Yep, in every aspect and almost all retail.
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For speakers, I have heard great things about Salk Audio and Selah Audio.
You may take a peak over on AudioCircle to learn more about these companies. Rick from Selah,and the owner of Salk really understand killer customer service. Salk literally has a huge , huge cult following with over the top happy customers.
Good luck, actually you won't need it with these two companies.
Is good customer service about dead?No. Check out this thread.
BTW, Daedalus Audio, which is commended twice in that thread, makes excellent speakers in your price range. By their nature, though, they do take some time to build, their website indicating that the wood finishing process itself requires 3 or 4 weeks.
My friend has a VAC based sytem and he gets great support from Kevin Hayes. I have a Coincident Technology based system and the support given by owner Israel Blume is simply superb. That`s two companies that I`d rate grade A in high quality product and service.Coincident has speakers in your price range.
Great Al. Your link had almost everyone mentioned ONE business (except Merlin, mentioned a couple of times) with good customer service. Not good enough. Generally speaking, customer service everywhere is DEAD. I only shop based on customer service. Most products cost within a couple of cents/dollars at various retailers, therefore, customer service decides how and where I spend my money.
I have had great service from PSB, Acoustic Zen, Rotel, BAT, Parasound, and Wyred4Sound. In four out of six cases I rec'd attention from the owner or principal. In every case they were friendly and concerned and a couple even sent free parts as upgrades or out of warranty replacements even when I told them I had purchased their unit used. Far and away better than service for home appliances or cars in my experience.
I don't agree. I have received great customer service from these companies:
1. Revel speakers.
2. ATI amplifiers. Outstanding in this case.
3. Benchmark Media.
6. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs.
7. Blue Jeans Cables. Another outstanding one.
8. Parts Express.
9. LL Bean. If every retail worked like these guys do...
I could keep going and going. Yes, some companies need an enema. Mark Levinson certainly did not impress me last time I needed service. Some companies are very slow on email; I usually pick up the phone and call.
I've had very positive customer service experiences with all of the the following:
Vandersteen, Clearaudio, Rogue. and Eastern Electric.
Day1, it sounds like you had a couple of negative experiences and a couple of positive ones. Given 50% of the four experiences you've related were positive, how is good customer service dead?
BTW, email can be flaky. Pick up the phone, call the speaker manufacturer and ask. Vandersteen is notoriously poor about handling email, but they always pick up the phone. Everyone is different.
"I wanted to audition a rather expensive pair of speakers that were not available in my area. I contacted the manufacturer (from his own website) to ask where I could go to audition and purchase these--but no response."
Dat1...Moving to a smaller house will necessitate selling my Dunlavy SC-4 speakers and going for something scaled down as well. Just the other day, like you, I e-mailed a very well known manufacturer who makes one of the handful of speakers I'm interested in. I also asked him if he knew of anyone close to my area where I might be able to audition. His reply was, "I can make you a pair for a good price." I wrote back, respectfully indicating I wanted first to hear his speakers and find out if they gave me the kind of sound that satisfied me. I got no other reply from him. I'm certainly not using this single episode as a means of indicting customer service in general. It's just that based on the very positive comments from other Audiogoners about this manufacturer, I expected a more helpful response. My shortlist is now a bit shorter.
There still are some companies who truly understand great customer service. Unfortunately, there are also those who don't care. Then again, perhaps they're following the trends of most consumers (not us here for the most part) - buy as cheaply as possible, regardless of who's selling it.
A lot of the manufacturers on Audio Circle are in tune with customer service and will bend over backwards to ensure their customers are happy. I owned Bryston before I started looking at Audio Circle, but James Tanner has really helped his customers over there. People have posted about buying new gear and are all excited about it, James will ask which dealer it was sold by, and he'll personally double check the order and try his best to fast track it. He's also caught a few dealer order mistakes. I've called the Canada service department a few times, and Mike Pickett has always been great and easy to understand.
Bryston isn't the only one like this.
I own Audio Physic speakers. I've had nothing but bad experiences with their distributor - not responding to emails, giving me the run around on the phone, not giving me a complete list of dealers in my area, etc. but I love my speakers and will never let them go.
I hear Vandersteen, DeVore, and Shahinian have great customer service, among a few others. Never owned either of them, nor tried to contact them. One of these days when/if I need new speakers, I'll be sure to give them a shot.
The best customer service in high that I have received in high end audio has come from Manley Labs and Zu Audio. When I had an issue that concerned my Manley 300b amps Eve Anna Manley herself contacted me directly, answered my questions, solved my problem and joked with me in her peculiarly jovial manner. When I purchased a pair of Zu Audio cables--on Ebay at great discount, mind you--Gerrit from Zu Audio made sure that the spade terminations were the precise size for my amps and speakers. He contacted me immediately and made me measure the posts on my amplifiers to be certain of the proper size. His actions made it clear to me, especially since mine was a bargain basement sale, that customer service was a matter of manufacturer pride for him and Zu Audio.
I started with Zu Definition 1.5s then upgraded to Def 2s, and now to Def 4s. Zu customer service is unbelievably good - especially if you pick up the phone and call. (Sean personally delivered my Def 4s at 7a one October morning and spent a couple of hours on set-up, including the controls of the inboard plate amplifier.) Anyone at Zu who answers the phone is over-the-top helpful. At the worst, emails sometimes take a few days to be answered. Most importantly, Zu is proactive in making sure that customers are happy; I get emails to check the progress of speaker break-in, etc.
My second positive experience is with Ancient Audio in Krakow, Poland. I bought a CDP and eventually an amplifier after being picked up at the airport and spending an afternoon listening to music in the principle designer's living room. Recently, Jarek has helped me to negotiate purchase of a specific pair of low-current 300b tubes from the Takatsuki distributor in Japan.
My third positive experience is with Sophia Electric in the DC area. My initial pair of Royal Princess 300b were not compatible with my amplifier. Susan and Richard opened their office on Sunday to test the pair of 300b that I had been using successfully to identify a two Royal Princess with the same parameters.
One other thing we should all keep in mind is that an unsolicited e-mail does not necessarily hit its target, it can easily get lost in spam folders or even go to the wrong address. If I don't get an e-mail response I look at it like a potentially wrong number and try to call these people on the phone, which is always the best method of communicating. The other issue with e-mail, unless you write it with laser precision it is still likely to be incorrectly interpreted.
I have also received great customer service from VAC (Kevin Hayes and Brent), K&K, Musical Surroundings, and Shindo.
VPI! - I purchased a "new" Classic 1 from this site at a nice discount, but it showed up with what I would consider a build flaw and a small ding to the wood. I contacted VPI and sent pics. Even though this table was purchased from a non-dealer, and seemed to be a shady audiogon transaction, they offered to replace the entire chassis for me for free (and pay 1 way shipping from NJ to CA!), without me even mentioning anything of the sort. Incredible customer service.
K&K Audio - I built the Maxxed-Out, first time doing such a thing, and Kevin was always there to quickly respond to emails. I ended up soldering two bits into the wrong place and Kevin instantly sent out two replacement pieces just to be sure there was no damage to the ones I de-soldered.
Salk Sound - Jim is fantastic in his email responses, very helpful, timely, and doesn't try and sell you what you don't need.
In this economy many company's have had to reduce staffing to bring costs in line with slower sales in addition many company's have had to lower their selling price as well as competing with on line sellers who provide no customer service. This means they have fewer resources. I run a small manufacturing company and it amazes me that we continually get clients who are comparing our pricing to on line or chinese vendors and give very little value to service until they need it. In the U.S. this must be what consumers want as they drive by local merchants on their way to walmart or use a local retailer to evaluate goods and then buy on line. In luxury goods its even worse as buyers feel they can now bargain to the point the vendor has no margins left. I could rant forever but you get it.
I have had excellent customer service, responsiveness, and guidance from many
companies in the high-end and I won't list them all, but since you do mention
speakers at that price point, I would say Merlin provides a great product and a
lot of guidance of how to get the speaker to perform it best with other
equipment and room issues. The speakers are not shipped from the shelves, so
don't expect delivery the next day, they are handmade and take some time to
make, but that is the nature of handcrafted products from small companies,
and well worth the wait, what you get for the wait is a very well sorted and
refined speaker, and the furthest thing from flavor of the month.
Dat1, I know about your less than satisfactory experience with your last speaker purchase. IME, these kind of problems come from one man operations. They usually are not businessmen and have problems getting products out on time. It's funny when you visit their website or listen to their VM greeting, they always state "we" this and "we" that, when you know there's only one person running the show.
In your price range, I would stick with the tried and true speaker manufacturers with a dealer network. I've had good experience with Magnepan (3.7s comes to mind, almost considering a pair for myself), Martin Logan (hybrids are usually not my cup of tea but very good customer service), Thiel, Dynaudio, and B&W (usually not my kind of sound but recent audition of 805Diamond got me impressed). Sanders Sound hybrid electrostats is the only example of a hybrid I like. They have a smaller version under 10K you might consider. He is a small operation (but not one man) but has been around a long time and has been known to give great service. Duke of Audiokenesis makes speakers also...I think one man operation...but one of the most generous person I know of in high end. He has gone out of his way even though he knew I wasn't interested in buying one of his products.
I would look at something from Vandersteen. They sound incredible and if you are having any problems, they will work with your dealer and make sure you get the best possible results. Also, Vandersteen is very picky about who they let sell their speakers. If they can't find a dealer that meets their standards, they won't let them become a dealer.
I have had excellent customer service from a variety of dealers, distributors and manufactures. Rick Milam of A-V Design (ARC, Ayre, B&W, Vandersteen, Focale, etc) and Robert Bruce of Sound FX (Proac, Magnepan, Linn, NAD, etc) in Kansas City are dealers who are superbly knowledgeable and easy to work with. Jeff Catalano of High Water Sound in NY is an excellent purveyor of tubes and vinyl and one of the most helpful and candid audio experts I have encountered who guided me into a superb TW Acustic analog rig. Walter Swanbon of Fidelis AV in New Hampshire distributes Harbeth speakers and Perraux electronics and is one of the most friendly and knowledgeable audio experts I have met. Vinnie Rossi manufactures Red Wine Audio electronics in Connecticut and distributes WLM speakers and is as down to earth as one gets. Kevin Hayes designs and manufactures VAC amplifiers in Florida that are my current reference and he personally responds to all queries quite generously with his time.
The numerous poor customer service folks out there are discouraging but there are excellent suppliers in our audio community who are easy to work with and who will do everything they can to earn your business if you take the time to seek them out.
Hope this short list helps.
Just a plug here for my local dealer. Speaker Shop in Buffalo, NY will do everything in their power to resolve any issues in your favor. Been doing business with them forever.
They do in-home installs and in-home evals (the latter if they know you) They'll ship as well. They tend to stick with the more well-known larger companies in deference to our local market's incessant need for the perception of "value for the dollar" (hence, McIntosh, B&W, Paradigm, KEF, Marantz, Magneplanar, etc). Look 'em up.
I just this week had a problem with one of my Quicksilver V4 amps. After speaking with my dealer, John Rutan at Audio Connection, he offered to come and pick it up or have me drop it by for him to take a look at it. I brought it by and he went straight to work with a phone call to Mike Sanders at Quicksilver. After about 45 minutes I was a happy camper again with the problem solved. This was right before closing time as well.To have the manufacturer answer the phone himself and the dealer do the work himself, all the while really trying to get to the bottom of the problem, with no attitude, is what I call great service!
I would have to say one of the very best people I have ever worked with was Geoff Poor who owns Glenn Poor's Audio in IL as well as the sales director (I think or a key position) or BAT.
Had to be the best time I ever had at a Hi Fi Shop. Wonderful to talk to, worked thru everything you could want and even if its a long drive, its worth it.
Also the guys down at Oviation Ultimate in Indy. Seriously some of the most friendly guys I have worked with. I'm younger and they would show me everything in the store and work with you and weren't on a high horse and dismissed you because of age etc. Whenever I'm in Indy I have to always go there and visit.
There are some horrible places though. I think customer service on a good level is dying out. Either they don't think they need to do anything for you or they just want the sale. Happens a lot.
Even dealers will do it. Rather than talking about the gear why not turn it on and invite the person to listen? I thought that was what the hobby was about and not to just get a quick sale out the door.
The same names keep appearing, K&K, Daedalus and I agree with them. The clue for some, is size, small manufacturers are often much better and quicker in responding to individual requests.
No, to me, the problem is'nt manufacturers, but retail. There are some worthy exceptions, but so many stores are unwelcoming, even hostile and unhelpful. Unless you walk in with your credit card or chequebook, out, they are'nt interested. I suppose they have to put up with a fair number of tyre kickers, but in the current difficult times, I just can't understand this attitude
As far as speakers are concerned, which is what the OP was looking for, I can recommend two from personal experience.
First is Vandersteen. Both the dealerships I have dealt with and Vandersteen itself are exemplary when it comes to customer service. Quick response, often by founder Richard Vandersteen personally, excellent knowledge level regarding their products, and very helpful regarding set up assistance. Excellent owners manuals and web site, as well.
Second is Ohm Acoustics. This direct-only seller also provides very quick replies to questions. I had cosmetic issues with some speakers I purchased from Ohm and was immediately given the choice of repair (all shipping at Ohm's expense) or a partial credit. I had voiced my unhappiness with the fit and finish of the caps on the speakers I bought, and without asking, a new, better quality set appeared at my door. Founder John Strohbeen is usually available to answer questions and make helpful recommendations. My experience has given me the impression that Ohm wants its customers to be very happy with their purchases. They do not advertise much, they never display at shows, and have no dealer network, so word of mouth is Ohm's main source of business. Ohm's 120-day home trial period for their products is among the best in the industry, AFAIK. They get it - they have to provide a top notch customer experience, and they do.
Dat1 and I had the same experience from the same company. Ty Lashbrook was awesome to deal with and have heard nothing but praise from Salk and Selah. Sorry for the late reply but some of you were engaged in the thread I was in that turned nasty and was shut down. If any of you want more details just email me. email@example.com
Customer sevice should be of the utmost importance to every manufacturer. Like many, I wont buy from any company if I hear from word of mouth or see in print that they are indifferent or , even worse, hostile towards customers. Manufacturers, especially in this economy where less people have this kind of disposable imncome, should be bending over backwards to make a customer happy, not shooting themselves in the foot by having a customer refuse to by again from them. Chances are, if a manufacturer is just in it for a one-time sale, he wont stay in business very long. I have an amplifier (Belles 350A)that I wanted checked out to see if it was the cause of a crackling sound coming from my speakers (it wasnt). I was up-front with Dave Belles that I bought the amp from a fellow audiogoner used, but he agreed to check it out anyways. It took about a month to get it back but he told me that they were very busy with orders, whic I understood. Since he found nothing, thats exactly what I was charged........you cant beat that. I have seen many talk about how great Jim Salk is with customer service and the fact that many buy from him two, three, or four times bears this out. Also, read my response about Jeff Catalano's excellent customer service in the Highwater Sound thread, same deal as Salk-many are repeat customers due to Jeff's above and beyond customer service (bought a TW Akustic Raven One turntable, Ortofon 12 inch arm, and Dynavector cart from him).