Eddie Current customer service story

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by thoth, Dec 6, 2019.

?

How much is EC responsible for the lost amp?

  1. < 5%

    40.0%
  2. 25% (give or take)

    23.1%
  3. 50%

    21.5%
  4. 75%

    10.8%
  5. > 95%

    4.6%
  1. thoth

    thoth Acquaintance

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    Hi to all.

    I'm a long-time mostly lurker from Romania. Earlier this year I decided to bite the bullet and get the pricey but highly regarded EC Studio Jr. What followed was ... a string of accidents coupled with a customer service experience that was ... well, just unimaginable.

    Short story. The amp arrived to me in August, damaged. Loud high-frequency noise and mediocre sound. I've sent it to Craig for repair, but USPS for some reason considered the address incomplete and returned both packages. The address was correct. One of the packages reached Craig's city and stayed there 5 days before returning. Because Craig didn't register for email updates, he didn't know about this. In the end this package got lost before leaving US. The other package got returned before reaching Craig's city and arrived back to me. All this plus a long list of dubious details. At the moment I'm engaged in a discussion with him asking for compensation, and I get in reply one-liners along the "Nothing I could do, not my business".

    Long story.
    1. June. Craig writes to me that he has an amp ready, but it has slightly damaged front plate. Works perfectly. I can get this for $100 discount or wait another one. I accepted. No idea whether this has any relationship with the damage, but we already had a similar report: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ado-was-the-studio-jr.511/page-37#post-206434
    2. When computing shipping cost, Judy asks me $100 extra for packaging. First time in my life an online retailer asks extra payment for packaging. And note that if I would refuse, I would lose $100 cancellation fee. So it was no option. This already looked like a little scam. But the amp must be so good, I thought. Sure it's worth $100 more.
    3. The amp arrived in Jul. Sadly, it had loud high-frequency ringing resembling cicadas. Different intensity depending on tubes, but always present. And rather mediocre, dry unengaging sound. There were no signs of damage during transportation.
    4. The quality of packaging was, let's say "possibly sufficient but could be better". The dampening foam on top was rather thin and completely cut around the high transformers. So transformers were essentially suspended in holes, with no foam between them and the cardboard. The box was a bit smaller than maximum allowed size for international shipping, so I guess there was room for taller boxes with more dampening. I can make photos if needed.
    5. Craig first proposed to send a known good pair of tubes, to check maybe my Gold Lion 300Bs have some microphony that resonates with the HF heater frequency. Tubes arrived - issue still there.
    6. Then he agreed to take the amp for repair, but I'd had to pay the cost to US. His overall tone so far was somewhat dry, as if I damaged the amp but didn't tell him. So I decided not to argue this point now and let him diagnose the amp first.
    7. This is the email where he instructs me how to ship:
    ```
    If the amp is unusable you will need to send it back. I have never had this problem reported, the amp was perfect when it left here I have no idea what happened.
    Eddie Current LLC
    5038 N. Parkway Calabasas
    Suite 501
    Calabasas, CA. 91302
    ```

    Yup, that's all. No instructions what to write on the package, what value to declare, whether to insure or not. I know there's some maximum import value for electronics that is not taxed ($500 ?), so I decided to declare low value and not insure it. Judging by his attitude so far didn't want to risk paying import fees.

    8. I shipped the amp and sent him the tracking numbers.

    9. First package arrived to his city, stayed there for 5 days and ... unexpectedly changed status as "returning to sender". In the end this package got stuck in some location before leaving US and was declared lost 3 months later.
    10. The 2nd package (the PSU) got returned at the same time but before arriving to Craig's city. It got back to me with a paper saying "Return to sender. Vacant. Flow to manual processing."
    11. I contacted Craig about the return, and turns out he didn't register for email updated, he didn't know 1st package arrived to his city.
    12. I asked him to at least go to postal office and investigate what happened. Or call USPS customer service. He refused. Here are some of his emails from this period:

    I don't know why USPS are returning the packages. Did you put in the custom declarations "Made in the USA audio equipment returned for repair." Sometimes customs does not know what the item is and returns them out of laziness."
    ---
    What does sending me the tracking number mean. You are the shipper, the origin is your country there is nothing I can do. It is my responsibility after the packages are signed for and delivered. Until then it is your concern to figure out what happened.
    ---
    I cannot do anything, I did not send the packages.
    ---

    We can only guess USPS had reasons to believe his work place was vacant, for some reason he was not interested to find out. Maybe he knew why?

    And as you can see, he figured out he has some shipping instructions to give me, after the fact.

    We can guess he didn't even care to check the tracking numbers. Otherwise he wouldn't complain I didn't do the right customs declarations.

    13. I opened petitions on Romanian postal service, but couldn't get much. They would just forward my petitions to USPS.

    14. 3 months after shipping the 1st package was officially declared lost. RO post offered me a miserable refund that mostly covers shipping fees.

    15. I presented the summary of the whole story above to Craig for review:
    ```
    Hi mr Uthus,
    I see you are hesitant to reply. Well, you can understand I'm very dissatisfied with your customer service and the whole experience. I'm tempted to post our story on online forums. But I really don't want to do that. I'd rather reach an agreement with you. So before I create needless noise, I'd like you to review the facts:
    ...
    ```

    In the end I asked him to either send me a working amp for no extra cost, or fully refund me (Then I would send the PSU back).

    16. A couple more emails, still along the lines of "not my busuness":

    cuthus:

    It is the Holiday season here [it was Thanksgiving week], we do not check computers when taking a break. This letter seems like a needless rant. I was willing to repair any defects, and pay return shipping. Insurance to me was not obtained leaving you without compensation for a lost shipment. How is this my fault?.
    ---

    me:

    So you believe you did nothing wrong, and If I make the whole story, all 10 points above public, this is not going to affect you? It seems like you only took from my email the piece most convenient to you. Please take time and give me a reasonable solution when the holiday is over.
    ---

    cuthus:

    I am sorry for your loss. Your country has one of the most corrupt Postal systems. You of all people should not need be reminded of how important insurance is. The product never arrived here. I have to sign for any insured package. No signature, no package no responsibility for loss.
    ---

    me:

    You just proved again that you don't pay attention to the facts and likely never checked the tracking numbers. The package was lost in US. If it would get lost outside US we would see the message "Departed ... United States"
    ---

    cuthus, last email:

    I have no control how the carrier conducts business. If they delivered to me there would be a signature for proof of delivery. I am not an insurance company, you did not contract with me for insurance on your shipment. You chose not to protect yourself.

    The end. Your thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  2. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Did you pay via PayPal? File a claim. Did you pay via Credit Card? File a claim.
     
  3. ogodei

    ogodei Friend

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    You pay to ship a package, the shipper you choose has a responsibility to you. To deliver it, or send it back to you, or compensate you for loss, or whatever. The recipient isn't responsible for doing the shipper's job or to make you whole if your chosen shipper screws up.

    I get you're pissed, I get you think it's Craig's fault you had to ship the thing, but the fact it didn't get delivered isn't his responsibility. It's his problem, because your chosen response is to post here with insults and accusations ( i didn't read all of it) but i doubt that will convince him to compensate you.

    I dont know if anyone here will be surprised by his actions in this but at least you may get some satisfaction from letting the community know about them.
     
  4. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    This is why for important gear I only send by couriers, DHL or UPS, they're expensive but there's far less chance of such headache.
    Saying the romanian post is corrupt, while true doesn't make USPS any more viable based on recent stories from Schiit and Louis Rossman.

    Naspa frate, ce sa zic.
     
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  5. thoth

    thoth Acquaintance

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    I paid via transferwise.

    Not surprised you guys defend Craig. But don't you think he should have:
    (1) not scam me for packaging
    (2) told what to write on the package and what value to declare
    (3) pay shipping both ways, considering amp was DOA
    (4) register to get tracking updates (most important)
    (5) ask post what happened?
     
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  6. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Read through your post, @thoth, and commiserate. I've not lost anything nearly as pricey (cuz I don't play in that field... as of now), but I do agree with m1x that a reputable courier should have been your sole recourse because of the item's inherent value. Philippine post ain't the best either, and I do feel that given your perception of Romanian post that you might have taken similar measures to ensure safety of your purchase.

    I mean, Jesus Christ fucking a unicorn this is horrible. Also you posted as I was typing:

    1. This is about the extra USD100 or the fact that the packaging was skimpy as heck?
    2. Maybe the value of the amp?
    3. Probably yeah, IMO, given reason to believe it was DOA
    4. Fuck yes.
    5. See #4
     
  7. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Not sure why you think anyone is defending Craig, while he did nothing wrong technically, he wasn't attentive enough to your case.
    1. If you say so, some pictures would be good,
    2. That's up to you, you can request exempt codes from the supplier, JPS did this when I had to RMA
    3. At a minimum he should pay shipping back
    4. Craig doesn't seem the sort to do that.
    5. Only the shipper can request information for a package, they'll never care about the receiver and deny to speak with the anyone except the sender(personal experience).

    When I had issues with the romanian post on a fully insured package which I'm pretty sure they stole I had to hire a lawyer to get my money back.

    You got a bad hand, do everything you can and move on, learn from it for the next time.

    I would plaster this on every possible forum if you don't get resolution so others can be warned, not that EC would care much about it.
     
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  8. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    I'm sorry to hear about your situation, but you chose to take the risk when you decided to cheap out on insurance. this is why I always fully insure any packages that I just can't afford to lose out on. Yes, insuring ~$3k is expensive but in the long run, it's a safer to eat the extra insurance cost if there's even a slight possibility that could be lost. USPS is notorious for losing packages (They lost a couple of mine as well when I sold stuff on Ebay) and that's why even SBAF loaner programs do not use USPS for sending gears to the next person.

    Just from this, it sounds like you could have worked things out w/ Craig getting reimbursed for the shipping cost as long as the item was back to him safely.

    it is an unfortunate situation, I can't imagine how I would feel/deal if this were to happen to me. If the item arrived DOA, it's still the buyer's responsibility to make sure the damaged item gets back to the seller so that he can either fix the amp and ship it back to you or reimburse you. It's a painful and expensive lesson, but ALWAYS insure your item if you can't afford to have that item be lost. Also No USPS!! I always use UPS or FedEx for important/pricey items w/ fully insured + signature required.
     
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  9. ogodei

    ogodei Friend

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    Hah ! Im not defending Craig \ Eddie Current

    1 What 'scam' ? Serious question
    2 Not particularly, but it would have been prudent to avoid this issue
    3 His business, his decision but would have been nice of him.
    4 No
    5 No
     
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  10. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    I'm not even a fan of tube amps, let alone a member of any EC fan club that might or might not exist. I think I heard one of their amps at a meet; I'm sure I liked it; I'm sure I like a lot of stuff I hear.

    I'm just emphasising that I have neither brand connection nor brand loyalty. Not brand negativity either. Close to being unbiased.

    Your conversation sounds rather like trying to talk to an 11-year-old who has a bad day at school. Marks to Craig: 4/10 is generous.

    That does seen weird.
    Provided you with a label even? Even though they are not paying.
    Well, yes, now that you come to mention it... customer contracts to buy something that works. DOA means contract unfulfilled.

    I also think that if I buy something new, I buy something new. Not repaired. "Willing to repair" doesn't cut it.
    Hmmm... Should they track everything on its way back to them? I don't know on this one.
    Yes, a modicum of customer service would suggest at least making an effort , rather than shrugging the whole thing off.

    Again, I'm totally brand/personality agnostic here. I'm just reacting to your story as you told it. Whether the product or company.
     
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  11. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    No, do you think Craig would pay a couple hundred bucks import tax? I don't think so and he should at least tell the buyer what to do. He's a company that acted like it was a private transaction.
     
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  12. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    At the end of the day, IF your story is 100% factual, you were sent a defective product and lost your money. That's on the business who sent it to you, maybe not legally, but ethically speaking.

    Contact transferwise and be aggressive in filing a claim. Get your money back and never purchase anything from EC again.
     
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  13. ogodei

    ogodei Friend

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    This. I think Eddie Current compensating you in this case would be a nice Customer Service decision on their part but not specifically required by anything you've posted.

    I suspect the meaning of question 5 is really " go to postal office and investigate what happened" . Which again would be nice on Craigs' part but IMO a pretty out of the ordinary effort for a company. Maybe on 5 I guess.
     
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  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    My two cents:

    I've been on the customer end where I have needed to return gear for repair. In cases where I've had to pay for shipping back (negotiated), I was always given specific instructions, down to the codes, on what to write down on customs forms if international. Most other situations involved the manufacturer just sending me a FedEx or UPS slip along with the relevant customs declaration documents. I mean shoot, if the product didn't work or was damaged during shipping, those things are the least a manufacturer should do.

    Sure we can easily say that @thoth should not have cheapened out on shipping and taken safeguards, i.e. insurance; but a customer should never have to be put into a situation where they have to guess what to do based on vague communications, know what values to declare, or be worried about the manufacturer receiving customs charges, that could be charged back to themselves.

    As far as the box, that is an extra charge that should have been communicated before the deposit. The box charge may be well known to some people here, but most normal people assume that any piece of gear sold comes with an appropriate box. The EC website says shipping extra next to the price, but there is no mention of box, or handling fees. It's the manufacturer's responsibility to set proper expectations for customers, especially when it comes down to fees and costs beyond the sticker, return procedures, DOA, etc.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It wouldn't have mattered. The local USPS delivery people are screw ups - this one is particularly bad. We've gotten crucial time sensitive mail for our neighbors in our mailbox. If the USPS guy is lazy, they won't bother. The door to Craig's lab is in a lobby behind another front door to a dilapidated building. That front door is sometimes locked and it could look like a vacant building slated for destruction. USPS will probably be lazy, note "vacant", and just leave without attaching a notice. They are quasi-government employees and can never be fired, unlike FedEx or UPS employees. A visit to the local USPS office, the guys at the counter already knew who the screw ups were by name. One USPS guy even confronted my wife for me reporting him consistently mis-delivering mail. I was going to wait and punch him in the face the next time he came by, but we never saw him again. I assume he got demoted to sorting.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    At least come to some agreement. There is no legal obligation, but my motto is this: gotta own it and karma is a bitch. That applies to everyone.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  17. gridmaster

    gridmaster Acquaintance

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    #1 I'm surprised Craig ships out of country tbh. It's a logistical nightmare for small companies in most instances. #2 This is exactly why more established companies require shipping with insurance. For a small company tho, you can get people complaining "holy sh*t I have to pay how much in insurance to get it shipped to me / return for repair" being that insurance is well over the price for shipping, especially internationally. If Craig had this policy tho, that right there is probably going to make a customer just like @thoth decide not to buy. It's a balancing act of customer acquisition and the potential pitfalls.

    I've also seen companies do the "you can ship without insurance but we are absolved of any issues therewithin".
    Even tho that's kind of a common sense thing, shoving it in front of customers face can make them think twice.

    I'm sorry for the shitty situation @thoth
     
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  18. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    Either way is fine, if and only if Craig made it crystal clear when requesting that the amp be sent back. His communication on this is absolutely terrible and unacceptable for any brand. What if the customer has no experience with shipping internationally? What if the packaging got damaged on the way there? Instructions need to be crystal clear, a shipping surcharge is fine but he should quote you for whatever it takes to get the amp to you safely, and before you agree to commit to any deposit.

    Oh, and if the amp is broken out of the box, that's 100% on Craig to fix the thing or give you a good, working amp. I don't care where you are, you could be in Somalia and if Craig agreed to sell an amp to you, you're his problem and he should deliver a functioning product to you. I would have raised issues the moment he request that the customer pay return shipping on an amp that's nonfunctioning out of the box. If any seller of any good requested this of me, I would refuse to send it back until either (1) he provides me with a return label paid in full or (2) he arranges to send me a replacement at no extra cost to me.

    If you, as a seller, don't want this, put it up in big letters in the FAQ or shipping section. EC has made no such disclaimer so as far as I'm concerned, you have every right to raise hell and/or attempt to recover your payment.
     
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  19. johnnypaddock

    johnnypaddock Acquaintance

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    I know this pales in comparison to losing the amp, but this comment kind of bugs me: "I have never had this problem reported, the amp was perfect when it left here I have no idea what happened."

    I don't doubt that this is the truth, but I don't see how it helps to make this statement. It comes across like EC distrusts the buyer right from the beginning, and it sets a defensive tone. I'd expect more of a helpful approach from a manufacturer.

    Sorry to hear about the trouble... Best of luck.
     
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  20. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    All Craig really needs to do is to put one of the following notes on his website:

    (1) Because of our size and fulfillment constraints we cannot offer shipping outside of US/North America

    (2) Because of our size we cannot offer free shipping outside of US/North America, international shipping strictly at buyer cost and risk, all sales final and all repairs must be shipped at buyer's own cost without exception.

    (3) We offer international shipping at buyer cost and only with full insurance, buyer pays insurance and we offer a X day inspection period after which repairs must be shipped at buyer's cost without exception.

    Craig has made no such statement. You can't take money from international customers and not be willing to put up with some trouble to make sure that they receive good, working products. Also, don't ever make international transactions with bank wire if you're not positively certain that the other guy is decent and will resolve any problems out of goodwill. With Paypal/CC the fight is a lot easier if something goes wrong.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019

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