Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why you shouldn't purchase anything Panasonic (Including RP-HC700)

Last October I went to astricon in Washington DC and managed to lose my noise cancelling headphones somewhere. I ordered a new pair of Panasonic RP-HC700 Noise-Cancelling Headphones and had them shipped to the hotel for the flight home.  They worked better than my $50 phillips NC headphones that were 4 or 5 years old, and continued to do so for the first 2 times I used them.  Going to Hawaii for new years I noticed a staticy buzzing sound and I found it annoying so I simply turned off the NC function and assumed it was a dead battery.  I replaced the battery, and in January on a short Bombardier Q400 Turbo Prop flight to Montana I noticed it again, and had to turn it off again.

This week I put them on so I wouldn't have to listen to the Vacuum cleaner at home, and the static is horrible with the Noise Cancelling function turned on, and with the NC function turned off I still hear it, although at a reduced level, in my right ear.  Crap, but no problem things break, that's why they normally provide a 1 to 5 year warranty.  I went to and filled out the contact form saying what happened and received this reply 24 hours later:

Thank you for contacting Panasonic.

Based on the information you have provided, we recommend the product be sent to our Customer Service Center in McAllen Texas. In accordance with the warranty, the product will be replaced with a reconditioned model. Please send the product along with a copy of the receipt and a letter to explain the problem to: Panasonic Customer Service Center 4900 George McVay Dr. Suite B Door #12 McAllen, TX 78503

The warranty period for the product is ninety days for labor and parts coverage for service or replacement with a reconditioned model. The warranty period begins at the time of purchase. The original sales receipt or a copy of the sales receipt is required to validate warranty service.

If the unit was purchased more than ninety days, you can still ship the product to the address listed above, however, it will be replaced with a reconditioned model for a fee. To obtain information regarding the cost to replace the product, please call (800) 211-7262.

So I called the phone number, told it that i was calling about headphones, gave it the model number, and the IVR then said "You may ship these back to us at (5 second pause) and we will replace them for a fee, but call before you do.  Can I help you further?"
When I said yes it went back to the beginning of the IVR.  Isn't that helpful, it failed to give me the address, and provided no way for me to call, considering I was already on the phone and answering yes kicked me back to the main menu.  I gave up and said operator and pressed 0 on my phone 10 times and eventually I got put on hold.  The hold music was a deafening white noise static(similar to what my headphones produce), after 5 minutes of this I was connected to a surly woman who did not sound like she enjoyed her job.  Amazingly she was dumbfounded that I was told to call them because according to her they provide no warranty to Panasonic equipment unless bought from Panasonic Direct.  Yes, you read that right.  
1) The email said to call, and I did, and the phone number was dumbfounded.
2) If you go to best buy, amazon, or any other retailer and buy a panasonic product they will not provide warranty support.  Your only recourse is to return the product to the retailer.  Most retailers have a 30 day return policy, meaning your product has zero support 30 days from the date of purchase.
3) The answer I got via email was not the same answer I got via phone, but neither one was anywhere close to acceptable.

Moral of the story, I got one flight out of my $110 headphones, and Panasonic does not stand behind their product or help you get your product replaced when it fails.  This is the only Panasonic product I can remember having purchased in the last 5 years, and it will be the absolute last Panasonic product I ever buy if they refuse to stand by the quality of their product.

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