This post is a copy of an email which I sent to Fractal this morning.  After reading over it, I decided that it made a pretty good review too, so here’s me sharing it with you!

Hi there,

I just wanted to take some time out to provide you with feedback for one of your products which I recently purchased.

I was in the market for a new case, and was looking for something which would reduce the amount of noise produced by my machine.  My previous build was ridiculously loud, with noise coming from all the fans, hum of the hard drives and occassionally a random clicking which I never figured out where it was coming from…needless to say this was very frustrating and so I decided to start looking for a new case.

Looking back over the years, my average budget for a case is £30, sometimes I spend less (I’ve had a £10 case which was perfect for me and lasted years) and sometimes I spend a little bit more; I bought an Antec 300 which lasted about 2 months before the power button broke off.

This time I was so desperate to get a case that would be as close to silent as possible, that I decided that I’d be willing to extend my budget significantly to pretty much double what I usually pay.  Whilst looking around on the eBuyer website I came across a couple of your cases and what drew me in to find out more about your brand and to take a closer look at your products was the simplicity in the design of your cases.  After reading more into it, checking out out some reviews and quite a long time debating with myself whether I was ready to part with so much money for a computer case, I chose to purchase the Fractal Design Define R3.

From what I’d read, this case has been just optimised for noise reduction, from Hard Drive pads, absorbing material, ModuVents and I’d even heard good things about the fans included.  On top of all that, it had plenty of space to house all the components that I have in my PC.

When I received it, I was thoroughly impressed by the build quality, the looks and just from the amount of space inside, not to mention how well organised it was!  After putting it all together, getting the cabling all nice and tidy I turned my PC on for a test drive.

Unfortunately, this was the point when I became so disappointed with it that I honestly wish I’d just stuck to the cheap cases! At least when I pay less for something, I’m not really surprised when it has issues, but I had so great expectations from the Fractal case which I was happy to spend £80 on for its features it was a massive let down and feels like a great waste of money.

The noise coming from the PC was almost as bad as what my previous case sounded like.  After investigating the source of the noise, I found that whilst the hard drive pads had eliminated the hum, the noise was actually coming from the rear fan included with the case.  When I realised then I was very surprised considering that most reviews say that the fans with this case are supposed to be superb, but after verifying that the fan was causing the noise by temporarily disconnecting it..well I knew better at that point.

For the time being I’ve left the fan connected but from the amount of noise it creates it’s only a matter of time before I give in and end up spending even more money on a new fan.

I’ll end up keeping the case, other than the noise it’s pretty much perfect and the build is incredible.  With the fan disconnected, I’ve found that the computer makes pretty much no noise, so well done on the noise reduction techniques.  The only thing which let the entire case down is the fan which creates such a racket that it renders the rest of noise elimination features useless.

A very disappointed customer.


What we imagine a horrible encounter might look like

Bargain Bump were a recent client of ours.  They wished to start an online business and asked us create an online shop for them.  We did so, and after talking to them, they explained how they were hoping to get established on the net.

Their first step was to gain a decent eBay reputation, and in order to do this quickly, they decided to sell a large amount of cheap items.  They did their research and found a company called TIC Pallets who do pallets of clearance of returns and clearance stock.

They rang TIC to inquire about the products and here’s a log of some of the questions asked:

Do you have any pallets suitable for an eBay startup?

Yes, we have Jambo pallets which are great for eBay sellers and car boot sales.  A lot of people take these from us

What is a Jambo pallet, what does it contain?

It’s a mixture of items, things that cost under £50 mostly.  Basically anything you could find in Woolworths, and you’ll get between 150 to 200 items.

Great, are these clearance or return items?

They’re returns, but all from within the 28 day guarantee.  Some things might have a little fault, but you’ll also get a lot things returned that people just don’t want any more.  It’s pick and mix but you’ll have a nice selection of working items that make up for the non-working.

And how much do one of these pallets cost?

It’s £95, plus £45 delivery plus VAT so total will be about £160.

I’m going to be selling for a small family business, that’s going to be based at my home.  I’ve got a storage room and a garage, will you be able to deliver there?

Absolutely, our jambo pallets are designed specifically for residential deliveries, you won’t need any equipment.  They’ll bring it to the garage for you and they’re a local company for you so there’ll be no trouble whatsoever.

After this conversation they decided that given that there was a mixture of items, so even if 25% were working and the rest faulty, there was chance that they could at least break even by selling the working items.

So willing to take the risk they placed their order with TIC for home delivery.  The order was placed on a Friday, and they were told delivery would take place on Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest.

Tuesday, no delivery.  Wednesday, no delivery.  Wednesday afternoon rang TIC.  They said that it should have arrived and would enquire with the delivery company and call back soon.  One hour later, no callback.  Two hours, no callback.  Another phonecall to TIC and they said that the delivery company would call them.

During the third hour a call was received from the delivery company asking if it’s OK to deliver on Thursday morning.  This was fine.

Thursday morning, knock at the door.  When they answer the door its the delivery guy.  They ask him to bring the pallet round to the garage as promised by TIC.  The delivery guy tells them there’s no way this can be done – instead he says all he can do is bring it to the garden.

He parks on the other side of the (busy) road and brings the pallet down using a taillift.  How he’s going to get it across the road and into the garden no-one knows.

He walks up and down the street just swearing and cussing, trying to figure out what he’s going to do.  Goes over to the van, takes a look inside the big box.  Says that it’s full of bags, so what he’ll do is unload them individually and bring them inside the garden.  He starts and the Bargain Bump guys decide to help him unload.

After half an hour of carrying little carrier bags of items to the house the delivery is complete.  The delivery van goes away.

Next it’s time for inspection. What’s delivered (and we went to see this) is a room full of wet Woolworths bags.  Obviously the pallet contents weren’t sealed very well and basically the whole thing got drenched overnight – bye bye chances of finding any working electronic goods in there.

There were childrens scooters in there, which look like they have been ridden for over 6 months.  Solar lights which appeared to have been used in a garden for at least 3 months.  Superglue, the label of which says that the fault is there’s no glue inside.  And loads more junk besides.

Absolutely no fully working items were found.  The faulty items were far beyond repair.  The whole contents of the pallette were soaked.  £165 to have a box of crap, the whole thing wouldn’t even be worth £10.

The entire thing was taken to the junk yard and trashed.  £165 down the drain.  Nothing that they said on the phone was actually true.  The result was nothing like they had expected after the answers they received during the initial phone call.

As the Bargain Bump guys were only a small startup, after this encounter they decided to put off the whole online business thing.

Maybe they were just really, really, really unlucky, and maybe TIC aren’t totally dishonest.  But after hearing about this, and seeing all the junk for ourselves (our apologies for not taking any pictures) we’d strongly advise people to think twice before ordering from this place.

We wouldn’t encourage anyone to judge TIC Pallets from a single article published on this blog.

What we’d really recommend is going down and checking out stuff like this in person before ordering – don’t trust their pictures on the net – obviously these are going to be the best possible as an advertising strategy.

We feel really bad for Bargain Bump – they were great clients and it was great to work with them.  The Magento store design we made for them will be released shortly as a commercial theme seeing as it’s no longer of any use to them.

UPDATE:  This article has been updated on Monday 18 January 2010 at 10:59 GMT.  The amendment has been made as Russell (owner of TIC Pallets) requested Cube Websites to remove the article due to being potentially slanderous.  As we believe that the article is in fact honest and not slanderous, we have decided to remove any content which could be considered slander and left in only facts which have been provided by the client, and from what we saw ourselves.