sakanagai (sakanagai) wrote in bad_service,

Three incidents

It's been some time since I last posted here, but that doesn't mean that poor service didn't find me. Though the ordering of these tales is not chronological and certain effects will be mentioned before their respective causes, it works a little better to present them in order of escalating absurdity (the last one takes some time to get to the bad service incident itself, but it is a doozy).

Part 1 - Plastic

I had just obtained a set of Logitech's X-540 5.1 channel computer speakers. I had purchased speaker stands so that I could mount the rear speakers in a configuration to maintain a proper sound field. Upon returning home from work the next day, I found the left rear speaker on the floor by its speaker stand. Assuming it had simply fallen, I reached up to return it to the stand when I noticed that it contained the speaker's base still mounted. The base stand (that swivels so the speaker can either mount on a wall/stand or rest on a table) secures to the speaker by a screw. The plastic around the threaded hole on the base had broken off and remained attached to the speaker; it was irreparable. I emailed Logitech's customer support to see if I could simply have another base. I got a reply later in the evening stating that I'd have to replace the entire set on account of that single nickel-sized piece of plastic. This is not necessarily bad service, but remained worthy of note as this was one of the last links in a particular chain of unfortunate events.

Part 2 - English

I recently constructed a computer to call my own. After only a few days of operation, it encountered a rather severe error that would cause the computer to not simply freeze or crash, but completely halt. I had updated the drivers and checked their compatibility with Vista so I was pretty sure there was a software issue. I called Vista Tech Support (VTS) and was helped through fixing it; no problems there. But the freezing came back, notably at shutdown when Windows Update was running. The activity light still blinked from time to time, but the update (2 of 7, it claimed) was taking over two hours. All I wanted was the VTS rep to tell me to hard-shutdown (hold power button) the machine as I didn't want full liability if something went wrong. Wanting to save time, I tried the VTS chat client. Long story a bit shorter, he didn't read the problem description I provided at entry, he didn't have any clue what the "shutdown screen" referred to, had seemingly never heard of Windows Update, could not tell the difference between the words "yes" and "no", "no, no, no, NO", and "absolutely not", and didn't even bother to replace "<>" with my name in his replies.

"Reboot your computer." I can't. It locked up WHILE REBOOTING. "Very good. Now press F8 at the boot screen." I am not at the boot screen. I cannot get to the boot screen. "What happens when you reboot?" I can't reboot "Okay. Click on start..." Can't. No Start menu. "Reboot your computer." ... [Repeat ad absurdum]

I even explicitly told him that I just want someone from Microsoft to tell me to hard-reset/shutdown. He still kept going on in that infinite loop. It took an hour before he finally said something about pressing the reset button. But it doesn't end there. At some point, the tech asked if I could wait until a senior tech was available. That would have been the following afternoon. In the meantime, I'd have to leave my computer ON, consuming electricity for 24 hours because the guy I was speaking to couldn't understand enough English to comprehend the notion of a computer being "locked up". I repeatedly told him that it was unnecessary (both of my time and a senior tech's) and unacceptable as electricity doesn't magically appear from happy thoughts and lollipops. After I got what I needed, I ended the call. But the moron still submitted a help request ticket for what he thought the problem was and even my declination of a follow up didn't stop it from coming. "I understand you couldn't install Vista SP1" No. That was not my problem. "Then why is there a ticket?" Because the moron who submitted it cannot speak, read, or understand the English language and had absolutely no idea of what I was saying let alone what the problem was. I shortly received an email expressing how glad VTS was that they were able to help me install SP1. And, for the record, the call came about four hours before the window THEY gave me.

Part 3 - The Bait

In anticipation of building a new computer, a gaming computer, I mulled my options on various components. Instead of going for the common-named solutions such as Creative Labs (the folks who created Sound Blaster), I jumped on a good-looking deal for Razer's Barracuda AC-1 sound card. Part of the mounting bracket was misshapen, but it fit just fine. Sound came out, so all appeared well. Armed with over $50 in gift certificates, I picked up a pair of the matching Barracuda HP-1 headphones. They were a multichannel headset featuring an HD-DAI interface, a port designed to transmit fully digital multichannel sound and power over a single connection. But there was a problem. The mic didn't work. And the sound in the right ear piece dimmed a bit (for all four drivers - front, center, rear, bass) and an intrusive crackling sound was audible. I checked the connection and reconnected it. It still crackled. I muted the mic just in case it was feedback or interference. Nope. I even tried a different PCI slot. I checked the forums and found that the two most likely culprits were heat and underpowering. I did a couple of tests (different systems, dedicated power scenarios, extra cooling) and those weren't the problem either. Finally, I contacted Razer tech support (RTS). The way that RTS handles help tickets is essentially a message board. Each reply in the chain gets added to the post. They asked if I tried connecting using the HD-DAI-to-analog/USB adapters that came with the HP-1 and AC-1. I tried it, it didn't work, and I replied with the results. They then asked to try a different computer and told them that I already had (I had used a different desktop with both devices before my new computer was finished). They came back asking me to try using the adapters...again. Then a different computer. It looks as though they can only see the most recent correspondence. Seeing that RTS was no help, I returned the HP-1 to the store and exchanged them for another pair hoping that the problem was with those particular headphones. The new ones seemed to least for a day.

Then the crackling came back. And the left front driver seemed to completely die. I had to adjust the balance a little bit in order to hear it at all, and the best I could get the system as a whole was 100 Left Front, 6 (that's six, S-I-X) for everything else. Even then it was still noticeably lower than the other channels, but lowering a channel to 5% or below would mute it. I shot another email to Razer about the situation. They offered to fix it, but that they'd need both the AC-1 and the HP-1 AND I'd have to pay for the shipping and service (and it wasn't cheap). Add to that the fact that the AC-1 was now causing my system to become unstable (I had updated the drivers). I decided to forget about it and exchange the headphones at the store for a nice set of Logitech X-540 speakers. I sent my final email to RTS explaining that I had abandoned all hope of them being useful and will no longer rely on Razer for future hardware needs.

I got a response a couple of days later from Razer thanking me for my purchase and my commitment to their "quality" products. Those of you who have read up until now, waiting for the twist may want to pay extra attention to...Part 3b - ... And The Switch. Their email, in addition to apparently thanking me for swearing off their products for life, stated, almost proudly, that they are well aware that the Barracuda sound solution is flawed but that I should wait patiently and fork over more fistfuls of cash to purchase their Piranha sound solution when it is released some time in the future. There were no offers to replace the Barracuda items I had purchased with one that might work as advertised or even provide a meager attempt at compensating me. Instead I got some marketing school dropout pulling a bait-and-switch.

It's like buying a sports car, one where they advertise horsepower and acceleration, only to find that the car you bought has no engine. You take it back to the dealership who laughs at you a little bit and says that they don't, on principle, include engines with their vehicles but that next year's model should. "What about the car I bought?" "Well, we can't put a motor in there, but we can sell you the new model when it comes out for full price! Or, if you'd like, we can put a tape recorder in there so it SOUNDS like it works! And that last option will only cost you $10,000!"

Really. Razer? Don't trust them, don't buy from them, or at least don't purchase anything from them if you aren't 100% certain it will work with your system and/or wouldn't mind having an expensive paperweight. I am pretty sure what they have done is illegal or at least wouldn't keep them in good standing with consumer watch groups. How do you respond to them at that point, though? I can't transmit pure hate and anger via email (not legally, at least). Maybe I could send them a copy of various consumer rights laws that they've broken in my case.

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