterday morning, I got an email alert from my bank stating that there was a charge of almost 1.5k made to my credit card account. The email alert does not detail where the charge came from so I made a mental note to check it out later. It was nearly quitting time at work when I remembered the email alert and promptly logged on to the bank’s system to check my credit card transactions statement. Hmm… it looks like Dell Singapore has charged me 1.4k and since the amount was in a foreign currency, the bank also automatically tacked on a foreign currency conversion charge. Now, this amount debited to my account does not make sense at all since Dell Australia has already charged me for the laptop I ordered. Where did this mystery charge come from?

Although unlikely, I asked Gj if he ordered anything from Dell Singapore to attract the charge. He didn’t, which means Dell somehow stuffed up the billing for my yet-to-be-received notebook. I promptly called the sales representative I’ve ordered the thing from but she was busy with another customer. I left a message and waited for a call-back. A few minutes later, my mobile rang and it’s S- on the line.

S-: Hello Raquel, how are you today?

Me: Fine, how bout you?

S-: I’m fine.

Me: Good, I’ve called you because there seems to be a problem with the billing of the laptop I ordered from you last Monday. It looks like there was double-charging.

S-: How did you know that Dell was the one who made the mistake?

Me: Uhm, well, I’m looking at my credit card summary and there are two charges from Dell. One from Dell Australia, which is correct and another from Dell Singapore, which I don’t know what for plus a currency conversion charge because the charge seems to be in Singaporean dollars.

S-: Well, you shouldn’t be charged twice. Dell does not charge their customers twice for an order.

Me: I can see it in my credit card statement and I’m telling you that there’re two charges. I don’t know what happened there.

S-: Alright, it looks like our billing department may have made a mistake. Just send me a copy of that statement and I’ll forward it to them. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I asked for her fax number, hurriedly went on to print the credit card statement, composed a short fax cover letter describing the issue and sent everything to her.

On the way home, Gj and I are still fuming over the incorrect charge. Now we have to wait for Dell to resolve the issue, refund the money and then we have to talk to our bank to cancel the foreign conversion. Gahhh, maybe I should have just completed that laptop order over the internet and eliminated the human factor. Maybe then, I won’t have this problem. On the other hand, I rationalised that maybe the problem could have occurred either way anyway. There’re no guarantees that automating the order would have eliminated the need for someone in Dell’s billing section to doubly enter my credit card information to another system which may have caused the incorrect charge showing up in my credit card statement. Wonder if they have a fully integrated system in place or not?

When we got home, I immediately fired up the old desktop computer to see if Dell’s sales rep. has sent me an email confirming she got the fax. Problem is, there’s no internet connection. I’ve rebooted both the system and the modem, re-checked the settings of the modem before enlisting Gj’s help. He did more of the same with the same result – zilch internet connection. It wasn’t until he decided to connect to our ISP through dial-up that we found out the source of the problem, the phone line’s dead as a door nail. With no other way to call iiNet‘s call center to ask what’s going on, we waited well after midnight hoping that the problem would go away by itself and we’d have our connection back. Well, that’s not exactly true as we could have used our mobiles to call their call center but with the usual 30-minute wait we’ll have to endure before we actually talk to someone, we figured it won’t be worth our dime. Curses, no way to check my email, surf and download Gj’s daily dose of podcasts. We very nearly had actual withdrawal symptoms.

Our phone connection didn’t magically resurrect itself this morning either so Gj reported the problem to iiNet. From what I gathered from him, the company promised to send out someone to check the line and report the fault to Telstra. Failing that, they would have to check our physical connection at home, meaning someone had to go home early to let them in. Bummer. Meanwhile, my inbox was filled with everything but a confirmation email from the rep. from Dell. I fired a quick email to her to confirm whether she got my fax and if there are any updates on the issue yet. Around noon, I got a short answer. She said they’ll refund me the unnecessary charges but did not elaborate if I still have to call my bank to have the foreign currency conversion fee cancelled or if they’ll take care of it as well. I suspect I’d still have to sort it out with the bank but that would have to wait until after the refund has been done (dunno when that will be).

As we say in the Philippines, abangan ang susunod the kabanata… (stay tuned for the next chapter…)

Published in: on February 24, 2006 at 12:37 pm  Comments (3)  

Adopt Australian Values or Leave

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello yesterday mentioned in a public speech that if you want to live in Australia, you have to follow the Australian rule of law. I’m fine with that. It’s what to be expected wherever you live, anyway.

But he also basically said that migrants should adopt Australian values or go home. “Before becoming an Australian, you will be asked to subscribe to certain values – if you have strong objections to those values, don’t come to Australia,” he said.

I somewhat agree that if you’re a migrant who wants to live in Australia, don’t expect to change the people here to follow the same way of life you used to have in your country of origin. And if you don’t like that, go back home. Fair enough?

I assume that the Treasurer is only targeting the small minority of extremist Muslims that may have migrated into our country. But the way he put it in his speech sounded like all migrants must adopt all Australian values — no exceptions — or get out.

But what exactly are these Australian values that the Treasurer spoke of? Is there a list so I can check if I have adopted every single one of them?

Let’s see. Australia is a democracy so I assume democratic values are part of this list of Australian values. We have fair laws, freedom of speech, assembly and worship, equality, tolerance and social justice. No problem there. I follow the law like any other Aussie and I certainly exercise my freedom of speech. I’m a Roman Catholic and I should be allowed that in a democracy. I treat others equally and fairly. I try to be tolerant of others’ beliefs and culture.

Looks like I get to stay in Australia.

But I have this suspicious feeling that some redneck Aussies would think that adhering to democratic values still wouldn’t mean I’ve adopted Australian values.

At the risk of being an arrogant prick, I believe I could speak and write English, albeit American English, fluently. In fact, I’m slightly peeved when the people here who grew up with English as their primary language make silly grammatical mistakes like “it’s hotting up” or label the Men’s toilet as “mens”. It should be “it’s heating up” because hot is not a verb — heat is. And it should be “men’s” not “mens” because “men” is already plural.

That probably wouldn’t be enough for some redneck Aussies though because I still wouldn’t be able to speak with an Aussie accent and use the slang. They’d also be offended that I know a second language and use it like when I talk to Raquel in Tagalog in private conversations. It can’t be helped. The best I can do is speak and write in English the way I know how.

How about other Aussie values? Aussies love sports like footy and cricket. I think I’ll be in trouble in this department as I’m not all that fond of sports even when I was still back in the Philippines. And what’s up with cricket? It takes too long and seems too slow for my taste.

A lot of Aussies seem to enjoy beer and wine a lot. Well, I don’t drink. I hate the taste of alcoholic beverages. Even when all my friends back in the Philippines started drinking San Miguel Beer, I stuck to drinking soft drinks. I just don’t get why anyone would prefer a bitter glass of beer over a sweet glass of Pepsi. So, if drinking is another Aussie value, then that’s another value I couldn’t adopt.

How about eating lamb? There was this TV commercial recently that eating lamb is the Aussie thing to do. Right now, I no longer eat meat that came from mammals not because of any religious conviction but because I now find eating such meat gross. Since lamb is a mammal, then I wouldn’t eat it. So, again, there’s another Aussie value I couldn’t live up to.

Sure, Mr Costello probably didn’t mean that people who don’t watch cricket, don’t speak with an Aussie accent and don’t eat lamb should leave the country. But it could be interpreted that way by redneck Aussies who want all migrants to forget the language and the culture of the country they left behind like magic.

I just don’t like where we’re headed right now. Already, people who are against multiculturalism are emboldened by the Treasurer’s speech. I just hope this wouldn’t incite future “Cronulla” riots.

Read here for further discussions about Multiculturalism and Peter Costello’s speech: The Age Blogs: Your Say

Published in: on February 24, 2006 at 7:15 am  Comments (6)  

Sale at Dymocks Melbourne

There’s a 20% Off Everything sale on Dymocks Melbourne CBD stores (only) starting today up to Sunday the 26th of February. Of course, it doesn’t really mean “everything”. The fine print excludes CDs, DVDs, videos and any existing specials.

So, if you’re from around Melbourne looking to buy some books, you may want to drop by the city and buy them off Dymocks.

Published in: on February 22, 2006 at 9:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Got Me a Guitar Now

The new Ashton CG44 Classical Guitar pack I won from eBay last week finally came in the office yesterday. I usually give my office address for online orders nowadays since nobody is ever at the house to receive an item when it’s delivered.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to try it out. But, since I was in the office and I don’t play the guitar very well, I had to curb my enthusiasm until I got home. While in the office, I was still able to inspect the contents of the box at the very least.

First, here is the official specification for the Ashton CG44 Classical Guitar pack as written on Ashton’s website:

Fantastic value for anyone starting to explore the world of classical guitar. Based around Ashton’s rich-toned and resonant nylon stringed CG44 guitar, this pack also includes a sturdy gig bag for carrying your instruments to practice or performances, plus extra strings and picks. You’ll also get Ashton’s easy-to-follow Starter Pack Software, with lessons you can follow on your computer screen.

– CG44 Acoustic Guitar – Ashton Starter Pack Software includes Lessons, Tuner and Metronome – Gig Bag – Strap – Extra Strings and Picks

When I opened the box, I saw the guitar there in tip-top shape inside the cool gig bag (which would’ve cost an additional $20 if I bought it separately). Inside the gig bag pocket was the extra strings and picks as well as the manual. Also in the box was the strap and the Ashton Starter Pack Software in a CD.

What I was surprised to find missing was the guitar tuner and the metronome. For a moment, I thought I was swindled by the eBay seller. However, after another round of checking of the contents, I realised that the tuner and the metronome were indeed included. Except, instead of actual physical devices, they were software programs included in the CD.

The specs were a bit misleading but I can’t complain that the metronome and tuner weren’t there. And I thought I got myself a bigger bargain because it came with what I thought were physical metronome and tuner devices.

Another downer is the included Ashton Starter Pack software which was supposed to be a guitar lessons software that I could use to learn how to play the guitar. Don’t get me wrong, it works great. What I disliked about it is that it included only three lessons. You’d have to pay the makers of the software to unlock the rest of the lessons.

However, for the price I paid for it, even if the software was a disappointment and there wasn’t really a metronome and tuner included, I reckon it’s still good value for my money. Given another chance with the same budget, I’d still go for this pack again.

When I got home, I placed the guitar on my lap and quickly started to play some chords I’ve learned from when I was younger. It sounded very awful. I was hoping it came in tuned. I had no choice but to tune it first. Fortunately, I already kind of know how to tune a guitar.

I soon tuned the guitar and was able to play it like I did back in my younger days. That is, poorly. Now that I have a guitar, I can start learning how to play it. And by learning to play, I don’t mean just learning to play a few chords. In time, I hope to be able to serenade Raquel with it.

So, in summary, I’m very pleased with the guitar pack. Even though I found the software wanting, I’m quite happy with the guitar and the gig bag. Having extra strings and picks was a good bonus, too. If you are in search of a relatively cheap beginner’s guitar, I can recommend the Ashton CG44 Classical Guitar pack, for sure. Just keep in mind that you may want to buy a real metronome and guitar tuner afterwards as well as a full guitar method book or software.

Published in: on February 21, 2006 at 11:14 am  Comments (4)  

Closed house

Ever since we bought our new place, some people seem to think that hint dropping, joking and even openly inviting themselves to our place is a good idea. I don’t know if it’s only curiosity that’s driving such comments but I find them crass. I mean why in the world would you invite yourself to someone else’s home, especially if they barely know you, if you have some semblance of propriety?

People seem to think that we’re operating a guest room exclusively for them all of a sudden, somewhere to crash when they’re in town. Then there’re instances when acquaintances seem to think that our place would be ideal for an afternoon barbie with a bunch of friends. I wonder, when and where did we advertise our house to be a free hotel and park for anyone to use?

I vaguely remember a time when people would wait to be invited, understanding that it is a privilege, not a right. What’s with this pressure for us to invite you to our place? There’s nothing special about it – it’s a medium-sized house in the suburbs full of boxes and in desperate need of furniture we can’t afford to buy. Oh, I can hear it now, it’s okay, we could sit on the floor if need be. But that’s not exactly the point, is it? Or haven’t you gotten it yet? We’ll ask you over when we’re good and ready, and not a moment before.

Published in: on February 21, 2006 at 8:43 am  Comments (4)  

Australia Will Send Help to the Philippines

The Philippines was featured in the news on Australian TV these past few days because of a landslide in Leyte that buried an entire village in mud last Friday. The tragedy was appalling considering that something similar has already happened in the past in the same area.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of those confirmed dead or still missing under the buried village. I just wish the whole incident could have been avoided.

Thankfully, there were nations that gave their support and aid including Australia. According to an article on The Age newspaper’s website, Australia will “send a team of engineers to help asses the damage” caused by the devastation as well as provide a $1 millioin aid package “for immediate relief and medical assistance”.

Published in: on February 20, 2006 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

A laptop of my own

I’ve been looking to purchase a laptop since late last year when we learned that we could salary sacrifice for it at work. I’ve been researching the net and visiting electronics shops to compare prices and features but nothing could beat the offers from Dell’s website. Gj bought an Inspiron from them late last year and aside from some difficulty with the mousepad (which could be easily remedied), I must say that the thing works well. Still, I have been hoping that I could buy a decent laptop made by Toshiba (heard that their laptops are tops) in my price range. Several trips to various stores quickly changed my mind as I compare price and specifications. Other brands also pale in comparison when I consider that I could get a better machine at the same price from Dell with the added advantage of being able to customise its features.

Late last month, I finally conceded that I’d most probably buy from Dell and signed up to be included in their mailing list for promos and discounts. At that time, they were offering free hard disk (from 80GB to 100GB) and memory (from 512MB to 1GB) upgrades plus free delivery. Sounds good, but I wasn’t decided yet so I’ve let the promotion period pass and regularly checked their site for other offers. I figured I could always wait a few more weeks to see if I could get a better deal and saw several combinations of free upgrades and other items go by (free spare battery, free leather carry case, free DVD upgrade, free memory upgrade, free hard drive upgrade, free delivery). However, the offer of a free hard disk upgrade coupled with the memory upsize was the most useful to me and I’ve been waiting for it to come back for some time now.

Finally, a visit to the site last Friday bore fruit. On a 4-day offer that would end today, they are giving free hard drive and memory upgrades, a discount of $200 and a free carry case with free delivery! I quickly chose the specifications for my system, took note of the price tag (which was still almost $150 over my budget) and saved it the shopping cart for later reference. I had the intention of having Gj look over the specifications over the weekend and finalise it once he gave his approval. Of course, with all the household chores waiting for my attention, I forgot all about it and only remembered about the saved shopping cart last night. Good thing the promo ends today instead of yesterday or I would have missed out again.

After going over the specs, hubby made minor suggestions (for the wireless connection and hard drive partitioning) and commented that the offer is a pretty good one. Then he asked if I’ve seen any coupons on the Dell website (which, according to him might lower the price even more). In all the times I’ve been looking at their site, I never once saw a coupon or a promotional code and I told him so. He remember using one when he bought his notebook and searched high and low for it by navigating through Dell’s site and even using Google. We didn’t find any coupons but I came across this forum thread where several guys are discussing how they love their Dell machines. In one post, a guy mentioned that you could get a further reduction in the online price if you create a shopping cart online and call the customer service number. Hmmm… interesting notion, that.

Now, I’d be the first to admit that I avoid calling customer service whenever possible as my stress levels seem to go up everytime I’m on the phone with them. I rationalised however, that in this rare instance, I actually may get something of value for my trouble. So I drank some water, took a deep breath and dialled the number. I got through to a lady with an Indian accent and I told her that I’m looking at buying a laptop and have even created a shopping cart. She asked me to quote the cart number, my name and phone number and transferred me to a sales rep.

“Hello, this is S-. How may I help you?”

“Well, good morning! I’m interested in buying a laptop and I’ve already created a shopping cart online. I’m just wondering if there’s any way to er, perhaps, reduce the price?”

“Ok, what’s the cart number?” I quoted the cart number again.

“Hmmm… the price you have at the moment is a very good price already. Could you hold on for a moment while I see what I can do for you?”

“Ah, sure,” all the while thinking that the tip from the forum might have worked for them but it’s looking like it won’t do any good for me.

“Hello? Well, I could only go down to (price less $39.10). The price you got is already quite low for this configuration with all the free upgrades.”

“Can’t you do it for (price less $79.10) to make it an even amount?”

“No, I could only give it to you for (price less $39.10) as (price less $79.10) is already too steep for me.”

“Uhm, okay. I’m happy with that.”

She asked for my credit card and shipping details, told me to expect the computer on or before 03 March then we swapped contact numbers and hung up. A few minutes later, I got an order confirmation by email. Well, what do you know? The tip worked! It may not sound a lot but a discount of $39.10 is better than nothing. Besides, that amount could buy a good meal for hubby and me in a decent restaurant. Not bad at all, considering it only took a few minutes worth of my time talking to someone at the other end of the line.

Published in: on February 20, 2006 at 12:38 pm  Comments (3)  

Won a Guitar Bid

Apart from wanting to learn the recorder, I also want to go back and continue my guitar studies. The problem is, the guitar I used to play was my Dad’s Yamaha classical guitar (not sure of the exact model) and so, it’s with him in the Philippines. To pick up the guitar again, that meant getting one for myself.

The cheapest Yamaha guitar that could be bought from the music shops around Melbourne was the Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar which retailed for $169. As it looked and felt just like my Dad’s guitar when I tried it in the shop, I decided that’s what I wanted to buy.

However, it’s a bit expensive considering I’m not even sure how much I wanted to play the guitar. I considered getting one of the many cheap guitars with unknown brands on sale from $30 on eBay. I did some research about buying a new guitar and the general advice of guitar players is that I shouldn’t buy the cheapest guitar out there.

Without going into too much detail, they said that “el-cheapo” guitars are likely to be difficult to play as well as sound bad. Now, to a super dedicated student, this shouldn’t be a problem, but to your casual guitar student, one or both of these two factors might discourage him or her from further study.

I had that problem with the recorder, too. I bought the cheapest recorder I could lay my hands on and studied that. It didn’t take too long for me to give up on it the first time. When I decided to try at learning the instrument a second time, I did some research and bought the cheapest recommended recorder I could buy. I was surprised at how much easier it was to play and how much nicer it sounded. Certainly, it encouraged me to learn further.

I had only wished I bought my current recorder the first time around. If I did, I may be further along my recorder studies than I am now because I didn’t stop playing when I did.

Anyway, no cheap non-branded guitars for me. I went back to the Internet to look around for something that’s cheaper than a Yamaha but still has a reputable brand. That search led me to Ashton which turned out to be an Australian instrument manufacturer/designer. Couldn’t be that bad, I thought.

Luckily, they have the CG44 Classical Guitar Starter Pack that retails for $119. The pack included the CG44 acoustic guitar, guitar lessons software, a guitar tuner, a metronome (I’ve always wanted one of these for when I’m playing my recorder), a gig bag, a strap, extra strings and picks. Seemed like exactly what I needed.

Still, I was hoping for something less than a hundred dollars. I found a shop selling it for $109 and could probably be haggled down to something like $99. Then I came across this eBay bidding for exactly the same thing which is supposedly new (not used).

So I made the lowest possible bid on it While waiting for the auction to end, I had some extra time to have a think about the guitar pack. Maybe I should just buy it from a local shop instead of having it delivered from New South Wales in the event I win the auction, I thought. It would be easier to return the guitar to a local shop under warranty than sending it back to another state.

With ten minutes left in the auction, I was scrounging around the eBay site for a way to retract my bid. I discovered that it is only allowed on certain circumstances — which, sadly, didn’t apply to me. So, I was there, secretly hoping somebody outbid me.

It was a weird thing. Instead of hoping to win, I was hoping to lose. In the end, I won. Ah well. It was still such a good deal anyway. Now, I have to wait for it to be delivered. I just pray that it is in tip-top condition on its arrival.

Fingers crossed.

Published in: on February 18, 2006 at 12:07 am  Comments (2)