VPI service problems

Am I the only one having a problem with service from VPI? After buying
a HW-27 Typhoon record cleaning machine from them based on the positive
reviews and recommendations of all the audio mags (not an inexpensive
purchase) and using it carefully and sparingly and enjoying it
immensely, the vacuum motor blew out it's gasket and began leaking like
a sieve. I was disappointed but thought OK stuff happens. Then my real
problems began. To say that their after the sale service is lacking
would be a huge understatement. Emails went unreturned for weeks,
attempts at phoning resulted in many messages left ignored and then
being told that they only respond to email inquiries, which again go
unanswered for weeks! Contacting all of their authorized dealers
doesn't help as no one seems to be able to get or stock the parts and
they tell me that it would take weeks for them to get them as well.
Finally after five months of effort I received my replacement motor
(which cost $240 plus shipping) and now six months later the second
motor has blown it's gasket and is leaking all over the place again and
I am right back to square one. No returned emails for weeks and weeks
and a pricey record cleaning machine ($2200) that is inoperative and
will be down for months and months again. Is their business so good
that they can just ignore their customers? Are the dealers really
unable to help as well? Am I the only one with this problem? Anybody
have any thoughts or ideas on how to help?
My experience with the customer service has left much to be desired as well. Very slow response to emails. After waiting a week and a half they finally respond, but not to my original question so I have to go through the whole ordeal again. Something to consider when purchasing. Seems to me after paying a premium price for this stuff its not unreasonable to expect adequate customer support. IMHO VPI fails on this front.
Dear DC - I'm sorry for your frustration.This is an unusual double failure. My suggestion is to call or visit the dealer which you purchased and have them assist you in correcting the problem. It is for what you paid. VPI communicates well with it's dealers.

I've experienced some of the same problems with their customer service myself.
I have had a bunch of emails from people out there about how bad their experience has been with service issues with VPI as well, really surprises me that a company that gets such good reviews from the audio magazines and has been around as long as they have has such little regard for the customer. Come guys help me out here, any thoughts on how to solve this problem?
Interesting. Glad I switched my TT purchase from VPI to Clearaudio at the last moment yesterday.
I've called VPI on several occasions and they are always rude. They act like they are doing you a favor by answering the phone. Thank god not all audio companies are like this.
I have to say I've called VPI on several occasions when I was putting (my bought used) VPI table together and always got great results. I recall that they had limited hours though, something like Tues.- Thurs. only. I believe Mike was the one I talked to when I asked for customer service. He was always very informative and answered all my questions.
I have been in corespondence with dcbluesplayer, and there are some facts that may complicate service. One, the machine was said to be bought direct from VPI. In that instance, I'm unsure just how much dealer support a dealer will give, going to bat for somebody who bought direct?

Also, it was mentioned the machine was out of warrantee when it first failed. I gather from our conversations that the entire machine was sent back for service.

While I know from personal experience that VPI will many times, fix, or issue parts to a customer free of charge, even outside the stated warrantee, I would imagine that if they constantly gave out very expensive parts for free every time, they'd go broke in short order.

Generally, I believe them to be very fair, that if the part, or manufacturing process was at fault, they will replace, or repair free of charge. And it is understandable that if a product, even while under warrantee is damaged by the customer due to whatever reason, that this may indeed void such warrantees.

In our conversations, we have discussed alternatives for a need to investigating, and buying parts from other sources. VPI of course does not manufacture either motor in their RCMs.

It appears the current VPI 16.5's uses an Ametek Lamb Rotary Motor. And they can be gotten for less from other distributors. I would assume the two other models VPI make also use the same brand of motor, but perhaps a different model?

Whether the Tyhoon, with its higer CFM-Vacuum rated motor creates a problem with fluid intrusion into the motor, that the higher suction causes fluids to somehow bypass the internal baffle system of the recovery tank, I cannot honestly say?

It could be as well possible, that fluids containing certain chemicals in them, such as high concentrations of alcohol could possibly be a detriment to the rubber gasket seal between Vacuum Motor-Recovery Tank?

I would imagine these simple foam rubber seals should be a part that should be able to be easily gotten from VPI at at a small cost. And that over time, parts such as these, regardless of care will eventually deteriorate-fail.

If a recovery tank perhaps has some fault with internal baffling, I would imagine this could be one cause, with shortening vacuum motor life. There are certain guidelines with operation of these RCMs, and VPI should better explain in their manuals what those are.

Draining the tank, clamping drain hoses tight, and leaving the wand off the machine until innards are totally dry are just a few.

And periodic internal inspection should be done. Don't be afraid to open up these manchines, it may save you money in the long run. Mark

OK, here is the latest update. I initially emailed VPI on June 28th and have yet to have an adequate response, I mean 19 days later and seems that it is WAY too much trouble to even bother to answer their customers emails! I have sent several follow up emails over the last couple of weeks to Mike's attention in their service department but they have been ignored as well. Just can't seem to break thru the barrier that Sheila puts up to get to anyone who can or wants to help.

Just when I thought that I was totally on my own, a couple of the forum members have come forward to try and help (isn't it great when the Internet works like it is supposed to). Thanks to some combined efforts we have discovered that VPI sources their vacuum motors from WW Grainger and after a couple of calls to them (thanks to JR in the Grainger customer service department) I found that the vacuum motor VPI uses in the HW-27 Typhoon is an Ametek Lamb model 116757-13, Grainger found one locally for me and I was able to pick it up on one days notice. But the best part is that they charged me only $72.61 for the exact motor that VPI charged me $240 for last time! Don't you think that a 250% mark up is a little steep? What a rip-off. Now if I could just find who sources the foam gasket that goes between the motor and the catch basin I will be good to go. Anybody have any ideas on where to get one?
DC, As I mentioned, McMaster-Carr handles rubber, and foam rubber in about 12 different types. Can be gotten in adhesive backed, or non-adhesive backed. And the sizes are so diverse, one can find anything one wants.

I suspect VPI used a "lowly" Neoprene Foam Rubber Gasket, and this what it appeared to be on my own 16.5 RCM.

After all, the RCM isn't the space shuttle, so no need probably for ultra high temp, or flame resistant foams, or other ultra space age qualities needed.

Neoprene Foam Gasket will probably offer the best of all worlds, being resistant to any chemicals encountered with record cleaning, and the temps as well. The only thing I am not sure about, would be the Shore Hardness of the foam rubber, but they do have a scale, with descriptions.

As to how wide, long, and thick, a simple ruler will tell you that basically. I would suspect a 4" wide strip 24"-36" long would be in essence a lifetime supply. You would then have ample to custom cut the gasket with scissors-X-Acto Knife, peel the backing, and apply.

While your at it, buy yourself a 12"x12" sheet of 1/16", or 3/32" Neoprene Sheet from them, rip the cruddy Cork Mat off, and be done with the cork forever, like I have done.
If you have 2-3 RCMs to do, no prob, they can sell you a cut sheet 12"x36, which will be enough for 3 machines. The neoprene will last a lifetime, is easier to clean, keep clean, and identify dust-dirt.

The Cork Mat IMO was a poor choice.

I went with non-adhesive backed finally, as the first time I bought, and tried it, I went with an adhesive backed neoprene sheet from them, it was a little lumpy. It wasn't bad, and would've worked fine, but I am a fussy bugger, and wound up gluing the neoprene to the custom acrylic platter with Contact Cement.

The details of Mat installation are covered in full on AIVS's website, under "RCM Museun".

Keep us posted how this all turns out! Best of luck, Mark
I really like VPI turntables and had a fast and affordable turn a round on a rewire job but I remember when they stopped a distributer from selling me a dustcover for the list price of $99 because they just started selling it for $160.
I have always believed VPI's list prices are way out of control, and getting worse.
VPI has created a monster! In spite of their loyal following and years of great reviews, they chose to offer increasingly more upgrade paths than the market could absorb and, sadly are counting on their reputation to "see" them through.
I was attracted to them initially because of their upgade path. In recent years, this path has led us all down a road of confusion.
I think that as a company, that is so confused, as to answering customer's questions and keeping up with all of their own frequent upgrades.
It's a shame.
I would like to have answered, one question. Do they have more than (3) employees? The (live) female person you get,(Mon. thru Thurs.) if you're lucky, then there's Mike, then we all know that Harry must be around somewhere?
I could go on, but I have to ask myself... why? This is obviously a company who has been riding on their reputation for too long and, knows it!
It seems that you have been less than honest with your posts. Why posting and continue with smearing posts when you have been offered free service out of warranty. Those who want more of this story go to Vinyl Asylum and search for "dcbluesplayer@aol.com" post tread number


and HW answer:
I can perhaps understand, why in cases like this, the moderators "moderate" before the posts hit the boards.

The amount of responses are staggering at audio asylum, and after all was said, it appears the jury is still out.

My intentions, were to be a helpful member, and not to hurst anyone's feelings.

As for the comment above, about VPI, I am happy a company like VPI is standing steadfast, trying to keep a company running, without resorting to running south of the border, or to Asia.

So many american iconic companies, take JBL for instance I hear is moving production to mexico soon. I can assume cheaper labor, cheaper products, but not cheaper prices.

Seems to me, a company like Harmon International, is nothing more than a CBS of the 70's, where they took Fender, Rhodes, Rogers, etc, and ran them into the ground.

I'll continue to support VPI in the future with my dollars. They always done me right when I needed their help in the rare occasion. Mark
Again it shows what people on forums can do...they would probably never behave that way in person. Pity...
Let me clarify a few things for everyone. All my statements are factual and accurate descriptions of what has happened. Harry and a couple of his buddies on AudioAsylum are now trying desperately to spin this any way they can to try and cover up his lack of/poor service. I have never met Harry , spoken to him or had any direct contact with him. Not ever, not once. It is certainly not because of a lack of effort on my part. In the course of two service problems I have sent more than a dozen emails and left countless phone messages for him and not had one response, not one. When the HW-27 failed five months ago there was no mention of free warranty repair at all. In fact I was told that I would have to pay for any parts or pay to have it shipped back to them and then pay for any repairs that they performed , so I opted to buy the part needed and do it myself. Now that part has failed again.Never has any free warranty repair work been mentioned. After once again ignoring numerous emails and phone calls, Sheila only responded 18 days afterwords with the following terse email "Use RA # 21236 and enclose a copy of this email with machine. The machine will be thoroughly checked before it is returned to you.Sheila" First you can see that the message is from Sheila not Harry as he claims, second there is no mention of any free warranty coverage being offered. I had to pay last time why would I think that I wouldn't be charged this time? And this response ignored everything that I asked for which was simply to obtain the proper replacement part. After three more emails in three days and numerous more phone calls (all of which went unanswered and unreturned) I finally in desperation turned to the audio websites seeking help from the members. Only when this went public did Harry respond and then not to me directly but by posting on the forum that "he had gone fishing, had brown outs,etc" as a reason for not responding to me initially and saying that "we stand behind everything we make long after the warrantee is done and gone." Well that hasn't been my experience, as I said earlier, Harry wouldn't repair it free last time and you can see by Sheila's only email response to me that there is no mention of any free warranty repair. I think that Harry is being disingenuous in his post. The explanation for not responding in a timely fashion smacks of "my dog ate my homework" I mean come on, fishing trips and brown outs accounting for more that two weeks without a response? (remember that it took him more than a month to respond and send me the part last time, I guess Harry must do a lot of fishing) Offering a free repair only after you have been called out in a public forum? But I think that the most telling part of this whole sordid tale is the simplest one. If Harry was really serious about customer service or actually gave a damn anywhere other than on the public forums he would just pick up the phone and actually call me, himself directly. Or email me, himself directly. I am sure that this could all have been easily solved with just a little communication. But he has chosen not to. Harry could still get in touch with me, I am easy to reach and easy to get along with. I don't want anything for free. I am not out to smear anyone. I have tried endlessly to reach Harry all to no avail. Instead of posting on line he could have just picked up the phone at any time or sent a quick email and fixed this in probably two seconds and I would have been the first to write what a great guy he is and how wonderful his products are. That's what I would have done. I think it's what any good small business owner would have done. I still would love to be able to write that post.
The good news is that with the help of several members the HW-27 is up and running again and it only took me one day to get the part and put it in myself. Kinda neat when the forum actually works and people get together to solve problems instead of bashing each other. I hope Harry reads this and takes the time to actually call me. I would still love to be able write that positive post about VPI.
Dcbluesplayer, I have to say you sound very positive for someone who had to deal with much grief. I'm glad you got your very expensive machine going again. If I were you I'd be done with VPI.
I totally support you and your situation. It's not easy for customers of a company with the reputation of VPI to come out and support one who has had negative experience. I've noticed this for years, from "rude", non-friendly responses on the phone ( I guess, Shiela) to different answers to the same question through the years. I'm a 20 year VPI owner, but come on, I don't keep quiet for anyone with this kind of customer service!
As I watched this thread develop, I said to myself that I would not weigh in. Yet, here I am with just a brief overview of my dealings with VPI and the VPI Service Department.

By way of establishing my bona fides, I have been a VPI customer since the mid 1980’s starting off with the HW-19 in the optional piano black with the tall dust cover. That turntable went through all the evolutionary steps through the final HW-19 Mark IV incorporating every upgrade that Harry offered up until the time I sold it to a man in Vermont who, by all accounts, still plays it and loves it.

At the same time back in the 1980's, I also ordered an HW-17(f) RCM. In those early days, the (f) stood for the fan cool option: I believe it is standard now. After 20++ years of trouble free operation, that machine was sold to a vinyl seller on Ebay who uses it daily. According to him, it runs perfectly.

Now, I have an NOS Aires 2 Extended with every upgrade including the JMW 12.7i tonearm, 25 pound SuperPlatter., Single motor/flywheel, HRX Aries Mini Feet, SDS, periphery ring, and center weight/clamp, plus other stuff. VPI Mike helped me along the way with thoughtful suggestions and instruction. All this support is for a turntable that is out of VPI production. Mike and Harry helped me upgrade from the JMW 12.6i to the JMW 12.7i.

I also own an HW-27 Typhoon RCM. As to the Typoon, I have had an issue or two, but those were dealt with immediately and in a friendly manner. My S&H expenses were reimbursed by way of product - brushes, tubes, etc. They also threw in a bunch of extras that were probably used in testing the machine prior to return.

Throughout that entire 27 year span of being a VPI customer, everyone from Sheila, to Harry, to Mike has been wonderful to me. I do admit that it was more fun in the early days to call and actually speak with Harry (sometimes he would just answer the phone, “Hello, VPI.”)

More often than not, Mike is the representative of VPI most of us email or chat with. Frankly, I do not know how he does it. I have received answers from Mike on Sunday mornings.

But, even though times change, this epitome of a family owned business thrives and continues to make analogue bliss attainable to so many of us.

Thank you Sheila, Mike, and Harry.

And that's how it should be-- for every one.
I've had no problems in my past dealings. But, I still feel for the guy who got the short thrift.

I agree with your sympathies, but I just find it so difficult to fully comprehend what happened. If the writer would have just sent the Typhoon to VPI in Cliffwood, NJ with a letter enclosed (VPI does not really care about RA numbers) addressed to Mike or Harry, I absolutely believe they would have fixed it without charge regardless of warranty lapse.

In my experience with parents (I am a Science, Math, Physics teacher) who come in to see me full of indignation as to their children’s grades, it is invariably an issue of failed communication. Once everyone in the room is on the same page and dialogue is established, parent-teacher relationship improves, students perform better, and all parties are happier.

I am convinced that the individual who initiated this thread and VPI were like ships passing in the night…there was a breakdown in communication…understanding.

Despite all that has been said; setting aside all the accusations and words that have been hurled back and forth; I believe that VPI will fix the Typhoon and return it fully tested within a timely framework.

My over two and a half decade experience with VPI leads me to the inevitable conclusion that, though eccentric at times, VPI stands by their products and customers. Given the opportunity to perform the work in house, VPI Mike will fix the Typhoon and stand by those repairs.

I am naive enough to believe that if I had ever sent that 25 year old HW-17(f) back to Mike for service, he would have cured it of its ills and returned without charge.

What can I say? Teachers are believers.

Sweet post.
Yet why would you assume you have a lifetime warranty? Does my 16.5 cleaner have one as well? I don't think so....Sheila might not think so kindly of you offering everyone lifetime warranties...:)

I did not offer a lifetime warranty as I do not work for VPI. My speculation is based upon prior experiences as clearly indicated in this quote:

"I am naive enough to believe that if I had ever sent that 25 year old HW-17(f) back to Mike for service, he would have cured it of its ills and returned without charge."

In addition, HW himself speaks to this issue in the Vinyl Asylum parallel thread dealing with this topic. I am paraphrasing here, but HW states that VPI often performs repairs on products well outside the warranty period. If you poke about that thread, you will find that information.

I do not know, but I believe whether or not you are any original purchaser may weigh into that decision – i.e. whether to charge for repair work or not.

In any event, I am sure this topic has been fairly well exhausted despite the fact that I remain unclear as to the final resolution. If you read the Vinyl Asylum thread, there are many more comments on this topic including from HW himself.

It is now 6:30 AM here at the beach and time to take the golden retriever, Shiloh-the-Dog, for his walk. I will be back in the classroom/lab in a few short weeks, and consequently will have little time to dabble in the world of BLOG – if that is what this is.

Yes, Birdie, when the teacher has nothing relevant left to teach it's time for a walk...
As I have watched this thread develop for the last couple of weeks I have been amazed at the reactions both pro and con to my original posting.
So many accusations and so much invective has been hurled back and forth (especially on the AudioAsylum website) that I thought it was time to try and clear up a few things.
First I am glad to hear that so many people have had such good experiences with VPI both from a sales and service perspective. It somehow makes me feel better that I did buy
the right product after all. Clearly Harry and VPI have their strong advocates and loyal fans. Unfortunately he also seems to have some strong detractors. I don't count myself in either camp. As I have said I have never had any contact with Harry in any way shape or form. (I'm
surprised that in spite of all of these postings that is still the case).
Secondly, All I can do is relate my own personal experiences with VPI and allow other members to glean what they will from it.
I have however had a lot of emails asking about the warranty situation with VPI. It seems to be unclear to many of the members. Now my HW-27 Typhoon would have
been out of warranty when the first vacuum motor failed as it was just past the two year mark from being purchased. When after a month of waiting and emailing trying to make arrangements to get it fixed I finally got thru to VPI, I queried them about the warranty as I was unsure at the time what it was. I was told in no uncertain terms that the HW-27
came with a 90 day warranty. When I stated that I thought that it had a longer warranty than that I was told to look at my owners manual and there in the back, on the last page, lo and behold it says quite clearly that the warranty is only 90 days. Now if you go to VPI's website and look at the advertisement touting the HW-27 and scroll to
the bottom it states it comes with two years of warranty coverage but if you click on the HW-27 owners manual word document and go to the bottom you will see the
warranty coverage as being 90 days. here is the link http://www.vpiindustries.com/clean_typhoon.htm
Now I know that people are going to start right in with "Oh no that's wrong" and "They have always repaired my XXX model for free even when it was long out of warranty" Well, all I can say is that this is what they have listed on their own site and this is exactly what I was told my
warranty coverage was. If the coverage is something different depending on if you are buying or in need of repair than that needs to be pointed out up front not after the fact. If the warranty is somehow different as
I am sure that VPI will claim then one would think that they could get it accurate on their own site. It seems like a chance to play fast and loose with the warranty coverage depending on who you are or what the circumstances are. When I called because my second vacuum motor had
failed after only five months my only question was if that replacement part had a warranty at all and if so was it more that 90 days. I still haven't gotten any response to that question. That is what led to my original post asking for help from the members. Boy oh boy, if I had
only known what I was letting myself in for by asking that simple question. (As a complete aside, with the help of several members I did find a replacement motor from Ametek for $72 dollars instead of the $240 listed on VPI's website, but when all of this warranty stuff came up I went the extra mile and managed to locate the engineer at Amtek who
designed the motor who kindly let me pick his brain and having never heard of VPI asked me a bunch of questions and asked me to send him pictures of the inside of the HW-27. He made a couple of suggestions and is going to send me a different motor to try out that may be better suited for this application. But he did point out that all of these
Amtek motors come with a two year warranty from the manufacturer and asked for me to send the defective motor back to him to look at which I will do at some point in the future. But I digress)
So I guess the answer to everyone's questions about warranty
coverage is that I don't know exactly what it is. I suppose that I will have to go with what it says on VPI's own site in black and white and say that it is 90 days parts and labor warranty at VPI's sole discretion. I don't know if that clears things up or makes them more cloudy but this seems to be the current state of affairs.
I must say that I have also been down the same road with VPI.....Some days are good and some are not so good....I had a Plinth repaired there, It was repaired expertly and without flaws......But it took a long time and I had some problems with communications.....I just tried to buy some parts this week but again bad communications......I got a answer from Mike on my first e-mail about a tonearm base and price but when I e-mailed again about the payment I got no answer, so I e-mailed again and again and again, still no answers....To give credit, VPI makes a wonderfully made in USA product......But they need better communication or they will not survive in this business world of today.......Will