Bad product + TERRIBLE customer service = unhappy customers; see below for more details:
I bought a Toshiba DVD player off Amazon.com for $40 (it had a rating of 4/5 stars; not bad.) It failed after a measly 6 months of moderate to light use. (It wouldn’t play ANY disc. The Toshiba repair FAQ had one piece of advice: unplug it for 3 minutes, then plug it back in. As brilliant as that repair sounded, it didn’t fix the problem.)
I emailed Toshiba and explained the problem, providing model numbers, purchase dates, etc. They informed me that, since the item was out of the 90 day warranty, I could exchange the player for a new model for only…. get ready… $50! SERIOUSLY? $10 more than I paid for my original player and $20 more than what I could by the new player they were offering me on Amazon? Okay, someone needs to take Econ 101 at Toshiba.
Anyway, they provided a customer service number for more ‘help’, so I called it. After struggling through automated messages telling me to answer all the questions I already answered via email (with no ‘dial 0’ or ‘operator’ function to get a live human) for 20 minutes, I finally got a low-level goon on the phone.
I explained the problem and asserted that even though my unit was out of warranty, it would seem like the decent thing for Toshiba to either 1) refund my money, 2) send me a replacement DVD player or 3) fix the unit for free, given that their product completely FAILED after only 6 months. Although the customer service woman agreed that 6 months was ‘not typical’ (I don’t really believe her since 10% of reviewers on the Amazon.com site appear to have had the same problem), she told me there was nothing she could do.
If you’ve ever dealt with telephone customer service, you know that only a ‘Supervisor’ can fix a problem, so she offered to connect me to a supervisor and I accepted. After putting me on hold for another 5 minutes, she came back and told me that, because my item was out of warranty, NO SUPERVISOR WAS EVEN ‘ALLOWED’ TO SPEAK TO ME. Que pasa!? Seriously!? I was stunned. Toshiba won’t even allow customers with failed products that are older than 3 months TALK to a person that might potentially be able to solve their problem.
Never have I had a customer service group refuse to speak to me about a problem. That’s their @#^%@ job!!! Anyway, after I clarified one more time with this customer rep that Toshiba would rather lose a customer for life (and have that person tell everyone they know to avoid Toshiba products) than pony up a $30 DVD player, I hung up and ordered a Philips DVD player. (The woman assured me that it ‘wasn’t the money’ that Toshiba was concerned about, so I assumed it was merely a policy of personally insulting customers by refusing to help them when Toshiba products fail.)
The lesson: AVOID TOSHIBA PRODUCTS LIKE THE PLAGUE. Be very afraid of a company that has the unique business strategy of producing defective products AND failing to fix problems (or even allow empowered employees to speak to customers about fixing problems) when confronted with persistent customers.
Every company makes products that fail from time to time (some more than others), but the difference is made when good companies have policies in place to help customers with failed products or services. Based on my experience, Toshiba is not a good company…