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Will they still service it 20 years later?

Alternate Titles: Will They Still Service It 100 Issues Later? Will It Be Published for at Least 100 Issues? Will Every Dollar of Your Subscription Money Be for the Number Of Issues Stated?

It was an e-mail from a gentleman (we'll call him "J of California" to protect his privacy) asking if I was interested in selling my Denon DP-62L turntable. Huh? How did he get my name and how did he know I owned a Denon turntable, purchased circa 1983? And where did he get the DP-62L designation? My turntable is a DP-72L not a DP-62L.

Very simple answers to both questions. He had read the article "JMC Acquires an Analog Front End and Visits LP Land," an article appearing in issue #74 of The $ensible Sound. The misnomer (DP-62L rather than DP-72L) was due to a slip of my typing finger. I explained to J of California that the turntable I had in storage was a DP-72L. He was still interested, so I unpacked the unit and did a thorough check of its condition and also an inventory of the various accessories that came with the turntable. It's very important to me that anything I sell or trade be given an honest appraisal of its condition including any missing parts or accessories.

At the same time J of California called I was aware that The $ensible Sound editor and publisher were preparing issue number 100, commemorating more than 25 years of uninterrupted publishing of an audio magazine. That's the same publisher/ ownership for more than 25 years and 15 years with the same editor! The number of audio publications, editors, publishers, components, and writers that have come and gone during this time span boggles the mind! It seemed a natural for an article about obtaining service on a 20-year-old product being part of the 100th issue celebration! To wit: Of the audio components sold 20+ years ago, how many are still being serviced by the manufacturer? I couldn't test for the plural (components) but ! could make a test case of the singular (component). As the nest paragraph explains the Denon DP-72L made for an ideal test case.

The checking out of the unit produced tons of good news in both the appearance and mechanical areas. Packing the DP-72L away in the original box with all of the original covers and packing material resulted in a turntable that was absolutely new in appearance. A quick check of the mechanical areas showed the unit to be as good (almost) as the day it was first used. But with all the good news there were two pieces of not so good news, one relatively minor, the other major.

The minor bad news was that the unit came with four tone arm counterweights and I had only two, plus the instruction manual was missing. No need to worry, as I keep everything and I'm sure a thorough search would result in finding the two missing counterweights and the instruction manual. The bad news was that the counterweight extension arm was bent about five degrees from the horizontal. It should be perfectly aligned in the horizontal plane. What to do, what to do?

The answer of what to do is to contact Denon service. An easy enough thing in today's world with every company having a web site. But be forewarned. My experience with various web sites is that the very friendly "Contact Us" e-mail button is exactly that, nothing more. Sending an e-mail using the "Contact Us" feature seems to imply that there will be a response to your e-mail, a common courtesy, if you will. Surprise! I kept track of how many responses I received when asking a question via the "Contact Us" feature. Less than 10% of my e-mails were responded to.

So what happened when I used the Denon "Contact Us" feature to inquire about servicing my DP-72L?

Within a few minutes of sending the e-mail to Denon I received an "out of office" reply stating that Denon's hours of operation were 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM and days of operation were Monday through Friday. Not an answer, but since I had sent the email on a Sunday, even an automated response was a pleasant surprise. But the big question was, would someone at Denon follow-up on answering my inquiry come Monday? The answer was, yes!

On Monday I received a two page e-mail giving me all the information (including telephone and email addresses) needed to get the repair moving. The e-mail was unexpected, including not just the promptness and thoroughness of the reply, but also the friendly tone. The only disclaimer to the repair information provided in the e-mail was that the turntable was old and some parts might not be available, implying possibly some of the parts needed to repair my turntable. I made a command decision at this point to proceed with the repair and write about my experience with Denon service without mentioning my writing for The $ensible Sound. The reason? Like David Rich, I am a consumer advocate and I wanted to see how Joe the ordinary is treated, not how Joe the reviewer is treated.

I noted a telephone number of the service manager for Denon, so I called this individual. Again, to protect his privacy I will call him "J of Repair." No stupid menu-driven answering machine but actually J of Repair in person at the other end, who asked me to please be patient as he was talking to another customer. I waited only a very few minutes and J of Repair was back. He answered all of my questions. I might add that J of Repair has a marvelous sense of humor, making the conversation not only informative but also fun. Included in his humorous remarks was a comment about the possibility that some parts for my turntable might be made of "Unobtainium." Speaking of service representatives--need I preach about the technically proficient individuals who should be locked in a closet ,doing what they are good at doing, but not allowed to interface with customers? J of Repair was the exception. He is technically proficient and can easily communicate with customers.

What surprised me was that J of Repair knew exactly how I had bent the counterweight extension arm without me telling him how! It was the packing, stupid. Making a long story short, when packing the DP-72L for storage or shipment the two top foam packing inserts for the turntable can be placed without concern about the relationship of their location with respect to the turntable ... or so I assumed! One packing option (the correct one) allows the counterweight extension (the part bent) to be missed by the edge of the turntable cover; the turntable cover is detached from the DP-72L base for packing/shipping purposes. The other option (the incorrect one) results in the turntable cover just catching and pressing down directly on the top of the counterweight extension! Need I say more? J of Repair told me this was a common problem. There's more to packing than meets the eye!

Making sure the top foam packing pieces were correctly inserted this time, I sent the turntable to Denon repair in New Jersey via Federal Express. Using the FedEx tracking system I was pleasantly surprised to learn the turntable had been delivered the next day! No, I am not a FedEx stockholder, but to have a 44-pound package delivered from Maryland in just one day, and for a total cost of only $10.02, including insurance, certainly deserves mentioning. Now I just sit back and wait to see what happens.

I had promised J of Repair that since the turntable is close to 20 years old I wasn't expecting any miracles and I certainly wasn't in any kind of rush, in fact, just the opposite. One of my past life jobs was customer service. I know that an impatient customer can be a royal pain in the neck. There's no way I was going to be haunting J of Repair regarding the repair progress on a 20-year-old product. My thinking is that with relatively new products, especially those still covered by the guarantee, repair should be handled within 30 to 45 days. With a product no longer manufactured (turntable) I was granting Denon 60 to 90 days.

Denon service surprised me with a repair wait of 54 days! A fax arrived from Denon on a Saturday morning telling me my turntable was repaired and ready to be returned upon their receiving payment for the cost of repair and shipping. Denon would have accepted a credit card payment but I no longer use a credit card unless it's "in person." I wrote out a check, mailed it, sat back, and waited again. The wait was minimal. A UPS dude arrived at my door six days later with a DP-72L in hand (actually in both hands).

Very first impression: I had sent the DP-72L in its original box. Denon packed the DP-72L in this original box and then enclosed the original box within a larger and sturdier box. The packing job itself was thorough. I pride myself on packing things well, but Denon outdid me. The packing was of the "from the factory" kind, i.e., everything secure and correctly placed. This, my friends, is an indicator of a class outfit. Packing a 20-year-old turntable to withstand the rigors encountered in shipping is a reflection of a manufacturer taking pride in its reputation.

The only down side to the repair was that Denon didn't send a copy of the manual or the two missing counterweights. The good news is the counterweights I do have are used with almost all phono cartridges. I know these items are about the house and I will now devote time and energy to finding them. I wasn't going to spend time and effort on searching for these items until I knew for sure that the most serious problem (the bent counterweight arm) could be fixed.

I'm sure you're asking what was the total charge for the repair of the turntable, right? To answer your question, it was under $100. To be exact, it was $55, including replacement parts for the bent counterweight arm, the labor involved, and shipping! This $55 for repair/shipping would constitute sensible pricing for service even in the 1950s, let alone in 2004. So what are the lessons learned?

The obvious lesson is Denon is an old line company, making fine products. It deserves kudos for servicing just about anything it has manufactured, including products that have been out of the product line for 20 years. Sometimes the "discard it when it breaks" policy is not an appropriate response for certain audio products, especially those that are more "mechanical" than "electronic." Think about that the next time you go to buy a product that will eventually require servicing.

The less obvious but equally important lesson is that the magazine you're holding in your hands has been around for more than twenty years--one hundred issues. As I mentioned previously, what other audio magazine can claim 25+ years of uninterrupted publishing with the same publisher/ owner, the same sane real world philosophy of "HELPING AUDIOPHILES & MUSIC LOVERS TO SPEND LESS AND GET MORE," and the same editor for 15 years! Think about that the next time you decide to subscribe to an audio publication. My kudos to John Horan and Karl Nehring, publisher and editor respectively! Now to get back to J of California ...

--JMC
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Looking Back
Publication:Sensible Sound
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:1924
Previous Article:Skeptimania.
Next Article:Don and on.
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