OLPC: Give One / Get One – How about giving a little slack?

I was a late participant in the One Laptop Per Child “Give One, Get One” program that ran for several weeks leading up to 12/31/07.

I was initially miffed at the complete lack of follow up and service coming from the program… the main thing being that it took almost a month to acknowledge my order. But then I stopped myself (checked myself?). The OLPC folks aren’t in the business of satisfying US consumer expectations… they are trying to get these devices to the developing world.

I’ve been really surprised at the number of folks asking $300-$400  for an OLPC on Ebay. I’ve also been surprised at the number of snarky blog posts gripoing about the programs delivery issues. Is it a pain for the US donors? Yeah… but the priority is to ship the devices to the developing world. I’m actually ok waiting 2 more months if it means 1 extra machine is going overseas… I did a quick inventory, and counting my 2 macbooks, Sharon’s Thinkpad, and the two PCs that are sitting unplugged in my garage, we have plenty of computing power in the Johnston household. To be honest, I will very likely donate the XO a couple of weeks after I get it.

Bottom line: as a donor, you generally can’t have the same expectations as a consumer. Especially a US consumer.

As an aside, I (along with everyone else that is waiting for their XO) got a note from Nicholas Negroponte  over the weekend. I thought the gesture, and the content were spot on.

Dear Bill,

Please accept my apologies for the delay in receiving your XO laptop.  Give One Get One was such a phenomenal success that we over-taxed our order processing and payment systems.  Demand exceeded supply.
Additional XO laptops are being built now and will be delivered in 45 to 60 days.  If you wish to reconsider your contribution in the face of this delay, we will issue a refund to you.  We have set up a dedicated phone line for these requests.  The number is 1-800-883-8102.

In the meanwhile, please know that laptops are in the process of going to Mongolia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Haiti as part of the “give one” side of the equation.  Fortunately, OLPC’s mission of getting laptops to the children in these countries has not been delayed.  In Mongolia , the children are already enjoying themselves and learning new things with their XO laptops. Please see: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Ulaanbaatar.
Eliminating poverty through learning is gaining wider acceptance thanks to support like yours.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Negroponte
Chairman
OLPC Foundation

I would love to know how many folks ask for their money back.

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