Thursday, April 16, 2009

GALILEOSCOPE STATUS REPORT AND INFORMATION FOR CUSTOMERS

I received this email the other day. It means, be patient for your Galileoscope.

We never intended to send e-mail blasts to all our Galileoscope customers, but we need to make an exception today and ask your forbearance and forgiveness.

Please read this message through to the very end before deciding whether you need to reply. If you have a question, it’s probably answered here somewhere.

The Galileoscope team has been overwhelmed by the positive response to the project since our e-commerce site went live in February. In only one month, thousands of people have ordered tens of thousands of Galileoscopes for delivery all over the world. The kit is going into production, and we expect to begin shipping Galileoscopes in late
April, as planned. Orders will be filled in order of receipt. Watch our website, www.galileoscope.org, for updates.

Problems and Explanations

We know that many customers have encountered problems when placing orders and/or have been frustrated by a lack of responsiveness from the Galileoscope team. We sincerely apologize for these inconveniences. There are several explanations. First and foremost, this is a big project run by a small staff of volunteers who have full-time professional jobs -- that’s one of the keys to our being able to offer such a high-quality telescope at such a low price. Unfortunately, this also makes it very difficult for us to promptly answer queries or resolve individual problems with orders. We are diligently following up on all outstanding issues, but it’s taking far longer than any of us would like.

Missing Order Receipts

Second, despite extensive prelaunch testing, we discovered some configuration problems with our website only after it went live. As a result, some customers did not receive e-mail confirmations of their orders. We will manually re-send these confirmations as soon as we can track them all down. If you sent us an e-mail asking, “Where’s my receipt?”, you will get a response.

International Credit Cards

Third, the service we’re using to approve credit-card transactions initially rejected many valid international credit cards. If you tried to place an order and had your credit card refused, please try again -- your purchase should be approved now, and you should get a receipt by e-mail. Note that we are using best practices in all our financial transactions and have had absolutely no problems with the security of
individual credit-card numbers or other personal information.

Patience Will Be Rewarded

Again, the volunteer nature of the Galileoscope project dictates that we cannot respond as promptly as a typical commercial enterprise on the Internet. This doesn’t mean we won’t respond -- it just means we will be slow in responding to queries that need individual attention. Hopefully this e-mail blast will answer most people’s questions,
avoiding the need for many individual replies.

Here is some additional information that might answer your
as-yet-unanswered questions.

Orders Small and Large

Our website, www.galileoscope.org, is intended to be used for small orders with payment by credit card or PayPal. The cost is US$15 per Galileoscope plus shipping by postal/parcel service. Individuals or institutions wishing to order 100 or more Galileoscopes can get a discounted price of US$12.50 per kit, save on shipping via freight service, and pay by purchase order. To initiate a large order of 100+ kits, please fill out the Request for Quotation form at https://www.galileoscope.org/gs/sites/galileoscope.org.gs/files/Galileoscope-RFQ.doc
and send it by e-mail to freight@galileoscope.org.

Early Requests for Freight Quotes

If you requested a freight quote several weeks ago, before we posted the RFQ form on our website, you needn’t send another request. We are working hard to cull these early requests from the thousands of e-mail messages we’ve received, so you should hear from us soon with your quote. Again, please be patient.

How *Not* To Order

We accept orders only via our website and via the request-for-quotation form, as noted above. Online orders must be prepaid with a credit card or PayPal. We do not accept telephone or mail orders, and we do not accept payment by check (except for
institutions following up on previously accepted purchase orders).

A Clarification about Donations

Many customers have become confused about our Give a Galileoscope donation program. This program is not or ordering gifts for specific persons or groups. Nor is it for requesting free telescopes for yourself or others. When you Give a Galileoscope, you cannot specify a recipient or a delivery address. Donations via this program are pooled
anonymously, and the donated Galileoscopes will be distributed later to underserved students throughout the world. Exactly who will get them will be determined by the American Astronomical Society and its program partners, as described on our website.

We are delighted to report that, so far, for every five Galileoscopes ordered for delivery, a sixth Galileoscope has been ordered for donation. This means that thousands of kids across the globe -- kids who would never otherwise be able to afford a telescope -- will get an opportunity to see the night sky up close thanks to our customers’ generosity. This is truly gratifying and very much in keeping with the
spirit of the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

As noted above, we will begin shipping Galileoscopes in late April. Thanks for reading all this, and again, we sincerely apologize for the various problems and inconveniences you may have encountered.

For the Galileoscope team,

Dr. Rick Fienberg
IYA2009 Galileoscope Task Group Chair
AAS Deputy Press Officer
rfienberg@galileoscope.org
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