One Laptop Per Child Has Good Customer Service

We opened the following email with trepidation, thinking it might be a horrible customer service story about a charity.

Thankfully, it was a compliment, so we thought we’d post it.

I thought you might want to know about my experience with OLPC. I couldn’t get the link on the site to work so I tried the toll free number on the bottom of the page. After two rings I was greeted by a real live human being (I did a double take when I heard her say her name, I was waiting for the phone tree options.) Even better, she processed my order and answered my questions without transferring me anywhere or putting me on hold. When I first heard about the “buy one, give one” deal I thought it was fantastic, now I’m even more pleased.



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  1. newlywed says:


  2. frowelishnu says:

    Thanks for posting the tip (should’ve been more descriptive in my subject line).
    Love the site, love this idea.
    I’m just in an all around good mood cause I get a great deal, a cool laptop, a good charity oppurtunity and good customer service to boot.

  3. overbysara says:

    wow! unheard of these days!

  4. ludwigk says:

    Sweet. When I called the BART fast pass customer service number, it rang twice, then a woman picked up the phone and said “Fast Pass Customer Service…”

    I was like “hello? wow, a person?”

    It’s kind of sad that its ‘surprising’ to call a company and hear a voice, but for some pretty good reasons (and some frustrating ones), phone trees are customary now.

    So, can I call this lady and ask her when my OLPC will show up?

  5. iMike says:

    Huh. I was irritated enough about the paypal nag (“sign in to your paypal account” and “we’ve detected that you have a paypal account based on your email address”) that I sent a note to OLPC to complain. I freaking HATE paypal.

  6. iMike says:

    And PS> Didn’t get a response from OLPC. I’ll bet they diverted the emails to those f*cks at paypal.

  7. algormortis says:

    I can’t say enough good about these folks. Half my department has ordered OLPC laptops and the whole give one get one is just genius.

    If you call them, they can skip the PayPal fun. As we can’t use Big Magenta Letter After S-Mobile purchasing cards with PayPal, the one we got for testing had to be ordered by phone. I about threw my neck out doing that double-take when a cheerful rep answered the phone with next to no hold.

  8. crosswatsonj says:

    Warning: Donation via PayPal is $425.95, donation via phone is $448; explanation by operator was confusing.
    I tried to “give one, get one” on the web site. I entered the zip code for shipment of the computer to my grandchildren, and the web site computed my cost as $399 plus $24.95 shipping and handling for a total of $423.95. However, when I tried to complete the PayPal transaction, it failed, probably because I did not have a PayPal balance that large.
    No problem, I thought, I will call the 877 number and use my credit card. After a few minutes in the phone queue, I talked with a human who took my information and computed a total of $448 and change. I asked her why her total was different than that on the web site. She insisted that I had to pay shipping and handling for BOTH computers. That did not make sense to me, especially when I asked how they calculated shipping and handling to a third world country. She put me on hold and talked with her supervisor. Her answer was, yes, indeed the donation required shipping and handling for BOTH computers. Since I envisioned that OLPC would ship the donated computers in containers in bulk, I was dissatisfied with the explanation and cancelled the transaction.
    I called the Donor Service 800 number to ask why the web site and the 877 operator came up with different totals. This person explained that I would have to pay $35 shipping and handling on ONE computer, regardless of the zip code. Furthermore, since I would be using the telephone service, I would have to pay tax on both the computer and the shipping, bringing the total to $448.
    I explained that the web site did not disclose this information, and pointed out that if shipping was indeed $35, the web site was short changing OLPC by $10.05. I asked that she inform her management and ask them to adjust the web site or change the 877 script to explain that tax is included rather than the lame excuse that shipping fees were charged for BOTH computers. She hung up on me.

  9. when you’ve got money in your hands, of course they’ll be nice

  10. kerryrodier says:

    I am glad that everyone has had a great experience with customer service but my experience has been a nightmare. I ordered the computer over a week ago, and hadn’t received my confirm yet so I called to make sure everything was ok. They can’t find my confirmation or order anywhere, not even with the confirmation number they had given me. I was supposed to get a call back yesterday and never did. THis was supposed to be a xmas gift for my son who only asked for 2 things and guess what he’s not going to get it ontime for sure now, he still believes in Santa b/c he is only 51/2 but this may put an end to that. I am at my wits end about this and can’t get an answer from anyone! They told me not to reorder it b/c I will lose my place on the ordering system but I am afraid that we willnever get it. I am sure the kid in the Third World country has gotten it though. Nice I am doind this to be charitable and it’s bitting me in the butt!!
    Thanks for listening to me vent!

  11. fosterb says:

    I found OLPC’s customer service to be friendly and honest, but utterly useless. (Only 1 out of 3 reps was a rude and made up stuff to get me off the phone. Things like Canadians are currently receiving the laptop when they are not!) Wait times typically exceed 45 minutes.

    Check this out:

    Some people are pissed in both Canada and the US over the botched G1G1 program. There is no information for Canada aside from a statement that says that it will be shipped in 2008. I wonder how things could have gone so wrong!

    The frustrations can be summarized by the fact that OLPC is not taking responsibility for the failures in communication. Many of us just want to be told WHY, and wish they would be more transparent.

    Consumerist? Can you look in to this? Ask a few questions? Get to the bottom of it? Is it just a case on inexperience? We all want to see OLPC succeed, but if this is a sign of things to come, how can they be trusted to deliver education to the world’s children?