Bait and Switch at its worst….

I use Skype as my office number and also have it on my MacBook. Whilst quality is OK on my MacBook, I wanted the best I could get on business calls, and that means a handset. I researched and USRobotics do a USB handset AND – critically – provide Mac compatible drivers – most manufacturers don’t. So I order the handset via Amazon – it’s actually a merchant called Amperor Direct, but no matter. The order is placed and I get my confirmation. The package arrives and immediately seems strange. There is no name at all on the box or on the handset. It is, to say the least, cheap and shoddy looking. I check my order confirmation, sure enough it is what I ordered: Ordered Shipped 1 1 USB-P8D USRobotics USB Internet Phone (NAM ROHS) [Electronics] $33.87 Ship Date: 5/21/2007 Sure enough, when I try it out it doesn’t work on the MacBook. I email Amperor (via the Amazon web) and inform them that what they sent me is a no-name brand that is not what I ordered. The following day I get an RMA by email, but that leaves ME holding the shipping charges both ways. I email them back asking for a full credit, including shipping both ways. Nothing. Then I get a bulk email telling me that the drivers for the Yealink phone I bought have been updated. I reply to the marketing manager, expressing my displeasure. I get a response: “ Thank you for contacting us again with your questions and comments.

Replies to your inquiries were sent to you on 5/21/07 and 5/24/07. In the replies you were given status information about your order and an explanation regarding the nature of US Robotics branding their name onto a 3-rd party product as well as requesting confirmation that you still wished an RMA for the unit, minus shipping charges as per our return policy. This has been the first contact we have received from you since then and we assume you had not received the other two messages.

US Robotics, like Fonaso and about a dozen other retailers have taken a product – or series of products – made by a company called Yealink and have had their name printed onto the device so it will sell under their ”branding.“ Some companies have in-house technicians who will take the driver software provided by Yealink and change the names inside to suit their companies needs, but main support is not by that company. US Robotics has followed this practice for the past 15+ years with modems, etc.

Other companies do this on a regular basis as well. Take for instance the recent peanut butter issue which affected several name-brands as well as several generic brands. All were produced in the same factory by one producer but sold under numerous names.

Even under USR the device only has a limited Mac compatibility depending on the OS X version, processor being used, and version of Skype software being run.

We shall be happy to provide an RMA to you for the return of the unit for a refund minus shipping costs. We shall issue one to this e-mail address shortly.”

All fine, but that’s NOT what I ordered – and I hadn’t had an explanation, and even if I had it’s not OK! To crown the lack of understanding, it turns out that what I got was a forwarded email. The marketing manager’s comments were still in the mail: “The downside to sending out a mass email.. you want to issue an RMA to the guy below… I don’t have the energy to explain that the product is identical and the listing shows ‘this item is labeled VoIP’.” So I repeat in my reply that I want them to make a full refund, including shipping. I tell them that I’ll also file complaints and send the product I did receive to USRobotics intellectual property department if they will not do so. No response….. So I contacted USRobotics and they now have all the details…. What a way to run a business, they are still on Amazon, still appear to be trading – and I’m not the only one to complain about this issue. In the end I bought a Futiro phone, great service, great responsiveness and a stylish product.

{Marketing, Bad Customer Service, Brand, Phone, Product}