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Keeping Score

Don't call me Newsletter, Shirley

Don’t call me Newsletter, Shirley

I buy stuff.

Often I’ll post reviews of the things I buy.

When I buy something, I figure it’s a vote for that product or service, right? That purchase is nearly always the result of lots of research and comparisons. It’s part of the fun.

A prime factor in that decision: have I purchased from this company before? Was that process pleasant? Was there anything resembling an acceptable level of communication and responsiveness?

There are some products I will no longer vote for due to bad experiences.

On that shortlist is the name SONY, due to an consistent track record of producing products that stopped working shortly after purchase. More details in an upcoming post.

Here’s two other, more recent substandard experiences:

Double Helix cables

I ordered a Molecule Extreme 18aw custom cable for a pair of Mr. Speakers Alpha Prime headphones on January 1st, 2015. At the time of ordering, I noted the turnaround was 8 to 12 weeks.

I amended the order on January 19th, and assumed it might put me back to the start of the queue.

On April 23rd, over 3 months later, I’d heard nothing, so I sent a polite inquiry.

“Should be done in another week, approximately. Thanks for your patience.”

Fast forward to May 19th, nearly a month later. I emailed and asked again about an ETA.

Reply: “Just started it so the build is coming along. Hopefully tomorrow.”

Today is May 27th. Nothing has arrived, no shipping confirmation seems to be forthcoming.

So we’re looking at close to five months for delivery — after a 3-month window was stated — with terse, one-line replies to polite questions.

As customer service goes, I think the best description might be “indifferent.”

I’m generally a pretty patient person. Until I’m not. I assume DH is pretty much a one-man shop. I have experience with doing that sort of work, and if I blew two delivery deadlines, I wouldn’t treat my customers in such a perfunctory manner.

LH Labs

On December 15th, 2014, I pledged $1999 to the Geek Pulse X + Audeze LCD-XC Indiegogo campaign.

I received the Audeze headphones very shortly thereafter, and I love them. However, details about delivery of the Pulse X DAC have been less than scant. There’s a shipping status page that’s supposed to be updated twice a month, but isn’t. Email updates have been sent to backers sporadically, with the Pulse X model rarely mentioned. The Geek Pulse Indiegogo comments page is full of pissed-off people who report their requests for status and ETAs are ignored.

Meanwhile, LH Labs keeps adding perks and upgrades, and early funders (some from as far back as 2013) have nothing, or are finally receiving their units now.

I know this is crowdfunding, not mailorder. I know product development and supply chains are moving targets. I also know that LH Labs is horrible about communication, with many facets of its customer service just plain broken — LH even admits as such, repeatedly, in their updates. Other than such token mentions, backer concerns are rarely addressed, and the tone of the email updates from LH is often coy and condescending.

Once it has your money, LH Labs is more concerned with adding perks and adding models instead of providing helpful information and actually delivering the promised units to early backers. It’s especially galling to receive repeated messages asking me to refer my friends and colleagues to LH’s products. Seriously?

The perception is that LH Labs takes its Indiegogo backers for granted. For me, that perception is reality, and now I regret giving money to the Geek Wave digital player campaign, as well.

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UPDATE (June 2, 2015):

When nothing had shown up (the cable or a shipping confirmation) by today, I emailed Double Helix again and asked for an update. I received this reply two weeks after the second estimate had stated “hopefully tomorrow”:

Testing it right now. I’ll send you a shipping confirmation later. Very sorry for the delay, huge & labor-intensive orders this quarter monopolized a lot of our production time.

As for LH Labs and their Geek Pulse X DAC: no delivery and no news. Last update was that all units would be delivered by the first week of June.

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UPDATE (June 3, 2015):

Got a shipping notification from Double Helix today.

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UPDATE (June 5, 2015):

Email from LH Labs today regarding Geek Pulse status:

Pulse X will be completed next week and begin shipping to those of you who are waiting.

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UPDATE (June 16, 2015)

The Double Helix headphone cable showed up on June 8th.

LH Labs sent an email on June 5th claiming that the last batch of Geek Pulse X DACs would be “completed next week and begin shipping to those who are waiting”. As of today there has been no shipping notification or merchandise received. The shipping status page still reads “66% shipped” as it has for weeks.

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UPDATE (July 7, 2015)

LH Labs delivered the Geek Pulse X at some point last week while I was on vacation.

UPDATE (July 7, 2015, 9:30pm)

Following unboxing it, plugging it in and attempting to set it up, The Geek Pulse X isn’t recognized as a device in the Sound prefs panel of my laptop. Support ticket opened with LH Labs.