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A Letter From Focal: A Lesson In Customer Service - Page 3

post #31 of 60
So why are you being childish then?

 

I am not being childish. I don't appreciate having my arguments reduced to ludicrous strawmen in public forums.

If you take such umbrage with my viewpoint on customer service emails (which is not even vaguely important in the grand scheme of things), then take it up with me in PM. This argument does not need to be taking place here, at all.

post #32 of 60

Now now children. Please behave. 

 

On a more insightful note, I am with those who applaud Focal's activism in addressing customer issues.  It would actually make me more confident if I ever bought their products (in fact, I plan to get some studio monitors one day for a small office set up, actually).

 

But I must also analyze their business position.  The flowery language in the letter, as some noted, is written as a measure of damage control.  The fact that the letter exists is itself damage control.  In fact, their whole attempt to address the issue - proactive response, letter, actually taking on the task of fixing the problem - is an act of Focal protecting their reputation - ensuring popular perception of their products and their company service is positive.  That's the "why" of what they are doing.  The "how" is even simpler:

 

Focal is going after all these damaged units because, as a big company, they can.  They have the management, margins, and production/repair capacity to actually do any and all of this.  So, while I applaud them - and I do think Focal has earned applause here - I can't look at a smaller firm, compare them to the Focal/JM Labs giant, then poo-poo the little guy's customer service (or lack thereof).  There are some really, really strong advantages that come with being the 800-lb gorilla in the room.

post #33 of 60
Quote:

Originally Posted by ScuderiaHeadFi View Post


 The flowery language in the letter, as some noted, is written as a measure of damage control.  The fact that the letter exists is itself damage control.  In fact, their whole attempt to address the issue - proactive response, letter, actually taking on the task of fixing the problem - is an act of Focal protecting their reputation - ensuring popular perception of their products and their company service is positive.

 

 

They could have remained silent and fixed the problems as they occurred. Nobody would have been the wiser. But they went public and showed they had a potential problem and nothing to hide.

 

Quote:

Focal is going after all these damaged units because, as a big company, they can.  They have the management, margins, and production/repair capacity to actually do any and all of this.  So, while I applaud them - and I do think Focal has earned applause here - I can't look at a smaller firm, compare them to the Focal/JM Labs giant, then poo-poo the little guy's customer service (or lack thereof).  There are some really, really strong advantages that come with being the 800-lb gorilla in the room.

 

Smaller companies like Grado and HiFiMan have a wonderful reputation for making things right when it comes to defective products.


Edited by Beagle - 1/28/13 at 2:30pm
post #34 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScuderiaHeadFi View Post

Now now children. Please behave. 

 

On a more insightful note, I am with those who applaud Focal's activism in addressing customer issues.  It would actually make me more confident if I ever bought their products (in fact, I plan to get some studio monitors one day for a small office set up, actually).

 

But I must also analyze their business position.  The flowery language in the letter, as some noted, is written as a measure of damage control.  The fact that the letter exists is itself damage control.  In fact, their whole attempt to address the issue - proactive response, letter, actually taking on the task of fixing the problem - is an act of Focal protecting their reputation - ensuring popular perception of their products and their company service is positive.  That's the "why" of what they are doing.  The "how" is even simpler:

 

Focal is going after all these damaged units because, as a big company, they can.  They have the management, margins, and production/repair capacity to actually do any and all of this.  So, while I applaud them - and I do think Focal has earned applause here - I can't look at a smaller firm, compare them to the Focal/JM Labs giant, then poo-poo the little guy's customer service (or lack thereof).  There are some really, really strong advantages that come with being the 800-lb gorilla in the room.

 

I agree with some of what you're saying, ScuderiaHeadFi (and not just because your username touches two of my favorite things--Scuderia Ferrari F1 team and Head-Fi).

 

By now, I've had conversations with Focal's U.S. representative, and they've made no bones about the fact that a significant part of this is honoring and upholding Focal's sterling reputation, and I think that's excellent. A couple of you here seem put off with anything less than the purest altruism as motive, and I think that's at least a bit unreasonable. The key takeaway here is that they're making a strong effort to remedy the situation for any Spirit One customers experiencing the problem, and that's good business.

 

And ScuderiaHeadFi, I agree that not every company can address a problem like this exactly as Focal is doing here, but every company in a similar circumstance should do their best to, as it's a solid example of what to aspire to do--and aspire to be able to do--in the face of a problem like this.

post #35 of 60

I just got these and I absolutely love them.  Hope to post something soon after some more testing.  

post #36 of 60

I'm fortunate to have been privy to pretty much the entire problems Focal has recently experienced, and I think they've done a bang-up job dealing with it.

 

I find the Spirit One a competitive can in its category.

 

My full story on the Spirit One is here.

post #37 of 60

Actually there's no way anyone can definitively judge Spirit's actions - because they haven't made clear what the problem is, instead they've danced around it. Headphones are being damaged in transit to the extent their sound quality is impaired and their fix is to provide a new case, but

 

- How easily does the damage occur? They haven't said.

 

- How severe is the damage? Again, they haven't said.

 

If the headphones are not adequately constructed and damage occurs when they are treated quite moderately, then Focal should be much clearer about it. And quite possibly offer people more than a new case. This may or may not be the case; they have avoided saying. This is not exemplary customer service at all - it may even be absolutely awful customer service, based on how bad the problem is. 

post #38 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyll Hertsens View Post

I'm fortunate to have been privy to pretty much the entire problems Focal has recently experienced

 

Why does this make you "fortunate"? Isn't this weird language - it's like you feel they've done you a favour; why?

post #39 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by scuttle View Post

 

Why does this make you "fortunate"? Isn't this weird language - it's like you feel they've done you a favour; why?

 

Fortunate in that my position allows me to see what's going on from a very close perspective. 

 

I think you're being a bit too hard on them with your above post.

post #40 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyll Hertsens View Post

 

Fortunate in that my position allows me to see what's going on from a very close perspective. 

 

I think you're being a bit too hard on them with your above post.

 

To some degree - to some degree significant enough that the maker feels compelled to do damage control and spend money - this product is of inadequate robustness.  Even if the new case fixes the problem while they are in the case, what about the rest of time?  If I'd bought a pair then I'd want to know exactly how bad the problem is - i.e. how much force of what kind is required to do the damage. Is that unreasonable? I don't think so.

 

If I'd spent money I'd consider it my right to know exactly how carefully I should treat them, and if the degree seems unreasonable then to send a "Give me a refund or you'll hear from lawyer" email. In fact, I'd be sending a mail like that right now with a demand to be told what the problem really is.

post #41 of 60

Sounds like you know how to have fun. Enjoy!

post #42 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scuttle View Post

...If the headphones are not adequately constructed and damage occurs when they are treated quite moderately, then Focal should be much clearer about it. And quite possibly offer people more than a new case. This may or may not be the case; they have avoided saying. This is not exemplary customer service at all - it may even be absolutely awful customer service, based on how bad the problem is. 

 

Actually, they're offering more than a case for those whose headphones were damaged in the problem case. They said:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted in the Focal letter View Post
 
"We’re able to honor Spirit One warranty replacements for those who received damaged units, but also a new carrying case to anyone who wants one.  How do you know if you received a damaged Spirit One? One channel will not be present, or an obvious severe distortion will be make listening to your music nearly impossible."

 

They're offering a new case to any Spirit One customer who wants one. They're offering warranty replacements for any Spirit One customer whose Spirit One headphones that were damaged (as per the letter).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scuttle View Post

...If I'd spent money I'd consider it my right to know exactly how carefully I should treat them, and if the degree seems unreasonable then to send a "Give me a refund or you'll hear from lawyer" email. In fact, I'd be sending a mail like that right now with a demand to be told what the problem really is.

 

Someone so quick with the lawyer threats has almost certainly never been involved in a lawsuit (beyond signing off as a recipient for a $5.00 rebate from a class-action lawsuit).

 

Second, beyond the common instructions to wipe headphones clean and not to submerge them and not to subject the to temperatures below/above certain levels, most headphone manufacturers don't offer much at all in the way of instructions about "exactly how carefully I should treat them."

 

  • Do not place closed headphones directly on flat surface and pump headphone earpieces up and down violently.
  • Do not poke pins or other sharp objects through the driver.
  • Do not scratch outer surface of headphones with keys.
  • Do not put in oven (or microwave oven).
  • Do not use as belaying device.
  • Do not douse in accelerants and set ablaze.

 

C'mon, man.

 

For what it's worth, there is nothing about the Focal Spirit One, in my experience, that suggests to me that it is any more vulnerable to damage than most of the other over-ear headphones I have here (and I've got quite a few headphones here).

post #43 of 60

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyll Hertsens View Post

I'm fortunate to have been privy to pretty much the entire problems Focal has recently experienced, and I think they've done a bang-up job dealing with it.

 

I find the Spirit One a competitive can in its category.

 

My full story on the Spirit One is here.

 

Read the story this morning. Very informative, and I'm glad that Focal was very proactive about it all. I'm not sold on this their first gen headphones but will definitely keep my eyes (ears?) open in the future.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scuttle View Post

 

If I'd spent money I'd consider it my right to know exactly how carefully I should treat them, and if the degree seems unreasonable then to send a "Give me a refund or you'll hear from lawyer" email. In fact, I'd be sending a mail like that right now with a demand to be told what the problem really is.

 

hahahaha Let us know how that goes...

post #44 of 60

Coming from a manufacturing background myself I think Focal has done a great job with their response to the Spirit One issue.  Some companies take really long times to react and not all react in positive manors.  The fact that Focal admits there was both a build issue and shipping issue says a ton about their honesty.  Certainly there could be inherent flaws in the design, but as so many others mention it is their first headphone into a serious market.

 

Keep up the good work, Focal.  I wish you the best and hope you continue to improve.

post #45 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by jude View Post

 

Actually, they're offering more than a case for those whose headphones were damaged in the problem case. They said:

 

 

They're offering a new case to any Spirit One customer who wants one. They're offering warranty replacements for any Spirit One customer whose Spirit One headphones that were damaged (as per the letter).

 

 

That's not an offer it's a legal obligation: this is the meaning of warranty replacement. More than this, under a lot of countries laws a manufacturing fault is good for replacement/repair far beyond the warranty date - usually 5 to 7 years under UK law.

 

 

 

Quote:
Someone so quick with the lawyer threats has almost certainly never been involved in a lawsuit (beyond signing off as a recipient for a $5.00 rebate from a class-action lawsuit).

 

It's nice that you were smart enough to cover yourself with the "almost certainly." In fact, this is a standard negotiating tactic from my professional life - and in my private life I'd just take people who sold me sub-standard headphones to small claims court. (Or not, depending on how much I liked the phones in general and how bad the fault is.) But the essential point here is that if there is a fault with something you have purchased you have a right to know how bad that fault is. If Focal aren't providing you with that information - and they are not - then, no, this is not exemplary customer service but third rate ass-covering.

 

I really don't see what the room for dissent here is: if you buy something and it turns out to have a problem, then you have a right to know how bad that problem is. Vague bs like "pressure" doesn't cover it: any headphone will break under SOME degree of pressure - this is pure obfuscation. All anyone knows right now from this letter is that these headphones will take less pressure than anyone would reasonably expect - that simply isn't good enough.  Good customer service in a situation starts with saying exactly how bad the fault is, so you know how to treat the headphones when they are not in that protective bag - or if the news is really bad, to insist on a refund. These things are your rights, and if you're not given the facts then you are effectively deprived of them. Huge quantities of "We proactive and synergistic in our quest for stakeholder value" bs don't really compensate.

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