Panasonic Informative - The black hole of McAllen, TX
MCALLEN, TEXAS -- I have (or should I say "had"?) a Panasonic DVD Recorder that worked pretty well for about 4 /12 years. When certain things weren't working right, I called Panasonic Customer Service and described the problem. Instead of just listening to me, this guy David took me through all these steps, trying all kinds of different features and stuff. Finally, after over 30 minutes of that, David finally agreed that it wasn't working right.
David said I can send it in for repair. There would be an up-front fee, which would be applied to the cost of fixing the unit if I decided to go ahead with it, but he didn't know how much that was. I explained to him as nicely as I could that I didn't really feel like taking the time pack the thing up and shipping it to them without knowing the terms and conditions of their Service Policy. He said he would have the Service Policy e-mailed to me but I'm not especially surprised that I never received it.
A few days later I went onto the Panasonic website and found where you can put in a model number and a zip code and it's supposed to tell you where you can get your product serviced. A page came up and said that I can send mine in for replacement with a fully refurbished unit and to call in for the price.
All things considered, this sounded like a much more promising proposition to me. If I was going to go to the trouble, I wanted to end up with something I could rely on for a while. Even if it cost more, it seemed like a refurbished unit might at least last a few years. If I just got mine fixed, something else might go wrong in just a few months, who knows? The website says it would be a comparable model, if not identical. It also said that they might choose to repair it instead.
I called the number on the website and gave Nick the model number of my unit and he said they would replace my unit for $140. According to Nick (who is plainly uninformed), someone would call to arrange payment once they received it. I specifically asked Nick to affirm that it would be replaced with a completely refurbished product and he specifically stated, in no uncertain terms, that it would. Nick specifically said it would not be repaired; it was to be replaced for $140.
The Pansonic Exchange Center received my recorder on 8/5, according to UPS Tracking. On 8/12 I called in again, not having heard anything. Chad says it's not going to be replaced, it's going to be repaired. I asked for a supervisor and an explanation as to why 1) the service policy wasn't initially explained to me back on 7/25 and 2) why they are now contradicting themselves about the replacement. This guy was of no help whatsoever.
On 8/20, I got a letter saying, "Panasonic will replace your unit with a factory reconditioned unit" and quotes a replacement cost of $80 plus $15 S&H. But this has a slightly ominous-looking sticker that says to call in before sending in payment.
First try - I got put on hold by the automated voice mail, then got put on hold by some woman who says she has to go look stuff up. She comes back and starts talking and the phone goes dead.
Second try - same thing but now I'm talking to somebody who says she has to try to figure out why my unit got into the "replacement process" when it should have gone into the "repair process". After more time on hold she's now telling me that she's going to send it to somewhere else (very nearby, according to her) and they are going to call me and quote a "diagnostic charge". No, she doesn't know how much that will be. And No, she can't explain why Nick had specifically said it would be replaced, before I took the trouble of sending it in. When I asked about why the website specifically offers an exchange program for my model number, she indicated that that was going to be fixed.
So, I'm back to where I started on 7/25, after they've wasted my time for a month. I still don't even know what this up-front "diagnostic fee" is. If I don't want them to send the recorder off to the repair facility, my only other option is that they can return the unit. We agreed that that is what they are going to do.
Then, I notice that the letter has my address misspelled. Looks like folks at the Post Office knew where to send it because we have been at the same address for many years. But I have limited faith that UPS will make the same connection when shipping my recorder back to me. So, I call in a couple more times - both times I get the usual "our representatives are helping other customer" messages and wait on hold. Then I get a message saying they can't take my call at all.
It must be siesta time at McAllen.