The $150 laptop saga: Checking out 2Checkout and Medison

Update below: On Wednesday, I ordered a Fedora laptop for $150. On Thursday, I called the reseller of this item to get a feel for customer service and figure out whether my buyer's remorse was justified.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Update below: On Wednesday, I ordered a Fedora laptop for $150. On Thursday, I called the reseller of this item to get a feel for customer service and figure out whether my buyer's remorse was justified.

As background, a Swedish company called Medison unveiled a laptop called the Celebrity, which is dirt cheap and runs Fedora. I ordered one as did a bunch of other folks.

On ZDNet and elsewhere thoughts about Ponzi schemes or worse came to the fore.

I called 2Checkout.com, the reseller that's handling orders for the Medison Celebrity, and talked to a customer service rep.

The experience was fine and I was on hold for about 3 minutes or so. The customer service rep assured me that Medison is a real company and not some scam.

I came away feeling better. Courtesy of a talkback to my prior post, I found a link that addresses my concerns in more detail. Apparently 2Checkout.com has had more than a few callers about this Medison laptop.

Here's the nutshell of 2Checkout.com's full response to concerns about Medison:

Our customers are our business, and we would like to assure you that your thoughts, as well as the overall web reaction in regard to this product have been closely monitored. From the earliest posting on slashdot and engadget to the wide breadth of current discussion, we have been keeping abreast of the marketing spread of the suppliers product, as well as the responses the campaign gathered. We understand the importance of viral information dissemination, as well as the value of the consumer investigations and feedback. Your warnings, excitement, and apprehension have all been noted and we are taking steps accordingly to ensure that your concerns do not go ignored, and to protect both your interests and ours.

Medison itself seems to be the source of the greatest customer concern. The company, while only recently a licensed business entity, has been in operation since 1996. All information we have received from them has been thus far verifiable and free of major discrepancies.

As a reseller for thousands of vendors multinationally, we are unable to maintain a personal, on site style of oversight of every account and seller. We do not require a company to provide an extensive, unquestionable groundwork of business experience to market their products via 2Checkout. Nor is it even feasible to do so without alienating the individual or small business reseller, who are most in need of a turnkey services such as ours. However we do have a detailed process of checks and balances, as well as active monitoring procedures, in place to ensure that in the event a supplier is unable to fulfill their obligations. Our end user customers will not bear the brunt of any unfortunate activity. These practices have of course been amplified in this particular case due to the scope of the vendor's activity.

We have nothing to gain from working with a non-reputable supplier, and in insulating our customers from abuse, are indeed the only ones with something to lose. Conducting honest, risk free transactions in all our resale activities is indeed as important to us as it is to you, and we strive for it at every turn.

2Checkout maintains strict shipping policies to ensure that no funds are removed from the buyers account before a product has been marked as shipped within our system. This ensures that not only will the supplier not be paid before the item has shipped, the customers card will not even complete the transaction, the funds will only be held in an authorized state. Furthermore, until the initial run of orders has been fulfilled and received by the customers, any deposited funds for products en route will be held within the vendors account pending receipt from the buyer.

Based on this response I get the following takeaways:

  • My charge is protected and I'm confident in 2Checkout.com.
  • Medison is still sketchy to me and 2Checkout.com appears slightly worried about them.
  • And I'm evaluating why I'm so skeptical of Medison when I've purchased items from people I don't know at all via eBay. Is Medison any better or worse than Joe Schmoe from Louisville?

Update: I also started doing more homework on Medison. Here are a few more items to ponder.

There is a Yahoo Group for Medison and it appears that CEO Valdi Ivancic is directly responding to questions. His email address is also readily available. Crooks usually aren't this available.

Ivancic posted a press release promising money back for anyone who hasn't received a laptop in three months. So much for 4 to 6 weeks. In the statement, Medison said:

"Communities on the web have been speculating if the company is yet another scam company trying to get money out of people placing orders on the product. Medison is therefore coming out with a promise to refund the money to those who, for some reason, would not get a laptop delivered within 3 months after the order was placed in the Medison web shop. Medison is doing business with a major banking institution in the USA who taking care of the credit card payments from the customers placing an order on the Medison Celebrity laptop.

It has been a tremendous pressure on the website the last 48 hours and we have had no chance to administrate and take care of all phone calls and incoming e-mails. The support line closed down temporarily due to unexpectedly high traffic."

Ivancic added that the support line will be up soon and Medison is swamped with orders.

In the release, which could have used an edit, Ivancic is quoted saying:

"There is no need for people to worry about not getting the laptop delivered. If we don't deliver the laptop within 3 months after placing the purchase order, we will give you your money back. This way we want to make clear that Medison is not a scam company as some individuals have been spreading around the word on the communities. We are a serious company and we are here to stay!"

In the group there was also a back and forth about credit card refunds.

In addition, I checked the court filings and this subsidiary didn't show up.

For now, I'm too damn curious to cancel my order. The saga continues...

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