LDLC-Pro has broken my computer and blames it on me #fail

I’ve been unlucky enough to start buying at LDLC-Pro my IT material. They had a good reputation and based on it I went ahead and bought a computer, plus an extra SSD disc for another computer, plus some other stuff. It took them a bit longer than expected to deliver, but I was in no hurry so no big deal.

Then my SSD disc failed, and you know how it is: catastrophic. No way of having access to your data so you have to reinstall everything again from scratch and pray that all the important data was synced to the cloud before it died. I sent it to them and could not get a replacement because they did not have it on stock, so they credited my account and I bought a new one. All OK, except that their system is rather complicated and manual instead of deducting your reimbursement automatically from your next buys.

OK, so I was unlucky with one product, it may happen… And then my computer started failing. After spending some time trying to find the source of the problem I discovered that there was a problem with the memory.

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I called their support and they told me to run the tests on each memory stick. I did and both were bad. This meant, in their own words, that there was something wrong with the computer and that I had to send it back to them for repair.

So I wrapped my computer in bubble wrap, added paper balls for extra protection and to keep it away from the cardboard and I sent it to them. And this is where things start to get weird.

They received the computer on Friday January 25, but they did not acknowledge receipt.

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I called on Thursday January 31 to check, it was weird not to have the receipt. So I talked with one of the agents that confirmed that it was weird that I did not get a receipt and that everything was in order. The computer had undergone some checking and was to go on more extensive testing.

And then on Friday February 1, one week after they received the computer, I finally get the confirmation as if the computer had arrived on February 1.

Immediately after this they sent another email with pictures of the damage that they had done and trying to blame it on me.

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They also sent me a picture of the open box.

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I may be poor sighted, but I don’t see anything wrong with it, just a box that has been opened. How come there are no pictures of the box before opening if it was battered?

Basically they refused to repair my computer and have sent it back (I don’t know how it will arrive) without honoring the warranty and, on top of it, having broken it while on repair.

So one of this days I will receive a computer with a broken case, probably a broken screen, the two bad memory sticks I already had, and the mother board with the defect that caused the problem in the memory sticks.

If it wasn’t for the call I made on Thursday to check they could have pulled it out, but I know my computer was received OK. I sent a detailed email to them, but they ignored it. I spoke with them today and they said that the box arrived in an awful condition, I don’t see that in any of the photos they’ve sent.

This is what really happened:

  1. They received the package without issues.
  2. One of their technicians dropped it.
  3. They decided to blame it on me and not honor the warranty. Easy way out.

What happens now? I will have to buy a new computer – somewhere else – and see if I can use some of the pieces left for projects at the Hacker Space Brussels, if there’s anything else that can be salvaged. Unfortunately there’s nothing I can realistically do to defend my rights. All that is left is to recommend everybody I know to beware and never buy anything from them. It has started with the people that recommended them: we trust each other because we give each other good advice, and if things are not good we just talk to update our knowledge.

TL; DR: Don’t ever buy anything from LDLC-Pro, they are not trustworthy and their products have a lot of defects.

Update 05/02/2013: Thanks to your support sharing this post in social media, I got the email of the CEO of LDLC and have already sent him a message explaining what happened.

Update 2 05/02/2013: got the reply from the CEO of LDLC. An email in the same line as his customer service but more agressive. Bad news for the clients, bad news for the future of the company.

Update 06/02/2013: got another email from the CEO. Let’s just say that he did not use the nicest language, but they will reimburse me. Thanks for your help!

Update 21/02/2013: The money arrived to my account on Feb. 8. Again, thanks for your help!

How can market signals contribute to public startup funding?

Coinvest-by-ramonsuarez-piggybanks

The EU Commission has invited me to participate in a series of very interesting discussions about how to help tech entrepreneurs in the EU. The conversations have been very interesting and have given me the opportunity to exchange with entrepreneurs, universities, public and private organizations, and experts that support the development of startups in Europe.

One of the things that we discussed is how should to ensure that public funding on early stage startups does not bias the market, incentivising “good” ideas that nobody really cares about and ignoring others that are more needed.

My proposal, shared by other participants, is to follow market signals, so that it is the market that chooses and the public sector only reenforces those choices.

But the question is, which market signals?

Coinvesting is a good way to follow the market lead, but it should be investment from private investors, not from guarantee funds or banks (there are already mechanisms for that). They have a higher commitment to the success of the company, after all they’ve bet some of their own money in it. 

The selection of the startups by a group of investors and entrepreneurs to participate in accelerator programs is also a good signal. They usually invest based on the quality of the team of people joining. It is not a school, they have very limited seats available and they work hard to help the startups grow quick. They have some skin in the choice (but are not fully committed.) The equity parts of these programmes are usually passive, they don’t take part in the . They just wait for 5 or more years for a possible exit or buyout. To really make a difference they should also put their own money in the startups, commit themselves, not just distribute somebody else’s funds.

These are some example of accelerator programs and of a public investment scheme to promote web entrepreneurship. 

  • Enterprise Ireland: €50 000 for new startups and €250 000 in coinvestment, companies have to setup shop in Ireland and 10% of the company goes to EI. 
  • Y-combinator: acts as a fund on top of accelerating a very select group of startups. Investments of up to US$80 000 for the next batch in exchange of 2-10% participation. 
  • TechStars: US$18 000 to the selected participant startups plus a convertible loan of US$100 000, in exchange of +- 6% equity.
  • Wayra: US$ 50 000 in exchange of 5-10% of the equity.

Sales would be too tricky to take into consideration, with a lot of different schemes and most of the startups would be to early in their development to have any sales at all. 

In my view, it would be even more interesting to incentivate the investment with a tax-shelter for early stage investment. There are already mechanisms like this in France and the UK where what the tax-shelters are doing is taking out part of the risk. One way to do this could be to create a European fund that would give part of the money back in case of a failure, but the investment has to fall within the scope and be registered when it is done, not after.

How would you do it?

Facebook pages you should like

BetaGroup Coworking

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Promote Your Page Too Comer, hablar, amar: vivir al fin y al cabo

Promote Your Page Too Startup Weekend Brussels

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Promote Your Page Too

Thank you Jean !

Half-attendees-betagroup-37-ka

Yesterday was a bitter-sweet night for all of us. On one part we had the first demo day of the Betagroup, with almost 1200 signups and over 700 attendees. The place was packed and the startups doing the demos where very busy pitching.

At the same time Leo Exter was running a Betainvest event upstairs, with 30 investors an 10 startups pitching for funds.

And then Jean dropped the bomb

Jean Derely got on an improvised stage to thank the sponsors and go through all the things that have happened in the last 4 years, and then proceeded to drop the bomb: Jean will no longer run the Betagroup.

I cannot say it was a surprise for me or the other members of the Betagroup team (we had been working on his decision for about a month), but it was still a sad moment for me.

The impact of Jean Derely and the Betagroup

Heart-and-sould-of-the-belgian

Without Jean and the Betagroup I would have never become who I am in Brussels and the startup ecosystem. I don’t think I would even be the same person, nor have reached my current level of happiness. If I’ve ended up organizing so many events and opening a coworking space in Brussels it is part thanks to Jean, to his motivation and to the vibe he’s managed to transmit. He’s sparked the will to organize things and to make them happen in a lot of us; he’s promoted and helped numerous events and groups to get going, to launch and to do what they love; he’s shown the example to follow, doing what we love, working hard, making it happen.

Jean is the heart and soul of our tech startup ecosystem. He’s not the only one that has created or is running events to promote tech entrepreneurship in Belgium, but he’s had the biggest impact of all. Jean has always focused on bringing value to the startups and obsessed about making things happen, with his own money and with his work to raise funding for the Betagroup, to provide for all those free events for entrepreneurs and professionals.

I still remember when I discovered the Betagroup and before attended my first event (number 3 of 37 so far, without counting all the seminars, workshops and conferences) I contacted Juanito who was running a Hispanic social network in the USA and had moved back to Belgium. He wanted to have an American style event to shake things a little and meet other like minded people. With the help of some of his friends he started setting up a dinner to discuss it and then moved to the ULB to host a growing community. I think that back then we were 80 or so, but for the next event it was already 100 and it has kept on growing. Today there are over 5500 people in our community of tech startup lovers. Thanks to Jean we are changing the world, starting with Brussels.

Why Jean is stepping down

The Betagroup has always strived to help startups grow, and one of its successes is Woorank, Jean’s own startup. In the last two years Boris Demaria and have grown Woorank into a profitable business, without external capital and to a 13 person strong team. He’s managed to turn his own dream into a reality. Woorank is growing fast and Jean needs to concentrate on this opportunity. 

What changes for you

Nothing.

The Betagroup will continue on operating just like it does now. I’ve taken over most of Jean’s role running the Betagroup and will be working with two great people that have already proven their value, namely Julie Foulon and Leo Exter

Julie will continue organizing the big events of the Betagroups, our pitch slams and demo days.

Leo will continue running the Betainvest, our investor club where we try to help investors and startups meet each other and heat up the market.

I will continue running the coworking space and will be more involved in the running of the Betagroup together with the other founders of the non-profit: Olivier Belenger and Julien Meganck

Jean has made sure that his parting did not hinder the Betagroup.

What you should do

Send Jean a message, by email, Twitter, blog, sms, through the Betagroup’s contact form, by post, in person when you see him… No matter how, but tell him about the positive impact he’s had on you, your company, your community. Thank him for this 4 years of hard work and support. It is the least we can do.

Organize your own event or join the organization of an existing event. We build the ecosystem together. The more you participate the better, bigger and useful it gets. Let’s make sure that no matter who moves along with life the ecosystem keeps on growing and growing faster all the time.

Thank you Jean !

With all my heart.

Seed-DB: the directory of seed accelerator programs (there’s life beyond Y Combinator)

140 programs world-wide

2089 companies accelerated

109 exits for $ 1,115,758,100

$ 1,551,526,081 funding

5154 jobs created

But they do lead the charts! It is great to have a source that at least hints at the impact of accelerators.

PeerReach: find and understand social media influencers

PeerReach is a tool to find the influencers in a topic, language and geographic area. But it does more than help you find them, it helps you understand their main areas of interest and influence in each one of them.

You probably thought of other tools that are stablished in the market- like Klout, PeerIndex and Kredly- that already do something similar. These competitors are focused on their ranking number and are not so good in defining the right areas of interest and influence.

When I first saw my profile in PeerReach and those of a couple friends I was impacted by the quality and relevance of their categorization.

The service is free for regular users, and business (marketing agencies, communication professionals, etc.) can pay for an API to integrate PeerReach with their own tools.

 

Nico Schoonderwoerd is the cofounder of an international team directed from Amsterdam. They have recently raised €250 000.

 

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kwiqly: improve the energy use of your building withouth installing hardware

kwiqly wants to help you save energy money by using the data from your utility provider and combining it with the weather information. There’s nothing to install, no need to buy any hardware.

James Ferguson, has presented the company at the startup competition at LeWeb and they are one of my candidates for the final.

 

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