Thursday, May 26, 2011

Great Customer Service

I had an experience that, for me, represents the pinnacle of customer service. It didn't include a chirpy, happy soul on the phone line, nor a massive knowledge base on a website...

I recently purchased a Vermona DRM1 Mk2 analog drum module from a fella on Muff Wiggler's site. When it got here, it worked great, but after a few months one of the DRUM channels started acting flaky. I did a little mechanical research (pressing and pulling on all the knobs and buttons) and found that the volume jack was sketchy - it would only sound out when you were pushing VERY HARD on the shaft. Obviously not a good call.

I had relatively few options: I could try to pay a repair guy to fix it, send it to a dealer for an unknown period of time, or fix it myself. I chose Door Three. Pulling open the device, I hit the pot's leads with a little new solder, but this made no difference. I would need to replace the part. But the pots were some oddball board-mounted mini-pots, and I really didn't have a source for such a thing. So I decided to take a chance with contacting Vermona.

I used their web form (at 2am...) to tell them what I'd done, how I'd debugged the issue, and which part I'd need. The next morning, I had an email sitting in my Inbox that said "Give me your address and I'll ship you a pot". My response? "Yeah, right."

But I sent in my mailing address and, lo and behold, a week later there was a package in my mailbox with not one, but two pots. I got them put into my system today, and it works a champ.

Things that you will notice about this experience:

- Vermona (in fact, Thomas Haller) never questioned my debugging; rather, he trusted my analysis.

- Thomas also didn't ask me about how technically savvy I was. He assumed that if I was asking for a pot, I might know what a pot was.

- I never got the "No user-serviceable parts" or "Take it to a repair depot" B.S. He assumed that I'd do well on my own.

- He didn't try to charge me anything; in fact, he never even asked me where I'd bought the unit. It was a Vermona, and he was going to stand behind it.

- The was complete (in fact, over-complete) follow-through. He said he'd ship me a pot, and he shipped me two. Given the turnaround, he must have shipped it out that same day.

If there is any question why I might be in love with something like the Vermona instead of something like an Akai MPC-5000, this is one of the answers...


Sunday, May 15, 2011

All done but the cryin'.

(Yeah - 16 inches of snow on Thursday, another 3 last night...)

On Tuesday, I did my project presentation: a comprehensive review of the development of the ArdCore module system. It went over really well, and I was able to usefully deflect any questions that came up. Conceivably, I can now sleep more soundly. Of course, the residual stress is still bungling me up. Nevertheless, with just a few additions to my other coursework, I'm going to successfully attain my Masters of Whatever degree.

This means I'll be able to spend a little more time on this blog and other things. To catch everyone up, here is some of what I've been accomplishing:

- Did that project and the presentation.
- Created a "memory phone" for the Making Home exhibit. This involved getting an old rotary phone, replacing the guts, tying the hook switch to an Arduino and having the whole shebang pipe to Max for recording and playback. It's really cool.
- GTA'd with Trace Reddell and Jim LaVita in their Expanded Cinema/Interaction and Collaboration class. Very interesting group of people taking that class.
- Been working heavily on Max 6 testing, with special emphasis on visual effects and some of the heavy lifting available in that area. One of my goals has been to get more involved in visuals. I'm sorta there...
- Continuing to work on teaching/educational concepts in the Max world. This is a not-insignificant area of effort, since the ability for people to learn (or teach) the product is key to its continued value. Frankly, this lines up with my "Programming integration into artistic practice" trope, so I'll probably be doing this for the rest of my life.

More to come soon, I expect.