Is Flexradio out of office?

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  • Updated 6 days ago
Sent in a repair, received Oct 25 per the note I could expect an update by a tech in 10 days. Radio silence 15 ish days later asked for status on the 14th no reply. Tried to call and direct to VM. 
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W0JD

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Posted 3 weeks ago

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Phil Porter

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I'm a prospective buyer and have had a similar problem. The FlexRadio business plan may need to be adjusted slightly to account for a growing customer base. The competition in SDR radios is growing as evidenced by the Icom 7300/7610 entry et al into the market place. While my research indicates that FlexRadio makes a well-engineered product, product perception is equally important in the public view and should not be neglected. While I will probably place my Flex 6400 order shortly, I still have reservations about product support and waiting 4 days for a simple product question reply which I had to initiate or in your case 15 days, we would hardly be classified as impatient owners or prospective owners :0). The business cycle can be brutal but change can bring about more success if problems are identified and accounted for early enough. I really hope they respond to your query shortly. Keep us all posted as the saga continues.
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Russ Ravella

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Hi Clay and John,

Thanks for your thoughtful replies.

First Clay, when you admonish me to take a step back and say I'll be satisfied in the end, you don't actually know anything about the experiences I've had that resulted in my opinions.  Or how long those experiences have already been going on.  I'm tempted to describe them all here to clarify but I'd end up with a response that's so long I don't imagine anyone would want to read it.

And John, please let me clarify something.  When I refer to "Flex Executive Management", I'm being very careful choosing those words because I don't know who at the decision making level is specifically responsible for a particular problem at FRS.  In some cases it's clear and others not.  Further, I'm reacting to something very specific - competence in running a retail business.  There are a huge number of things any particular person can be good at and we're all only good at a few of them at most.  Nobody is good at everything.  The trick is to know and take charge of what you are good at and skillfully pick people to work with who are good at all the other things.  Then work well with them.

I LOVE my Flex radio, Maestro and Power Genius.  I'm an unashamed certified fan boy.  And the employees at Flex Radio - every single one I've dealt with (which at this point is quite a few) - are outstanding.  They are elevens on a scale of one to ten.  I could also write a huge response describing that.  As for the top executive manager, Mr. Youngblood, he is obviously ultimately responsible for all of that.  I am very glad there is a Mr. Youngblood and that he created FRS.  He must be a hugely talented man to accomplish what he has.

But FRS in this timeframe is a retail business, not an "experimental stuff" business.  As I understand it, Flex started that way but evolved into the retail business it is now out of sheer success.  Flex's advertisements and website paint a picture of polished retail products that compete with Elecraft, Yaesu, Kenwood and Icom.  They're in THAT business now.

Those companies usually produce products that are far more polished than Flex Radios and their business practices as I've experienced them over the years are far more professional.  If Yaesu produced a radio with features as buggy as Flex Radio's, there would be howls of complaints just like there are here on this forum.  Usually they work as advertised with a few fairly small bugs that they mostly quickly fixed.  In contrast, people on this forum are complaining about major problems that have existed since SSDR v1.  I can not operate my Maesto in any voice mode because the monitor function has an extremely serious bug that hasn't been fixed in at least the last two updates.  I'm told it hasn't even been considered for the next one yet.  The post on this forum titled "Maestro CW Bug 7378 Not Fixed" describes a bug that makes operating the Maestro in CW mode nearly impossible.  Someone in that post describes an elaborate workaround required to do so.  If Yaesu released a radio that was almost unusable on voice and CW, well, you get my point.

I've purchased three products from FRS.  All three failed out of the box.  I'm currently working with FRS support on the Power Genius I received a couple weeks ago.  It has an extremely serious problem (long story) again, right out of the box.  I've been waiting all week to hear the results of testing done remotely on it on Monday.  It is another example of EXACTLY the same experiences I'm complaining about.  That I've had with FRS since it took three replacements of my original 6600 to get one that worked from my original order.  Those experiences are: 1) outstanding quality Flex employees working as hard as they can within an incompetent system to fix problems, 2) an incompetent retail business that yet again sold me an expensive component that failed right out of the box and, 3) policies and procedures that hobble those excellent employee's efforts to support their customers put in place by Flex Executive Management.  They include the inability to exchange a failed-out-of-the-box component with a new one that might work without Executive Management Approval which by definition might not be granted.  In the case of my Maestro which ALSO failed right out of the box, I was told it could not be replaced until every last Maestro sale - including those that occurred after mine - was filled first.  I waited 3 months to finally have working hardware from my original order (again long - very long - story).  All due to policies and practices put in place by Flex Executive Management - including the quality system that allows so much faulty hardware to be sold in the first place.  And such buggy software to be created and then not fixed.  By the way, it seems clear the software engineers themselves are merely performing as directed with the resources they're provided by Flex Executive Management. The problem does not lie with them either.

As I said, I won't describe all the experiences that lead to my impression of Flex Executive Management's incompetence running this retail business. This already too long post would be 10 times longer.  But part of that impression is that they literally don't "get it".  Reading the rare occasional posts from, for example, Steve Hicks, Dan Quigley and Mr. Youngblood always have basically the same message: we get that you're unhappy but our employees are really good and we're resource limited but we're fixing that so everything is going to be better now.  There's NEVER any substance, its always just "fluff talk".  And most importantly, nothing EVER actually does get better.  The software is still FULL of major bugs year after year though releases include very difficult and complicated network features that are continuously added (with even more bugs) that there WERE resources for.  It seems clear that most Flex customers would far prefer at least the major bugs to be fixed first before adding any features and they make that very clear but nothing ever actually improves.

My ultimate point is I suspect Flex Executive Management still thinks of FRS as an "experimental stuff" business and runs it accordingly.  But they advertise it as a polished retail products business and we take them at their word when we buy from them.  Retail customers expect polished products with few bugs (and no major bugs) that work as advertised.  And a company that would, for example, be so appalled they sold a customer a product that failed right out of the box that they'd empower every support person with the authority to INSTANTLY replace it on the spot.  Again, believe it or not I'm resisting the temptation to elaborate much, much further.  I could go on for pages.

Lastly, I personally believe that a lot of what's wrong in the world occurs because people stand by and let it happen. While no one person could actually fix something like this, we can all choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution as they tell us in elementary school.  Providing lots of loud, specific, clear and direct feedback is the only "vote" I have in my Flex Radio future.  So I'm trying to do that.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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In yet even with that long write up with nothing but despair he is still a Flex fan boy? that shows just how good Flex radios are.

I am amazed he thinks most other radios are more polished then Flex, not in my opinion. Other than the group writing for the Anan software their is no company writing software nearly as complicated as SSDR software in ham radio. SSDR is a huge project.
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John KB4DU

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One of my closely held beliefs is that "Accountants should never be allowed to make policy decisions", since they almost always look at reducing costs rather than increasing revenue. A similar situation happens in a primarily engineering company. Everyone wants to produce new stuff, and no one wants the job of maintaining the existing products.

A policy of a four week delay in servicing equipment seems excessively long in today's environment. Who would wait four weeks to have the internet service repaired,  the cars tires replaced, or any other service?
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Burt Fisher

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All of mine worked out of the box, they just didn't stay working. 5000,1500,6300,6400M. I will see how the K4 does.
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Bernie W7DMC

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Thanks to all of you who post helpful information on the forum. Once you sort through the meaningless comments there is a tremendous amount of valuable information presented here.
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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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On the other hand....I filed a HelpDesk support request on a Sunday afternoon and Flex fixed it via TeamViewer by noon on Monday.  At the past two Dayton Hamventions, Flex had many operating stations and many staff members.  Both times, staff members took over a half hour with me to explain operating techniques in which I was interested.  At the past three Hamventions, I attended large, interesting and fun dinners devoted to Flex radios.  I have learned much from this Flex-sponsored forum. I have always found Flex personnel to be very knowledgeable about their products.  It clearly isn't perfect, but on balance, in my opinion, Flex has the best customer service that I have encountered in 50+ years as a ham. 
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Phil, one of the hardest things for Flex to do, and they try to is to look like a very large company being able to answer the phone every moment. But every employee has more than one job, some of them have several responsibilities. Sometimes when they say they will contact you on a certain day, it is not always possible.

Other than a handful of customers that has had trouble with customer support the vast majority has had great support. I don't believe customer support should be a real concern for prospect customers based on Flex past record.
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John - AI4FR

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I hope W0JD gets a quick solution. I've seen more than one post about this issue and each time the author has waited a very reasonable amount of time before creating a post here, usually several weeks.

Bill I some what disagree with your comment about customer support not being a real concern. Although you are correct in that Flex usually does do an amazing job at solving the problems of others, and quickly. Much of the time it is not the fault of Flex but rather issues associated with the hardware or software or even intelligence of the user.

I was saddened to learn that Flex dumb down SSDR because of the amount of service tickets they received because people either did not read the instructions or did not understand them concerning how to save a profile and what exactly gets saved. So what did Flex do to stop this? They implemented an auto save feature.

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Bill -VA3WTB

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I look at that a little differently. I don't understand it being dumb down. It was meant to allow the radio software to continue working as expected when a user forgets to save or make mistakes.
Support tickets were through the roof with people not saving profiles wondering what happened.

Keep in mind Steve spent a week on here asking for information as to what people dislike about auto save, and Steve mentioned that the it now works will be re visited to work better with customers needs.
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N8AUM

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They probably have their hands full trying to get that sweet government contract ?
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Unlikely it...
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Dan Trainor

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Given the situation, for me, it all depends on the remote capabilities of the K4.

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John KB4DU

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Sorry to hear about your frustration. My experience was quite different. Shipped on Monday, arrived at Flex Thursday, Received diagnosis email on Tuesday. The radio was 72 hour burn-in, then shipped back on Monday, with email at each step along the way.
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Jerome (W0JD), we are sorry for the delay in responding to your ticket. I see that the service department is in communication with you and that there was a problem in how the ticket was assigned in our system so that it was not being seen by the service technicians. This process issue has now been corrected. Your ticket indicates that you had a lightning event, which can be very problematic and difficult to diagnose in service. Please accept our apology for the communications delay.
73,
Gerald
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W0JD

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Gerald,

Thank you for your involvement in my issue, I wanted to wait until the overall process completed before I responded. In my case all that was needed was a fan replacement, unfortunately on return the pre-amp no longer functions. Tim in service has hinted he understands the root cause, awaiting further communication.

So my story continues will update the thread when end of job is reached.

73, jay
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Terry Wilkin

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Gerald....would you mind checking my repair also? It was received on Oct.10 with no communication since that date. It is a non-warranty repair so it generates some income!! Thanks, Terry, N7TW
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Dan Quigley N7HQ, 4O7HQ, Service/Support Manager

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Hi Terry,

We sincerely apologize for missing the 10 business day status communication commitment set by our standard receiving response; that communication was not adjusted in a timely way to reflect the actual lead time and is corrected now. 

When we issued your RMA, the expectation set then was an approximate service lead-time of 4 weeks. Austin receiving logged in your Flex 6500 on October 19th and it will be on the bench later today.  Service technicians send a note when they start working on a unit. 

Our marketing team is working up a general communication about our efforts to scale both service and support, the service process,  improvements to our processes and related efforts. 

As always, I am available for questions or concerns at my email: dan@flexradio.com or my cell at 206-225-8008. 

73,
Dan, N7HQ

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Harold Rosee

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Dan,

4 weeks lead time!!

Are you serious?

That's terrible.

Harold, W5ZZT
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Jim K4JAF

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4 week lead time????  Seems Flex repair status matches the other amateur radio manufacturers.  Software development slow, repair slow, what else will we users face?  
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N6PAT Pat

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Yesterday I received the following email about my 6700 that was sent back again this time for a PA failure. The email says I will get a status update within 5 weeks. It does not say the radio will be fixed within 5 weeks, only that I will receive an update on the status of the repairs within 5 weeks.

Katie Gartman (FlexRadio Systems)

Dec 2, 11:39 AM CST

Hi Pat

Your FLEX-6700 been transferred to the Service and Repair department and placed in the appropriate repair queue. A Service Technician will be in contact within 5 weeks to provide an update on the status of your repair.

Katie Gartman

FlexRadio SystemsTM
4616 W Howard Ln Suite 1-150
Austin, TX 78728


So consider yourself lucky to get a 4 weeks estimate
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


(Edited)