Customer Service and Product Quality Failure
I don’t usually write reviews, but I strongly felt this is worth informing as many people as possible. I read all the reviews on the PanaSonic PT-AX200U projector and they all looked good, so I bought one. For me, I wanted the best possible resolution and highest lumens without spending thousands of dollars. I bought this in May, 2008 for $1299. At the beginning of this January, I went to turn it on and heard a loud bang and it wouldn’t power up. Now you should know that I am incredibly anal retentive when it comes to my electronic equipment. This machine has been cared for like a baby and has only been used for 525 hours (approx. ¼ bulb life) so it is impossible that I caused any problem with the machine.
So I called PanaSonic Projector Customer Support. They were unsure what could be wrong, so they had me send it to their outsourced provider, Heartland Diversified, for repair ($130 diagnostic fee, but it goes toward any repair costs). Heartland notified me that the cost of the repair would be $1265 (recall the cost of the new projector, which by the way, can now be bought new for $999). Since this warranty just expired, they said any dispute would have to be with PanaSonic directly.
This is where the disaster begins, if it wasn’t already disappointing enough that the projector broke so quickly. Customer Service at PanaSonic is a nightmare. You can never get past front line customer support personnel (who have no decision-making authority) to management and all conversations end with the refrain “We will have to get back to you in 24-72 hours” which never happens, thus requiring yet another call to customer support . Bottom line is I wanted them to stand behind their product regardless of warranty because a projector should not completely break after a year and a half. They say they are escalating the request but then tell me that the request is going to the same original person, John Parks. They will absolutely not let you talk directly to anyone and will not give out email addresses or phone numbers (or last names, but one of the reps slipped, so I got this one). This issue has now been going on for two months and Heartland is threatening to take possession of the projector at the 60 day mark. I have even written to Robert Perry, the EVP of PanaSonic Consumer Products, and have gotten no response.
After easily 20 hours of being on the phone with Mike (three times), Jabin, Ben, Tom, Leela, Ranita, and the people at Heartland, I am getting nowhere and feel incredibly frustrated to the point that I will not buy another PanaSonic product and cannot recommend a PanaSonic product to anyone. Even when I look back at other PanaSonic products I have had (stereo, boom box, clock radio, microwave), every single one has had something break quickly. They haven’t become unusable but there is always something – a button doesn’t work, it doesn’t turn off, a door doesn’t close, etc.
In summary, I believe this is not just a poor product quality issue, but PanaSonic has a major customer service issue to which I can only say “Buyer Beware.”