Very poor customer service

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  • Problem
  • Updated 2 weeks ago
After having FT8 decoding problems for a while and unable to find the cause of the problem I opened a ticket. Tim responded and asked me to run a series of tests to narrow down the problem. After reviewing the results of the tests Tim said that my 6700 had to be sent in for re-calibration and  installation of any needed mods.

I sent the radio via FedEx and it arrived at FRS on 5/13/19. I received the following email (ticket update) on 5/15/19 from Katie Gartman at FRS

Patrick,

Your product shipped in under RMA number 30454 was received by FlexRadio Systems.

It has been transferred to the Service and Repair department and placed in the appropriate repair queue. A Service Technician will be in contact within 10 business days to provide an update on the status of the repair.

Katie Gartman
Shipping & Receiving Specialist

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

I waited but did not hear from and service technician so on 5/31/19 I requested a status update.

On Monday 6/3/19 I received the following email (ticket update) from Greta Jones:

Mr Kane... I thought I had sent you a e-mail about us being behind because of Dayton and I took a week off. I will do my best to get it out this week. I am very sorry. Thanks.

Greta Jones, KF5OWC
Service Manager.

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


On Friday 6/7/19 I still had not heard from anyone regarding the status of my radio so once again I requested an update.Now it is Monday 6/10/19 and I did not receive any reply to my latest update request on 6/7/19.

FRS has had my 6700 for about a month and I still have not had a single technical update regarding my radio even though I was told on 5/15/19 that I would hear back from a service technician within 10 days. A reply from a manager that says she forgot to send me an email is not a technical update.

I spent over $7,000 for my 6700 and this is the level of service I'm receiving

To the pretend-employee cheerleaders I say to save your keystrokes as I will not respond to your predictable baiting and spin attempts trying to convince me that this situation is in fact a good thing or perhaps it's somehow all my fault. I'm in no mood for your childish nonsense.




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Pat N6PAT

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Posted 2 weeks ago

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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Hi Pat
I know this can be incredibly frustrating! Do yourself a favor and call Lori at Flex and ask about the status and your complaint.

Katie (who is a tremendous person) manages the shipping and logistics for Flex and her acknowledgement email was a template outlining their service goal in terms of when to get back to you. I understand the company's exhaustion after being at Dayton (I have done it before!) but it doesn't help your case any.

Lori Hicks is another outstanding person and I believe is still overall head for the service department. She can give you the straight story (and resolve any issues that you might have!)
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Pat N6PAT

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Must I now chase people down to get a reply to a status update request? That's not how customer service is supposed to operate.
(Edited)
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Sergey Abrikosov

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yeah, it is better to vent here, right? Call them
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Pat N6PAT

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Why should I call them when they operate via a trouble ticket system? It is not my responsibility to try to track people down.
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Sergey Abrikosov

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So, you came to this comunity to do what?
What are you trying to resolve here?
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Pat, if the system isn't working well for you (which based on your posting it isn't) there are people who manage it that can help you. If you do not want to talk with them, then you will wait until the system gets to you.

This is like eating at a restaurant: If you get a bad piece of fish, you can eat it or ask to speak to the manager to address the problem. Right now you are still looking at the plate of unsatisfactory fish. Calling Lori would take less effort than writing in the community and will be 100% more effective.
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Art - N4QNT

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I’m sorry but he should vent here... That’s what this community forum is for.. When their is Praise, I read plenty of it. But when Service After the Sales fails we should know about.
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Art, I have no problem with that but it will not solve his problem. I was trying to help him do that.
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Pat N6PAT

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Can you imagine if every customer started calling FRS with issues instead of using the trouble ticket system? I use the system that FRS has set up for problems.

I am following the procedures the FRS has put in place yet others make it seem (as I predicted) that it's somehow my fault that I am not getting any updates.
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Most customers get their notifications and service within the time period that Katie outlined. So not every customer needs to escalate. If you are continuing to update the  trouble ticket, it is seen by someone. I am sorry if I somehow screwed up by offering advice, so I will back out and let you manage it as you wish!
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@N6PAT - Just like Dorthy at the end of the Wizard of OZ, you solution TRULY was something YOU needed to do - pick up the the phone and call them.

Posting in a community forum deriding anyone other than a FRS Employee as Childish is certainly unhelpful.  It was gratuitous and a slap at those who have bent  over trying to help you through your process.

On the plus side you got your venting done, and got the great advice to pick up the phone.  The bench work at FRS has been excellent when I have had radios in for repair myself.

GL and hope you are back on the air soon.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Pat N6PAT

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First, what is the point of having a trouble ticket system if you must make phone calls to receive updates?

Second, who has "bent over" trying to help me? Exactly who are you talking about?
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Michael N3LI

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You do what you need to do. It is not possible for 100  percent immediate service for any manufacturer. Sometimes things fall through cracks. 

But you need to ask yourself a couple questions - should I just become angrier and angrier, then take it out on the community, or do I pick up the phone and talk to a human? I do it all the time. Works pretty well. 

This is pretty simple, and I've found that it works better than lambasting people who cannot do a thing about your problem. In the end - it's your call to make that call. 

Or perhaps a better question is What do you want the community to do to help with your problem? 

Suggestions:

Call Flex -  it might be a simple issue. 

Other avenues - check your junk email folder. 

Enter another ticket. 

All of this relies on you doiing something other than sitting and stewing and arguing with people who cannot help no matter how we try.  Hopefully you can get your issue fixed. But the next step is with you. Good luck and 73. 
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Pat N6PAT

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There are no emails in my junk folder. All updates to the ticket system automatically generate emails which I receive in my regular mail folder. The last comment from Flex in the ticket was on 6/3/19 from Ms Jones.
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Michael N3LI

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Okay, it was an idea, and didn't work. But why are you not calling Flex? I find that a little confusing. 

One thing I do not trust is anything that transpires over the internet. Stuff gets lost, and all manner of mistakes happen.  Even this week, I had been texting with a saleslady regarding pickup dates on a new car. When she didn't answer my texts, I was  alittle concerned. Called her first thing this morning, and she had been in a wedding over the entire weekend and had her phone turned off. 

Now she might have told me that before the weekend of course, but after calling her this morning, we had the date and time for picking the car up settled in about 30 seconds.

And FWIW, if I was having a communication problem with Flex, I would consider that really unusual. Because they have gotten back with me almost instantly every time I had an issue in the past.

So there is definitely something askew here that probably needs person to person communications
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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Pat,

This is frustrating and I get where you are coming from.  These radios are expensive and we all hope they don't break and require service and when they do we want the best for our investment.

I think venting here is a good thing to do.  I get the analogy above about eating bad fish, but the fact of the matter is that the other restaurant customers know about the issue too.   There is always benefit in that and a smart restaurant owner will go out his/her way to ensure that things are taken care of.

I also agree with the fact that the squeaky wheel will get the grease.  Call FRS, be polite and firm with them that you need answers.  If they do not come through then continue to call including asking to speak all the way up to Gerald if you need to.  But always be polite.  You will get less if you are an ass.

So I support what you do here,  but do pickup the phone and give them a chance to make things right.

Mark - WS7M
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Did you call FlexRadio yet?

The news you want to learn is there.

Perhaps not what you may have been thinking - while FRS employees read the community, I don't think they monitor it on a live basis.  

But they do answer their phones (or get back to you if they are overloaded).

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Pat N6PAT

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I just tried to call Flex support and was transferred to voice mail where I left a message.

This forum is set up to allow Flex owners to discuss issues/concerns regarding Flex radios for the benefit of the poster as well as other Flex owners.  My issue regarding Flex customer support is in fact an issue related to my Flex radio. That's why I posted about it.

For those of you that don't like to hear any negative issues (and every company has them) perhaps you can create your own forum where only good news is allowed.
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Bobby

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Well hows that solution working for you, they discourage phone calls and you automatically go to message after 3 minutes, then they encourage trouble tickets and this is what happens when other things are more important like a hamfest. The money coming in is always more important than the money that has already come in. Now you know the rest of the story.

They only want positive comments on this board since negative ones dont generate sales or customers. Im sure I will be removed after this post but I tell the truth and flex has lived in denial for several years. Dont believe it then ask where the free tuner is for the pgxl that was promised or why most announced software spends so much time as vaporware before finally posting.

Case closed. Have a good time ... banned again im sure. Bobby.
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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I did not hear back from Flex today. Perhaps I will tomorrow.

It's funny how the cheerleaders heap praise upon Flex yet those same people encourage me to call Flex repeatedly until I get an answer which seems to imply that you must nag them before they respond. Sounds a bit contradictory doesn't it?
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Bobby

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I dont think they respond to messages left, thats why so many are telling you to spend your day calling every 30 seconds or so until you finalliy get a real person, if there is any working the phones that day. Good luck, Im sure you would get a quick response if you were within the 30 day refund return period.

Good luck.
Bobby
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WW1SS - Steve

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I agree with you Pat 100% there are a lot of 100% positive Flex owners out there and as soon as you say anything negative on the community the C%@p starts and you are a BAD BAD BOY for the negative comment.
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Michael N3LI

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It works both ways Steve. I see plenty of negative postings in here. But people who don't feel negatively have the right to post as well, don't you think?

I've made my share of criticisms, and haven't told anyone to quit posting, although from time to time, I have noted that they would be happier with a different radio.

Anyhow, post away, post as you like, but remember others have the right to respond. - 73 - 
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Sergey Abrikosov

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Pat, there is nothing this forum can do for you.
You are not asking for technical help or something members of this forum can help you with.
As I stated above, ask yourself, what are you trying to achive here?
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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The ticket system route isn't getting me anywhere so perhaps this forum will produce more positive results.

And as I said, this forum is to discuss issues and this is an issue.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Pat. Congratulations.

You finally did the right thing. Now call them again and again until you get thru to a human who can do something about your issue. Especially since no one on this forum can help you with it

By the way. have you ever posted anything positive on this forum. If so, I must have missed it.
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Pat N6PAT

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Are you suggesting that I must call Flex repeatedly before they will do anything? Is that the type of company you think they are?

I've posted MANY positive things about Flex. In fact, if you check my QRZ posts you will see that my signature line is "Have a Flexcellent Day!"

I posted so many positive things about Flex radios in QRZ that people started calling me a Flex fan boy.
(Edited)
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Michael N3LI

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Um - you call until you get through.  At least that is what I would do. Works pretty well for me. I think we've tried to help you, and now you are just directing your anger at us.  Okay, but is directing your anger at the community users getting you anywhere? 

Accusing us of not wanting to hear anything not positive about Flex radios is not particularly kind. If I say I have had good service that doesn't mean I'm lying to you, or don't want to read what you write. But the answer to your problem is in the very first reply, and it is the only answer that will ever work. 

Otherwise, it looks like at this point you just want to argue with people who cannot fix your problem. Anyhow, I've done what I can, and my suggestion is what has worked for me in the past. That appears to be unacceptable to you, so good luck, following winds, and good propagation. Peace out.
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Craig Williams

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Hobby!
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Pat N6PAT

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Is that supposed to mean something or are you attempting to engage in word association therapy?
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Burt Fisher

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Service!
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Michael N3LI

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Drama! 
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Craig Williams

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I don't need therapy as, after 60 years in the electronics business, i no longer sweat the small stuff.
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Pat N6PAT

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Hey that's great. Tell me, how's your radio working? My reception is not too good especially since my radio is sitting at Flex for the past month.
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Michael N3LI

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Since this is free world, let me tell you some stories of the service I've received form Flex radio. 

I had an Windows 10 update problem, where Microsoft changed every audio driver to the same name, only appended with a -1, -2, etcetera. The entire set. I tried the usual uninstall reinstall process, but my computer was stubborn, and wouldn't release the drivers.  I filled out a ticket. Within minutes, Tim had me open a team viewer session, and I watched as he went through the laborious process of fixing and renaming the drivers properly. I now can do that myself. 

Next up, when I bought my new 6600 and Maestro, when everything came in, it all worked except that the USB connector for the battery came out the wrong place. A simple mistake, but I couldn't use the battery. 

Put in another ticket, and a new one was shipped to me and arrived in a day or two. I shipped the old one back gratis, and all was right in the world. 

And I'm not always a fanboy. I have some disagreements with their choice of a flagship Application platform. But even that I've fixed mostly by using a laptop that Microsoft cannot get their fingers into now.

But I also always adhere to the honey versus vinegar rule. That seems to work well, if lacking drama.

Just an alternative viewpoint. 
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Official Response
Pat, I apologize for the delay in servicing your radio. As already noted, there were a few mitigating circumstances, but we should always be proactively communicating. Our customer base has grown substantially over the last year and we are experiencing some growing pains as a result of that success. Service is just one of these areas, but one we've been proactively working. We posted a position for another service technician two weeks ago and filled that position last week. Our new technician, who happens to be very experienced with our equipment, just started today. You should hear from us in the next 24 hours on the status of your radio.
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Pat N6PAT

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Thank you for the response. It's unfortunate that I had to resort to a public forum to get a response.

This should answer the question others keep asking as to why I posted my concerns here.
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Joe N3HEE

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Steve. Can you shed light on any other new hires ? Particularly DSP engineers. Thanks -Joe
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Bill - W9KKN

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Nice to see you expanding your team Steve! If you aren't feeling some growing pains, you're not growing fast enough.
(Edited)
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Harold Rosee

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Steve,

In my working days as an IT manager if I said anything like you have my boss would just tell me "that's an excuse".

What you should do is get the man's problem fix and get his radio back to him soon.  Everthing I have read here from you and the other "Elmers" is just that, excuses.

Pat, keep us updated.  I don't know of another major company that works this way. 

Harold
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Pat N6PAT

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Harold,

Thanks for the support. I will keep you updated

73 Pat
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Ernest - W4EG

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Steve N5AC,

No apologies are necessary; your Company is doing a fantastic job in customer service. 
When was the last time, any of the other manufacturers of ham gear has ever called you? 
We know or maybe, I should say many of us know that May, June is Hamvention, Conventions etc... going all over and FlexRadio present is necessarily.
Thanks for the great Company that you are all running! 
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Cal Spreitzer

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In case anyone is interested in Flex's "Official Position" on Tech Support Phone calls here is Tim's response to that very question 1 year ago.  Food for thought:

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/does-flex-still-have-an-tech-support-phone-line

"Since we have stopped taking unsolicited inbound phone calls, our weekly support backlog has been reduced by 150% which means we are resolving more issue per unit time by a significant margin." 

That was a year ago!  I wonder what the backlog is these days? 


(Edited)
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Craig Williams

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Walking in the shoes. I managed service centers for 2 Fortune 500 and one startup company. This was during the time when the 8088 first appeared in instrumentation products. The learning curve was full of challenge. Sometimes when you turned around everything had gone to heck. Dropping one ball in the game happens. As usual Flex got on top of it and apologized. Never had a Japanese or Chi Com manufacture apologize or even mostly own up to their failures. 
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Pat N6PAT

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I would like to hear what you think if your radio sat in the shop for a month and your repeated requests for updates went ignored.

Something tells me that you might get a little upset.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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It happens from time to time when someone falls through the cracks and this time it's Pat. He should be upset, as he would with any product he owns if this happened.

The question now is how will he handle it? He can continue his rage on this community for days, weeks or months to come, or begin to move on.
It is a good thing that for most,, the Flex customer service has made a lot of customers happy, but not in this case, sadly.
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KC2QMA_John

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Flex Community
(Edited)
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K3SF

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good to see a new SO2R operator...and multi-mode at the same time..

who said CW is dead can now see the next generation loves it

just saying
what one sees in a picture is a reflection of their own world view





Paul K3SF
(Edited)
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Ed Johnson

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I need a drink :-)

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David Warnberg

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You think that's bad customer service?  Don't buy some of the other radio's out there... just sayin
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Robert Lonn

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Icom has had my friends !C-7610 for about 5 weeks, waiting on a new display module to be delivered from the factory...  Sometimes the stars just dont line up...

Robert
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Michael N3LI

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Yes, my favorite "support" story is on my KenWood D-700. It has a problem during cold weather, like single digits, where it makes a sort of siren noise. Happened on a lot of them. Kenwood's answer? "That problem does not exist."

Yes, the Icom 7610 has screen problems, which in this day and age of short run custom components, is scary. What happens when the screen goes out after the replacements become unobtanium?
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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Reading about many positive service experiences here and experiencing Flexradio most excellent customer support first hand myself, I recall in previous discussions some not so favorable service experiences from the competition. When I needed support from FRS the ticket process worked amazingly fast. When I did make a phone call and got a machine, I surely didn't panic and I didn't even think to take my unanswered phone call complaint to the forum, I simply placed another call a few days later.
No doubt Pat's concern for his radio is real but I don't agree with the tactic of the dramatic thread title to get attention. Then takes a shot at "pretend-employee cheerleaders", whomever they are only to provoke a response, says he won't respond, but then does.
Pat requested an update and just over one business day later, he gets an update from the service manager who not only apologized but told him he would get it out this week. So now is complaining that 4 business days have passed and he hasn't got another update since that June 3rd email.


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Rick WN2C

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Flex withdrawal syndrome is very painful. Pat I feel your pain as I had to send in my 6300 some time ago. Fortunately I upgraded to a 6400M to ease the pain.
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Pat N6PAT

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For those of you that think I'm being impatient or overly demanding, I want to share something with you of a very personal nature. I do this not to garner sympathy but to explain where I'm coming from.

Four years ago Blanca, my wife of 30 years,  passed away in bed next to me. I called 911 and administered CPR but she died right in front of me. Her death was the result of the inappropriate actions of licensed medical professionals.

Since Blanca's death I've spent almost all my waking hours pouring over records, calling governing officials, attending court proceedings, etc. , dedicated to insure that those responsible for her death are held accountable for their actions in a court of law.  This is a tremendously difficult process for myself and my children but we will never give up.  We are now in what is perhaps the final phase of this judicial marathon.

A good night's sleep is no longer an achievable goal for me. Catnaps are about all I can manage now. The only distraction from this emotionally exhausting endeavor of seeing that justice prevails is when I spend a few hours on my ham radio, usually in the middle of the night. Being on the air has become very therapeutic for me.

Having my radio sit for a month and being ignored after repeated requests for updates is certainly not the type of service I would expect from Flex. I purchased the Flex 6700 because of the company's reputation and glowing reviews.  The purchase price of $7,000 is not a trivial matter for me. In fact, I can honestly say that that is the most amount of money I have ever spent for something that only I would use and enjoy. It was a retirement present for myself.

Now I would like my radio repaired and returned to me promptly . I don't think that's too much to ask

73 Pat N6PAT





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David Warnberg

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Pat, I am sorry to hear about your loss and I understand the therapeutic aspect of HAM radio in your situation.  But I think you are missing the point, a FLEX Radio is just that, a piece of equipment that can and will break from time to time.  FLEX is one of the top (IMO) for service in the industry, my point being that other radio manufactures (most) do not even come close to what FLEX does for it's customers.  You could expect months of waiting with some of the other radio manufacturers out there. When I was without a radio I too had withdraws, so I decided to purchase a "backup" for just those times.  A trip to your local HAM swap meet might just have exactly what you are looking for to smooth over the times if/when this happens again.

Something to ask yourself....Would you rather the radio be returned promptly and not properly repaired?  OR properly repaired with a little delay?

FYI... My choice was a QRP rig, it also travels with me when I take the 5th wheel out camping (yeasu FT-817ND)

Good luck
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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Pat I too have a 6700 and am curious as to what the needed mods are. When your radio is returned to you I hope you update us all. Your QRZ page indicates you got your 6700 in January of 2017, was it new or refurbished?

After having FT8 decoding problems for a while and unable to find the cause of the problem I opened a ticket. Tim responded and asked me to run a series of tests to narrow down the problem. After reviewing the results of the tests Tim said that my 6700 had to be sent in for re-calibration and  installation of any needed mods.

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Bill -VA3WTB

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And does the radio have a GPSO installed?
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Pat N6PAT

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I purchased it new and it does not have the GPSO installed
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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Pat I sympathize with you and your family and wish you all the best for the outcome you're looking for.
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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The latest update from Flex:

Greta Jones (FlexRadio Systems)

Jun 11, 6:54 AM CDT

Hi. I am sorry it is taking so long. We are working on it now. We cant get it to pass the RF bridge calibration. Please have a little more patience. Thank you.

Greta Jones, KF5OWC
Service Manager.

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

This problem became apparent with the inability to decode FT8. Others have commented that they too have the same problem with decoding. Could this be a common fault much like the fans and heat sinks?


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Pat N6PAT

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This is not looking good. Latest update:

Greta Jones Today at 15:57 We are still working on the radio. Three of us are looking at it. This is a very unusual problem. Thanks.

Greta Jones, KF5OWC
Service Manager.

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






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David Warnberg

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Maybe one of your "flex buddies" will let you remote in and share theirs while yours is being repaired??
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Pat N6PAT

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No thank you.
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Hi Pat,

Most failures are easily diagnosed but occasionally we get one that is uncommon. We run the full factory test software suite on every unit that comes in for service. Your radio happened to fail a factory test related to SWR bridge calibration that has nothing to do with the reason for your RMA. If a single factory test element fails, it is not possible in the software to pass the radio without correcting the problem. From your service ticket, it appears from your screen shot that the original problem with FT8 is most likely a bad 10 MHz OCXO oven control but that will need to be confirmed after the other problem is fixed.

I personally have been consulting with the technicians in service on this problem because neither I nor they have seen this specific failure mode before. It could be caused by any one of of 20 or so components in that circuit. They have already changed several components. Normally, it is best not to shotgun the repair but to systematically replace the most likely components in sequential order when it is not possible to specifically identify the failed component. That can take some time to accomplish.

This SWR bridge circuit is connected to the antenna so sometimes ESD can be a cause of partial damage that might not even be recognized in operation but would be caught in the factory test software. Your radio was built in 2016 and has been in operation for quite some time so it is impossible to know the exact cause.

Pat, we do have a backlog in service and other customers to serve so I trust that you will be patient as we work to support everyone. We also take trade ins, which substantially adds to our service department workload especially after a major event like the Dayton Hamvention.

We apologize that our communication was not the most timely in this case. As Steve said in his post there were extenuating circumstances and that we are adding additional experienced resources to help with the backlog. 

Thanks and 73,
Gerald
Photo of Pat N6PAT

Pat N6PAT

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Gerald,

Are you sure you're talking about my radio? When I sent it in to FRS everything worked fine except decoding FT8. Only then was it determined that there was a problem with frequency stability.

Regarding SWR, I had low SWR on all bands with no problems. Normally I would run my 6700 with less than 6 watts out as the amp I use most of the time requires very little drive power.

I've babied this radio from day 1 as it is the most expensive thing I've ever bought for my own use.

If you want an example of how well the radio operated until I sent it in please check my QRZ page. A number of those awards were done with the 6700 including those for 160 .

If my radio had this major problem you describe I would expect it to have exhibited more serious problems than it did. My LOTW account has many confirmed DX QSO's from just prior to sending the rig in for service and that includes CW and SSB. The only problem I had was with FT8

Pat 

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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Pat,

Yes, I checked your ticket and it is your radio.  Let me clarify, it is very likely that you would not notice this problem. It would affect calibration of the power meter and SWR slightly and randomly (the SWR values move around randomly on every test pass) but you might not see it.

The first thing that they do in the service department is to run the entire automated factory test suite. This means they revert the radio to its original untested state that requires that every single test in the radio pass before it can complete the test suite. If any test fails even by a slight amount, it has to be corrected before you can move forward.  Some tests like this you might not notice the difference but they don't meet factory specifications.

This means that the radio is stuck at factory calibration of the SWR bridge until they locate the faulty component. Some companies may do manual testing where you can ignore a marginal parameter but our software does not allow that to occur. Once again, this has nothing to do with the frequency drift you saw on FT8, which is almost certainly a bad OCXO oven given your screen shot. 

Failures occur for whatever reason. There is no way to know the cause. As I said, you most likely would not have noticed this issue.

Please be patient while they work through the diagnosis. 

Thanks,
Gerald
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Pat N6PAT

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So to summarize, you're describing an issue that is separate from the frequency drifting issue and had no significant impact on operation and that I would not have noticed any problems.

I've used the radio for 2 years with no real issues (except a few with new SSDR  bugs) until the frequency drift began. Therefore, this issue you mention could have existed for some time possibly from the day I bought it, correct?
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Geoff - AB6BT

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Oh Boy...
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Pat, no it would never have passed factory test with this problem. It is not possible to load customer software (SmartSDR) onto the radio until it passes 100% of the automated factory tests. This is to eliminate operator judgement or errors in the factory test process.

This issue would most likely cause fluctuating meter readings on power of plus or minus a few watts. It is totally separate from the frequency drift issue where the cause is much more obvious. I could go into great technical detail on the symptoms and possible causes but I don’t know if that is useful. I will say this much, the calibrated slope of the RF log detector is -22 mV/dB per the specification of the parts. The test is varying from -19 mV to -25 mV / dB, which is outside the test tolerance range allowed. There are a number of components in that circuit which could cause such random results so we just have to locate the right one.

So yes you might not have noticed and it likely happened sometime over the years you have owned the radio.

Gerald
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Pat N6PAT

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Then I have to assume that this work is covered under warranty as there is no way of knowing exactly when the issue began but the odds are it happened before the 2 year anniversary as I've only owned the radio since mid January of 2017.

Clearly I could not have sent it in beforehand to address this issue if I would not have known that it even existed as you said. I only sent the radio in for the frequency problem and was unaware of this other issue until you brought it to my attention.
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Geoff - AB6BT

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So, let's say that your check engine light comes on. You take it to your mechanic and his diagnosis is that you have a bad knock sensor. OK, that has to be replaced. While doing an inspection of the vehicle he finds that you have a failing ball joint in your right front suspension. You had not noticed it as being a problem. You had no idea that there was a problem. The ball joint was fine when it left the factory. Should he replace the ball joint or just wait until something catastrophic happens.

Just sayin..
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Pat N6PAT

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The mechanic should never work on the ball joint or any other part of the car without first discussing the cost and getting authorization from the owner to do the work
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Burt Fisher

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This is not a ball joint, it is an SWR measurement slightly out of calibration, If I take my car in for a ball joint I don't care if the speedometer is 2 mph off,

Why should he be delayed and or pay for a problem he never noticed or cares about just to meet the requirements a company has set for their own test to continue? 
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Bill - W9KKN

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A faulty ball joint is a seriously dangerous problem, and even if what you brought the car in was just an oil change, failing to find such a problem could be really bad liability-wise should it result in injury or loss of life if they claimed to have done an inspection. But that's sort of where the analogy starts breaks down, so let’s not let it spin out of control.

I know for a fact that they will let you know before they swap out any part that costs you money. But they will temporarily swap out full boards with known good ones as a key part of troubleshooting (which is frankly in the best interest of speeding up the process.) I’m sure they’ll tell you what’s wrong and what your options are as soon as they know. I’d also say it’s a good workmanship to actually check the radio out thoroughly and pretty much compare it to a brand new radio before sending it back to you. They have no way of knowing if this issue is important to you or not, but the fact is that your radio, possibly (probably) due to you damaging it, has a problem that the inspection software found that means it is less correct than a new one. Personally, I would be upset if they sent me back a radio that didn’t pass the factory acceptance test, but, I recognize that those are my standards, not necessarily everyone elses.

I know you’re frustrated with how long the process is taking, but so far, the only defensible position you have is that the communication could be better. On the other hand, I have to say, I am personally unimpressed with your adversarial approach to the whole thing. I’d be willing to bet that this isn’t the first company you’ve done this to (didn’t get your way, publicly went on the warpath either on yelp or their public forum or whatever.) If I were the technician working on your radio, I would be one of two things:

1) I would feel like I’m walking on eggshells around you, and not in a confident position to do the best work on the radio with you belligerently trying to micromanage the entire process. No matter what they do, you seem to spin it into negative light.

2) I would be super frustrated at the above and even if I couldn’t openly acknowledge it, honestly way less motivated to help you, possibly even vindictive enough to “fix” the “problem” for you.

If I were your direct employee, I would resign.

Luckily, the team at Flex is professional enough to maintain their composure in such a situation, but you sure are not making it easy.

If you changed your outlook in this situation (and again, probably others) and accepted the fact that while they could more proactively tell you what’s going on, you might be able to recognize that they really are probably doing exceptionally skilled work on the radio. If your attitude were more along the lines of “I’m glad you found that before sending it back, thanks!” and “how can I help you help me?” You might find a much more reliable path to your desired outcome. The few times I’ve had to send my radios back to the mothership, I’ve always done little things like send return shipping labels (primarily because they like to use ground shipping and I want faster), I’ve always been honest about what happened (in one case, ESD damage that was definitely my fault), and I’ve always made my expectations clear, sometimes I need the radio to be back for a specific contest, and they’ve even offered to loan me a temporary radio at no charge while mine was being worked on, the gesture of which was enough to earn my business in buying a second radio. You can’t possibly tell me that these guys have poor customer service and/or aren’t willing to work with people that are willing to work with them.

Then again, keep doing it your way if you so desire, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career (unfortunately, the hard way) it’s that leadership is the art of getting people to do what you want without pissing them off.

—Bill/W9KKN
Photo of Pat N6PAT

Pat N6PAT

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So now after sitting for a month with no updates at all in spite of promises to the contrary, my $7,000 radio is being worked on by three technicians  according to the Service Manager Greta Jones for an issue that:

a) I never knew existed
b) I never asked to be worked on
c) Had no noticeable impact on the operation or performance of the radio
d) Would not even be noticed by me according to Gerald
e) Is not related in any manner to the problem I sent the radio in for according to Gerald
f) Was not discussed with me prior to any work being done
g) No cost estimate for the work was presented to me prior to the work being done
h) Was not authorized by me prior to work being done
i) Components were/are being swapped out of my radio without my knowledge or consent for reasons completely unrelated to the problem I requested to be fixed according to Gerald.

And all of this work is being done for an issue I never requested to be addressed without even a single heads up from Flex beforehand. Had I not brought this up in a public forum I would not have known that all this was taking place. 

The only information I received via the ticket system was a short comment from Ms. Jones that they cannot get it to pass the RF Bridge calibration.  No mention of swapping components out of my radio. No mention of why they were doing this. No mention of any activity related to the only problem I asked Flex to work on.

Now I have no idea what state my $7,000 radio is in or when it will be returned to me.  What happens if when it is finally returned to me I start having problems I never had before? How will I know if they are being caused by all this unauthorized work on my radio?

Is this how things are supposed to work in customer service at Flex? And people wonder why I brought this up in the forum. Now you know.

What does the suddenly silent cheer leading squad have to say now?

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David Warnberg

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Wow... really?  So you'd rather they leave an issue discovered during testing and simply address the issue YOU knew about?  Is that what you are are saying?  Oh and you want them to FIX the issue without changing any components?  just exactly how do you expect them to address and fix the issue then?


What do I say now?  I think you are simply using this community as your complaint department and nothing will satisfy you ar this point.

And no I am no cheerleader I'm simply a HAPPY flex user and would be more then willing to help a fellow flexer, but negative people I do not need...

Have a nice day.
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Mark - WS7M

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No... Customer Service is not supposed to work this way.  Have you made a few calls Pat?

A while back this forum was frequented by FRS people.  When issues like this arose people from FRS tended to chime in to diffuse problems.

I remember there was a very distinct move away from having FRS people in this forums regularly and I personally thought that was a mistake.

Anyway, I hope another phone call will get some action on your radio Pat.
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Pat N6PAT

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@David,

Get your facts straight. The swapping of components that has been done is completely unrelated to the issue I sent the radio in for as Gerald has stated.

The issue that they are spending so much time on would not even be noticed or causing the only problem the radio was sent in for again according to Gerald.
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Pat N6PAT

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@Mark,

I did call and was redirected to voice mail. I left a message and never received a call back. My only communications from Flex have been mostly in this forum with almost no technical updates via the ticket system.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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That is easy - your radio was homesick and it wanted a visit to Austin. <gtin>

Personally I would not want a system fault in any gear I have, hobby gear or professional gear, brushed over leaving out of spec issues uncorrected.

Obviously YMMV, but I think deep down you wouldn't really want anything out of spec left uncorrected either.  I don't think any of us are willing to compromise that way.

The candor of FRS and Gerald is noteworthy, as usual, right down to the details.  I like that part of dealing with FRS - it is not something I see often whether hobby or professionally, and I'm appreciative of this sort of open communications.

It is VERY impressive that a radio sent in gets such a comprehensive checkout that emergent issues (which greatly increase a future risk of the radio needing a future service trip) are ferreted out and addressed.  

The candor from FRS about growth pains and efforts to staff up are also remarkable - and reassuring as this type of growth benefits all of us in the long run.  That FRS is willing to share impresses me.

In contrast one could rattle off the accounts of sending hobby or professional gear in to other firm's "service black holes" where one gets little information other than the bill, which often is cryptic as well.  

Usually I've found financial discussions with service centers effective in controlling my costs by directly talking to the service center.  I've saved myself and work money this way. YMMV but remember going public you are forcing the other party to stick to their rules lest they create a new precedence or policy.   

To be honest I've only read up on this thread seeing that Gerald had posted, as I didn't want to be part of a forum squabble that could undermine your case.  

Did you notice that Gerald writes better than the responses you've received from the top man from some of the other hobby radio firms?  Sarcasm aside, the firms where the "big guy" involves themselves and communicates more than some formatic note staff had prepared for them, is rare.  Really rare.

GL when your tuned & repaired 6700 gets back to your shack,

73

Steve
K9ZW
Photo of Pat N6PAT

Pat N6PAT

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I wonder if you would still feel that way if you took your car in for an oil change and your mechanic decided your transmission was not per specs then replaced it without your knowledge or consent. 
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David Warnberg

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Your comparing apples and oranges... would you rather a tech remove a bad cap (surface mount, multi layer board) or just replace the board?  You can not compare electrical repairs to automobile repairs... just two completely different animals.

Also, your argument holds no merit and here is why, next time you take your car in take a look at the agreement you sign before they will even touch the automobile.. read the fine print really well.. you are signing a partial waver not holding them liable.. in other words if they came to you and found an issue, possibly even a safety issue, they bring it to your attention, it's your choice to ignore it or not.. then you sign again when you pick the automobile up... now if you drive down the road and the car explodes you have no recourse unless you can directly prove it was by their neglect.

Flex is attempting to make the radio right, back to the spec's it was designed in the first place not just fix one wheel when the other wheel is clearly flat.  Do you want a 7000 radio (asserted by you) that performs like a 2000 radio?

Anyway I digress, it's no use at this point.. no matter what happens now you have set your expectations far above and beyond any reasonable expectations.. even if they got you the radio back next week and you then had a separate issue it will be flex's fault. 
(Edited)
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Are you stretching your analogy a bit far?

It appears that our radio servers are dependent on a hierarchy of dependent systems that need to be in spec.

My analogy would be more along calling an electrician in because I’ve a fault in an outlet and they find problems in the breaker box which has them momentarily scratching their head. They have to clear the upstream problems in that breaker box before they can comprehensively debug the downstream. Interdependent cascading systems.

I suppose they could have pulled it off the rest rig and contacted you if you wanted the whole system checked or wanted it back as it is? That would increase costs and delay the process but may have been what you would have liked?

Gerald mentions the situation is unusual - atypical - out of the ordinary - and that they were on it.

That is refreshing when contrasted to the often expensive option of replacing major modules.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Burch - K4QXX

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I understand why Pat was frustrated.  I have a motorhome and for the first two years, it was in the shop a lot.  I would drop it off and wouldn't hear anything for weeks from the shop.  That used to really tick me off.  I would call and not get calls back.  Then I would finally drive up to the shop and they would tell me "we didn't call you back because we had nothing to report".  I don't care, but at least call me back and tell me there is no news.  I hate not being communicated with.

Pat, now that you have posted this thread, Flex has been communicating with you and is actively working on your radio.  Isn't that what you wanted?  What is the problem?  I don't think anything they do will make you happy.  You are talking about warranty, costs, etc and you have no idea yet as to what the outcome will be.  It's all speculation at this point.  You opening up this thread got you what you wanted and you are still upset because Flex it trying to get your radio back up to spec?  I don't understand your anger.  At this point it just seems silly.  I sure wouldn't want them to send my radio back with issues, regardless if they fixed the issue I sent it in for.  Why don't you wait for them to identify all the issues and then discuss what needs to be done with them? 
Photo of Pat N6PAT

Pat N6PAT

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To answer your question:

"Why don't you wait for them to identify all the issues and then discuss what needs to be done with them"

According to Gerald they have identified an issue unrelated to what I sent the radio in for and instead of discussing it with me before doing any work they've been swapping out components from my radio.

This is work that someone must pay for and and work I did not request.

Tell you what, I'll forward any bill I receive for that work on to you. You didn't request the work and you didn't authorize it just like me. How does that sound?


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David Warnberg

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How do you know they are even going to charge you for it??  Whats the cost of that work to you?  Anything?
Photo of Burch - K4QXX

Burch - K4QXX

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Again, you sent your radio in to get fixed, they are fixing it, and you are upset?!  Did you not know that there would be a cost associated with fixing your radio that is out of warranty?  You keep touting that you spent $7000 on a radio and you are complaining about having to pay to fix a radio that is out of warranty?  Like I said, nothing will make you happy.  You don't know what the costs will be or what they are going to charge you so it's all speculation.  That is something I assure you they won't be discussing on the community.  I would be ticked off if I sent in a radio and they found a problem and didn't fix it, regardless of what I sent it in for.  I would be more than happy to pay the extra to get the radio fixed and up to spec.  Apparently you feel differently.

Please, feel free to send me your bills for your radio.  I have a special place for them.
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David Warnberg

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@David,

Get your facts straight. The swapping of components that has been done is completely unrelated to the issue I sent the radio in for as Gerald has stated.

The issue that they are spending so much time on would not even be noticed or causing the only problem the radio was sent in for again according to Gerald."


My facts are straight, it seems obvious to me you do not know how a "circuit" works.. issues upstream must be corrected first.  I won't go into details but will make a suggestion, let the professionals do their job.

I'm not even sure why I continue to respond... I suppose I want to help, but at some point I have to draw a line in the sand and realize there is nothing I can do or say to change your mind or ease your frustration.

Good luck
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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@All

To set the facts straight.

As a matter of policy, we do not charge for all of our time when we run into an unusual problem such as this. The exception is when the radio has been damaged by lightning, mishandling/misuse, unauthorized repairs, etc. Those types of damage are not covered. Frankly, the service department is a cost and not a profit center.

Also, our policy is to run every radio that comes into service through a full factory test cycle. That means that we reset the radio to "Factory state A" that forces every radio to go through 100% of the test successfully. The alternative would be to only address the issue for which the radio was sent in and risk sending a radio back out with other problems. Manual bench test processes allow that to be done and we could have adopted that approach but have not.

Once the Factory software is initiated, we have no way to override the software and go back to the original settings. This means that if there is a failure anywhere in the test sequence between Step A and Step R, we can't move the test forward until it is resolved.

FYI, I designed this SWR bridge circuit that is used in every FLEX-6X00 radio. I have not seen this problem before so it is a bit of a puzzle. I am sure we will get it resolved and will get your radio back to you as soon as we can.  Perhaps we should reevaluate whether we run the factory test as a matter of course without explicitly asking for a waiver for any issues other than the one noted on the RMA.  

Pat, don't worry you won't get a bill for the extra diagnostic work. 

Sincerely,
Gerald
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Pat N6PAT

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@Gerald,

Thank you for the reply.

Yes, I think discussing your plan of action with the customer before conducting any work is the way to go. Then all are on the same page.

I would also like to point out how some of the members of this forum seem bent on twisting this around to try and say this is somehow all my fault. I merely aired my frustrations at a lack of communication from Flex regarding the status of my radio.

If all Flex radios started to burst into flames they would try to spin it as an added bonus. Perhaps describing it as a free way to heat one's home. I'm sure you'll agree that no company is perfect. They need to take the blinders off and see that as well.

If there is a single function that would improve this forum it would be an ignore button. It works very well on QRZ.
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

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Pat you have continued to ask for comments here from members, Such as...What does the suddenly silent cheer leading squad have to say now? 

But not everyone agrees with all of you possisions, mostly how you have carried on.
Because you decided to post all your communications with Flex on the community, it is fitting that Gerald has replied to you here as well so we could all see Flex replies and how you have been treated, it is now public record.

Unless a person is a child, who needs a dumb ignore button, just stop reading it!!!
Photo of WW1SS - Steve

WW1SS - Steve

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Oh Boy . . . I personally like the fact that the radio is set back and tested to factory specs.

That is why they make Icom and Yaesu Radios . . . Emergency Backups if your Flex needs repair
Photo of Ernest - W4EG

Ernest - W4EG

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B O R I N G
Has not this subject been debate to death.
Pat is not going to be satisfied: unless he gets a brand new Flex Radio or perhaps;  he is waiting for Gerald to personally deliver his radio by tomorrow.


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Burt Fisher

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Not B O R I N G,  well played by the participants 
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Robert Lonn

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I hope in a week or so when this becomes a stale thread that FLEX Deletes the entire thing... Robert
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Burt Fisher

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Why?
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Pat

Obviously you have no concept of the use of automated testing procedures for repairing complex systems with multiple interdependent modules. When a single module fails tests it likely means that the effect will cascade downstream to cause other more catastrophic failures. Hence each stage must meet spec so you can test the follow on stage. Clearly your 6700 failed upstream which prevented testing repair of the target module. Sort of like a doctor opening you up to repair your lung but finding an aneurysm on artery leading to the lung. It needed to be repaired before they could work on your lung. I don’t think the doctor would wake you up to get your permission before fixing both.

Cause of your SWR issue: As an engineer I would speculate that it was a self inflicted wound resulting from your “CRAPPY..my words” Hustler Antenna system. They are notorious for picking up Crap Noise and Electrostatic Charges.

When I was running companies on rare occasions we would run into customers with “NEVER SATISFIEDITIST”. No matter what we did or fixed they were never happy. Usually when we looked into their background we found that they were unhappy people who found fault with every vendor and we were just their latest victims. My solution was to either refuse further support to them if they were out of warranty (won a couple of lawsuits ) or charge then 10x regular service costs for aggravation or write a check to get rid of them if they were still under warranty.

As I said above when looking back on your various posts I could not find any where you were not negative about something From reading your posts you will likely never be happy with anything no matter what Flex does for you.

Frankly I am surprised Flex has wasted so much time and energy on you.
Photo of Pat N6PAT

Pat N6PAT

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@Howard

"As I said above when looking back on your various posts I could not find any where you were not negative about something From reading your posts you will likely never be happy with anything no matter what Flex does for you. "


You need to work on your search skills

Here's a few from this forum and there are many on QRZ. Your impending apology is accepted

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/outstanding-receiver

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/6700-incredible-receiver

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/stop-bashing-the-beta-testers

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/6700-atu-rocks

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/v2-is-here-you-know-what-that-means

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/flex-6700-outstanding-in-wpx



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John KB4DU

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Yup. My approach was to charge them the 10x and hope they would go annoy somebody else.
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Burt Fisher

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You better be careful Pat  I wasn't to Howard and paid the price.
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N5LB - Lionel B

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I've been following this thread for a few days and I cannot recall a personal instance of anything but professional and timely responses from Flex service, receiving, shipping, sales, etc.  

There's always an outlier, and maybe this is one. 

Be calm. It will work out.

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