Newegg was, and still is, the best online retailer of computer components in the US.
I stand behind that statement. But they’re trying to be Amazon, and they’re not doing a very good job of it.
Just like Amazon, Newegg allows other merchants to list items for sale on their website. They take a cut of 8-15 percent of item sales and intermediate disputes between customers and third-party sellers.
But here’s the thing: I always shopped on Newegg because I liked Newegg. Especially when they opened their distribution center in Edison, NJ and my ground shipments started arriving in under 24 hours. I also liked the responsiveness of their customer service and the clarity of their search results. I particularly love their Power Search, a feature which Amazon sorely lacks when looking for things like memory, HDDs, or other hardware with very particular specifications.
There is, however, a tremendous difference between the two retailers: Amazon handles the logistics for a huge number of its third-party sellers whereas Newegg does not.
This means that Amazon offers a much broader selection of items backed by Amazon’s shipping, returns, and customer service. It also makes for far more Prime-eligible items versus Newegg’s Premier
Newegg Premier: The Tangent
Hey Newegg: Now I’m really annoyed. In the interest of fair blog-journalism (oxymoron, I know) I decided to try out Newegg Premier
e, your equivalent of Amazon Prime. After all, I should be comparing an apples-to-apples shopping experience. But I submitted my payment details for a 3-month Premier e membership about 10 minutes ago. I’m still not a Premier e member, and have yet to receive a confirmation email. Did you know that the same sort of thing is instantaneous on Amazon, right? You understand that it’s 2015 and digital orders should be delivered immediately? Oh, you don’t? That’s a shame.
Since the ten minutes have passed, in my account it now says the following:
Thank you for signing up for a Newegg Premier Membership. Your membership registration is being processed at this time. Please check this page again shortly. We appreciate your patience, and look forward to providing you with great service and savings through the Premier program.
Jeez Louise. What are you processing? I’ve been a customer for 11 years. I gave you my credit card. What more could you possibly need? A blood sample? A copy of the deed to my house?
Hallelujah! I’m now a Premier
e member, and it only took 22 minutes to process!
Sorry for the tangent; Now back to the article at hand.
The Customer Service Difference
Perhaps the most important difference between the two online retail giants is the way in which they handle customer complaints and/or disputes with their third-party sellers.
I recently had my first experience ordering from the Newegg Marketplace. I was on a Prime hiatus for a couple of weeks and decided to give a NE Marketplace seller a try. Compared to Amazon, it was a complete disaster.
My order was for a two-pack of vitamins (two bottles), and the package arrived (undamaged and unopened) only containing one bottle. OK, that’s not Newegg’s fault. That’s the seller, Web Vitamins, Inc.‘s fault. And it shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve had similar issues with Amazon over the years, and it works like this:
- I contact Amazon to explain the issue.
- In (usually) less than 2 hours they respond and issue a refund or re-ship as appropriate.
And that’s one of the reasons I love Amazon. I once had an issue with a freaking desk chair and shot off an email to them. In less than half an hour they emailed me back saying that a replacement chair was on its way and that they’d cover return shipping costs. Simple.
Newegg? As we’ve seen, they love processing. Here’s the process as I’ve seen it:
- I contact the third-party merchant (via Newegg’s website) to explain the issue.
- A week passes with no response.
- I contact Newegg’s customer service to explain the issue, mentioning the previous step taken to resolve the issue*.
- Three hours later a Newegg customer service rep responds to request more information about the issue.
- Six minutes later I send back an email with the requested information (confirming shipping address, etc).
- Forty-seven hours later a different Newegg customer service rep from their Seller Services side copies me on an email sent to the third-party seller asking them to follow up. The email includes instructions to me to wait forty-eight hours for a response before again following up with Newegg.
- I waited 5 days, because Good Friday/Easter weekend fell in that time and I figured I’d give the merchant the benefit of the doubt on that.
- Having received no response, I emailed Newegg to advise them of exactly that.
- That was
sixeight hours ago, and I’m still waiting for a replyI guess I was too quick to post because I just got a reply promising a refund.
- Four hours later the refund is processed and I receive an invoice as proof.
So far the delay on Newegg’s end is 62 hours,
and I still have yet to hear back from them. It’s actually been 110 hours when you count the 48 hours they had me wait for a response from the seller, after I’d already given the seller a week to respond (which I’d told Newegg about in the first place).
The mot juste on on the etymologist’s turd sandwich? The refund was described in my invoice as a “Customer Courtesy”. I’m sorry for the foul language, but that’s quite the horse hockey.
I know that there’s no substantive difference between this refund and a refund by any other name, but in customer service parlance a “courtesy” refund is given simply to appease a customer that’s in the wrong but complaining loudly.
May I remind you that I received exactly half of my order? Refunding half of my money isn’t a freaking courtesy, it’s a necessity.
*And something else that really ground my gears about this whole thing is this: I couldn’t even fully describe the problem when contacting Newegg’s customer service people, because their contact form only allows for 300 characters.
It’s further aggravating because they don’t tell you about the character limitation until after you try and submit the goddamb form!
Here’s the thing about the order itself: The screw-up with the merchandise was probably just a fluke. I’m not even mad about that. Everyone makes mistakes, sh1t happens, luck of the draw, [additional platitudes go here].
What provokes my ire is that the process I’ve described seems to be de rigueur for Newegg. Their customer-facing service people are disconnected from their seller-facing people, and the customer-facing people apparently have no authority nor ability to actually assist a customer. They also aren’t proactive about getting in between the seller and the customer to facilitate a resolution.
Their number one solution to any dispute seems to be to contact the seller and wait. I’m OK with that on eBay, because they are strictly a marketplace. Not so much on Newegg.
I’m sure that when seller is responsive this all works out fine, but when it’s a shitty one like WebVitamins, Inc. that both screws up orders and then ignores customers, Newegg should be right there behind me. It’s their name on the website, their name on the order confirmation email, their name on the tracking information email, their name on my credit card statement, and so it’s their name all over this post.
I shouldn’t have to deal with the third-party merchant at all. That’s in fact why I’d ordered from Newegg in the first place, rather than from webvitamins.com.
I also want to discuss a niggle that I’ve always had with Newegg: They do not process payments in real-time. In the vast majority of the instances this isn’t a problem, but recently I placed an order on Newegg and “accidentally” used an expired credit card stored in my account.
(I say “accidentally” because for some reason it wound up as the default card when I was placing my order. Besides, why would they let me submit the order with an expired card in the first place?)
If you’ve shopped on Newegg you know that they send at least four follow-up emails after you place an order. One confirming the order, one saying that your card has been charged, another with tracking information, and at least one more which is an invoice for some reason.
The point is that I’m so accustomed to seeing those emails that I don’t bother looking at them; That includes the one which said that my payment was declined.
For the love of god Newegg, process payments in real time (or at least validate the payment method in real time — if you want to hold the charge until shipment that’s OK with me). In 2002 this kind of thing was somewhat understandable, but it’s now 2015.
The Secret Prime Discount
One glaring difference between Prime and Premier is the pricing: An annual membership is $99 on Amazon, but only $49.99 on Newegg.
Besides the fact that I think that Prime is still a better deal, here’s a little something I figured out that can save you a few bucks:
Cancel your Prime membership.
No, I’m not being snarky. Cancel your Prime membership the day before it’s set to renew.
If you don’t have a Prime membership, then sign up for a free 30-day trial and cancel it on day 29.
Once you’ve cancelled, wait a week or two. You’ll get an email (or visit “Your Prime Membership” under “Your Account” when logged into Amazon) wherein they will offer a year of Prime to you at $49.
Once you go Prime they don’t want you to go back, and they’re willing to go down to half price to keep you in the fold.
I’ve done this for my initial membership and two renewals and it’s worked so far.
At least it’ll work until they catch on to my trick, so shhhhh.
Edit: So am I a Premier Member?
It’s been about a day since I signed up for Premier. In my account they acknowledge that I am, yet every page has a header entreating me to “try Premier“.
If I click on the “try Premier” graphic, it takes me to the signup page for the service. It invites me to sign in if I’m already a member… but I am signed in.
I know that this is probably just a bug. Some developer forgot to hide the banner at the top of the screen… I guess? And they forgot to put some tiny piece of code on the Premier signup screen that would detect if I’m logged in… I guess?
Those seem like pretty big things to miss. Given the slow process of membership approval, I’m kinda doubting whether or not I am a member. (Don’t worry, it turns out that I am. But I had to go into a shopping cart to check.) It’s just sloppy is all.
Edit: Enough with the Freaking Emails
15 emails. Fifteen emails to place and then fix a $10 order. That’s excessive by my measure.
Order confirmation: Fair enough. But how about charging me when the item ships and just sending one email instead of separate Payment Authorized, Payment Charged and Order Tracking Information emails?
Letting me describe my issue in your contact form and giving your customer-facing service personnel a modicum of authority would have eliminated another 3 emails.
And seriously, you could have combined the Refund and Invoice (for the refund) into one email. Or actually, how about not sending me invoices? I can log into my NE account and retrieve them, aside from the fact that I have no use for an invoice.
The straw that broke the camel’s back and made me lengthen my tirade is the email right at the top of the above screenshot: “Rate Your Recent Newegg Marketplace Shopping Experience!“
That would be reasonable were it not for the fact that I already fu¢king rated the seller hours ago.
Again, there’s more than a little sloppy coding going on over at the ‘Egg. I don’t know about other customers, but I hate to be nagged by my retailer… especially about something I’ve already done.
Speaking of sloppy work and a lack of attention to detail, look at my completely useless invoice, one of the three emails garnered by my signing up for Premier:
- The “Shop Around” menu is inconsistent to the website: PC & Laptops links to the Computers & Tablets category, Home Theater to TV & Video, Cameras to Digital Cameras, and More to Newegg Specials.
- The image at the top does not display (and note that the other images do appear — so it’s not being blocked by my email client, which customarily renders Newegg’s emails just fine).
- Shipping information is irrelevantly shown for this, a digital order.
- It says “1003” underneath my name for no conceivable reason (that number appears nowhere in my account settings nor address book).
- There is no space between the comma after my city and the two-letter state abbreviation.
- The invoice is dated 2:57:13 PM, but the time zone isn’t specified (it’s likely that it’s Pacific Daylight Time).
- The invoice date is around 3 PM PDT. I didn’t receive it until 7 PM PDT (or 10 PM EDT as it says in my email’s heading). I checked the SMTP headers, and it wasn’t delayed. It took them 4 hours to generate and send a simple invoice.
- THEY CALLED THEIR OWN PRODUCT "3 months’ the premier"!
- Not only is the product not, to my knowledge, called “the premier”, their use of the apostrophe is baffling and they failed to capitalize the proper name of Premier.
- They called my Mastercard a payment term. That’s not so absurd as 3 months’ the premier, but “term” in this context would mean a period of time. Payment terms implies a method and time frame of payment.
- It simply says “Online Services” after the totals. I don’t know what they mean by that. It’s not the signature to the email, because it’s later signed by “Your Newegg Customer Service Team”. So without any context I’ll assume that it’s just there as a general declaration of Online Services.
I know that I’m nitpicking, but this 3 months’ the premier really got me going. Plus with almost $3 billion in revenue (2013), my expectations are high.
That’s all for now.
Edit: Some more emails (2015-04-28)
I just placed my first order since becoming a Premier member.
I bought two WD Elements 4TB USB 3.0 3.5″ External Hard Drives (WDBWLG0040HBK), each supposedly containing a WD40RZRX 3.5″ SATA drive.
While I was on NE’s site, I happened to take a look at a monitor that they were advertising. My actions garnered me a shocking eight email, plus the three regular promotional emails.
That’s a whopping eleven emails in a period of less than 24 hours. Even with my spam filter off I don’t get Viagra offers that frequently.
The thing is, I want to get their promotional newsletter. Sometimes they have really good deals on things that I actually
Here’s the problem: There is insufficient granularity to their subscriptions. It’s kinda all or nothing. I’m not subscribed to everything. In fact, here are my settings as they’ve been for quite a while in My [Newegg] Account > Newegg Notifications:
|Newegg Marketplace Seller Rating||Unsubscribe|
Unfortunately, the Newegg Newsletter option actually subscribes me to far more than just the newsletter. If I want the newsletter, but don’t want “sweepstakes and giveaways from top brands” then I’m out of luck.
I don’t know where or when I gave them permission for the “Enjoying Your Recent Purchases?” emails. (By the way, those two “recent purchases” emails were separate for the two identical items that I purchased in one order. The second email is nothing but pointless spam.)
I also don’t know why I’m getting the “Shopping for …” emails. They’re not newsletters and they’re not product voting. They’re nothing.
For the love of all that is good and holy Newegg, I want to like you guys. But you’re making me feel like I’m friends with a Russian spammer.
Another Pet Peeve
OK, I’ll admit it. I jumped the gun a little bit. There is a link at the bottom of the “enjoying” and “shopping for” emails to unsubscribe.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still irked that they don’t allow me to manage that subscripition along with the others, and that it’s an opt-out mailing instead of an opt-in mailing. Frankly it’s BS that they snuck another type of email in on me without my consent.
But that’s not even the pet peeve that I was referring to in the header of this section. My pet peeve is right here:
That’s right, three business days for this change to be reflected in their system.
You just want to weasel your way into sending me an extra few emails before I quit, in the hopes that I’ll come back like some desperate crack addict.
First off, assuming that it does take some time to process my removal from the list, computers work right through the fracking weekend.
Do you take your customers for idiots?
If you’re going to lie, at least lie convincingly: Why is it “business days”? I know why. It’s so that if someone unsubscribes after Wednesday at 5 PM you get to send them more spam all weekend. That averages out to a lot more marketing for ya, what with your millions of customers.
Unless your entire subscription system was coded by retarded gorillas chain smoking doobies, it should take no more than about 50ms to process an unsubscribe. If you tell me otherwise, you better also explain in grave detail why that’s the case or I will call you a liar. (Let your lawyers know that this is, of course, in my opinion.)
How do I know? I have actually coded more than 3 separate bulk email application suites in 3 different languages on two different OSes and two different database platforms. All of them were or are in production environments and have sent out millions of opt-in, non-spam emails. I’m not saying that to brag, only to make the point that this is my wheelhouse.
I have no tolerance for spam, and so I make my unsubscribe process a single click and immediate affair. As soon as the page is done loading, the person is unsubscribed. If there were already emails for them that had been previously queued up, they are unqueued.
Unless an email is stuck somewhere in MX limbo, the unsubscribe is immediate and absolute. (And SMTP servers also do not obey “business days”, so don’t say you’re hedging your bets against SMTP problems.)
Edit: Does nothing work??
It’s been a couple of weeks, but I just felt the need to reply to an “answer” on Newegg’s site.
Just like Home Depot (but unlike Amazon), Newegg’s customer Q&A section is powered by a third party. In this case it’s TurnTo.
The bothersome thing about the third party service is that there’s no single sign on mechanism. So I created a nice, fake account rather than providing TurnTo with permission to harvest my Facebook information or what have you.
Anyway, here’s the bug:
After submitting my comment, I was sent a link to confirm my email address. That’s great; I have no problem with it.
Aside from the subject ending in a question mark, Newegg calling themselves NewEgg (pick one), and their calling an address bar a “window”, this email looks perfectly normal. But let me ask you this: Where would you imagine that link would take me?
If you guessed “a page thanking you for confirming your address” then you’d be a veritable expert in web design. You’d also be completely wrong.
Of course! Why wouldn’t it take me to an obsolete Sony camera that’s no longer even sold by Newegg?
And that is not the product I was viewing when I submitted my comment. To each their own, but I wasn’t shopping for cheap PAS cameras from 2008. I’ve never viewed that listing (AFAIR), so why did they think I’d find it interesting?
I could see them linking me to some hot, new product as part of their marking efforts, but this is just baffling.
Edit: One of Us is Out of Time
Please, look at this screenshot. Take a moment to really soak it all in.
We’ve detected the time on your computer is out of sync with your time zone. Please update your clock settings to match with www.time.gov for optimum performance.
There are a few reasons that I’ve taken the time, months later, to update this post:
- I’ve been using the good ol’ World Wide Web since it sprang forth to the public from the bowels of CERN. Never have I seen a website complain about this sort of thing, either correctly or incorrectly. Certificates and stuff like that, sure.
- Obviously they’re complaining incorrectly. By now you, dear reader, should know that I’m anal enough to ensure that my time is properly synced to a quality NTP server.
- The first sentence is technically (and I am, again, very anal retentive) incorrect as well as being grammatically flawed. The time on my computer could indeed be out of sync with the correct time for my time zone, but not out of sync with the time zone itself. That’s just a geographic area, and not a time.
- The second sentence is actually worse than the first.
www.time.govis not an NTP server. Nor does it even contain the address of an NTP server. For that you might want to go to
- Further, I’m using a Windows 7 machine that’s a member of a domain. Without going into the registry I can’t update the NTP server in my clock settings. I’m the domain admin, sure, but there’s no way that they can know that.
- “[..] for optimum performance.” I cannot for the life of me figure out what that means. Will the website respond more slowly if the time on my computer is off by a millisecond? Even if my time were a month off the actual time, that shouldn’t effect the performance of my web browsing experience.
- The absolute best part of this is that the error message was likely produced because the time on one of their web servers is out of sync with their time zone. Perhaps they should consider updating their clock settings to match with time.nist.gov for optimum performance.
All of this is fairly irrelevant, seeing as I was able to login just fine. However I had the primal urge of complaining and felt obligated to make note of this remarkable message.
Edit: I’m back!
I’d forgotten to cancel my “3 months The Premier” membership, and just got billed today for another 3 months. I’m not complaining; It’s perfectly reasonable.
However they’ve managed to baffle me yet again during the cancellation process:
If Premier Membership benefits were not used during the period, then you will receive a full refund. If any Premier Membership benefits were used, then you may continue to take advantage of the program until your expiration date, but you will not be eligible to receive a full refund. Remember, if you change your mind, you can reactivate your membership.
YOUR MEMBERSHIP WILL END ON 10/06/2015
Your credit card will not be charged and you will no longer receive Premier benefits.
As usual, there are a few things wrong here.
First off, I’ve been a member since 4/6/2015, whereas they only show me as having been a member since today, 7/6/2015. Not a big deal, but again it’s sloppy coding on their part.
Secondly, I can’t believe that they’re batch processing this, too. I haven’t used my “Premier Membership benefits” in the 30 minutes since my membership was renewed. You, dear reader, would have no way of knowing that. But NewEgg’s server definitely should! I see no reason why this has to be a long, drawn out process based upon easily-verifiable conditionals.
Even though they’ve needlessly left the state of my refund up in the air, they seem to have decided that I will not receive a full refund, because they go on to say that my membership will be active for another 3 months — until 10/6/2015!
Newegg, Newegg, Newegg… Why, oh, why do you insist on yanking your customers’ chains and being completely passive-aggressive about everything? On the one hand you say that I will obtain a full refund (given that I haven’t used my Premier benefits today), and on the other hand you say that I won’t get any refund, and that my membership will continue for 3 months. WHICH ONE THE F&$K IS IT?????
Sorry, I got a little angry there. But surely you can see why: Right now I’m in limbo. I guess that would be fine if I were a criminal waiting on the deliberations of a jury, or if I was at the DMV. But you should not put your customers in a position where they’re comparing their experiences with your business to a court or motor vehicle office. You’re doing something wrong here.
And what I mean about “limbo” is that I don’t know the state of my account, and so I don’t know what to do next (other than complain publicly about it on the internet). If I will receive a full refund — as I should — then this matter is closed, and all is well. If my membership will indeed continue on to October, then I have to email your customer service and [slowly] get this resolved.
There’s nothing that I find too objectionable about the terms and conditions, but there are some oddities and fishy smells:
We created Newegg Premier (“Premier”) so loyal Newegg.com customers can get the extra attention and benefits they deserve like free and fast shipping, free returns, no restocking fees and more.
Loyal customers, eh? Since the only condition for becoming a Premier member is a Newegg account and a credit card on file, loyalty really has nothing to do with it. For example, if someone had never used Newegg before, they may sign up for Premiere to place one order that would otherwise have had shipping charges greater than the cost of a membership. They could then never again use NewEgg. So this program has nothing to do with loyalty.
After you register for Premier, you will enjoy all membership benefits for a full year. Your membership will automatically renew on your annual membership renewal date, unless you tell us to cancel your membership.
Here’s where I play armchair lawyer: Their official “Terms & Conditions”, to which one must agree in order to become a Premier member, specifically and only discuss an annual membership term. It does not make mention of a shorter term (i.e. the 3 months for which I signed up).
Assuming that these terms and conditions form the basis of our mutual understanding, one of three things could be inferred from this (if I wanted to be a pain in the a$$ about it):
- My membership is void. Newegg violated its own Terms and Conditions by granting me anything other than an annual membership in the first place.
- My membership is overpriced. If the only term outlined in these T&C is an annual term, then my 3 months of membership should have been billed at the annual rate. That is to say one quarter of the annual price of $49.99 ($12.50), not the $19.99 that I’ve paid.
- I should be bound to an annual term. After all, I agreed to these terms and conditions, and they clearly spell out the fact that my membership term is an annual one. However, if that’s true then it’s a clear example of bait-and-switch advertising because Newegg suckered me in with a promise of a 3-month membership.
Like I said, I’m just playing an attorney for the sake of satire and point-making. However, it’s pretty clear to me, a layperson, that an attorney didn’t draft the language of the Premier T&C.
There’s one more thing about the T&C that’s actually a pretty big problem, and should prevent anyone from agreeing to it:
You can find information on the current Premier annual membership fee on the Premier FAQ page.
No big deal, except that the link doesn’t work. What’s the fee to which I’m agreeing? Oh, 404? That seems high.