Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Experiences with DealExtreme and Banggood return policies

Just wanted to relate a recent experience between DealExtreme and Banggood, in case it is useful to anyone.

I have ordered several products from both vendors.  As a rule, the products are as described and well made.  Or, at least, a quality equal to or higher than what you would expect from the selling price.  There have been exceptions but that's been the general experience.

(Yes, shipping takes a long time.  That's a given.  I've had 1 or maybe 2 orders lost or show up extremely late.  It's just what happens.)

Most of the items have been USB cables, battery packs and such.  As I've gotten more comfortable with BG, I've been ordering more and more expensive items.

Most of the time these items work fine.  Sometimes they don't.  But - to make a long story short - BG has always refunded or replaced the defective items.  That's a new replacement item or a 100% refund, after I've shown them a video (or photos) of the problematic item.

This includes expensive items such as RC toys, where they sent a replacement transmitter when I got a defective one.  They refunded some RC car wheels when I got front wheels instead of back wheels.  And it also includes refunds for non-performing items like battery chargers.

This has recently extended up to tablets, which are roughly $100 a pop for inexpensive models.  (Kids break them so I buy cheap ones.)  One tablet got lost in the mail and they refunded it without any complaints once the tracking number stayed stuck for 60 days.

Based on this, I have 100% confidence in BG.  I do not worry at all buying from them since I know that if they send a defective item I will not lose any money on it. 

Up until recently, BG had better pricing than DX, but that has been changing.  Plus DX has a few items BG does not.  So, based on my favorable past experience I ordered a couple of tablets from DX.

On arrival, one was DOA with a non-functional screen.  It happens.  I did the customary video of the issue and opened a customer service ticket.  What I got back was a little disappointing.

Here are the options they presented:

-  Get the tablet repaired and negotiate a (partial?) rebate of the repair cost
-  Get an $8 credit
-  Return the item (shipping cost: $20) for an exchange

Obviously not nearly as supportive as BG.  This is typical of the risks that people do not want to take on when purchasing expensive items from overseas vendors.

This is my first experience with DX return policies, and I can't say I'm too impressed.  In previous days I might have just shrugged and chalked it up to experience, but BG is setting a much higher bar for customer service.

From this, I would have to recommend Banggood over DealExtreme.  If you do have issues - and they do happen, even to the best vendors - BG should cover you.  DX will not.

It is true that - depending on the item - BG might be a little bit more expensive than DX.  And they don't stock identical products all the time. 

And this is just my experience, YMMV.  I recently read a tablet review on BG where, somehow, their return policy changed to pretty much match DX.  I do not know why they would handle different customers differently, but it seems that they might.  So be certain to always protect yourself with a credit card or other means of payment that allows you to dispute the payment should things go badly.

In any event, I know where I'm buying my expensive toys in the future.

(Note:  I shouldn't even have to say this, but in this day and age of paid reviews I guess I have to.  NOBODY PAID ME to write this, and I have NO affiliation with either DealExtreme or Banggood except being a customer.  It's my money on the line here, not theirs.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Things you can do to provide web filtering (parental controls) on Android

This article concerns how to keep little ones from stumbling into inappropriate content on the net via an Android device.  If this isn't what you need, you can stop reading now.

Unfortunately, Android has no "master switch" that enables filtering.  But there are some things you can do.

I will also say that no filtering is ever perfect.

1.  Youtube:  Enable "Restricted mode".

How:  On the individual device, go to Youtube.com.  Go to the bottom where it says "Restricted mode: Off".  Click and enable Restricted Mode.

Limits:  Only filters Youtube content.

Notes:  This seems to work by browser, so you have to do this on the device of interest.  Going to Youtube on a PC when you want to restrict a tablet doesn't work.

2.  Google Play:  In the Play app, go to Settings/Parental controls.  You can set a PIN to prevent kiddies from setting it back.

Limits:  Only filters Play app content.  Play access via browser is unaffected.

3.  Parental control app.  Several are available on the Play Store.

Limits:  None seem to be a clear winner.  Most require subscriptions.

4.  Use OpenDNS.  Methods vary.  Basic filtering is free.

Limits:  Doesn't work with some VPN services.