Fanatec Customer Support?

Fat-Alfie

David Pemberton
Premium
As a possible future Fanatec customer, this thread has made for some very interesting (and worrying) reading. Although the thread title is Fanatec Customer Support, the big question that has been raised in my mind is What about Fanatec Quality Control?

It's fair enough having in depth discussions about how companies should behave when things go wrong, but more important is 'Why are these things going wrong?' There seems to be a large number of cases of this equipment failing within weeks of purchase.

I am currently a Thrustmaster user and I guess my next upgrade would be new pedals. The logical path (considering the relatively small amount of time I spend racing) would be Fanatecs, but I have to say, I am reluctant to go down that route having read about the unreliability of their pedals within the first few weeks of purchase. I know they would be better than I need, and more money than I would want to spend, but the only logical option for me would be a set of Heusinkveld pedals. When I buy new gear I want it to work well out of the box. From what I have read, that just isn't the case with Fanatec gear. Or at least, there seems to be a high probability that it will fail early in its life due to design / QC rather than wear and tear.

I'm not trying to bash the company, but it seems to me that there must be something fundamentally wrong with their products that so many seem to fail so early in their life.
 

dud

500RPM
Premium
As a possible future Fanatec customer, this thread has made for some very interesting (and worrying) reading. Although the thread title is Fanatec Customer Support, the big question that has been raised in my mind is What about Fanatec Quality Control?
Quality control does not aim to get all working products out the door.

The corporate thing behind this is the "Target RMA Rate", which is the expected amount of products that customers send back as defective. It is generally around 5% for consumer products.

As I mentioned, most products returned as RMAs are declared as actually working fine by the technical department and technical people in the RMA department, for a variety of reasons (only one of which is that the product is actually working).

The companies might be willing to bump up quality to send out less defective products if that would mean that they could get rid of the large RMA department - but as you can see they can not. Even if they were to send out all working products in their view the RMA rate would only fall by some 20% or so. Useless exercise and a waste of money.

This is different in professional and industrial settings. As demonstrated by the small pedal makers such as Heusinkveld who mostly sell to customers that lose money when thingie fails (real-world racing teams, sim-for-money settings).

Evidently the higher standards do not apply to airliners anymore, but I'm topic-drifting now.

So, Quality Control does not aim at zero defects.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
Quality control does not aim to get all working products out the door.

The corporate thing behind this is the "Target RMA Rate", which is the expected amount of products that customers send back as defective. It is generally around 5% for consumer products.

As I mentioned, most products returned as RMAs are declared as actually working fine by the technical department and technical people in the RMA department, for a variety of reasons (only one of which is that the product is actually working).

The companies might be willing to bump up quality to send out less defective products if that would mean that they could get rid of the large RMA department - but as you can see they can not. Even if they were to send out all working products in their view the RMA rate would only fall by some 20% or so. Useless exercise and a waste of money.

This is different in professional and industrial settings. As demonstrated by the small pedal makers such as Heusinkveld who mostly sell to customers that lose money when thingie fails (real-world racing teams, sim-for-money settings).

Evidently the higher standards do not apply to airliners anymore, but I'm topic-drifting now.

So, Quality Control does not aim at zero defects.
This is interesting and obviously true, but it is all based purely on profit. What happened to operating a business with integrity?
 

Terry Rock

2000RPM
They do not.
That's not good then.
In addition to the inconvenience of not being able to use you product, you're stuck packing it all up...spending time driving to a shipping store (waiting in line)...simply to be out additional funds for something you have no control over.
Pedals weigh a lot.
I actually sold the Thrustmaster set I got with my T500RS and mailed them from NC to CA one year to the purchaser.
It ended up costing almost as much as I'd sold them for.
I believe the Fanatec arm in North America was based in CA....(Endor...or something like that).
 

dud

500RPM
Premium
This is interesting and obviously true, but it is all based purely on profit. What happened to operating a business with integrity?
It is a communications problem. From what I hear the numbers are like this:
  • 5% target RMA rate
  • 80% of returned products are actually working based on what upper management is told
  • (which is just based on shallow testing and on the engineering department not wanting to admit to broken stuff they produce.
  • So if you ship 100K products:
  • 5000 returns
  • of which 1000 are said to actually be broken
  • and 4000 returned products are actually working, according to what management is being told

So what management and shareholders are being told it would be utterly useless to make a perfect product - you would still get 4250 out of 100K of them back. No worth the trouble.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
It is a communications problem. From what I hear the numbers are like this:
  • 5% target RMA rate
  • 80% of returned products are actually working based on what upper management is told
  • (which is just based on shallow testing and on the engineering department not wanting to admit to broken stuff they produce.
  • So if you ship 100K products:
  • 5000 returns
  • of which 1000 are said to actually be broken
  • and 4000 returned products are actually working, according to what management is being told

So what management and shareholders are being told it would be utterly useless to make a perfect product - you would still get 4250 out of 100K of them back. No worth the trouble.
Based on this formula, manufacturers are claiming that 80% of customer complaints are lodged by idiots or liars. So when you contact them with a problem, they simply assume that you are guilty of gross ignorance or outright deceit.

While this obviously erroneous assumption may work with products like printers and dvd players (if you have no integrity and your only goal is profit), in a highly specialized field like sim controls it is a recipe for utter failure.

This also lends credence to why I and others are insulted by ridiculous demands for useless videos. These demands feel very condescending because the ARE condescending. In reality, I'm betting that 99% of sim racers have more technical knowledge and expertise than the customer service reps who (mis)handle their complaints.
 

dud

500RPM
Premium
Based on this formula, manufacturers are claiming that 80% of customer complaints are lodged by idiots or liars. So when you contact them with a problem, they simply assume that you are guilty of gross ignorance or outright deceit.

While this obviously erroneous assumption may work with products like printers and dvd players (if you have no integrity and your only goal is profit), in a highly specialized field like sim controls it is a recipe for utter failure.

This also lends credence to why I and others are insulted by ridiculous demands for useless videos. These demands feel very condescending because the ARE condescending. In reality, I'm betting that 99% of sim racers have more technical knowledge and expertise than the customer service reps who (mis)handle their complaints.
Yes.

What management isn't taking into account that many of the products returned as defective and found not to be defective actually defective due to:
  • Not technically skilled RMA people with no way to contact engineering.
  • Standard test procedures that do not cover the actual defect. In mainboards as long as it POSTs it is OK, even if the SATA controller makes it hang under heavy disk load. RMA department doesn't even have disks.
  • If an issue reaches engineering it is likely that they deflect it so that it is not bad materials or construction, aka the things they are responsible for. So they tell the RMA boss to blame the user.

I also hear that some RMA departments only get a fixed allocation of new products for returns, and have to make do with incoming returns for the other customers who need an exchange. Presumably in our example they would only provide 1000 new pieces per every 5000 RMAs. Oops.
 

Terry Rock

2000RPM
Based on this thread, Its looking more and more like my Clubsports will be my last purchase from Fanatec/Endor.
I don't expect any company or product to be perfect.
What I do expect is a level of commitment to fixing products in a timely fashion...without further inconveniencing the purchaser when and if things go wrong.
 

Ceolmor

250RPM
Premium
In fairness to Fanatec, they paid for the shipping both ways on every occasion I've returned an item for repair, and when they sent me a replacement power supply, and when they sent me a replacement wheel and when they sent me a replacement PCB for the replacement wheel.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
In fairness to Fanatec, they paid for the shipping both ways on every occasion I've returned an item for repair, and when they sent me a replacement power supply, and when they sent me a replacement wheel and when they sent me a replacement PCB for the replacement wheel.
So you've had at least three failures it seems. Over what time span? Did they send the replacements first, or did they wait until you'd sent back the faulty items?
 

Ceolmor

250RPM
Premium
About 18 months. The wheel was returned for repairs at least twice. The shifter went back once for repair. They advised me how to repair the handbrake myself. I returned the wheel again and they sent a replacement. They sent me another more powerful power unit (in an attempt to solve a problem) and didn't ask me to return the original. They sent me a new PCB for the replacement wheel to fit myself, and didn't ask me to return the faulty one.
 

Harpo

25RPM
Premium
Update: Two days ago Mourad Gerlach at Fanatec agreed to either perform warranty work on the unit if sent in, or sell me parts. I responded that I wished to purchase the parts but expected a significant discount. To date they have not replied.

In addition, I can no longer contact support via their site, as they have removed my products from the "My Products" page that is used for opening a case. What was formerly an account page listing all my products is now blank.

Fair warning to all: In my experience Fanatec is not a reliable company, and does not stand behind their products. These pedals are less than a month old, and Fanatec was first made aware of the problems nearly two weeks ago. I recommend that Fanatec products be avoided at all costs.
 
They do not.
They most certainly did for me. And just to add my meagre two cents in this discussion of people who seem very determined to be dissatisfied with Fanatec, I recently RMA'd a newly purchased Clubsport wheelbase and wheel, and it was over and done with in the scope of just a few email exchanges and a quick product return and replacement. So one pretty satisfied customer right here.
 

Warren Dawes

10000RPM
Premium
Also, just to help offset this "crusade" against Fanatec, my experience is fine. After my horrible experience with Thrustmaster (three return freights at my expense) I finally went with Fanatec and all has been great since. I've also communicated with Fanatec for replacement sensors / load cells after about 10 years of use, and that process was fine, prompt, and courteous.
 

Zoof2

75RPM
Just to throw in !! I have used Fanatec customer support this year for the first time due to a fault with my original DD2 . I received a replacement the same week i raised the ticket, whilst the one i sent back was still in transit to them. I used live chat and pre recorded the videos so i was ready for that mandatory request just to expedite the process with the suport team.
My shifter and csl pedals have touch wood been fine since purchase 3 yrs and running.
 

EsxPaul

500RPM
Premium
It's interesting to read that some have received replacement parts via cross shipping on relatively new items yet others such as @Harpo have not.

Is there not a clear policy that Fanatec have on this?

As I said earlier, and it's just a personal point of view, if I had a faulty item that was less than a month old I would expect a brand new replacement. That isn't an unreasonable customer expectation in my view. If I didn't receive that, the item would be returned for a full refund.

I'm on no crusade against Fanatec. This is how I would handle a faulty item from any company.
 

Ceolmor

250RPM
Premium
Purchases from the US website are governed by Californian law while purchases from the German website is governed by EU/German law.
 
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