Monday, July 23, 2007

The Fate of AAC Direct / All American Computers

A fellow AAC Direct client found my blog and got in contact with me, so I have learned more about what happened to the fabled, ill-fated AAC Direct / All American Computers (AAC), owned and operated by Kyle Felstein.

The Downfall
In the closing months of AAC, when you purchased a computer, the money you paid wasn't spent on your parts, but the computer that had been built before it. AAC was using each new order to pay for the one before it - they were behind, but it was manageable for a time.

The hardware resellers, however, were not amused; their payments had to wait until the next computer was ordered at AAC. Because of this, they were reticent to send out new equipment to a buyer (AAC) who didn't pay them on time; this delay, in turn, prolonged the build of each computer, which made things worse for both AAC and the resellers expecting payment.

Some venture capitalists became a glimmer of hope; however, negotiations not only fell through, but because the LiquidXS the potential investors had ordered was two months overdue, they threatened to sue AAC for the bill.

The carpet was pulled out from under them rather rapidly after that.

The Fallout
I am not certain, nor was the customer, who had ordered a LiquidXS prior to my PureXS, but apparently Kyle's assets were liable for AAC's debt. This would include his car, his house, bad things. We speculated on that based on what rumors we've found on teh interwebs and a few forums.

A week or so prior to folding their store doors closed; gleaned from a local computer store mentioned in the comments of this blog.

Apparently my PureXS may have been one of the last complete computers built there, if not the last. I can't find anyone who had a full, successful build after mine, in which case I have a bit of a collector's item.

There was at least two computers that went out immediately after mine, and both were shipped incomplete - if debt collectors are after Kyle's personal assets, I'm sure everything in the building was seized. Since Kyle didn't have the parts needed to complete the order, he had the option of leaving it with the store to be seized or shipping it as it was to the customer.

Things went bad quickly after that; Kyle never had a chance to e-mail the customer what happened, so imagine his surprise. This created a bit of a stink online - as the customers couldn't reach anyone at AAC or find any way to contact Kyle.

My Initial Reluctance to Post My Findings
The initial reports came in badly worded English, slathered in vitriolic phrases. All I knew for sure (I checked) was that AAC was indeed dead; I wasn't about to publish what could have been slander without knowing what happened - it has taken this long for the picture to become clear.

The poor unlucky souls whose orders were after mine - they spent money and got an incomplete system back - at best. If I had known AAC was going under I would have gotten a Dell XPS; I wanted the support. Having the complete PureXS in my house, I have no regrets; I've seen Dell XPS's up close to compare the quality and performance and I can deal with one last computer I support, despite having four children.

To the people who were burned for hundreds or thousands of dollars, there is no amount of anger at the service rendered that is unjustified. I would tender to my fellow AAC clientele that it appears AAC tried to hold back the end; their last bid failed, and everyone suffered in the end.

[All My Blogs about AAC Direct / All American Computers]


Anonymous said...

Not to make a big deal of it, but I presume that I am the one with the poor grasp over the English language (haha). It is very easy to make observations, but you should know that they're only one sided. Before I actually went and posted something on Xtreme Systems, a lot had happened. I received the system in November (placed the order in June and was told 2 months to receive). I had spoken to Kyle on the phone 2-3 days before that. At that time, the PC must have either shipped or been about to ship, so Kyle had to know what was going on... he said nothing. Upon arrival, I excitedly took 2 days off from work to "play" with the system (install Linux, etc) only to find that I was going to need to order RAM at my own expense (about an extra $350). In any case, none of that was the REAL issue. You saw or heard about my post, so you saw the public part. What you didn't see was the weeks of emails, phone calls, and faxes that went unanswered by Kyle... until he did finally reply to an email (again, weeks later). All that time, he had been logging into several PC-related forums. So this guy couldn't tell me on the phone or return an email, but he had more than enough to time to ready forums. To me, that's fairly disrespectful.

So I apologize if after all of that, I didn't proof my posts after frustratingly typing at about twice my comfortable speed. I'm sure all the earlier emails were written much more nicely. Again...

Over double the amount of waiting time from order placement.

Speaking to him in November and receiving an indication all was fine regardless of his XS posts clearly stating that the wheels were spinning out of control on 10/31.

Receiving an incomplete system.

Having to watch as he logs into various forums instead of replying to my calls/emails.

I don't know... to me that was a lot to handle for a system I spent $5,000 on.


On another note, so that this post isn't completely negative... the system is running great. I've had to make a small amount of minor repairs, but nothing staggering. The only negative about the otherwise great system was with the coolant dye. Not sure if it was a fluke or cheap dye, but the color faded very very quickly (less than a month). Wasn't tough to recolor, though, so who cares.

I hope Kyle is doing ok... I don't think he is evil or anything, just that he made some mistakes and didn't want to just admit it and apologize.

David said...

I apologize for not being more understanding of rushed grammar. And I too think that Kyle should have admitted what was up; sent an e-mail to all his contact lists, something, anything.

I'll think about this more and may post again.

Anonymous said...

Wow, This is a shame. I know Kyle from back in Tampa, FL. I remember his first day at BCD Computers, he was so green it was pathetic, but I shared a lot of knowledge with him actually considered joining AAC as a partner. I feel bad some customers of his might have been shafted, but I know how cut-throat the custom PC market can be. I found this blog while trying to find my old friends site. I actually came up with the domain name I know Kyle is the type of guy who would have done everything in his powers to try and complete every order. He must have been on extremely desperate times if he shipped out incomplete orders. Now I still have the task of trying to find an old friend who may or may not be in hiding.

David said...

Anonymous: I think he did what he could given the circumstances. My PureXS was the last he could ship that was complete, apparently, and he shipped whatever he had before it was seized.

I love my beauty, but I'm afraid this whole experience will burn Kyle from ever attempting it again. 50% of businesses fail in the first year, and an equally frightening percentage fail within the first five (of those who survive the first), so it's not like it's something to be terribly ashamed of.

Anonymous said...

I know the custom PC and hardware business is tight. To stay in business is tough. Most stores have to cover salaries, benefits, retail space, warranty coverage costs, power, phone, and internet; all while trying to be competitive with prices. When Kyle and I were in Tampa we rode a big wave of success selling at 30% profit, but when I left and shortly before he started AAC the average profit was around 7.5% and if you wanted any internet sales action you had to be in the 4 -5 % range. That is tough when credit cards eat up 1.7 to 3 % of every transaction.

The phone call you had with Kyle was typical of the way he and I worked. Sell the right computer to the right person. Don't milk customers and the rewards would come from repeat customers. I used to have people come in with entire tax returns and when I spent to find out their needs I could set them up with something much cheaper because they only wanted to email grandchildren or check stocks. Other customers would gladly spend more then they expected when they wanted an ultimate gaming system and I could outline why they needed this part or that part over some brand X built in component.

If Kyle is still the same Kyle, he will try something new down the road, but this market is brutal and I am sad that another Mom and Pop has closed its doors

David said...

Being an artist and not a writer, it is difficult for me to convey how glad I am that you found my blog and wrote here.

While I have published what folks have said, that's largely because I believe strongly in freedom of expression, regardless of whether I agree or not. I'm Jewish, my Latin wife is Catholic, and we love each other completely. I just don't see differences that are natural to the human condition as a reason to exclude people.

If you work for any computer tech. company that deals with the public, or on the side as my friend Billy does, drop me a line at tabletpcartist at the usual You'd have a customer here. I'm not that far from Tampa.

At the very least, you can tell that your friend made a lasting impression here. One gift I have is a strong intuition with people.

PS - Yeah, I used part of our tax return to repay my wife the savings we spent ;) but this computer is flawless. It sits in our living room, clear panel facing out, the only piece of electronics my lovely Latin lady admired enough to allow be visible (aside from the LCD; she's a natural interior decorator).