IRobot Corporation Complaint - Customer Service By Irobot Was Once Excellent, But Is Now Virtually Nonexistent
I sent the following letter to the executives of iRobot Corporation, as well as to every email and snail mail address I could locate for the corporation and its customer service division.
This morning, I received a telephone call apologizing for my trouble...which is, I suppose something. Even if I finally end up with a "fix" for my Roombas, the customer service system remains a dysfunctional mess.
I have been a customer of iRobot since the introduction of the first Roomba, have owned many of the models subsequently introduced, and have been mostly delighted with iRobot’s products (with the notable exception of Scooba, which I bought, but gave up on after much effort...an expensive and much-regretted buying mistake.) Although the vacuuming robots often needed either service or exchange after limited use, I always found your customer service department easy to contact, responsive, and polite, so I was willing to deal with the hassle of my various Roombas’ frequent failures, relying on the hope that reliability of future models would be improved. To compensate, I routinely kept an extra unit to use when one or more of the early models was nonfunctional.
In December of 2007, I bought two 500-series Roombas, largely because they were advertised as more durable than earlier models. Recently, within the same week, both units quit working properly, and close observation of their separate malfunctions allowed me to diagnose the problems, it was later proven, quite accurately.
I used your website’s contact information and telephoned. I discovered that your telephone customer support system has changed and now involves multiple time-consuming steps while it concomitantly and repeatedly urges customers to instead use email rather than continuing with the telephone contact effort. If one persists, I later learned, however, a customer support person can eventually, after an extended on-hold time, be reached by telephone…but that person, located in the Caribbean, is capable of offering only rudimentary advice. Any consumer of iRobot products with basic common sense or who has even superficially read Roomba’s instruction manual is more knowledgeable than the “support” person at this first tier. At this stage of the process, the customer has spent a minimum of an hour on the phone and has accomplished nothing.
The customer is then, if lucky, put on-hold for the true customer support person, and another long wait ensues.
When I called the first time about my two nonworking Roombas, I gave up within the first hour and, as advised by the automated system voice, emailed Roomba with the serial numbers, my contact information, dates of purchase, detailed description of the problems, and the other detailed and very extensive requisite information. The online multi-page form malfunctioned after I had fully completed it and I was forced to rewrite the entire email, filling out, again, the several pages on the website. The process took quite some time…which was, of course, doubled by the failure of the first effort.
I immediately received an email acknowledgment of iRobot’s receipt of my email. The next day, I received from iRobot a survey form asking about my level of satisfaction with Roomba products, but I never did, although I waited a full week, receive any response to my request for customer service. It would appear that email requests for service never reach technical support personnel, but instead generate only automated advertising.
After a week, with no email service forthcoming, I again telephoned customer support and completed the entire telephonic obstacle course, which took me, first, to the Caribbean, then finally allowed me to talk to a US-based representative who could address my problems. After that call, I found that the representative’s initial advice did not work for one of my units, and I was forced to again navigate the entire horrible system that day.
I was advised that I would be given an RMA (return) number and an e-tag (free postage) for the return and exchange of one unit, and that I would be sent parts to fix the other. I have received the RMA number, I have received the repair parts, but after 10 days, I’ve not received the e-tag.
Several email inquiries later, (which have resulted in multiple colorful and cheery HTML responses urging me to recommend Roomba to my friends) I’ve received no email answer to my questions about the e-tag. Again, it would appear that my emails reached only the advertising section of iRobot’s system…and that no actual living human is involved in answering any of the emails received from consumers.
Yesterday, for the third time, I spent over an hour navigating the horror that is your corporation’s telephone “support system”. I hope that the e-tag problem will now be solved so that I can return my non-functioning, in-warranty, unit…but I have serious doubts that I will ever see any resolution.
Although it was eventually proven that I had, myself, accurately diagnosed the malfunctions with my two units before I ever initiated contact with tech support, the several attempts to obtain in-warranty service for my two newest Roombas has taken in excess of six hours of telephone time and an additional futile several online hours.
It appears that the true goal of your customer support system is to limit the availability of customer contact with your service personnel, and thus prevent the in-warranty service promised by your own advertised policies. I consider this a breach of good faith on iRobot’s part, and I no longer trust your advertised warranty.
Is this the level of customer service that iRobot Corporation truly intends? I have willingly spent many hundreds of dollars on iRobot products over the course of many years, (including the money I wasted on my nonfunctional Scooba) but I am no longer a satisfied customer. Further, based upon this series of incidents, I cannot continue to recommend your products to my friends. This saddens me, because I’ve been an enthusiastic advocate of Roombas for many years.
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