Esoteric A100 Service Nightmare

My Esoteric A100 which has been stuck in a safety circuit mode after an electrical surge.  I have contacted the Esoteric Service department and the unit was shipped to TAP electronics in Buena Park CA.  I was contacted by the service department that the A100s cannot be serviced in the US and must be shipped to Japan due to a required tool that is only available in Japan.  What???  I was quoted a shipping charge in the thousands $ and that there is no guarantee that the unit is even salvageable.  The interaction with TAP electronics was a nightmare but its not relevant here.   A100 has essentially become an expensive paper weight.  I am disappointed and puzzled by the lack of adequate service support for a unit that sold for over $18,000.  Any thoughts or recommendation on addressing this unit?  I am ready to consider the unit dead and move on.  This is unfortunately a last resort plea before I drop this unit to recycling.



This all sounds just plain wrong.  At first I assumed that your unit was a CD player, but realize its an integrated.

I would find out exactly what tool is needed and verify with Esoteric that no other domestic Esoteric repair location has it.  Hell, have them ship the "tool" to the U.S.

Maybe this is all obvious, but just trying to help.
Is this unit under warranty? Have you contacted your dealer for assistance?
You might search for better shipping provider. I have sent the quite heavy and bulky SF Guarneri speakers, in their three large boxes to Hong Kong, from Europe, for 250eur, via Schenker fright company.

I am in no way associated with that company, just used their service
You could ask the guys on the Esoteric Forum @
One of the members  may have already gone through this.
Suggest you put in a claim with your Homeowner's Insurance company. Get docs to show unit is not repairable. If you have replacement cost coverage, you'll get the money you need to replace the unit.
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"You could ask the guys on the Esoteric Forum @
One of the members may have already gone through this."

Actually it's .org, not .com.

I had to get a new drive put into my DV-50 and it was done in California. I've heard about the special "jig" that exists only in Japan.  Sorry to hear about your difficulties... good luck and let us know how it turns out!
Thanks  hk_fan.  This would really suck if the guy can't get the amp fixed.  Why would they need a jig to take an amp apart?  I could see if it was for aligning a laser or something, but an amp?  IMO, any authorized Esoteric repair center should already have this special tool/jig to do repairs.  Back in the late70's, when I sold Accuphase electronics, we were forced to buy all their specialty tools in order to repair equipment that we sold in house.
" quoted shipping in the thousands " sounds very odd unless the story is not true or TAP Electronics want to get rid of this customer. Some special tools or particular know how might be guarded by a manufacturer.  
I can ship myself from Chicago to Japan for less money...round trip.

This has been an exceedingly frustrating process.  I have contacted Esoteric again today at 844-515-2065.  I am told that the unit not only needs a specific tool but a "right environment" to service.  The response from Esoteric and TAP electronics has been perfunctory at best.   I have lost any confidence I had with Esoteric and will not be returning to them.


I would put all of your problems, inquiries, and requests in writing and submit only using your country’s national mail system and request reply, response, and answers also be submitted in writing using the same system because when you use the phone it is too convenient, expedient, and time saving to just give you a quick answer so that they can move on to the next caller.
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Makes me never want to even consider any Esoteric gear in the future. Thanks for letting the audio community know.
And sorry for your troubles. 
Sorry re your plight. My past business experience suggests that using “Registered Mail” with copies to relevant parties- ie who sold you the unit, the USA distributor, the Service Manager, the Public Relations Dept of Esoteric. Your comment “I was contacted..” does not mention ‘how’ you were contacted. The quote of “thousands” for shipping sounds highly suspicious. Write now to ask for written clarification of the specifics involved. Tools can be replicated using simple 3D Printing. I would request clarification of what the “right environment” entails. 
Sorry that happened to you. But thanks for the warning. I'll never purchase Esoteric gear.
Never going to purchase esoteric gear based on this thread.
Sounds like they just don’t want to help you. Thanks for letting us know, I need a new disc spinner and I’ll be sure to not look at anything from Esoteric 
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But Elizabeth oh so true! 
Now I believe even less. OP, you have to prove your case here, anyone can say anything. I don’t care much about either Esoteric or Esoteric owners, by the way.
...that's why all of my stuff is American made backed up by those with proven support.  State of the art /time moves on - that's when you rely on customer support.  ...a lesson for buyers of expensive boxes.
I have a very expensive Esoteric SACD player that was built in 2008 and is hopefully my last SACD player. If I found out I couldn’t get my unit repaired, I would probably lose my mind or go postal on them.
I'm gonna' sound completely unsympathetic, but this thread sounds a little like someone complaining about the upkeep costs on their mega-buck Ferrari.  Every review I came across described the A100 as the most complex KT88 amplifier ever made.  The amp cannot even be retubed by the user.  To have that done it must be sent to a qualified dealer.  Esoteric intended the amp to be a state of the art, reference quality product and according to the reviews they succeeded.
I have no idea whether TAP is treating you with respect or whether the shipping cost is reasonable, but your obvious frustration comes across.  From other posts it seems you've had the amp since at least 2011 and you state that it sounds wonderful.  Maybe a better way to look at this is to spread the repair cost over the life of the amplifier and accept that wonderful sounding state of the art performance really does cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year in upkeep costs.
Please let us know the outcome.

I Hope this can help 
[email protected]    1-201-785-2646
I believe he is the NorthAmerica sales rep
Onhwy61.....   if I came across as complaining of the cost, I may not have been clear.  The thread is not to whine but to seek the opinions of the fellow enthusiasts. And thank you to many forum users with constructive comments.   I just want the unit fixed. My extent of the effort has been reaching out to the authorized vendor, the US distributor and the authorized repair (TAP electronics).  This thread/post is the last effort.  I’m ready to move on from Esoteric.  And no, I do not complain about the cost of the luxury goods that I own.  But I do address the services or at least the lack of genuine effort that fall short of fulfilling the consumers expectations.  
@stringreen  ………………………….

I always try to buy American when I can as well, but do not ever forget that al LOT of American high end company's have closed or gone bankrupt over the years.    In this mans case, if it absolutely must go to Japan to be repaired, Esoteric being the large company that it is could afford to pay for shipping one way and the customer pay for the other.  I think that seems fair.
What a horrible experience. Feel for you man. 
I hope you can get it fixed for under a g. 
If you can’t, shop it to me and I’ll pay for the shipping. 
Good luck. 
stereo5I concur. If Esoteric wishes to keep a presence here in the U.S.A. then it does require better Customer Service. Hopefully Frank will receive resolution regarding his A100.
kimf70Excellent points all around on Esoteric's / TAP Electronics customer service. Thank You for sharing your experience here. It is imperative to post both positive and negative experiences when dealing with these companies, manufacturers. Well done.
Is the unit under warranty?
Did you talk to Scott Sefton?
You should at least talk to someone higher up in Integra's chain.

@Jay23, The unit is not under warranty.  I did speak to Scott.  He was empathetic but unable to offer more assistance.  I am ready to move on and in the market for an AMP from a different manufacturer.  The Esoteric was part of my system at a second home.  I will be spending more time there and would like to get it up and running again.  I will definitely purchase from a US company this time.  I am looking into McIntosh which I have not considered in the past and Audio Research.  Hopefully will have better support from them.


By the way my first post in this thread was supposed to be ironic

I find it highly amusing for someone to immediately claim they will never purchase a product based on something they read on an audiogon forum thread 

I just felt the need to explain myself since I assume the joke went over everyone’s head 
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Thank You for the update.  There are plenty of excellent amp(s) out there for your consideration.  Keep us posted on your next purchase decision.
This thread is giving me PTSD, you mentioned looking at Audio Research...  I had a poor experience with Audio Research and their HD-220 amp (bought used from my local dealer $5k), the amp was problematic from the start, had to be sent back multiple times for service over a few years until they finally said that its irreparable and they tried to SELL me some replacement monoblock DS450M amps, for $4k.  I didn't accept and am stuck with the HD-220 paperweight, hoping to make something of it eventually.  If you look around you'll see HD-220's and DS450M (for $4k).  If you're looking to avoid this situation, I would not recommend dealing with AR.  Or
When I make a joke that may be in doubt, I just use an emoji at the end of whatever it is I said, unless it's obvious, but even that is a value judgement in and of itself, so to speak, if you catch my drift, lest it go over your heads and lead to hurt feelings. 👍😄

All the best,
Perhaps they would let you trade it in for a Gibson guitar...

can you give us an update on your situation? Hope you are well and having a bit of luck while searching for resolution to the issue at hand.