View Full Version : Signwarehouse & Support

Matty McQuilkin
06-26-2005, 3:00 PM
Signwarehouse attitude to not support CorelDraw in my opinion is disgraceful to say the least, and is certainly a poor business decision.

When we bought our laser from Signwarehouse, they told us that we needed to use corel .The manufactures of GCC Lasers this includes the PINNACLE, Signwarehouse Just usees the Pinnacle name to make it look like its there own laser brand.

GCC Offers support on their website and includes a section on corel
The following comments are direct from GCC web site. http://www.laserprousa.com (http://www.laserprousa.com/)

<O:p What software can be used with the LaserPro?
Compatible with most Windows-based software.</B> Because we have written our own "print" driver you can use virtually any software application you so desire. Although the Windows PC world has standardized on CorelDRAW as the graphics application of choice.
If the manufacturers of the laserpro or pinnacle recognize that CorelDraw is the standard for the industry and offer support for it. Signwarehouse should also continue to offer support for CorelDraw

To stop offering support for the industry standard software , because you now sell another engraving software is disgraceful. What about the majority customers using Corel?.
The decision not to support corel is just another down grade in support from Signwarehouse.

To conclude I have to say that we have bought all our major equipment from Signwarehouse . But the support has been disappointing to say the least.

Call for support and get an answering machine ?

Say they are going to call you back. Yes they do some times same day, other times it has been 3 and 5 days later. I dont know about you but I cant have my laser down waiting 5 days for a response, I have deadlines to meet and customers to satisfy.

When our laser tube failed, we contacted Signwarehouse Tec support who told me it would be at last two weeks before we could get a replacement as it had to come from TAIWAN " After pulling the laser tube out, found out the tube was manufactured right here in the

Promised parts under warranty and never received them?

These are just a few instances I have a very long list.
We Contacted GCC direct about the support we were getting from Signwarehouse and they recommended that I contact another Supplier for support. We contacted ISS sales and the have given us fantastic support. We have spent almost nothing with ISS in dollar value, but have had a million dollars service and support. http://www.isssales.com (http://www.isssales.com/)

<O:p</O:pNo longer supporting Corel?

<O:p</O:pIf and when we upgrade our laser, our buying decision will be based on service.

George M. Perzel
06-26-2005, 4:28 PM
I have been watching, with interest, the many comments during the last 6 months regarding Sign Warehouse and their refusal to support CorelDraw. It is interesting that GCC, the manufacturer of the LaserPro (Pinnacle) unit has not (to the best of my knowledge) tried to mediate the problem with SignWarehouse since it is most certainly affecting their sales of LaserPro and Pinnacle products.
Although the laser engraving technology is not new, there are not many places to go to seek information regarding the features/advantages/pros/cons of the various laser platforms which are available. Certainly this forum is one of the few online sources of feedback and opinions from a wide variety of users whose opinions and comments have been , for the most part, honest and forthright. I see more and more requests from prospective new buyers who are seeking guidance and the knowledge required to make the proper decision when spending more than $20k to enter this business. Yet, I see more and more decisions being made in favor of platforms other than Laserpro/Pinnacle. You would think that this rising tide of popularity in favor of others would light a fire under someone's butt at GCC and SignWarehouse to do something to stop the dissing and negative comments.
I must confess, though I have a LaserPro unit, I have no axe to grind on a personal level since I purchased my unit directly from a LaserPro distributor and have had nothing but terrific support (thanks, Scott). He even provided a CorelDraw manual/bible at the time of installation and has always answered any question I've had regarding CorelDraw or Photograv or the Laserpro unit. To be fair, I sense that there are individuals at SignWarehouse (Kevin, etc.) who are trying to be proactive and do the right thing- but also sense that it is without the tacit approval or direction of the SW hiearchy-and certainly without any input from GCC. Wise up,guys, and go back to the Marketing 101 fundamentals.

Gary Shoemake
06-26-2005, 8:57 PM
I have not had the issues that some have had with tech support. True there have been 1 or 2 occasions where I haven't recieved a response within 24 hours, but have never gone more than 48.( I believe it was over a weekend). I really don't understand the Corel issue as to who does and who doesn't support it. However, I have a question; Is the support of Corel an authorization issue by Corel? Do those companies that offer support licensed to do so, or are they extremely savvy with the program? There are folks on this and other forums that run circles around most of us, well as least me.
There are three community colleges in NJ that have dropped Corel from their curriculum after the fees for licenses and support rose to a high level. THey have switched their courses to Illustrator. Man got to go to more classes.

I really wonder what the under lying cause for Signwarehouse position is. Once again it makes the phrase." Enquiring minds want to know." I look forward to all of your thoughts on this as it can only help those of us that are new to this business grow.



Rodne Gold
06-27-2005, 1:40 AM
I dont see the great need to support Corel in terms of a laser sale. The laser is a printer to all intents and purposes and can use any package that prints in windows. There are no real tricky bits in terms of how it interfaces with the GCC and those that count are in the Laserpro manual.
I have many other machines that use various software , some supported and supplied by mnfgrs of said machines , some not. If I choose to use an unsupported package , well thats my choice.
Engravelab and the laser will provide the user with a very workable package from day 1 , capable of doing more than Corel in sheer engraving terms and will also work with other NC machinery like rotary engravers etc. Signlab , which is engravelabs parent program will work with vinyl cutters , thermal printers , inkjet printers and so forth. IE by going the Signalb/Engravelab route, you can support MANY devices and specialize in that support. I *have* signlab and engravelab and profile lab , and DO use em for my Overhead routers and so forth. Perhaps the vast majority of Signwarehouse vinyl cutter and other peripheral customers use Signlab (which is a very popular sign package) and they chose to extend it to Lasers?

I cannot understand why there is a odd 2 tiered sales situation in the USA?
I would always buy from the prime agents if possible rather than a reseller/rebadger unless there was some specific incentive and I can't see what that incentive is ?

Chuck Burke
06-27-2005, 3:40 PM
I aplogize for the lengthy post, but here is an email exchange between myself and Chris Gripp on of the owners of Signwarehouse. It is unlikely they will EVER change their position. I has been awhile since I have received a catalog from them so I do not know if Mr. Gripp is still saying "We want you as a customer for life and we will do what it takes to acheive that" or not. If he is still saying it, in the catalog, it is blatant misrepresentation, because they WONT do what it takes.

From: Chuck Burke [mailto:burkec005@hawaii.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 5:12 PM
To: chris.grip@signwarehouse.com; Chris Gripp
Cc: Eddie LaRue; Kevin Huffman
Subject: A Customer for life?

Hello Mr. Gripp,
This is an email I have been meaning to send for several months now.
On the front page of your catalog, at least the last catalog I received, you said in the blurb below your picture, "We want you as a customer for life, and we will do what it takes to do that" (It has been awhile since I read that so it might not be exact, but you get the
Well, if you want THIS customer for life, I am asking you to start supporting CorelDRAW.
As I am sure you know, in the "laser engraving, trophy and award business" Corel is the de-facto standard in the industry, and the program I have been using since I bought my Pinnacle M series 25 watt laser from you almost a year ago. I have tried using EngraveLab. It is NOT user friendly and is quite inefficient as a layout program.
Currently I am having a problem with my laser. Kevin Huffman and Eddie Larue BOTH have been magnificent and outstanding in trying to help. However, the issue I am having concerns corel and the laser. Kevin is aware of the problem and helped me through EngraveLab. However the laser DOES NOT do it's job in corel suddenly, and I as a pinnacle owner really have nowhere to turn. This does not make for a happy customer.
I understand your reasons for wanting to not support Corel. You want to SELL EngraveLab, however, if you sell Lasers, I feel you are doing a disservice to your customers by NOT supporting Corel.
I ask Mr. Gripp that you honor the words you printed in your catalog, and do what it takes to keep a customer for life by allowing your tech support people to help me with this situation and further that you alter your policy and begin supporting your CUSTOMERS regardless of the software package they are using.

Very Sincerely,
Chuck Burke,
American Pacific Awards
A disgruntled customer

---------------------- and Mr. Gripps Reply----------------

Thanks for your email, I appreciate your thoughts on Corel Draw.

Many years ago, we did support Corel Draw, but because of the following problems, we dropped support of it.

1. Half of the people using Corel were using a pirated version of the software. I'm sure you are not, but many were. This caused inumerable support problems, as in many cases they couldn't go to Corel's web site and download patches and updates. In most cases, they blamed the laser or laser driver for the problem instead of Corel.

2. Since much of Corel's revenue came from program upgrades, they would bring out a new version every 12 to 18 months. In most cases, it wasn't ready, being full of bugs. Again customers would blame our laser or laser driver, instead of blaming Corel for problems.

3. Because of the many different versions of Corel, it was impossible to support them all, or even determine if our drivers would work with all the variations. In some cases, drivers would work, but then a subsequent patch form Corel would break them. It would take Corel from 6 to 9 months after a new release to stabilize it.

Because of all of the above problems, we were forced to drop suport for Corel. We had to go with a stable software package that we could count on to work. Engravelab was it. It works today, we know it works, and we know that it will work tomorrow.

Your problem of having stamp engraving formerly working in Corel, and then not working in Corel, proves my point. Corel is popular, but not stable or dependable. I know that this not not what you want to hear, but it is an unfortuate fact of life for us today.

We put a significant amount of time, money and effort into our technical support. We have as many support technicians as most manufacturers. Many consider it the best in the industry. I won't make that claim, because I know we're not perfect, but our guys try really hard to make sure your machine keeps working for you. However, I cannot justify taking a big step backwards in our laser engraving support by trying to support Corel Draw.

I hope this email answers some of you questions about why we do not support Corel Draw.

Chris Gripp

Chuck Burke
06-27-2005, 3:53 PM
I just thought I would break this post up so as to not have such a long post.

We all know that ALL software is unstable from time to time. It is the nature of the beast ( at least all pc compatible software ). So I am not buying the "instability" issue.

The version of Engravlab that I got with my laser is nothing more than a patched version of Signlab. Once when I needed some help, I went to the help menu. The help menu once I finally found what I was looking for, gave me a screen shot of something that does not even exist in the software, and specifically used the words " in signlab......".

If Engravelab is infact so much better than corel, why is IT not the industry standard? As Mr. Gripp mentioned in his reply to me "Corel has many different versions".... there is only one version. 12 upgrages maybe but only on VERSION.

As for the stamp issue being Corel, it is not. It is the driver, I proved this by installing BOTH drivers on my computer. Works fine with the previous version of the driver. Again, it is only a work around, the problem is not solved, and apparently won't be, but at least I can use the machine.

There is a new member on this forum ( or at least one that has finally made a decition regarding his laser purchase ) and one of the reasons he did not go with SignWarehouse is the fact they do not support Corel.

In MY opinion, the "management" of SignWarehouse cares ONLY about moving equipment and nothing else.

And again, I have nothing but rave reviews about Kevin and Eddie in tech support ( both are well versed in Corel by the way), but their hands are tied by an inane corporate policy, that is NOT oriented to customer service.

All I can say is the the sales person ( who is no longer there) did a good job of "selling" me. If I had it to do over again, ( and I will ) I will most definitely NOT buy from SignWarehouse. A customer for life? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!


Jerry Allen
06-27-2005, 9:23 PM
As I have stated elsewhere, I have no problem with support that I have needed thus far from Signwarehouse. They have responded quickly to most issues that I have had. The issue of support for Corel however is troubling to me. The attitude about not supporting Corel seems arrogant and thoughtless knowing that most users use Corel with their machines.

"Support" can mean a lot of things.
Support for the program, as in training the user to actually use the program and learn all it's ins and outs. This should be the responsibility of the Corel corporation and it's vendors. Therefore, I do not expect Signwarehouse to support the use of Corel in that respect. Support in terms of passing along knowledge in terms of using Corel with a GCC machine is a different story.

Signwarehouse does "support" Corel in a limited way by having files and information on the installation disk. This makes a lot of sense from a sales and support perspective. But the info is rather limited and any time someone asks a question or points out a problem that they don't have an answer for they tend to hide behind the "we don't support Corel Draw because we don't sell it" routine. I think that just doesn't make sense and it is obvious to the users and prospective clients that it doesn't.

Issues related to Corel Draw and the GCC driver should be taken seriously and handled immediately. Saying you don't know what the problem is okay, as long as you show you are willing to research the problem and coordinate with the user and GCC to resolve the problem. That is support. That's all the users should expect from Signwarehouse and GCC. Anything else is gravy.

Passing along knowledge about Draw from users and experience with Corel doesn't hurt either. There's a lot of it on the net including this web site and from other vendors, etc., not to mention the info that comes from dealing with customers on a daily basis. Use a disclaimer, and then get real! There are a couple of issues regarding Corel and/or the GCC driver I have encountered which I have reported at SMC. I see no effort on any Laserpro reps or GCC's part to document these issues or any others they might encounter here at SMC or as a result of tech calls. From my point of view, they are
all negligent.

I think that for the most part Signwarehouse already addresses problems with the driver, etc. when they believe it is actually a driver or machine problem. It's just the statement about not supporting Corel that bothers me when they do not have an immediate answer. It does not make sense not to "support" Corel just as HP or IBM would be foolish not to support Windows and it's various incantations. One does not expect them to teach and totally support Windows, but it should be expected that if there are driver and hardware problems between their machines and Windows that they resolve these problems by researching it and coordinating with Microsoft if necessary.

Even if there were no problems with the machine, drivers or Draw, there would still be a lot of issues from time to time because the system is complex, users are bound to make mistakes, and generally the manuals are insufficient, erroneous, misleading, and poorly written. This is not exclusive to GCC, Laserpro and Signwarehouse. Generally speaking, most laser websites stink, with Epilog and Jorlink almost hitting the mark. During a recent problem with a driver a user was told to get the latest drivers and firmawre off the Signwarehouse/Engraverwarehouse support site. The only driver there is an old one from 2003. I know that the tech emailed the proper files is a timely fashion, but what's the big deal about keeping the site up to date?

In regards to Rodney's comment about third party stuff, I think that Signwarehouse is on the same level as most reps and probably sells more machines than the average rep. As a result their prices are generally better. Why they rebrand is a mystery. The box comes with LaserPro markings, etc. all over it.

Chuck Burke
06-27-2005, 9:35 PM
Thank you for reinforcing my point. I have never expected Sign Warehouse to "teach" me corel or to solve problems with Corel itself, however I do not believe it is too much to ask to help customers work through a problem with the laser and Corel. I know for a fact that Sign Warehouse's tech people ( kevin and Eddie ) are both well versed in Corel. It is managments shortsightedness and lack of commitment to customer service that is the problem.
As for their "rebranding" I asked that question of my sales rep when I "was sold" my laser. The answer I was given was that because of their (sign warhouse ) and territory, that the only way they could sell laserpro's was to rename them. ( What does that say about GCC?). Personally I have a hunch that is has something to do with their lasers being yesterday's technology. When I bought my M-series ( which I was assured was REALLY a 30 watt) I asked specifically if this was "state of the art" I was emphatically told "Yes it is".....it was not a month after I "was sold" my laser that I discovered the "Explorer" series which had usb connectivity. Sigh :(


Jerry Allen
06-27-2005, 10:25 PM
I knew about the Explorer and would have loved the extra speed and USB port.
But I just couldn't afford it. I'm real happy thus far with the Merc 25. It's solidly built and very reliable. The worst screw ups are operator error like trying to load the machine during the initialization. A simple little thing that should be emphasized in the manual, amongst a few dozen others.
It took me awhile to figure out the missing info in the manual and help screens. I am fairly comfortable with Windows, computers and drafting programs but still have to work at it. I wonder about some of the folks who are not computer geeks or mechanically inclined. Must be extremely frustrating to them in addition to the fact that they really don't know how or can't try anything but the mundane.
All I gotta say is "thank Heaven" for SMC. A real class act. (Usually).

Gary Shoemake
06-28-2005, 2:05 AM
I want to thank Chuck,Jerry, Rodney, and George for sharing your thoughts on what support is. You each brought up something that I had thought of but it was unclear to me. I guess it comes down to doing all that one can without pushing the envelope of corporate policy to the breaking point. There are things that have happened at my place of former employment that when I went to work there 33 years ago no one would have guessed. Does anyone think that the phone company has changed recently? It used to be a place where the employees were valuable, now it's run as a "corporation", by the rules, not what benefits the end user. We are, in this case the end users.

As Chuck has stated, if I can quote him, " Just my two cents, want change." I really like that Chuck.


Rodne Gold
06-28-2005, 2:10 AM
I have also wondered at folk who are not mechanically inclined buying a laser or a rotary engraver. One can never get all that its capable of doing under these circumstances as you have to have a knowledge of materials , how they react with the machine , bits , cutting technology and so forth. If you arent mechanical and have almost no puter knowledge and are not au fait with design packages , I would class that as a recipe for disaster or at least a recipe for not making much money from the machine for a long time unless you luck onto some easy project. I would HATE to have to support someone like that in their infancy with the machine. (Applies to any other laser/machine)
The mercury is a fine machine , slowis but tried and tested and reliable. We bought the first explorers and did have "teething" problems (I must say , GCC fixed these pronto and offered us most upgrades free , currently our machines are Explorer II status)
I would NOT buy a mercury these days , after experiencing the speed of the Explorer , but my needs are different to others , we tackle long production jobs producing items in the 1000's and the time savings are well worth it, often doubling production. This might not be an issue for others. (the explorer uses a Coherent source which we also find better than a synrad - thats another issue altogether) The USB port is not a reason for upgrading , its not that much or an issue in terms of sending files and speed doing so. Its beam quality , speed and table size that make the upgrade worthwhile.
The SW story about corel is just bull , Corel requires NO proof you run a legal copy for upgrades and patches , in fact Engravelab DOES require registration and a password to acess their help site and their helpsite is not that helpful, Engravelab is buggy and is very expensive. By far the worst aspect of it is its sucky resolution on screen. The dongle issue is also a schlep , we had endless problems upgrading to Xp pro vith our dongles.
Elab is a wonderful package for rotary type engravers , especially more capable machines , but its features there are relatively useless for lasering.
I have had almost no issues with Corel and its various versions (7 to 12) with my Gcc lasers (mercurys - explorers- explorer II) and their drivers.
GCC manuals must have been written by Tibetan speaking monks with full frontal lobotomies in the early days, a bit better nowadays. The biggest hassle is the lack of DETAILED explanation of some driver features.

Chuck Burke
06-28-2005, 3:01 AM
I would agree with you that trying to support a neophyte would be a laser reps worst nightmare, however, it does happen. Fortunately, I am fairly computer literate and have been able to expedite my learing curve with the help of you and others on this and other forums, HOWEVER, if a company or a rep is going to sell lasers they have no way of knowing the skill level, computer knowledge, or mechanical ability of the people they are selling to. With this in mind, if a laser rep or manufacturer is going to sell their product, they should do the utmost to support their customer. It makes sense. If SW were truly interested in customer service, the WOULD support Corel, because MY success would be THEIR success. Meaning, as my business grew I would go back to them for more equipment. They seem to have missed that point. As it is I will go someplace else. I am already contemplating my next laser purchase. It will not be from SW.

I also agree with you that simply having a usb port is no reason to upgrade. That was not my intent in mentioning that. My intent was that "had" I been told of the Explorer, I would have probably bought it instead of the Mercury, but as I mentioned, I was "ASSURED" by my Sign Warehouse rep that the Mercury was the latest, greatest state of the art that existed. ( Shame on me for not doing more research ). At the time I "was sold", the Mercury was yesterdays news.

Again, it has done it's job as advertised. And AGAIN the issue is the lack of support for Corel, from sign warehouse. What makes it even worse is that I KNOW for a FACT that both of the tech support people are well versed in corel, but yet for reasons I (we) will NEVER know, the Gripp bros. will not ALLOW them to help us the customer.

Now I would ask EVERYONE that has had this experience with sign warehouse or even agrees with the postion to email Chris Gripp at chris.gripp@signwarehouse.com and let him know that there are more people than myself that have an issue with this issue.

My two cents. Want Change?


Steve Spaulding
07-06-2005, 1:14 PM
I realize that I am addressing a posting from a few days ago, and one that was responded to on several occassions, but I wanted to make one clarification.

www.laserProusa.com (http://www.laserprousa.com/) is not a GCC site, but rather an accumulated effort by the LaserProUSA distributors.

It is our attempt to provide additional service to the customers of our group, which is built on some 20 years of expereince (on average) of walking through the doors of engravers across North America.

We were assembled based on our experience and knowledge, as well as the current set of attributes that the members bring to the distributor group.

5 of who have been published at one time or another, 1 who is a featured writer currently (as well as webmaster for www,laserprousa.com).

Sign Warehouse is an excellent internet marketer, and so offers a valid path for customers who like the benefits they offer.

LaserProUSA on the other hand, shares a philosophy that the easiest way to sell a customer a second machine is through support.

We recognize(d) that the industry was built on Corel and provide full support for Corel.

We also enjoy 2 members who either present Corel Draw clases at industry tradeshows, or have credentials as Corel Draw instructors.

So my recommnedation is to seek out our group, we believe that investing in our customers is the strongest path to more sales.

Steve Spaulding
LaserProUSA Group
www.isssales.com (http://www.isssales.com/)

Chuck Burke
07-06-2005, 6:03 PM

.............So my recommnedation is to seek out our group, we believe that investing in our customers is the strongest path to more sales.

Steve Spaulding
LaserProUSA Group
www.isssales.com (http://www.isssales.com/)

Steve, as a point of clarification, does the above statement serve as an invitation to come to your group for support, even if we did not purchase our laser from one of the five, if we cannot get it from the vendor?

I visited your website, and even tried to register. The registration page said contact your vendor and your vendor will set you up. Will you help with that?

Thank you
Chuck Burke
American Pacific Awards

Chuck Burke
07-07-2005, 3:20 PM
May I use your phone card? ( insert laugh here)


Steve Spaulding
07-15-2005, 6:23 PM
Hi Chuck,

My recommnedation is to introduce yourself to the LaserProUSA rep that works to provide service to customers in your area.

They might not jump through hoops out the gate, but every relationship has to start somewhere.

I am confident that we can agree that our providing support to a laser that was not purchased from us is not a real strong business situation, Joan of Arc we are not.

Just this morning I responded to a customer of our competition that owns a Pinnacle, just bought it in the past weeks/month in fact, and is already looking for solutions outside of his vendor, even though he was told he could accomplish the task previous to the purchase. Really a shame.

I explained to him that I cannot put him in front of my customers right now as we are busy supporting our commitments to them. When I commit to my customers, I do so factually and to the best of my abilities. No body likes to be mis-led, no matter how good the deal once was.

I did the best I could and offered a summary of how I would proceed to verify settings and forwarded a doc for reference. A doc that his vendor had access to, yet still chose not to support the customer with.

Time is money (especially when UPS is on their way).

This group can probably verify the amount better, but I figure at the very, very minimum, a laser should be making you $60 to $75 hour.......so when any engraver has to spend time figuring out applications/usage/solutions on the use of operation of the laser, it can add up very quickly.

We will consider each contact we have and offer a response. My response may include a solution if it is reletively easy or an offer of technical support time that may be chargable. Most of our group share this viewpoint.

Everyone loves a good deal, we as consumers simply need to measure just how good each deal is. Service is one of the most costly components of any piece of capital equipment, so if the system is sold for a really good price, "Hurry and buy today" one has to ask themselves, how is the vendor going to pay for the service support???? Or am I going to pay in one form or another, later???

At the very least, ask for documentation of what support is offered.

I like these forums and will continue to participate and copntribute, within reason.


Chuck Burke
07-15-2005, 8:03 PM

I totally understand what you are saying.