I hate to do this, but Philips has elevated itself to my "do not buy from" list, an honor held only by two other companies: Micron and Sony. I reserve this title only when I feel a company has truly wronged me (or family member) in some fashion; for example, refusing to service something under warranty, etc.
So how did Philips earn this prestigious honor?
The yellow flag was raised months ago when I purchased a TV of iffy quality from them. No other problems, and the TV still works, but the quality was low enough that it made me file a mental "proceed with caution" post-it when buying from them in the future.
A month ago I needed some PC Speakers. The only speakers I've heard and truly love are from Cambridge Soundworks -- I would buy from them anytime I need a quality set. (They've been exemplary to deal with and make an excellent quality product.) In this case I was looking for some less expensive speakers suitable for my office and when Philips had a 60% off sale, I decided to buy some (model MMS430) from their Outlet sight unseen. They had gotten decent enough reviews. Originally around $60, I picked them up for $20 including tax and shipping.
After receiving the speakers, I discovered one speaker didn't work. After checking the connections, the speaker started working but it began to cut in and out; it had a loose connection internally. This type of thing happens, but it underscores my feelings of Philips' questionable quality.
On my receipt, the instructions say to call Philips Customer Care at 1-888-744-5477 with any product issues. After following a mind-numbing voice-driven menu, I get transferred to an agent that instructs me to call 1-800-835-3506. I do that, and there, too, go through a system where I ultimately arrive at an operator. He instructs me to call the Philips store directly, at 1-800-451-2851, since they're a separate division and they'll handle these situations. Here's a hint to these people: to the consumer, there is no such thing as "another division." You've already winnowed me down mentally with the phone system -- make sure the person I speak with can handle the issue or is willing to personally hand me off to the person who can.
No one picked up the phone at that last number, so I e-mailed the Philips store. The e-mail I got back? It said: "Call 1-888-744-5477 for assistance." Great, thanks.
Upon going through the system again, I finally put a stop to the cycle and got to a person who could help me. He issued an RMA and gave me an address to ship the item back. Wait a sec. I have to pay for shipping? This thing arrived DOA. Because I would have to ship the entire set back (subwoofer and all) the cost to ship is about $15. Not to mention packaging, time, going to UPS, etc. Who in their right mind would pay $15 to return a $20 item? I might as well spend $20 and get a whole new set.
This whole process was completely infuriating. The representative refused to offer another solution and suggested to complain further, I needed to use the feedback form on their website (I was specifically told there was no other person/method to handle complaints). After doing so, here's the reply I got:
We have received your complaint regarding the product. However, we would like to request you to send your letter to the address below that handles these types of concerns:
Philips Consumer Electronics
P.O. Box 671539
Marietta, GA 30006
Are you serious? Talk about process issues. So, I filed a complaint with the BBB, asking that Philips replace the broken speaker with a new one at their cost. The BBB contacted Philips and the response from Philips was as follows:
Customer has been provided with the standard warranty process for exchanging his failed product. This is the process under warranty guidelines no other offer can be made at this time.
Thank you for your time and assistance with this matter.
It gives me the warm and fuzzies knowing Philips stands behind their product and consumer </sarcasm>. I could accept the shipping charge if the unit didn't arrive DOA and broke after some time. I'm glad I learned the lesson on a $20 item -- what would happen if I purchased an HD Plasma TV that arrived DOA? Wow. I'm frankly shocked that any company would be so brash -- how easy it could have been to get my loyalty...
It makes me appreciate Dell. If you can stand the wait to talk to a representative, Dell has always and, without argument, replaced warranted items quickly and cost-free. Kudos.