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An utterly disappointing experience

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#1 CharlesW

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 12:05 AM

Back in mid February I purchased a Paramount MX on their $1000 sale. Since then I've had the mount set up three times in my yard. Clouds kept me dormant for all the other days. Of those three attempts, I got the mount to function correctly once.
The first time, I got a Comm error that prevented the mount from initializing. No matter what I tried, the Comm error would not clear. Last night, I set everything up, turned the mount on and I was met by a horrendous buzz coming out of one of the motor housings and it would not connect with my laptop. That problem degenerated into what I assume is a complete electrical failure of the mount.
I called Software Bisque this morning. I was told that no one would speak to me and I would have to post my problem on their support forum. The best response I got today from them was a request for a screen shot of my mount firmware numbers, but that my problem might be electronic.
I just read their policy on warranty replacement of the control board. I pay them $300, they send me a new board and I install it. I send the old board back and they credit me $300. And I get to pay shipping both ways. I don't remember paying OPT all that money so I could become an SB service tech or Beta tester. And OPT's policy, don't bring it to us, it's the manufacturer's problem.
As I said, "An utterly disappointing experience."
 

#2 ManuelJ

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 12:40 AM

Welcome to my world, the beta testing astronomers.

You'll learn to appreciate it over the years.
 

#3 Agatha

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 12:41 AM

Charles,

:( Disappointing to say the least. I hope things get straightened out without too much expense. Having to deal with problems on something so new and of this caliber must also be a bit heartbreaking. I hope for the best. Good luck.

Regards, Linda B.
 

#4 NilRecurring

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:40 AM

The MX seems to have a lot of problems if you read the SB forums. Just from the top of my head - there was someone whose belts had completely worn out and TheSkyX kept saying that the mount had hit something or was out of balance. Another recent issue was when declination motor had been unplugged from the MKS board. A few MXs sold from the first run also had bad worms and SB had to replace them.

SB did fix all of these issues and did right by their customers, but I just feel that such an expensive mount shouldn't be developing problems like this. I also feel that they should be willing to help customers over the phone, email or over their support form - just like AP.

A few members of SB are quite helpful and assist you in troubleshooting the fault, from what I've noticed and then they send you a new part. I don't mind them having a deposit but at least pay for shipping from your end - if your mount hadn't failed why would I need additional motors or a new board?

I am an MX owner myself but haven't had the chance to use my mount yet. It's still in it's box, and I'm waiting for an adapter that I needed to attach the mount on my G11 tripod - but stories like yours leave me quite worried and makes me wonder "Did I make the right choice with the MX?". Please note this post isn't meant to be SB bashing - on the contrary, I think, overall, SB makes some great hardware (as good as AP, IMO - especially the ME) and great software, but their customer service needs to step up.
 

#5 CharlesW

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:29 AM

You know, having to deal with this problem over a support forum just leaves ou with a feeling of helplessness. You post your problem, and then sit around and wait for a response. And you reply, and more waiting. Don't forget, today's Friday, they are leaving for the weekend and I'll be left looking at 50 lbs of anodized aluminum.
 

#6 coz

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:55 AM

Bummer good luck. I feel like an out of the box problem should be treated very differently than a normal service problem with an old mount. I assume you can't return it either? With a small firm like this I would have hoped that they tested each mount before they sent it out.
 

#7 saadabbasi

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:58 AM

With a small firm like this I would have hoped that they tested each mount before they sent it out.


From what I've read on SB forums (can't find the thread now), they do test each mount.
 

#8 coz

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:10 AM

I wouldn't doubt it. They should take his call then and sort it out!
 

#9 WesC

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:27 AM

I'm sorry but for a $9,000 mount you should absolutely be able to reach the company directly, you should not have to be reimbursed for their defective parts, you should not have to pay shipping nor any other nonsense.

They're treating you like you're a risk to them, and that is insulting.
 

#10 Footbag

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:35 AM

Support forums are no replacement for customer service.

You could call the retailer and tell him you are considering disputing the credit card charges. Maybe he can put pressure on SB.

When you say they said "nobody could talk to you", were they busy or do they just not take customer support over the phone? Something doesn't seem right.
 

#11 Binojunky

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:43 AM

These things are nine grand and its belly up after a few weeks ,another reason to stick to low tech and cost stuff,DA.
 

#12 CounterWeight

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:24 PM

Have to admit that doesn't sound good at all. If you are certain everything was properly connected and nothing was accidently misconnected (if that is even possible) I'd send the whole mount in with detailed description of the issues and ask them to double check the wiring interconnects and the whole business in case there is more than one thing wrong. You are still under warranty, so have them do the thinking and the work? I wouldn't touch screw #1 just for liability reasons. You also deserve a good explanation of whatever it is that caused the issue.

If all this happens over the web I'd just demand that and ask for an RMA or whatever their system requires.
 

#13 astro_baby

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 05:20 PM

Wow...bummer. I feel for you and if it were me I would be hitting the roof.
 

#14 Alph

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 05:31 PM

I called Software Bisque this morning. I was told that no one would speak to me and I would have to post my problem on their support forum.


Thanks for bringing this up. I don't recall anyone mentioning it ever. Yes, Software Bisque does NOT have a phone support. :tonofbricks: It is the best kept secret by SB fan boys. DEMAND phone support!
 

#15 Cliff Hipsher

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 06:28 PM

The lack of customer support it totally unsatisfactory. I'd send the thing back, and then have my attorney give them a call...

With that said, thanks for the post. I just crossed SB off of my list of vendors...
 

#16 korborh

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:29 PM

With a small firm like this I would have hoped that they tested each mount before they sent it out.


From what I've read on SB forums (can't find the thread now), they do test each mount.


Apparently not
 

#17 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:44 PM

[quote name="CharlesW"]
...I set everything up, turned the mount on and I was met by a horrendous buzz coming out of one of the motor housings and it would not connect with my laptop...[/quote]


[quote]That problem degenerated into what I assume is a complete electrical failure of the mount. [/quote]

If there was something wrong with the motor it could have shorted out the board.

[quote] I called Software Bisque this morning. I was told that no one would speak to me and I would have to post my problem on their support forum.[/quote]

I had no idea this was their policy! That's horrible.

[quote]I just read their policy on warranty replacement of the control board. I pay them $300, they send me a new board and I install it. I send the old board back and they credit me $300. And I get to pay shipping both ways...[/quote]

Well, if it were a certain company who shall remain nameless, the wouldn't sell you parts and require you to figure out how to send the entire mount back and keep it a month. Which policy is better I guess depends on the circumstance. One worry I have is that if the motor caused a board failure, just changing the board will not only leave you with a bad motor but the motor may fry the new board and you are back to square one.

[quote]
As I said, "An utterly disappointing experience." [/quote]

I agree. I find myself more than a little disappointed namely because the PMX was on my very short list. I am now having second thoughts.[/quote]
 

#18 coz

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:54 PM

I guess everything can break not a reason to fault them for that. The service is surprising here though. Hope you get a solution soon.
 

#19 CharlesW

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 12:29 AM

I have been on the phone with Bill Dean at OPT. He doesn't know me from a hole in the wall but after a short conversation he's willing to pull the control board from his prsonal mount to diagnose my problem. In anticipation of his arrival I dropped the control board tray.
I immediately noticed that three control board mounting screws were missing. Well, not exactly missing. They were jammed into some device pins that were sticking out. So I retrieved the screws and reinstalled them. I reattached the cables and powered up the mount. I guess you can only short out an electronics board in so many places before it's completely fried. I called Bill back with this new info and to his credit he is still willing to come.
If you have a Paramount, you might want to take a look at those screws.
 

#20 Neil27

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 12:34 AM

I understand your frustrations and having had a similar situation happen to me several years ago it has soured my experience with SB.

2 board failures within 3 months which left the mount silent for what was the longest stretch of clear skies ever known to the UK left me hopping mad, can't really blame the Bisque brothers for the weather but I can for the failures with the mount.

When I discovered the forum it was actually frightening reading about the different types and quantity of failures. OK I know they must have hundreds in the field that are working faultlessly, it just surprised me after encountering mine and thinking mine was a 'one off'!

I feel your pain Charles, but once working they track like a good 'un and I'm sure the mount will make up for the pain you are feeling now.

Good luck, Neil.
 

#21 Dwight56

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:23 AM

Astro-Physics encourages you to call them with a problem with their equipment. With AP even if the equipment is 20 years old plus they will work with you. I can't believe Software bisque does not have a customer sevice number and having to pay for parts and shipping is wrong.
 

#22 Paul G

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:32 AM

Astro-Physics encourages you to call them with a problem with their equipment. With AP even if the equipment is 20 years old plus they will work with you. I can't believe Software bisque does not have a customer sevice number and having to pay for parts and shipping is wrong.


Yeah, not being able to even speak with a tech support person is beyond the pale, particularly for such an expensive product. Support forums are slow and cumbersome, sometimes taking days to accomplish what could be done in a five minute phone conversation. Makes me appreciate Astro-Physics' superb tech support.
 

#23 CharlesW

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:00 AM

This is their policy concerning warranty replacement of the control board.

MKS 5000 Warranty Replacement Policy

Once Software Bisque has determined that a replacement is necessary, and the Paramount MX is still under warranty, then you are eligible to receive a replacement MKS 5000 board.

A $300.00 deposit is required to order a warranty replacement electronic board. 
The failed MKS 5000 must be returned to Software Bisque. 
When Software Bisque receives the failed electronics, your account will be credited the amount of the deposit.
Shipping and handling charges are applicable on warranty and non-warranty electronics replacements.

It goes on with more nitty-gritty, and again they remind you that you are footing the shipping bill. Oh, and and far as "determining if a replacement is needed," I haven't heard word one from them since Thursday.
 

#24 Psyire

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:36 AM

While maybe not the 'best' warranty policy in the industry, it's certainly not the worst. You could be required to ship the whole mount back to them and wait an undetermined amount of time to receive it back. While it's extremely unfortunate what has happened here it does seem to be a 'one off' incident and I'm sure SB will take care of you when all is said and done. I'm don't think you can use this one incident as a measuring stick for their entire support program, as there are many happy SB customers. If it were me though I would have phone support too just to keep incidents like this out of the public spotlight. Too put it in perspective,, I've seen much worse situations with companies selling $50k+ vehicles.. That's not an excuse but I'm sure the OP will have a fully functional, great, life time mount up and running with in a couple weeks. If not, I'll kindly eat these words...
 

#25 rmollise

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 12:30 PM

Or, they could take on the task of actually supporting a customer with one of their very expensive mounts bad-out-of-the-box . That's just my opinion, though, and you know what they say about those. :lol:
 






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