Once again, I'm less than impressed with another booger company. This time, it's Panasonic/Technics. It is also the last time as I'll choke myself to death before I buy anything from them ever again.
Quick version why Panasonic/Technics suck hard:
Buy Technics crap. Technics crappy product breaks within a few days. Try to return product. Get told to f*#k off by Panasonic support, retailer, and Panasonic service center. Get forced to have defective crap repaired. Repairs suck. Repairs cost money just to add insult to injury.
Long version why Panasonic/Technics suck hard:
I've needed a new pair of headphones for a while, and since my speakers on my workstation are pretty bad, I figured it would be best to get a decent pair of headphones so that I can get a better frequency range and sound. Also, I'll need them for testing some new software I've got in the works.
I settled on a mid-range pair of headphones from Technics (a division of Panasonic). Not high end, but good enough - about USD 140.00 or so (KRW 140,000) - they are cheaper outside of Korea. It's not hard to spend $300~$500 on a pair of good headphones in the US.
Anyways, I get home, they work for about a week, then the tip of the 1/4" audio jack breaks off. I've got tons of cords and junk with the exact same jack and that has never happened. i.e. Shoddy worksmanship.
This isn't a huge problem at this point. Every once in a while you get a bum product, exchange it, and that's it. Not this time... at least not from Panasonic...
After a polite email to Panasonic support, I get no immediate response:
I just bought a Technics RP-F880 headphones set last week and it broke already. My maid threw out my receipt and box as well. I got it at a store in Techno-Mart.
The tip of the audio jack broke in the 1/4" audio jack adapter.
How can I get it replaced? Will you replace it directly or do I need to take it back to the store?
I need them replaced ASAP.
So I head down to just exchange it. Shouldn't be too hard; Korean law states that all products can be returned for exchange or refund if defective within 10 days.
Well, that was stupid. In a country that has yet to invent the thermostat or discover that solids are non-compressible (if you've ever taken the subway in Seoul, you already know this...), expecting anyone to obey the law or even act with a morsel of decency... i.e. No luck.
So, at this point I either throw the headphones in the garbage, or get them repaired at the Panasonic service center... which will take about a month... I opt to leave them to get repaired after their rigorous few hours of use.
The next day I finally get a response from Panasonic support where they politely tell me to go f*#k myself:
Dear Ryan Smyth,
Thank you for visiting our website.
Accessaries such as RP-F880 are not guranteed and their parts have not been supplied.
but, by way of exception, we will supply only ear pad to be used for headphones.
We're sorry that we can't replace broken parts to new parts.
Panasonic Korea Customer Center
Which doesn't matter anyways because they are still obligated by law to replace defective products irrespective of their own policies. Not to mention that there is usually some room for some common decency with most companies.
Three weeks pass and I finally get the heaphones back, repaired with a short, ugly wire where the audio jack isn't even straight in the plastic. On top of that, I have to pay for repairs to the defective headphones. The original cord was a very nice fabric wrapped one. I completely freaked when I saw the cheap garbage it was replaced with. The color I didn't care about, but the fact that the Panasonic service center replaced it with total garbage was just too much. (Kind of like putting bicycle tires on your new BMW.)
Apparently Panasonic doesn't really care about their customers. They must have a lot of them, or at least a lot minus one... And apparently they haven't taken those old McDonald's statistics to heart: for every 1 customer that complains, 10 don't, and they all tell on average 10 other people (or something like that anyways - the first part is correct AFAIK).
It would have simply been easier for them to replace the headphones and just make me happy. I would have appreciated it and in the future I would have probably bought other Panasonic products simply because they treated me well before. I'd even recommend them. Every company has some problem with their products at some point, and the difference between them is in how they deal with it.
How good companies deal with problems:
In late 2003 I bought a 160 GB Seagate hard drive. Within a week I had S.M.A.R.T. errors and the drive was dead. I got in contact with Seagate support and they told me that the drive was toast and just to go to the service center to get a new one.
So I hopped the Seoul subway to Yongsan market and went to the Seagate service center. It's nothing more than a rooftop addon building with boxes and a counter. (I suppose that they farm out all their support/import stuff to this company.)
I explain to the guy that I got S.M.A.R.T. errors and that I need a new drive. I pulled out my receipt, but he never even looked at it. He just grabbed a new drive and handed it to me. Short and sweet. I walked out happy, knowing that I would definitely deal with Seagate in a heartbeat. The next time I bought hard drives I bought 2 Seagate 200 GB SATA drives. And the next time I need more storage, I'll buy Seagate again. I usually buy 2 to 3 new drives a year.
But not only that, I get people coming to me all the time asking about everything from software to monitors, audio equipment, networking equipment and all kinds of other goodies. I'd gladly recommend Seagate, but I will never recommend Panasonic.
P.S. Die! Panasonic DIE!