Before you read any further, let me put out a disclaimer: based on the postings on this forum, it seems as though my experience is the exception, not the standard when it comes to dealing with System76. If you look through this forum, you'll find a couple more negative experiences, but those will be followed by posters saying they had a great experience with System76 support.
Having said that, this is my personal experience ordering from System76, and as an anecdote, it will hopefully be useful to others as well as serve to vent some frustration on my part.
I really, really wanted to support a company that is committed to open source, even though Ubuntu has come so far that I have not had any major difficulties using standard hardware from the major vendors. So having read some of the posts in these forums, I figured System76 would be a good bet.
I decided to wait for the new Lemur (LemU4) to be released, and duly placed my order once it was available. Here is the blow by blow:
April 9: I place my order, and a charge appears on my credit card on the same day.
April 18: I get a notice saying there is a delay in assembly, and there will be another notice later with an estimate of the new ship date. Such a notice never arrived, and there was no other feedback on the delay. So I come to these forums and find there are others in the same boat. There is conflicting info from System76: apparently, some System76 reps are telling customers that the delay is because of a testing bug, but Isantop posts that the real reason for the delay is a backlog of orders.
April 23: System finally ships, 14 days after my credit card was charged.
April 26: The laptop finally arrives, 17 days after placing my order. But everything looks great, decent build quality and an attractive looking machine that is pleasantly light in feel. No difficulty in installing Xubuntu Precise, nor in restoring my home directory from Spideroak. The System76 driver installation goes off without a hitch. Peachy.
April 27: I wake up the next day and turn on the laptop to find the battery applet switching between "AC adaptor is present" and "Battery is discharging", and the LEDs in the front of the laptop are flickering. I use a multimeter to verify that the adaptor is broken--it's putting out about 3V instead of 18.5V. I open a support ticket on the System76 website (a very friendly and nice interface, by the way.) I get a relatively quick response asking me to try a different outlet, which I do even though it seems like a stupid idea given all the other devices like my telephone are working fine in the same outlet. Just to be sure, I also check to see that it is not the battery--I do this by taking out the battery and running on AC only. Basically the adaptor works for a few minutes and then dies. I provide all this feedback to System76 support, by which point, I'd like to think I've been very thorough in checking out the adaptor.
No response until late in the day, asking me to make sure the adaptor is firmly plugged in! I'm starting to get irritated, wouldn't you be? I reply saying I've checked and all the connections are tight, this is a faulty adaptor that needs to be replaced. Now of course, it is late in the day on Friday and the tech has gone home, so I'm left hanging for the weekend.
April 30: I'm asked to confirm my serial number and shipping address. I do this promptly, but there is nothing more for the rest of the day.
May 1: I'm asked to confirm my credit card info because I'll be charged if I don't return the faulty adaptor. I do this promptly as well, and again, nothing happens for the rest of the day.
May 2: The replacement adaptor has finally been shipped.
May 3: I receive an automated email asking how I'm enjoying my new laptop, and to share my joy with friends on social media. Feels like salt being rubbed into the wound. Or like insult being added to injury. Pick your favourite cliche.
The shipment is scheduled to arrive on May 8, almost one month after my initial order. Sure, why send it overnight, and reduce my frustration by even a tiny iota?
At this point, if the replacement adaptor does not work, I intend to just go and buy a reliable generic. Paying the $60 at a local store will be more effective than having to deal with System76 again, and being asked to check all the outlets in my house. I bought this laptop to use it, not to admire its looks.
System76, I'd love for an Ubuntu-supporting company to be successful--you can choose to ignore my experience as an exception, or you can try and do something about it. All I can tell you is that you've managed to crush my expectations.