Thiel Customer Service - New ownership is terrible!!! - WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS COMPANY ?


  For the past month I've been trying to contact Thiel to get an R.A. for my tweeter that needs to be rebuilt for my 7.2. THERE IS NOW NO PHONE NUMBER FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AS THERE USE TO BE as recently as last year and the support email address states " we'll reply within 48 hours " is a lie! I've contacted them three times without a single reply. Any ideas or suggestions? Anyone reading this might want to think twice if buying any Thiel used or new products now a days. What a shame.....
aolchris
@aolchris,  sorry to hear your plight. This company is not what used to be, one look at their home / FAQ pages tells a lot about their current focus on lifestyle speakers and merchandise products instead of 'legacy' speakers. 

There is a substantial loyal customer base of Thiel legacy speakers, I am sure someone will chime in shortly with a contact telephone number. 
LOL. This is normal. I can’t remember the last time I made a phone call and someone answered the phone at any corporation. Usually they are so busy and experiencing an unusually high number of calls....

Sorry but this has become NORMAL.

American MBA programs have taught leadership that the best way to make money is to cut cost, get rid of workers and "mine customer database" for higher profit. Existing customer are sheared and fleeced like Sheep with high prices and sell up tactics of Revision 1, 2, 3 Mark 4, 6, 7 etc. New customers are the only things that MBA programs recognize as worth respecting - call and ask to buy a top of the line model and you will get a phone call back within minutes...new customers can get discounts often much more than long term loyal customers!

Anyway, never had a problem with ATC but they are old school and privately owned. I suspect You just found out what happens when private equity takes over a family business and they "milk all the customer base for all it is worth". I hope ATC and Benchmark never sell out to Samsung or private equity and stay private but there is always a risk! Many great companies are gone...

Oh no. This is disastrous to Thiel owners if more than a simple inconvenience/aggravation.

shadorne, Thiel service is located in KY not in the Nashville corporate headquarters and has been operated as a separate P&L/business subsidy for quite some time now. Your comments read as similar in sensitivity to one who loudly proclaims the evils of smoking at the funeral of a loved one who died from lung cancer in front of the family.

Dave
Dave,

LOL. I can sure understand how a speaker mighr be like a loved one to some folks.

I am just pointing out that our expectations need to adjust to the new reality of poor customer service being the norm these days and therefire give Thiel time to respond...no phone number for customer service is no longer unusual these days.


shadorne, you are EXACTLY right, this is indeed how companies taken over from founders operate .
To call any speaker fading away a "disaster' is foolish in the extreme .
Shubert,

It is quite easy to visualize you being the barker at such a funeral.

Dave
Here is the story from someone who should know

https://www.strata-gee.com/kathy-gornik-why-i-sold-thiel/

Reading between the lines it seems to match what I see happening countless times. Hopefully I am wrong. But usually they get rid of all the key people who have a passion for their customers and what they do and then simply milk the kudos of the brand name with radical low cost outsourced manufacturing - all the while keeping shiny even more expensive logo plates highly visible with sales linked to the company legacy.
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You would be right in this case shadorne.

Dave
Get the dealer you bought the speakers from involved. Or get a Thiel dealer SOMEWHERE involved. When you pay good money for loudspeakers like that, you deserve better from that manufacturer even if they have restructured. Good luck....
Tim
To the OP - have you contacted KY as Dave suggested?  This is disappointing but Shandorne's analogy is unfortunately right. 

Speakers have a long life and in this case longer than the original company, that is disappointing to say the least.
There is no Thiel dealer list on the current website. When it was up it was highly inaccurate. One of my local dealers who dropped Thiel about 5 years ago was still on the list. My feeling this is going to be an online company.
I sold my Thiels a couple of years back because of a fear that this would happen (paired with a tendency to overplay them and need repairs).  Unfortunately it looks like support for the legacy products is indeed disappearing.  Not a disaster, but certainly a very disappointing turn of events.  
From the Strata-gee interview and embedded photos, the "Legacy" models available on a special-order basis appear to be limited to those introduced after the sale of the company. That’s a rather fast descent! There is no mention of the Jim Thiel designs or of any commitment to the significant customer base thereof. Otherwise it's mostly market-speak and abandonment of the dealer network for direct-to-consumer sales and on-line distribution through Amazon or similar channels into the mass market. Thiel who?
Not to defend PE's typical method of extracting revenue, but as the old punchline goes, "You knew I was a snake when you brought me home." The founder (heirs, in this case) take plenty of dough off the table from the PE firm and it should surprise no one that things will change, often radically.  If the founder's legacy suffers, they themselves have bailed out with the cash and therefore contribute to the demise.  Who's really the "bad guy?"

Of course, not the same if the takeover is hostile and the founder is forced out.

What's puzzling to me is why a PE firm would acquire a company that clearly had an extremely small and narrowly defined brand equity position (audiophile speakers) and then try to convert it to a lifestyle brand with broad appeal.  .  .huh?  It's not like the name Thiel was remotely well-known outside our little circle and therefore would have null equity beyond us.  Couldn't have been for market penetration--infinitesimally small.  Manufacturing capacity?  Don't think so.  Innovation and engineering?  Maybe, but tangential to their current direction at best.  PEs love acquisition for phantom synergies that look good on paper.  They don't know sh** about operating what they've bought but they're arrogant in their belief that they do--it's the high finance equivalent of "Hey y'all, watch this," (or "Hold my beer!").

As for customer service, it's not dead everywhere. I have personally spoken or corresponded with Richard Vandersteen, Viktor Khomenko and Conrad Mas (Vandersteen, Balanced Audio Technology and Avid).  It's what I own and would be hard pressed to switch to another brand--this is based as much on their commitment and service as the gear itself. 
In the past, the service was a proverbial boulder, it must now earn money, so it is in all industries.
As previously stated, Thiel service has been a separate P&L center for several years now. Hopefully more a "P" than an "L". Those that have complained (or will complain) about the cost of their service will now better understand the realities of survival outside of our little nirvana.

Even those as misguided as the "new" leadership prioritize "P" so let’s see what happens...

Dave
They went down the tubes very bad service.Good luck though!!
That has not been my experience thus far, ebm. Kathy of "legacy" Thiel once drilled me a new one re: $$ on repair of drivers many years ago but Rob Gillum has been fair and profoundly helpful in all my associations with him, even sending free parts for self-upgrade on one occasion.

Dave
Rob Gillum has been very helpful to me since I bought my 3.7s a couple years ago.  He was in touch as recently as last month to say he had parts for the 3.7s.  Though I have not been in touch with him since.
Thiel has been going through CEO's quickly, just named a new one last month.  Real, non-lifestyle speakers are now a made to order product and I don't think they have any dealers, just internet.  Maybe they'll take them to shows or something. 

As a Thiel owner and fan I've watched this unfold over the past several years.  The new CEO is some marketing broad with zero interest in audio.  I have no idea why anyone would buy any of their new products.  They are so clearly answers to questions nobody asked.  There are already lots of lifestyle speakers.  The other speakers are basically overpriced PSBs which of course nobody needs since we already have reasonably priced PSBs. 
I tried calling the KY operation -- just got a prerecorded voice asking me to leave a message. No "you have reached ... etc."  Very strange. Does anyone know how to reach these people?  I did speak with Rob about a year ago when contemplating a move up from my 2 2s. An excellent individual. But that was then.

The awful new Thiel website fairly screams "we are in our last stages and going out of business."

If you can't get through to Thiel, I strongly recommend giving Bill a call:


http://www.millersound.net
jafant,

He is the all knowing "Everything Thiel Expert". He should be chiming in any minute.
unsound,

For those of us unfamiliar:  Could you explain Bill's relationship to Thiel?
Did he work for Thiel and might he have spare parts?  I don't see Thiel listed under the brands he services.  Thanks.
^Just a well respected speaker repair expert. 
Emailed Rob a few hours ago.  Will update here.
     Hello and thank you all for the support and information. Although I have not contacted Bill directly yet, ( if you read this Bill, feel free to let me know otherwise here ), The Millersound web site says in bold lettering at bottom of page:
     "Kindly Note: WE DO NOT REPAIR OR SERVICE TWEETERS"
    That statement seems pretty cut and dry. So does these mean  I'm SOL??? Again, I need my tweeter from my Thiel CS 7.2 repaired / rebuilt. This is that unique tweeter / midrange set up that I believe shares the same voice coil. The midrange works. Heck I'd buy another new / used one if available and reasonable. What happened to all the parts left over from the original ownership? Thank you again to all members - much appreciated! Regards.
^I saw that too. If all fails contacting Thiel, I'd still suggest reaching out to Bill. He has an excellent reputation, (and I personally know of a very satisfied Thiel user) working with all kinds of typical and exotic drivers. At the least; he might be able to put you on the right path, at best; he might make an exception.
Parts/repair ARE available:

Rob Gillum
THIEL Service
763 Newtown Pike, #130, Lexington KY 40511
615-866-2290

Life is good.
tmsrdq,

Good Job!  For now; Thiel Legacy Owners can breathe with some relief.

Best
Thanks very much for Rob's info, tmsrdg!

I haven't been able to get in touch with him recently via email, so it's good to have a phone number.

I really have to figure out which Thiels I'm keeping so I know what spare drivers to order!
They don't care about customers from the old ownership...I wouldn't trust them at all.

stringreen,

I'd surmise that would be true of the current Thiel owners, but Rob certainly has cared about us Thiel owners.   In August he was letting me know he had spare parts for the legacy speakers.
recently had to replace the mid/tweeter on my 2.7's.  rob was very helpful but i did buy a spare just in case. it sucks what this company has done to  a wonderful brand.  i am on my fourth and obviously final set of the  2 series starting way back with the 2's and moving up.  good luck.  Rob Gillum <rgillum@thielaudio.com>
PS:  for what it is worth regarding customer service,  PS Audio is outstanding
Do they make speakers?

IIRC no one is complaining of poor service up to now. In fact, quite the contrary. Just a lot of speculation and over-reaction (including me) to a perceived threat.

Dave
The main man passed away.  Thats %80 of what
Happens to  all
 companys.  The kid takes
Over has it made.  Not saying that happen 
Just sticking my nose in because I know something about all the things in this thread. Having spent years in PE, I will first confirm that you are right about a lot of PE buys. But when PE firms buy a company, they always have some sort of plan to grow the business. It may not be sound or it may rely on a key person who later elects not to be a part of it but I guarantee it's about growing the business. You're right that old customers may not be the priority but in the PE world, if you don't buy a product at least once a year, you're an OWNER, not a CUSTOMER. Customers come back and spend more money, owners don't spend money but do cost money with pesky things like repairs and such. Note that I'm not defending the situation with Thiel, just offering perspective on how they think.

We try to offer personal service but it's time consuming and expensive but we think it's worth it in the end. But this is a tough business and the cost/price pressures are enormous at a time when most customers prefer to buy from discounters which a) devalues our work and b) deprives us of the revenue we need to deliver the demanded services.

There's no doubt that it's an expensive hobby but remember that a lot of people share some responsibility for the decline in service a lot of companies were known for. We're all mostly lucky because we have a baseline set of knowledge that allows us to make informed choices about gear. But our company hears from lots of interested consumers with little or no background in audio that the dealers are dead or worthless and the forums just mock them for their stupid questions. We take extra time and patience to help them because we believe it makes lifelong devotees of our gear.

I read a lot of comments in a lot of forums and groups that amount to: "Everything sucks except my gear in my room." Good for you but frankly you're not helping.

My wife likes to say that Complaining about today doesn't make tomorrow better.

Ask yourself what you are doing to change the situation for the better. If you aren't, then make different choices or frankly, shut up and go away. If you're helping improve the situation then that's awesome and keep it up.

Re: Thiel, you're basically screwed. Support the aftermarket repair guys and keep them in business. But Thiel's gone. At least the one you used to do business with...

As for the rest of the manufacturers, support us! Whether it's us or our competitors over at PS Audio, we're going to bust a gut trying to help you because it's in our interests to!
Jeff,

I have found first-hand that you are exemplary in responding to both customers and owners (not sure which one I am at this point - new product coming?), having received immediate-response emails from you personally on weekends and even when you are at shows. Just can’t say enough good stuff about my correspondence with you and about the customer/owner focus at Exogal, most notably you and your team taking time to unravel a very technical issue with a faulty hi-rez file I purchased from HDtracks.

I hope that you are wrong about Thiel Service though...

Dave
Wrong?

I'm the boss. By definition I'm never wrong!
Simple and inevitable- a great innovator, designer, engineer and lover of music died. What is left is but a name and a legend.  I warm up my teak Thiels via tubes and toast a once vibrant company.
The boss is never wrong. The customer is always right. Nice that they always agree.:-)
Welcome! aolchris,
Thanks for sharing your story regarding Thiel. Sorry, to read about your situation w/ customer service. Looking over my notes, I have, rgillum@thielaudio.com as an email address. This information along with info from tmsrdg will hopefully place you a few steps closer in resolving the issue.  I will do more researching into Mr. Gillum for furture plans related to his position as well.  Keep me posted as developments unfold for you.

Thiel has a Facebook page. Almost all about the Aurora line. Might be nice to leave some of your comments on their page.
I think companies should charge what they need to for service to turn a profit on it.  I suspect Thiel could charge a lot since they have such devoted owners and there's very little new being sold that would be a legitimate replacement. 

Since Thiel has discontinued all of the traditional Thiel designs and concepts I wonder if they could sell/give away the service part of the business to a former competitor.  There must be a company that could carry on the servicing of older Thiel products that would like to get a foot in the door with Thiel owners.  Say Vandersteen bought it so when the 30 year old Thiel speaker can't be repaired anymore they can offer a replacement that has at least some of the qualities that Thiel owners value. 

The idea that anybody is going to buy a pair of Thiels once a year is silly.  There probably are a few people who will do it for a few years while they're moving up the line but nobody will do it for long. 

How does buying from a discounter deprive a manufacturer of revenue?  Haven't you already been paid at that point?  For almost 100% of people price is a factor.  Once you've been in the hobby for a while you really don't need the dealer as much.  I'm comfortable buying with little or no audition in a store.  I would be willing in some cases to rent a product for a while to see if I want to buy it.  I don't know if anyone has that service.  Some dealers let you try something out for free.  I tend to think the dealer should get something for this as it is a very valuable service.  If I don't buy then the dealer gets nothing.  If I do then maybe take what I paid in rent off of the price.
W/my dealer everything I purchased from him he's allowed me to demo at home w/out charge. Vandersteen 2CE's many years ago, Thiel 2.3's and my current Aerial 5T's. Also all my amps and preamps. A good dealer is excellent to have also he will deal w/the manufacturer personally. My dealer knew everyone at Thiel as he dealt w/them for over 25 years and if their was a problem it would get solved quickly. If the customer service is not good from a certain company he has dropped them from his store.
Discounters deprive manufacturers of revenue by demanding lower prices. That discount comes from somewhere and believe me, it ain't their own pocket!

Also, to clarify, I didn't say the "I" expect someone to buy something annually, I was trying to explain the PE perspective. PE firms care about recurring revenue from existing customers. That's one of the reasons why PE doesn't typically work with audio companies. We know that we typically get one chance to land a customer. If we're really good, maybe they'll come back for more as we build new products. But we're not dumb enough to assume that's the case.

And I dispute your assertion that " For almost 100% of people price is a factor." If you care about innovation and quality then you need to be prepared to pay the price that that costs, else it won't occur. If all you care about is price, then by all means buy cheap stuff or used stuff. But as you do that and put companies out of business, its kind of disingenuous to complain that they either aren't providing service or went out of business leaving you no options!