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Smartalk suspends deliveries

Bad management to blame

Smartalk, the company offering PCs for £100 for customers who fill out monthly questionaires, has suspended deliveries.

It is understood by PC Advisor that deliveries will not resume until 18 October. The company claims this is due to massive demand and its failure to order sufficient PCs from its main supplier Elonex, as well as having insufficient support systems in place.

Smartalk was visited by the Department of Trade and Industry visit last week, to see whether the company was trading properly.

PC Advisor has had many inquiries as to the legitmacy of the company. Smartalk blames itself and its banking partner for the long list of cock-ups. It has also, it claims, stopped taking telephone orders.

Noel Glendon, general manager of PChelp, which also trades as Smartalk, said the company had not expected the volume of orders it has received.

He refused to comment on how many orders the company has taken and how many PCs have been delivered. Elonex also refused to comment on how many PCs Smartalk has ordered.

But Glendon said Smartalk is not about to take the money and run. He claims Smartalk never received any of the money from the credit card orders it received, and those funds are still being held by its bank.

Tales of woe concerning Smartalk are thick on the ground. While the company has shipped some units, it seems many customers are still without PCs months after ordering. The site was hacked in July, with an unkind message deriding the company’s trustworthiness placed on Smartalk’s site.

Back then, Smartalk was quoting six to eight weeks delivery on PCs, whereas most companies allow 28 days. One customer ordered a PC by credit card on 26 July, and has still not received his unit.

July was a bad month for Smartalk, as that’s when Barclays Merchant Services cancelled Smartalk’s credit and debit card facility.

Since then the company has been taking cheques instead, fuelling concerns over consumer protection. Glendon refused to comment further on the difficulties the company has, and said a Mirror article in the Kelly’s I column “was accurate about where we are”.

The author of the column, Matt Kelly, states people should “steer clear until they get their backlog out”. Glendon thinks the press has given Smartalk a rough time, but acknowledged the company has made serious errors.

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