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One Laptop Per Child, They Will Fail…

Written by Brent Oxley

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I’m very proud to announce that Hostgator has made a $100,000 donation to MD Anderson which is one of the world leaders in cancer treatments and research. They have truly been a pleasure to work with. Working with MD has given many of our employees that warm fuzzy feeling inside that you should have when you are helping people.

I would also like to announce that I feel used, abused, and completely violated on a $25,000 donation hostgator made to One laptop per child. OLPC has a mission to develop cheap laptops for children to educate and express themselves on.

Maybe I’m being a drama queen so please come to your own conclusion based on the following experience…….

It all started with a $25,000 donation being made on their site and the following email being sent shortly after:

“Hello,

I’m the owner of hostgator.com and I just wanted to shoot off an email
to let you know I have just donated $25,000 via google checkout on my
amex. We get dozens of fraud orders a day so the purpose of this email
is to let you know it’s legit. I’m currently on xmas vacation in the
bahamas in the wyndham so the ip isn’t going to match my american address.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if any further
verification is needed. Thank you, and keep up the good fight!!

Sincerely,
Brent Oxley ”

Their Response 11 days later January 11th 2008

“Dear Donor,

In order for me to locate and track your donation, can you please provide me
with your complete address, reference number and the name used at the time
of donation. This will allow me to access the correct donation and locate
your laptop.

Thank you for your interest in One Laptop Per Child.

OLPC
Donor Services”

My Reply January 11th 2008

“Are you serious?

Our company name is hostgator.com
My name is Brent Oxley

How many $25,000 donations do you receive? Please spend the minute that
it would take to look up the donation. Thank you.”

(we received automated email back instantly confirming they did receive our email)

Twenty days later and we still have not had a follow up response or anyone in the company making any type of contact with us other then what’s listed above!!!

OPLC has been getting slammed recently after Intel left the group January 3rd of this year. There are many critics that argue the money can be spent better on libraries, food, water, etc. You can read up more on OLPC on wikipedia. Even with all the negative publicity I and many of our customers believed it to be a worthy cause that deserved our help.

Based on our experience it’s quite obvious OLPC is being mismanaged to the point of failure. I now feel our donation would have been put to better use had we mailed 25,000 one dollar bills for the children to use as toilet paper.

Posted in

Brent Oxley
Comments
  • Eric Scalf

    Hi Brent.
    Honestly, I think you’re being a little harsh with your last sentence. I do agree that they should have a) acknowledged the donation, and b) handled the communication significantly better. Although I know little about the group, I have heard some pros and cons. My wife linked me to their website sometime last year, and upon reading it – like you – I felt it was a worthy cause. I’ve heard a lot of negativity about them since then, but I still believe they are doing a good thing.

    Personally, I hope that OLPC will wake up when they hear about this post and – at the least – apologize for the way this was handled. I don’t necessarily think that they need to go shouting our name from the rooftops… but a little recognition would be nice. Like you said, I doubt they get that many donations from private companies… particularly ones of that size.

    So, way to go for supporting a good cause (and double that for the M.D. Anderson donation); and I say keep after them until they actually manage to acknowledge Hostgator’s existence in their database.

  • http://www.goatview.com Goatview

    First, thanks for your MD Anderson donation, Mr. Oxley. I am alive today because of MD Anderson–they are the best.

    Your G1G0 story is so much worse than my story about the two laptops that I never received that I am ALMOST embarrassed to tell my story. But I will.

    I was a first day (November 12) donor and made a second donation on November 27. I never got any emails from OLPC until I started hollering for my laptop in early January. There were address issues that had never arisen in any other online transaction, repeated calls and long hold times on the phone, operators who had no knowledge of any part of my issue (over and over), ad nauseum.

    I am now in the process of getting a full refund from OLPC for both the value of the laptops I never received and the value of the laptops that were to be donated to children in some developing nation.

    There are better charities around. I would like to put my money in one of those instead of into an organization that has shown itself to be a complete mess.

  • Infamy

    Brent,

    I can help clarify this a bit for you.

    First, Those emails that you received are from Patriot, the contractor OLPC uses to handle orders and billing. They are not from OLPC. If you would like, I can find out more about your donation. It would be helpful if you could send some details to help@laptop.org

    Second, OLPC has been very bad in communicating with their donors. But, they have been improving. Hopefully we can improve for you too.

    Third, Goatview is a user we have been dealing with over at the OLPC forums who has gone completely overboard. She doesn’t listen to the help that she is given and generally insults the people who are doing their best for her. I would advise taking what she says with a grain of salt.

    Again, if you give us your details, I am quite sure we can help give you all the information you need, and deserve.

    Thanks,

    Infamy

  • Steve Holton

    Hi Brent.
    I pointed out your post to the Product Manager for OLPC G1G1 America today and she is going to look into it.
    It might be a good idea to get your paperwork ready so we can get the questions and answers together and find a solution.

    Thanks also to goatview; one of our most motivated volunteers. She scours the blogosphere looking for cases where an order delivery has gone wrong and special escallation is required.

    Ping me if i can be of any service.

  • Kyle

    As a board member of a non-profit and professional in the industry, I would recommend that you contact the organization’s executive director or the chairman/president of the board.

    It is distasteful for an organization of any size to not show a gesture of appreciation that exceeds an email and phone call.

    Best of luck in getting that gesture and I’m more than willing to suggest appreciative organizations should you consider donating in the future.

  • http://www.olpcnews.com Wayan @ OLPC News

    Wow. One Laptop Per Child is sending form emails to $25K donors. Brent, if you’ve still not heard from them, I’d like to hear from you. OLPC really needs to get its act together.

  • kirish43

    Dear Brett,

    First of all thank you for your donation to the OLPC education project. (I do not work for OLPC and I am waiting for my XO).I believe the funds you donated will be used to help advance education in many developing world countries.

    I feel badly that an appropriate thank you was not immediately emailed back to you acknowledging your generous gift. Hopefully now that the miscommunication has been brought to thier attention you will get not only a thank you but a tax donation slip as well!

    Since OLPC is an education project I am hopeful that they will learn from their mistakes, so that their mission can become successful!

    The news on how the laptops have been received in the developing world are heart warming. I would be willing to bet that your donation has already been put to work in Mongolia-where the smiles on those children’s faces may just be the thank you that makes the donation worth while.

  • Nathan Dbb

    Based on our experience it’s quite obvious OLPC is being mismanaged to the point of failure.

    End Quote

    This appears to be the case, and is really sad. They had a strong idea. When it didn’t catch on like wildfire, they could not deal.

  • T Heris

    If they are not able to handle your 25K well, how are they handling the rest of the program ?

    Imagine how incompetent their implementation of the rolloouts in less developed nations must be.

    OLPC is a failure and deservedly so.

  • http://www.goatview.com Goatview

    As luck would have it, OLPC WAS able to process a full refund for me.

    As to the comments of Steve and Infamy here: go ahead and blame the victim, kids. That ought to help your cause a WHOLE lot.

  • http://www.srgcreative.co.za Stephan Grobler

    Hi Brent,

    This story is almost resembling the support currently on Hostgator.com. Not the donation part but the part about the support. I am now into my 10th day and still no site activation.

    I am hopeful though that I will one day be part of the Hostgator family, my issue is just the “when”.

  • Nlee

    Reitering what Infamy stated:

    You got a form response because of the email address you sent your confirmation email to. Unfortunately, service@laptopgiving.org seems to have been more or less abandoned (something that has bothered me, and probably other OPLC Support Gang members, for a while now).

    Hopefully, you have been able to get in contact with the folks who are actually from OLPC by now. If not, I’d suggest emailing help@laptop.org; the Support Gang will do our best to sort things out for you.

  • chris nuber

    and if this story wasn’t bad enough, now MICROSOFT wants to load their clunky OS on these 500mhz notebooks :( I sense OLPC WILL fail, just as Brent suggests

    http://osnews.com/story/19299/Microsoft_Upbeat_About_Windows_on_the_OLPCs_XO

  • Dee

    To Don: Uhm…your response was pretty pompous.

    First, while “silent” giving is an understood and valued method for truly contributing to a worthy cause, consider the following:

    1) What real benefit does Hostgator receive from making their own users aware of their donation? No real intrinsic benefit to be gained to be honest.

    2) Informing people of potential problems related to donations is an incredibly responsible thing to do – certainly we all want to make sure, ideally, that donations we make are being used as we expect and intend. A heads up that something may be wrong/shady is an important part of the process.

    3) Informing people of their donations also provides an example and hopefully motivates other companies and individuals to join in. Celebrities are another good example of this. If Hostgator gets a bit of warm fuzzy in the process – I say HOORAY, they deserve it. It doesn’t negate the value of the donation in any way.

    I think you were way over the top in your judgment and I think Hostgator gets a big thumbs up for taking an active role in “giving back”.

  • joe

    chris, be glad though, it could be worse… they could be sending them MAC OS :’(

    I agree too, OLPC will definitely fail.

  • DeBorah

    I would contact AMEX and Google and reverse the transaction. That should at the very least get you contacted.

  • colin

    Does anyone seriously believe that olpc is anything more than a publicity stunt and ego trip. Feed the World, No More Hunger they are not the first. Bland meaningless slogans. Give Africa water wells, farming advice, democracy and health then they can Google Lindsay Lohan on their laptops. No they can’t they have no wireless infrastructure, no electricity (i know they are solar powered but they still need servers and hosting companies). Whether the laptop costs $100 $250 or $500 delivered to Africa, India or wherever that money would buy alot of food, medicine, seeds, water wells, or pay to kill the leaders of most of these countries who are causing most of the problems.

  • Dave

    Hi Brent

    Totally understandable. 25 thousand dollars is allot of money and it is important that if you are donating it,you feel it is going to a good cause.

    If they cannot reply to an email correctly. One can only imagine how they handle the distribution of that 25 thousand dollars..

  • Nonu

    I totally agree with Dave..$25,000 is not a small amount to be ignored. They have just shown mishandling with donors. I just wonder if the whole money is really going to the needy? This is a kind of misbehavior and I wonder how they will be handling donations smaller than that..!

  • syikin

    Ouch! I would certainly feel that way when my donation is not appreciated.

    The organisation should have handled it professionally if they wish to have more donors coming back. But in this case… well.. its up to them to bring back their reputation

  • http://www.nusuni.com Jeremy Steele

    As with many things these days it was a great idea, but a poor execution. They should tie it off and move on.

  • Andre Rahming

    Hey,
    Well thats cool that you care about children etc. And also I live in the Bahamas!

  • http://vikas-gupta.in Vikas Gupta

    We should donate some money however little it may be. I recently donated a mere 1000 Rupees to UNESCO despite my poor budget and I feel happy!:)

    That one laptop per child scheme in India was a miserable failure!

  • JJ

    Joe, I hope you aren’t serious. A modified version of OS X underpinned by UNIX would be damn hard to beat for rugged laptops distributed to dirt poor countries where updates, tech support, and virus protection would not exactly be easy to come by.

    These are places where kids have likely never seen a computer before. A clean Mac interface would be infinitely more intuitive than any corporate ware Microsoft might come up with. Your ilk can smirk at Apple’s pop image all you want, but their products are proof that they know how to make solid stuff that humans can pick up and use.

    It’s hilarious that people still equate efficiency and a sparse UI with deficiency. It’s much harder to perfect a simple approach than to just cram all kinds of bloated, thoughtless features into a box. (Who am I kidding? You’re probably the same guy who thinks the Beatles are overrated because their solos weren’t complicated enough.)

  • Caresse

    As with many things these days it was a great idea

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