Fanatec Customer Support?

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
Update: In the first five days of ownership I've experienced the following problems with these V3 inverted pedals:
  • Clutch disengages in first half of travel, then snaps back to full engagement at bottom of travel
  • Clutch failed altogether, no response to any calibrations or cable swapping
  • Brake begins to creep up over time, eventually to the point of dragging. Calibration cures temporarily, then problem recurs.
  • Both rumble motors fail.
I requested immediate replacement of the pedals, but Fanatec refused. Instead they demanded I send videos of the problems, and perform numerous tests such as "May you please swap the sensor connecors on the pedals main PCBA and tell me the result?".

I fulfilled all of their requests for videos and tests, and again requested they replace the pedals. Today, after another five days, they responded again. (Note: I normally wouldn't quote emails verbatim, but I thought it important that others see the context here. It appears to me that English is not this rep's first language, and in my opinion this is not someone who should be dealing with USA customers.)

"I know this is not in your sense but I can only offer you a repair.
There seem to be many issues.
Sure I can assume that the issues are related to a defect main PCBA, but I cannot be sure.
We HAVE to examine the pedals.
Again: I have my guidelines to follow, otherwise I risk my job.
I really hope that you can understand my situation and also that we have to open a repair for you.
Our sales team will send you a detailled email."


So, after spending $3000 with this company (two wheels, motor base, pedals, shifter), I'm supposed to have sympathy for some poor Fanatec representative who is worried for his job???

Honestly, he SHOULD be worried about his job. If this is their normal customer service this company won't last much longer.
 

dud

500RPM
Premium
It is the RMA trap.

Most things returned as defective "RMA"ed are actually working fine and the problem was between the chair and the keyboard. The guys with ties eat that up and make policies around it.

When the "most RMAs are actually working" makes it through a brain deprived of oxygen by a tie the following things happen:
  • Excessive demands of defectiveness before accepting RMA requests. This wastes time on part of the experienced user who knows what they are doing.
  • When forced to replace a product, just mix the RMAed stuff that came in and send everybody somebody else's RMAed product. Because most of them are working. Whether decent testing is done is a different matter (see Asus, where the RMA department only seems to have a shipping, but no testing, department).
  • Ticket queue systems that are used to measure all these things, and employee throughput. This leads to always steering these things into private ticket queues where users are isolated from each other. And solutions never end up anywhere where they could be googled.
  • Since people RMA working products anyway, why not save a couple of bucks and put piece-of-crap hall sensors into pedals?
 
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DomB_Fanatec

Fanatec Community Manager
What does that mean? What is support and what is service in this context?
In this context, 'support' refers to the communication directly from our support department (based at our HQ in Germany). The 'service' technicians are based in each region we cover, and they are diagnosing, repairing, and testing products. The normal procedure is for service technicians to communicate the status of the RMA with Support so that an update can be passed to the customer.

And here we go again. Another case going to where the solution is in a sink instead of available to other users.
If the solution is 'the product needs to be sent in to be checked/repaired' as it seems to be in this case, there is no useful information to leave on a public forum. I have to take some communication to PM when it involves personal details. I hope that the points below will be informative to readers of this thread.

@Harpo to address your statements:

- I am not in a position to directly accelerate customer support. The support department works to their own guidelines and I am able to discuss certain cases with them to find out more information. For occasional examples of a misunderstanding or a crucial link in the chain that has gone missing (a lost email for example), my involvement can help to get a support case back on track, thus 'speeding it up' to some degree, but ultimately the steps and decisions taken for each case are being made by the support department, not by me.

- The support team can be reached in three different ways: live chat, support ticket, and phone. These options are shown when you follow the links through the support section of the site. The live chat system is definitely not removed, but it has been unavailable for most of the day due to the new website launch. On a normal day, the live chat is active for at least 10 hours, including weekends, and is usually the quickest way to reach a support representative. As far as I'm aware, we are still the only sim hardware manufacturer offering this level of support availability.

- We do not insist on a video to continue with an RMA. If you are unable to make a video, or you simply disagree to the request, you can say so, and we can take the product in for diagnosis without a video. The risk for the customer is that if the unit is found to be fully working, then we are unable to cover/refund your shipping costs - this is why the video step is emphasised. You'll be amazed at how many times this happens. Depending on the type of issue, providing a video can also help to speed up the support/RMA process. I understand that it's a hassle to create a video, but we are not simply asking you to jump through hoops for the sake of it. There are good reasons for why this step exists, and they are for the benefit of the customer.

- Regarding the specific communication you received today, I would say that the points are quite clear. The statement about guidelines could have been phrased differently, but the support agent is only trying to emphasise that this is the only solution he is able to offer.

- There are potentially multiple contributing factors to the issues you've described, and the unit has to be sent to our service team to diagnose correctly. I'm sorry that the process has taken some extra time to reach this stage. This is a busy period, and there are likely other contributing factors too, e.g. the recent public holiday in Bavaria, the recent relocation of our HQ, and the transition to a new website.

I apologise for the inconvenience.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
- The support team can be reached in three different ways: live chat, support ticket, and phone. These options are shown when you follow the links through the support section of the site. The live chat system is definitely not removed, but it has been unavailable for most of the day due to the new website launch. On a normal day, the live chat is active for at least 10 hours, including weekends, and is usually the quickest way to reach a support representative. As far as I'm aware, we are still the only sim hardware manufacturer offering this level of support availability.
I am unable to find any reference to a "live chat" system on your website; please provide a link. I've been using your "support ticket" option by email, and your representative seems to lack some skill in English. The only phone number I can find on the site is international, so I assume there would also be some language barriers there as well as additional phone charges.

- We do not insist on a video to continue with an RMA. If you are unable to make a video, or you simply disagree to the request, you can say so, and we can take the product in for diagnosis without a video. The risk for the customer is that if the unit is found to be fully working, then we are unable to cover/refund your shipping costs - this is why the video step is emphasised. You'll be amazed at how many times this happens. Depending on the type of issue, providing a video can also help to speed up the support/RMA process. I understand that it's a hassle to create a video, but we are not simply asking you to jump through hoops for the sake of it. There are good reasons for why this step exists, and they are for the benefit of the customer.
I must disagree, the agent I am communicating with insisted on multiple videos. Here is the interchange:

Fanatec:
"may you please send us a video of the issue?"

Me: I've made a video, but my email won't allow sending it because of size restrictions. I find your request rather odd, surely anyone capable of recording and sending a video is also capable of correct calibration? Regardless, these pedals do not work. I've performed the following attempts at calibration, none are successful:

Performed "set max/min" in Fanatec Wheel Properties.
Performed "Manual calibration of throttle and clutch by wheel base" as described on page 37 of your manual.
Attempted calibration of clutch in Assetto Corsa and rFactor - clutch is not recognized, no response.
Firmware is current (see attached pic).

This unit was purchased 10/13/2019 (Order ID 1007xxxx) and only worked properly for about two hours. I also purchased products from your company on 10/15/2019 (Order ID 1008xxxx); my total expenditure has been $2,947.45 USD. This setup is all Fanatec, and I expected to meet with my associates and show it off next week. Please do not tell me I need to send these pedals back for repair, that is not acceptable.

Since the rig is still functional (albeit with automatic clutch), I hope you can send a replacement for these pedals (preferably Next Day Air) and trust me to return the old ones promptly.

Please let me know as soon as possible.


Fanatec: "without a video I cannot send you a clutch sensor for example.
I also cannot send you a new pedal set and then you send me back the potentially defect one, we have our guidelines to follow.
May you please swap the sensor connecors on the pedals main PCBA and tell me the result?
Please also tell me how he pedals react when you connect them by USB cable directly to pc?
Please send me a video, if it should be too big, then please upload it on a cloud server as dropbox, release it for public and send the link to me.
You may also upload it unlisted on youtube and send me the link."


- Regarding the specific communication you received today, I would say that the points are quite clear. The statement about guidelines could have been phrased differently, but the support agent is only trying to emphasise that this is the only solution he is able to offer.
I can only go by the phrasing he used, which directly states that I need to have compassion for his inability to solve my problem:

"I have my guidelines to follow, otherwise I risk my job. I really hope that you can understand my situation..."

If this is in fact the only solution he is able to offer, he clearly needs to escalate my case to someone with some actual authority.


- There are potentially multiple contributing factors to the issues you've described, and the unit has to be sent to our service team to diagnose correctly. I'm sorry that the process has taken some extra time to reach this stage. This is a busy period, and there are likely other contributing factors too, e.g. the recent public holiday in Bavaria, the recent relocation of our HQ, and the transition to a new website.
This unit should have been "diagnosed correctly" long before it left the factory. Concerning "busy periods", "relocations", "new websites" and "Bavarian holidays", these factors are YOUR concern, not mine. You offered a product for sale, I bought it without any such limiting conditions, and I expect it to work, period.

Maybe there are some differences in how business is conducted in Bavaria, but I can assure you that the level of customer service you are providing is NOT acceptable in the USA. Had your company showed the slightest interest in actual solutions rather than videos and somewhat cryptic troubleshooting instructions, I wouldn't be so irate.

And yes, I consider "swap the sensor connecors on the pedals main PCBA" rather cryptic. While I understood completely and tried this test, I'm sure there are MANY who would not understand this, nor should the general public be expected to be at this level. If you're going to demand customers perform tests such as this, you might want to consider detailed pictorial instructions (like the rest of the world provides).

Where will I go from here? Lacking any cooperation from Fanatec, I expect I'll need to embark on my own troubleshooting expedition. I'm reasonably confident that new load cells will cure the clutch and brake, but don't know where to start with the non-working rumble motors.

I guess I owe the community a thorough video review, too.
 
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EsxPaul

500RPM
Premium
"If the solution is 'the product needs to be sent in to be checked/repaired"

That's shocking for a product that is less than a month old. There's no way I would accept a repaired item that early after paying full price for it. I'd be wanting a brand new replacement cross shipped at the manufacturers expense while I send the defective unit back in. Glad I've seen this thread and I'm duly warned.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
I just tried to log into the Fanatec site, and my user name and password are no longer valid. It states "Your access data could not be assigned to a user".

I'm positive both are correct, but tried the "lost password" link just out of curiosity. It returned "We sent you a confirmation email, if the provided email address is registered."

And apparently my email is no longer registered, as I have not received any email.

Anyone else have a login there?

If so, please see if it works.
 

super_gt

100RPM
I just tried to log into the Fanatec site, and my user name and password are no longer valid. It states "Your access data could not be assigned to a user".



Anyone else have a login there?

If so, please see if it works.
Did you choose the right region?

regin 2.png


This happens when you choose a location other than your own.
 
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@DomB_Fanatec or any other Fanatec people reading this forum – your customer service sucks.

I have bought a Fanatec Porsche 918 RSR wheel directly from fanatec.com in August 2019. After about 3 hours of use the right paddle (upshift) started to malfunction by failing to register a shift and subsequently doing a double-shift (such as shifting directly from 2nd to 4th). The problem does not seem to be game dependent as the same behavior happens in multiple different games. I'm using the latest version of Win 10 64 bit, latest Fanatec firmware and drivers.

Support ticket submitted to Fanatec on October 28. Took them 3 days (!) to respond. Mourad Gerlach asked for videos. Videos submitted back to Mourad right away. Again, waited 3 days for a response. Promised an RMA. Yesterday - still no RMA, but got another reply like this:

"thank you very much for your enquiry and the video. If you let the shifter paddle bounce, then this problem can occur. What happens if you operate the paddle normally? Chris Schulze"

Are you serious? Does it matter?

So, defective wheel, 10 days passed, no RMA. Unbelievable. This company does not stand behind their products.

Needless to say this is a sure way to lose customer goodwill.
 

DomB_Fanatec

Fanatec Community Manager
@Harpo to address your new statements:

- Live chat unavailable: the live chat feature has unfortunately been affected by the new website launch. It will be available again as soon as possible. As with the old site, it will appear as a red 'tab' when it is active.

- Insisting on supplying a video: there are cases where a replacement part exchangeable by the customer can be sent out without any need for an RMA, based on the evidence presented in a video. However, when an issue has potentially multiple contributing factors, the unit must be sent in for diagnosis/repair. As I said, you can refuse to supply a video and an RMA will be opened, with an additional risk of your shipping not being refunded if the issue can't be reproduced.

- I have passed on the suggestion that swapping pedal axis cables to test the functionality should have more detailed instructions.

- You absolutely should expect a working product, and I'm sorry to hear about the issues you're having. Of course we try to avoid shipping defective units to customers and have various quality control measures in place, and our production processes are regularly assessed and improved. The support agent was following standard procedure and opened an RMA in order for us to resolve the problems.

- I can see that your case was already escalated, so I won't make further comments about the ongoing private discussion with the support team.


@Apelsin Elise

- The support responses have been slower recently for a variety of reasons and I apologise for that. The team aims to respond to support tickets within 48 hours but that is sometimes not possible. Usually there is a live chat system available (currently disabled as I explained above) that can get you to a support agent much faster, sometimes immediately, sometimes within a few minutes.

- I'm not sure why further questions were asked if an RMA was already confirmed. Without more details of the case I don't want to make any assumptions about this. It's something I'd like to discuss with the team, which is why I've sent you a PM. However the question being asked is a valid one. It is possible to release the paddle in such a way that it can bounce and trigger a second shift. The chance of this happening is also dependent on the throw of the paddles (which can be adjusted).
 

EsxPaul

500RPM
Premium
@DomB_Fanatec I want to make a point of letting you know that the feeling in my post was directed at Fanatec as a company rather than directly at yourself.

I have to give praise for the work you've done and continue to do on all of the various forums and many of the live YouTube streams sim racers hold. I've seen you reply to countless complaints, doing your best to get problems resolved.

I do hope the people above you are taking note of the position you are often found in due to their method of handling customer complaints. It puts you directly in the line of fire, yet you always respond in a very professional manner which I have to commend :)
 

dud

500RPM
Premium
Here you go DomB, something to think about, and pass up the chain.
View attachment 333439
Well, corporate RMA logic says two things:
  • When people have to deal with the RMA department they are already unhappy and lost as a future customer (on average). So a shitty RMA experience doesn't do any additional harm.
  • Most RMA requests are for items that actually work (various distortions come up with number of 80% of sent back devices are actually working). So even if a perfect technical solution could be found so that 0% of customers have an actually defective device the RMA department would still get almost the same load.
  • Both things combined make them send RMA customers each other's items that were sent in as defective.

I could elaborate on how screwed up RMA processes for consumer goods are if there is interest.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
I too am communicating with Mourad Gerlach, and he's made it clear that he is watching this thread.

He also states "After speaking to my supervisor about this case we both agreed that to make sure that your pedals work properly we have only the possibility to offer you a warranty repair."

I disagree with this appraisal, they certainly have the option of replacing a product that was clearly defective when it left the factory. He goes on to offer parts - as long as I pay for them:

"We surely would like to offer you a warranty service, but if you really don´t want to send in the pedals we can only offer you to sell you the spare parts."

I've offered to accept this option on the condition that the parts be substantially discounted, and I've requested prices on all three sensors and the main PCBA. So far I have not had a response.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
On a more general note, what @DomB_Fanatec and Mr. Gerlach must realize is that we sim enthusiasts are not idiots, and we don't make complaints where no problem exists just to hear our lips flap. When you insist on "video evidence", you must realize that our perception is that you are either calling us liars or trying to wear us down with excessive requirements, hoping we'll just give up.

So we provide your videos and perform your tests, with the logical expectation that you will provide a solution. But what you know (and we don't) is that there is in your mind only one solution: Send the unit back for warranty repair. In fact, I challenge you to provide an example of a problem that was solved by you watching a video...

@dud is probably correct; when customers have to deal with an RMA on a brand new product they are probably done with your company. But I also think that @Jeremy Ford grossly underestimates the impact of a dissatisfied customer on a company such as Fanatec. This thread already has over 1,000 views, and several have expressed their thanks to me privately for warning them about your policies. They won't be buying Fanatec.

Being a business owner myself, I've learned not to underestimate the power of negative press. My goal is to not just appease the complaining customer, I want them to be satisfied beyond all expectations. This policy has served me well for many years, and my credo has always been that in a good business deal, both seller and buyer are thrilled. There is a faction (probably less that 1%) of customers who are simply jerks and can't be satisfied, but these are known to their peers as untrustworthy and thus have little impact. But the majority simply want satisfaction, and it's easy to do - ask them what would satisfy them, then give it to them. You'll find that most customer's expectations are not unrealistic.

I'll use myself and my current situation as an example. I've been simracing for years using nothing but a desk and a PC/Logitech wheel/pedal setup, but now being retired I decided to get more serious. I researched extensively, and decided to use a Next Level GT Track cockpit with V3 Motion seat, triple AOC 32" monitors, Volair Sim monitor mount, Cyberpower computer, Klipsch 5.1 speakers, Yamaha amp, and Fanatec controls.

So far I've spent over $9000 on my rig, and my single largest expenditure was with Fanatec. My purchases with them included the DD1 wheelbase, ClubSport shifter, V3 Inverted pedals, Porsche 918 and Formula V2 wheels, and kill switch, totaling $2947.45.

My friends were impressed with my choice of controls, and I was proud to see "Fanatec" boldly emblazened on each item. Controls are the heart of a sim rig, our connection to the virtual world, and I was sure I'd chosen wisely.

Assembly and setup went smoothly. I'm an accomplished mechanic and PC tech, and I encountered only three difficulties. The first was hurting my back attempting to drag the GT Track cockpit into the house. This was my own stupidity, and was cured by a visit to the chiropractor and liberal applications of ice and Tylenol.

The second problem was with the Volair Sim monitor mount; two of the VESA mount brackets were mangled in shipping. I emailed pictures to Volair; they immediately called me and had replacements in my hands within three days with no questions asked.

The third problem is the topic of this thread. With the rig assembled and everything presumably working, I lauched Assetto Corsa and ventured out onto Monza in the Abarth S95 SS. I figured this would be a wonderful test of my new controls, and was pleased with the realism of having a proper clutch and shifter available.

All went well until, after about a half hour of fun, the damage center reported that I'd trashed the transmission. Being no stranger to a manual and having much experience in autocross, I found this strange. I assumed the issue was with Assetto's realism, but eventually discovered that my clutch was disengaging in the first half of travel, then slamming back to full engagement at the bottom.

Assuming problems with calibration, I reset limits in the Fanatec device manager, wheel base, and Assetto. This gave no improvement, and since I already had friends itching to try the rig out I set it up with the Formula wheel and auto clutch.

Meanwhile, I contacted Fanatec support, with confident expectations that they would simply replace the pedals. Imagine my surprise when they insisted on a video (of what?), then went on to give cryptic troubleshooting instructions that must be performed before they could respond. In the interim the clutch failed altogether, the brake started creeping up incessantly, and both rumble motors failed. I jumped through their hoops with extensive descriptions of my efforts and more videos, only to find that they had no intention of replacing the unit from the start!

This brings us up to date, and the footnote is this: Where Fanatec could have had a thrilled customer, they chose instead to run me around in circles. The worst possible outcome of them sending me an immediate replacement would have been for me to blow them off and refuse to return the original, and that seems to be their fear. That's not something I would ever do, but I suppose they don't know me and prefer to expect the worst.

But even in this worst-case scenario, they would have been out probably $300. As it is, if a single person chooses against Fanatec because of this incident, they'll be out a lot more than that. And I'm confident that there will be a lot more than one!

So bottom line, poor customer service hurts everyone, seller and buyer alike. While the bean-counters at Fanatec may be celebrating their high profit margins for now, I can assure them that if they continue in this direction, it won't be long before other manufacturers eat their lunch.

We simracers are a passionate bunch, and we share. Two weeks ago I was proud that my rig was all-Fanatec, now I'm disgusted every time I see it and dread the day when the rest of the components fail.

But here's the bright side: That's not going to happen, to me at least. In a month or two I'll have installed Heusinkveld pedals and other components yet to be selected, and sold ALL my Fanatec stuff. And yes, I'll warn potential buyers, because that's the kind of businessman I am.
 
Being a business owner myself, I've learned not to underestimate the power of negative press. My goal is to not just appease the complaining customer, I want them to be satisfied beyond all expectations. This policy has served me well for many years, and my credo has always been that in a good business deal, both seller and buyer are thrilled. There is a faction (probably less that 1%) of customers who are simply jerks and can't be satisfied, but these are known to their peers as untrustworthy and thus have little impact. But the majority simply want satisfaction, and it's easy to do - ask them what would satisfy them, then give it to them. You'll find that most customer's expectations are not unrealistic.
^^^ This.
 
I got the v3 pedals +CSW 2.5, since a ~1.5 years now. I updated the firmware on arrival. Pedals connected to wheelbase and wheelbase to a USBv2 port on PC.

I had some problems with the manual calibration of the pedals, i switched to automatic and all was fine. I was able to calibrate them better in the sim (AC mostly).

Also once i had an issue, where the brake-pedal was not working anymore, i was scared, turned all off, took the pedals out of my rig (its a wooden closet) and put them on the table to see whats wrong. As i reconnected after a reboot, the brake pedal suddenly worked again. Still working fine until today.

I can understand F. dont want to stress shipping and other hassle, but if its just not working, they indeed should do a replacement.
My two euro-cents.
 

Terry Rock

2000RPM
RMA of new products (in general) often represent an additional cost to most people.
The reality is even the companies who offer to ship a new replacement product, will only cover that part of the shipping.
Often times, the customer is 'eating' the shipping cost for the return in addition to the inconvenience of a non-functioning product.
It is up to any good company to understand these fact and make good to rebuild that confidence.
Does Fanatec offer a shipping label on new but defective parts?
 
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