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Thread: What is your experience with "euro-machine" customer service?

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
    Posts
    5,605
    I think you have to take anectotal opinions regarding customer service with a grain of salt. Consistently really bad is easy to identify, but anything else is difficult to rate. If there is lots of evidence of great customer service, it is only available if there is lots of need for that service. Lots of need doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy. Great service and mediocre product is no thrill. Most customer service stories relate to everyone's specific instance, who they happened to talk to, and how they spin the story when we hear about it. Other than universally awful, I'm not sure we can learn enough factual info to base a purchase decision. I buy figuring I'll fix my own stuff and any help from the company is like found money. Dave

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    'over here' - Ireland
    Posts
    2,532
    I'm in a small market on the fringes of Europe, so my experience isn't necessarily representative.

    My expectations though were largely derived from positive sentiment on US forums and the sales blurb, so having paid out the price of a small car it came as something of a shock to find that two of my three machines from a well known Euro supplier of 'quality' light professional and higher end stuff required ground up set ups to get them to the point where they were usable. One needed heavy reworking (as in metal removed) to fix out of flat tables. The third was very close to being right as received. The catalogue and website were blamed for a spec issue which was never resolved.

    The good news overall was that apart from the single case of the tables it was possible to dial in everything to perform very well. The bad was that the issues didn't as a result of delays caused by illness and related come to light until they were just out of warranty, and the factory despite being roped in at senior level just wasn't interested in helping. It was DIY all the way.

    It seems likely that at least some of the Euro distribution companies in the US may put their product through an additional screening before delivery - if only because of the distances involved, and the potentially ruinous cost of frequent field fixes. Not to mention a well connected consumer culture that's at times probably far less accepting of even minor issues. At others far more prepared to work issues than is the case here.

    I've given the history been following the topic closely for around five years now on forums, but to this day haven't been able to precisely figure out what the reality of the US situation with Euro (and other) woodworking machinery is.

    There's so many conflicting voices, attitudes and expectations. There's a tendency in some quarters to presume 'it's Euro, so it must be good'. (??) There's lots that report problem free results. The odd person comes on forums and raises hell in circumstances where there clearly are significant and very real problems. Some encounter problems, but just quietly sort them out themselves - you only hear if it's something requiring service input, or afterwards as they explain what they have done. Lots more take the 'its mine so it must be good' tack - who knows what their reality is. There's a faction that (judging by the 'it's woodworking not engineering' type comments made) seem almost not to notice as long as it makes sawdust - or at least to rationalise that they must be doing something wrong if it's not producing the results they want. etc etc...

    It's a pretty safe bet though that the general ex-factory quality of woodworking machinery (at the level most of us buy anyway) while varying a bit between between makers is in mass consumer market terms (where perfect quality is presumed, and even minor issues lead to recalls etc) pretty patchy. Especially where set up and alignments are concerned. It's seems clear too that when field problems do emerge that the price point/business reality is such that even the more service oriented importers can't afford to throw service engineers at them...
    Last edited by ian maybury; 09-24-2015 at 1:25 PM.

  3. #18
    i have two martin machines, and have needed some minor customer service. the guys out east have been terrific - they answer the phone when you call, they get answers, send parts if need be... and are great to deal with. compared to other customer service experiences i've had (outside of lee valley), martin is at the top.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Southeastern PA
    Posts
    139
    Since the OP asked for as many replies as possible, I'll chime in.

    I only have experience with one machine but that will change within a month. My experience was also generally positive. I only had one minor issue where the rip fence on my slider was marred during shipment. Mostly cosmetic but a bother. The manufacturer offered for me to send it back but they also offered me a 12" rip blade if I just wanted to keep the damaged fence. I was impressed with the flexibility and creativeness.

    When I complete my next purchase next month, I will report and document the experience to the group.

  5. #20
    I have Hammer A331 and Felder 510 for more than a year. Then B3 for a month.
    A331 and B3 had no issue whatsoever. They were well calibrated and no adjustment needed, except for the height of the outfeed table of A331, which was set lower (or higher, I forget) intentionally and needed to be adjusted before use as clearly stated in the manual.
    The B3 has so many moving parts but so far every thing has been spooky accurate. No dents, mars. They were in pristine conditions. So, I couldn't test Hammer/Felder customer services on these two machines.

    The FB510 bandsaw was a bit different story. Upon arrival, the motor fan housing had a dent and interfered with the fan. They sent a replacement quickly.
    Then the motor started to give a cranking noise. Minor, intermittent noise, but they sent a tech to replace the motor. It took a while to get the replacement kit from Europe but I could use the saw anyway during the wait.

    As I mentioned in another thread, currently I'm a bit bothered by a high-frequency noise and vibration of the FB510, which seem to come from the driving belt. This is a bit of boarder line between a legitimate complain and whining. So, I contacted them to just get their opinion or suggestions few days ago. They responded immediately and promised to look into the issue.

    So, so far, I must say, Felder/Hammer is doing very well in the customer service. I think I was an early adopter of the newly designed FB510 and got some glitches, maybe MM16/20 are more matured products, not sure.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    56,952
    I have received excellent service and support from Minimax over the years. Yes, I've done any maintenance troubleshooting and labor myself, but any time I've asked for advise, help and parts assistance it was a smooth process.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Pasadino, CA
    Posts
    892
    Proud owner of a MiniMax Combo here. My take is that these machines are so well engineered that stuff rarely goes wrong. That's not to say they can be broken, most likely when transported.

    I am always impressed with SCM and Grizzly due to their participation here at SMC.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Oregon, Wisconsin
    Posts
    324
    If your looking for the best customer service post purchase, I don't think anyone will be able to compare to Stiles. People are available 24/7 and almost any part can be overnighted anywhere. I called once for my wide belt and the tech talked me through a software issue--my fault--no charge. I bought an Altendorf F45 that showed up with only metric measurements. They got me the correct inserts in less than 5 business days from Germany. Stiles is trying to get into small shops. They have more affordable tools from asia in their Ironwood brand. I don't have any experience with these, but they look well made and very heavy compared to other asian imports. Can't forget--Stiles has technicians all over the country if it comes to the point of having to get one onsite.

    Stiles gave me a tour of their customer service area. It looks like an air traffic controller terminal or something similar. Monitors overhead and on the walls showing their performance of handling customer issues. The parts organization is unbelievable--automated controllers grabbing parts from all over and shipping them out right away. Stiles said only SCMI comes close to them--SCMI being a bit smaller in parts capacity.

    I owned a Felder k915 slider for several years. I had an issue with the scoring motor cutting out. I had great service from their support people, and I bought the machine second-hand from a bank after the original purchaser could not pay for. I found the problem myself and repaired--poor solder joints in the scoring motor contactor.

    I have an SCMI shaper, jointer, and two minimax 24" bandsaws all purchased new. All arrive perfect and have never had any trouble. Called Parts Pronto for parts on my old SCMI wide belt--had them available in stock and were very helpful.

    I guess to sum it up, my favorite companies to deal with are Stiles and SCMI/Minimax. I feel most comfortable plunking down cash to these two companies based on my experiences.

    Best,
    Greg Stahl

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    West Central Mn
    Posts
    37
    I bought a MM16 band saw several years ago now and had no issues with it. A year later I purchased a MM FS 350 jointer/planer. It arrived missing a couple of small parts and MM, based at that time in Austin, promptly shipped those parts to me no questions asked. A year ago I went to IWF looking at sliding table saws. I had a chance to visit with Eric Loza and Sam Blasco at the SCMI booth. Both very knowledgeable and friendly people. Erik did a good job of follow up contacts without being high pressure. I did end up buying a used SCMI saw rather than new from Erik. It needed two parts that I purchased from parts pronto. Their parts dept is very helpful and parts arrived in a couple of days. In all I have very good experiences with MM/SCMI.

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Williamstown,ma
    Posts
    996
    Quote Originally Posted by Gregory Stahl View Post
    If your looking for the best customer service post purchase, I don't think anyone will be able to compare to Stiles. People are available 24/7 and almost any part can be overnighted anywhere. I called once for my wide belt and the tech talked me through a software issue--my fault--no charge. I bought an Altendorf F45 that showed up with only metric measurements. They got me the correct inserts in less than 5 business days from Germany. Stiles is trying to get into small shops. They have more affordable tools from asia in their Ironwood brand. I don't have any experience with these, but they look well made and very heavy compared to other asian imports. Can't forget--Stiles has technicians all over the country if it comes to the point of having to get one onsite.

    Stiles gave me a tour of their customer service area. It looks like an air traffic controller terminal or something similar. Monitors overhead and on the walls showing their performance of handling customer issues. The parts organization is unbelievable--automated controllers grabbing parts from all over and shipping them out right away. Stiles said only SCMI comes close to them--SCMI being a bit smaller in parts capacity.

    I owned a Felder k915 slider for several years. I had an issue with the scoring motor cutting out. I had great service from their support people, and I bought the machine second-hand from a bank after the original purchaser could not pay for. I found the problem myself and repaired--poor solder joints in the scoring motor contactor.

    I have an SCMI shaper, jointer, and two minimax 24" bandsaws all purchased new. All arrive perfect and have never had any trouble. Called Parts Pronto for parts on my old SCMI wide belt--had them available in stock and were very helpful.

    I guess to sum it up, my favorite companies to deal with are Stiles and SCMI/Minimax. I feel most comfortable plunking down cash to these two companies based on my experiences.

    Best,
    Greg Stahl
    Greg, I have a friend who has about a 6 year old Altendorf, who would beg to differ. Once warranty was over, he was told he could speak with a tech once they ran his credit card, and it was "x dollars per hour".
    I think even with same manufacturer, people's experience can be vastly different.

    I almost bought an Altendorf saw simply for the fact that someone could help 24/7, but two things changed my mind.
    1. At the time they did not have a dual tilt slider like Martin- makes life SO much easier.
    2. Their salesman paid me a visit and actually insulted me by telling me that I didn't know my business because I was buying a high end panel saw instead of a CNC router, which is "what I really needed"! He apparently knew my business better than me in about a 5 minute conversation we had prior to hearing that! I've been in business for almost 30 years now, and I don't pretend to know even what my colleagues businesses are!

    I have had technical issues with some of my high end electronic machines, and it is quite frustrating when it goes down at 7,8, or 9 pm and there's nobody to talk to! Worse still on weekends!
    Last edited by peter gagliardi; 09-25-2015 at 12:25 PM.

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Edmonton, Canada
    Posts
    2,344
    I have two European machines, one is a MM FS350 J/P combo and the other is a Griggio 24" bandsaw. I bought both used, although the bandsaw was never used (never put a blade on even). I have been happy with both so far. One issue I have had with the MM J/P was the start switch which would not work sometimes, I had to open it up and fiddle with it. Don't know what the real reason was and never called their service department.
    I have contacted SCM group to try source out a mortising attachment for my (now out of production) J/P and they were helpful in finding out a current model that would fit on my machine and getting me a price.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Oregon, Wisconsin
    Posts
    324
    Peter,

    Sorry to hear about your friend's experience. Did he buy from Stiles? I have had stiles out to my shop after warranties expired just to see how the machines were working for me. Maybe I benefit from being close to their headquarters with many people in the field in my region.

    Stiles precharges for support if you call off hours or on weekends. The fee would be fine with me if i needed help on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. I called once on Sunday and decided I could wait until Monday.

    Greg

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Bellingham, WA
    Posts
    1,888
    I get good service from SCM, despite the fact that I bought my equipment used. They have schematics available to help with electrical issues, and stock a fair amount of common wear parts. Phone support has been pretty consistent. The only time I had a long wait was for an VFD board that had been discontinued. They found a workaround using a current production board, brake resistor, enclosure, and a transformer, which eventually (5-6 weeks) arrived with wiring instructions for the changeover. To put it into perspective, I had a slightly longer wait to get a new 10 HP motor for a Grizzly saw that had been discontinued after the two motor shops in town passed on rewinding it. I only mention that for perspective, not as a complaint. I'm glad that I was able to get replacement parts in both cases.
    JR

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