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Horrible Futaba Service Experience

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Old 07-31-2003, 03:11 PM
  #1  
bobc1
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

I recently had an experience with Futaba Service that will prevent me from ever purchasing another Futaba product. I have been involved with RC airplanes since the mid-1970's when Futaba had repair services available in Compton, CA. At that time, they were great with repairs available while you waited for very nominal charges.

Apparently, Futaba has become a little bit jaded since they have become the largest provider of RC radio equipment.

One of my Futaba receivers recently failed and I sent it to Futaba Service Center in Illinois with the following letter. I spent approximately $7.00 on this shipping.


July 5, 2003

Futaba Service Center
3002 N. Apollo Drive, Suite #1
Champaign, IL 61822

FSC:

Enclosed is a Futaba FM receiver & Crystal. I have owned it since new & it has been installed in two different airplanes with no problems and never been crashed or damaged.

Recently, when I turned this Rx and a Tx on, all control surfaces began “twitching.” This continued for approximately 3 minutes and then settled down. I ranged tested the radio & it was OK.

I took off & flew the airplane. After a minute or two into the flight, the throttle blipped up and down without any control input from the Tx. This is a 3D model that is seldom flown at high power settings. I made a precautionary landing and shut the engine off. At that time, I could not duplicate the twitching servo movements.

Later, I tested the Rx with a different Tx and observed the same twitching when the Rx was initially turned on. This went away after a minute or two. Apparently, the Rx is suffering from some sort of intermittent glitch.

One other thing to mention. This is the first time I have used a 6.0 Volt Metal Hydride battery with this Rx. I have always used 4.8 Volt batteries, in the past. I wanted faster, stronger servo movements in this airplane. Could this have anything to do with the above described problem? The airplane had been flown approximately 15 flights with this setup with no problems, prior to this situation, though.

Thank you,
Bob


I did not receive any other communication from Futaba until, a few weeks later, I received the following e-mail from them:


Receiver fails vibration testing. Cost to repair exceeds cost of replacement. We are able to offer a new R127DF receiver for $40.00 on an exchange basis.


REPAIR PARTS USED ITEM PARTS LABOR
Qty ITEM ITEM # Description Charge Charge
1 FUTL4318 R127DF 7 CH FM RX 18 72150 00
1 FUTL0702 R127DF FM72MHZ LO W/O CRYSTAL 40.00
Totals 40.00 00 40.00
Tax 00
Shipping 7.99
ESTIMATE TOTAL $: 47.99


Futaba Service Center
3002 N. APOLLO DRIVE SUITE 1 If no repair is performed, there is a $15.00 charge for the inspection and return of item.
Champaign, IL 61822
If COD, add $7.99 COD charge
( M - F, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Central Standard Time )
Telephone: ( 217 ) 398-0007 Please call if interested in PRIORITY SHIPPING.
Fax: ( 217 ) 398-7721
Email: (email: repairstatus@futaba-rc.com)


If Futaba had asked me if I wanted to spend an additional $15.00 to tell me that the Rx was bad, I would have told them to discard it. Their offer of a new Rx for $48.00 shipped could be bettered by Servo City who sells the same Rx for $43.00 shipped.

Additionally, I have received outstanding service on all Hitec products that I have sent for service. Hitec has never charged anything for their repairs/replacement, even when caused by use. I would have replaced the Futaba Rx with a new Hitec one.

However, at this point, Futaba was holding my bad Rx and apparently good crystal hostage, so I thought I would call them to see if they would possibly return the crystal. Big mistake.

I was lucky enough to speak to John, who identified himself as the supervising technician and refused to provide his last name. John was rude and arrogant, telling me that if I failed to pay the $15.00 charge for their unauthorized testing, I could never have any future service on Futaba products.

We discussed the fact that their "great offer" of a new Rx for $48.00 shipped could be beaten by Servo City. John said that he was interested in retail prices, not what the unit could actually be purchased for.

John asked me if I thought their testing was free. I told him that I had never authorized any charges for testing the unit that I knew was bad. John asked me if I could get my car tested for free.

We discussed the great service that I have recently received from Hitec. John was only interested in how I was going to pay the $15.00.

The conversation deteriorated to the point that I commented that if John's job was to discourage sales of Futaba products, he was doing a good job. John said that he appreciated my evaluation of his job performance.

I will never purchase another Futaba product. Hitec has been great.

cc: Futaba Customer Service
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Old 07-31-2003, 03:29 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

I don't understand the problem . A $15 diagnosis fee sounds reasonable to me. What did you expect Futaba to do?
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Old 07-31-2003, 03:56 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

I don't see a problem either.
The service fee is waived if you choose to repair the Rx or buy the new one from Futaba. If you don't do either then you have to pay the diagnostic/troubleshooting fee. Don't pay the fee and you won't get your rx parts back. Pretty much normal for every business that is in repair.
Johns car analogy is correct, my dealer charges U$100 to look at the car. Even if you don't get it fixed you're still out the U$100. And no, you don't get your car back if you don't pay the fee.

For details on the Futaba Service Center Policies:
http://www.rcuniverse.com/showthread...70&forumid=150


Fritzz
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Old 07-31-2003, 04:17 PM
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Default Let me guess...

I'm going to take a wild guess here. I'm guessing that you assumed, when you returned the Rx with your letter, that they were simply going to send you a new Rx. Possibly you assumed it would still be under warranty, or they would replace it under "policy", since it had never been in a crash.

Is my guess correct?

If so, then I can understand why you and John were not on the same page.

If not, (1)what then was your reasoning, in thinking that your parts should be returned without charge? And (2) how is it you felt your parts were submitted "without authorization for test?"

You may note, from the responses so far, that a number of us are not on the same page with you... and we may be on the same page with John.

If you wish to switch brands, feel free. HiTec is a great outfit. But about this exchange with Futaba, some of us are not sure you have a valid complaint.

Good luck,
Dave Olson
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Old 07-31-2003, 05:49 PM
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Steve Campbell2
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

Don't take this personally, Bob; but, what color are the trees in your world???

If this was a warranty issue, then yeah, you would have a complaint. I destroyed my SIG SE Sunday (yes, Virginia, you CAN "fly the wings off" of a model when you forget to hook them up to each other). I'll be sending the rx from that model in for a check-up. Do you honestly think Futaba should perform this service gratis???

If I get the same offer you do, I'll gladly pay $50 for a new receiver. I'll also gladly pay $15 to find out that it is okay.

Get a grip, guy. Tried to have some computer work done lately? The trend now is to charge you just to TALK with a tech; forget about any repair work- that's extra.

Steve
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Old 07-31-2003, 05:59 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

Bob C1,
It sounds to me like they handled the situation very well, and the costs involved are fair.

Since you have owned the RX since new and it's been in two different models, I think it's fair to assume that you are out of any warrantee period.
With that said, they don't owe you diddley-squat, and their offer of a brand-new RX for $40 is pretty darn nice of them.

As far as the $15 for a minimum bench test fee, that's fair too. Or do you think that the technician who tested it has offered to work for Futaba for free?

Would you like a little cheeze with that whine?

Highflight
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Old 07-31-2003, 06:23 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

If Futaba had asked me if I wanted to spend an additional $15.00 to tell me that the Rx was bad, I would have told them to discard it.
Their offer of a new Rx for $48.00 shipped could be bettered by Servo City who sells the same Rx for $43.00 shipped.

If you knew the receiver was bad when you sent it in, what did you expect them to do? If you were going to throw the receiver away if it was bad, you could have thrown it in your very own trash since you knew it was bad.
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Old 07-31-2003, 06:38 PM
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Default Futaba - Service charge

Guys everybody knows that service or quotation for service is not free any more, I asked my car dealer recently to have my breaks checked out, there's a service fee for diagnostic and that fee goes towards the repairs if my front breaks needed replacement.
Heck.....Home Depot up in Canada charged me a $50.00 fee just to come and measure a couple of rooms for re-carpeting.
My friend this is the real word, take it or lump it.
Garthwood.
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Old 07-31-2003, 06:52 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

I would have to agree with everyone else here.

I really can't add more to this than what has already been said.

I would like to know however what you (Bobc1) really expected Futaba to do.

Besides that I can't believe you even flew the plane when you knew that there was a problem. If one of my planes was to glitch like that it would never see the air until I found out why!

later, Ken
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Old 07-31-2003, 06:56 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

bobc1,

Ever heard of the saying "No such thing as a free lunch"?

You authorized the diagnostics by sending it to the repair facility.

How else do you think they were going to determine if it was bad?

Why do you think the bench charge should be free?

Most manufactures use the retail price a a base measure not street value thats why Servo City could sell it for less. Would you prefer an artificially regulated price (MAP) instead?

I suggest you send Futaba and (John) a note apologizing. Repair service isn't free.

BTW last year Hitec was getting bashed left and right over their Digital Servos some people wanted new planes out of the deal and faulted Hitec for only replacing the servos. You think they should have gotten replacement planes.
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Old 07-31-2003, 08:38 PM
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3drc tim
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Default you all may have a point

Well, after reading all these posts, I sympathize with Bob in this regard. Whenever I have called Horizon to fix my radios, they treat me like a real customer. They bend over backwards to be respectful and courteous. Horizon and the JR people understand the basic concept of customer service and would never say anything bad to a customer even if they had a mouthful of dirt.

Their brand (Horizon) of customer service and my experience with JR will keep me as a customer for a long time.

Tim Adams
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Old 07-31-2003, 10:04 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

$15 is cheap for a bench fee of any type. In my industry, which is electronic related, we charge a minimum of $65 just to look and a more typical fee is over $100, even if the client decides not to fix the item. Fixing costs even more. I too would hold equipment "hostage" if the client refuses to pay... duh.

Futaba's service forms have an area where you can indicate that no service is to be done until they send a estimate. Expecting anyone to provide a free estimate on out of warranty equipment is unrealistic. This service is NEVER free, even if the vendor doesn't charge as such. It cost money to keep trained service personnel employed. There wages come from somewhere. If not in service fees, then their wages come from an elevated sale price on the item in the first place.

Free service is a gimmick. Its not free. You paid for the service when you originally bought the item. Some prefer this as they believe they are getting a better deal somehow. I however prefer to only pay for services I use.

I've sent many items to Futaba service. Send my ZAP in every year. Sometimes Futaba is a bit slow, but that is really my only complaint. I've been very pleased with the actual services performed.

Hitec should have replaced planes. They knew full well the servo was flawed before release. They needed to get cash flow to recoup R&D so they released the servo knowing full well it would crash planes. They are at fault. Flip side? If they didn't know the servo was flawed, then everyone their R&D department needs to be fired, but they are still at fault for employing baboons in R&D.
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Old 07-31-2003, 10:10 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

Its kinda funny, EVERY body here is right AND wrong. You should not expect anything to be free in stuff like this. However, I recently sent my TX to Futaba and my two Hitec RX's to Hitec.

Futaba's reply was:

$1.84 for the broken part
$7.95 Shipping
$53.92 LABOR!!!!
MY GOD THATS OUTRAGOUS!!!!!!!!


Here is Hitecs reply:

Reciever 1
$0.00 brokencomponet
$0.00 Split Antenna
$0.00 Shipping

Reciever 2
$0.00 broken PC board
$0.00 Shipping

All of this with a POLITLY MANNERED note saying:
The simaler problem with your recievers is that your vibrating the internal electronics. We suggest adding more foam protecton around your RX's to prevent this occurance....


I mean come on, guess why my profile even says:
"Radios owned: Futaba but switching to Hitec"

All in all, I think Hitec is just a better company than Futaba.
But thats just my opinion...
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Old 08-01-2003, 03:31 AM
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JohnW
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

You are comparing a probably complicated TX repair to a simple single board RX repair. Try this; Buy a Hitec TX, wait for warranty to expire, then break it and see if they fix it for free. If they do, you paid too much for the TX. The proof is that they have no problem giving you free service which means they made a mint off you elsewhere, or they are using unskilled labor. I don't know about you, but I don't want some flunky touching my radio gear.

A Hitex RX card probably only costs Hitec $1. A quick snap of the case, pop in the new card and presto, all done. Only cost $1 plus 2 minutes for a minimum wage worker. You don't mention which part your TX required but I bet there was some work involved beyond a 2 minute card swap and I bet a "real" service technician worked on the radio.

$53 for labor is diddly squat. I won't do anything for $53. Have you ever checked what other electronic type service costs? Do you have any idea what it really costs companies to perform service? I think that is the core problem. Most have no clue the costs involved with service so they freak out when they see the bill. Personally, I find this as an insult to the tech. It's like you are saying their time is worthless.
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Old 08-01-2003, 03:56 AM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

Originally posted by MonkeyBoy
It's like you are saying their time is worthless.
Not to mention their skills.
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Old 08-01-2003, 01:11 PM
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Trombe
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

You don't mention which part your TX required but I bet there was some work involved beyond a 2 minute card swap
I do know what the problem was. It was a blown transister right next to the charging jack. All I needed was the part and better soldering skills and I would have saved myself $53 - Thats 5 weeks of allowence for me!!! :angry:
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Old 08-01-2003, 01:45 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

It is a bummer that you expected them to look at it for free. You should always assume that when you send anything in, there will be a minimum. However, the way you were treated was very unprofessional. I would probably call johns boss and have a chat with him about customer relations. There is no excuse for that. They have always treated me very well, but some people just shouldn't talk to customers. Sorry you weren't happy. They have always been very very good to deal with and I have never had any reason to say otherwise.
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Old 08-01-2003, 02:01 PM
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Default Re: Horrible Futaba Service Experience

I recently had the same prob but only when I use ch 41 crystal as the tx crystal. So, I ordered another tx 41 crystal and prob went away. Now, later, I tried that bad crystal, but it was OK, however, I trashed it because it was erratic. Have used same receiver set and new cyrstal for several flights(about 12) OK now.

I do empathize with your situation though. Any salesperson or tech who talks to a customer in that manner should be FIRED!
I am a firm believer that the customer is ALWAYS right, even if we are not!

I recently had a FORD service mgr do the same thing to me from a reputable 35 year old dealership.

Can't wait to get the FORD survey in the mail.
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Old 08-02-2003, 10:45 AM
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Default Futaba service

One thing I forgot to mention, whenever people like John speaks to me with that kind of attitude, I always insist to talking to the service manager and I always tell the service manager to have the problem resolved by him, works for me all the time, and if it did'nt I can go further up the management line.
But we all know that nothing is free nowadays, the bottom line with to-days economy that time is money.
Garthwood.
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Old 08-02-2003, 04:05 PM
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

n my experience, though, Futaba is very quick in their turnaround, ess than a week in most cases. Horizon is slower but doesn't carge anything until YOU tell them what to do. Horizon gives you options and most other companies don't.
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Old 08-02-2003, 05:23 PM
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Default service

The lesson here is simple. If it fails, simply throw it away and get a new one.
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Old 08-06-2003, 07:55 AM
  #22  
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

Johns car analogy is correct, my dealer charges U$100 to look at the car. Even if you don't get it fixed you're still out the U$100.
Are you telling us that you expect to pay for a quotation to provide you a service. Practice’s such as this is a blatant rip off of consumers, look for a new service provider, its no wonder business is in bad shape.

Having read hundreds of posts in this forum and the complaints about RC service providers, it’s a fairly clear choice to use Hitec equipment, suggesting that HiTec is charging their customers a premium to cover their excellent after sales service is utter crap, if they were doing this they would price themselves out of the market or the other manufacturer’s are also charging this premium and just not providing the service they have factored in, simply put a rip off and sub standard customer service.
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Old 08-06-2003, 12:11 PM
  #23  
Steve Campbell2
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

<<...clear choice to use Hi-Tec...>>

While reading all those posts, you apparently missed the ones detailing all the problems with Hi-Tec servos, and recently, receivers.

No thanks. I'll stay with Futaba and put up with what I have to regarding service.

Its a small market, and they've (the manufacturers) got a captive audience. From what I've seen and read, they (ALL of the hobby radio folks) are doing a pretty decent job. I've been in the hobby since 1987, gone from Futaba to JR and back to Futaba, and have never gotten what I consider a "raw deal" on any radio/electronic repair.

Steve
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Old 08-06-2003, 04:07 PM
  #24  
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Default Horrible Futaba Service Experience

I fly JR, so I am not a Diehard Futaba supporter. That being said, the best lesson learned here is to ask about charges before you send them into any company for dianostic/repair.

You cannot assume anything.
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Old 08-06-2003, 05:43 PM
  #25  
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Default Futaba Quality

Do any of you think that futaba would have put out a product knowing that there still issues to be resolved? (I.e. Hitec)

I don’t think so!

In speculation only, I think that if you hadn’t sent that receiver back to Futaba you would have put it in another plane and possibly crashed it. I am not implying that you are careless. After further testing on your own, you may have come to the conclusion that the receiver was fine.

Your returning the receiver to Futuba may have saved you a couple of hundred bucks.

By the way, we all know what happens when we assume.

ASS-U-ME…………………..you make an ***** out of U & ME.

C. Smith
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