In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Emotiva replies

You will recall that I sent a letter to Emotiva Audio Corporation detailing the failure of the USP‑1 stereo pre-amplifier I purchased from them, as well as the exact sequence of events their support people took to diagnose and (fail to) fix the problem. In addition, I printed the letter and sent it via Canada Post/USPS. I received a response yesterday via e‑mail (names redacted):

Subject: Emotiva Letter
Date: March 15, 2013 6:24:02 PM EDT
To: <>

Hi Rick,

We have received your letter regarding your USP‑1. I am very sorry for the issues you have had with your unit. We are going to send you a quality checked brand new unit on Monday. Please let me know if you have any questions.

xxxxx xxxxx
Accounting Department
Emotiva Audio Corporation

I haven’t replied. Something bothered me about the message. The result is what I want, a working pre-amp, but there’s something about this resolution that just didn’t sit quite right.

Coincidentally, today’s episode of Under the Influence was named “Tales of Customer Service.” While listening, everything fell into place and I understood the reasons for my unease.

In Emotiva’s reply to me, they stated that they’ll do exactly what they must. They will replace my non-functioning USP‑1 with another that works. You’d think this would be the desired outcome, but it’s not. After not having the use of the pre-amp for ten months, while going through entirely ineffective channels to get it fixed, then finally having to get angry enough go through my records to assemble a timeline of the entire customer service clusterfuck and make my extreme displeasure known, the response is lacking.

Part of the reason is my own fault. I thought Emotiva was different. They’re a lean company that sells well-crafted audio equipment only on-line at very good prices. They also have their staff, including the company owner and product designers, participating in the forums on their website. They came across to me as a cool company, a different company. The message above, in just four sentences, reverses all the work they’ve done to make themselves stand out and makes me feel foolish for having believed it.

Look at the response. They’re sorry the pre-amp broke. This would have been a good thing to say when I first reported the problem in May. There’s no mention of the complete failure of their support process to deal with it. In fact, based on this reply, I’m given no reason to think my experience is anything but ordinary.

It’s also clear that the company is not at all different in the way that I thought they were. I entered into a business transaction with them, and they’re simply fulfilling their end of the contract. Nothing more. My happiness is not a factor in the transaction. I’m especially surprised because all the ‘eyes’ on their website come from the few ads they buy and word-of-mouth. I would think genuinely happy customers, and not merely satisfied customers, would be a big priority because happy customers generate the kind of word-of-mouth that ads can’t. They feel a relationship with the company. A caring and cool company keeps customers coming back, and bringing their friends.

Rather than telling all my friends, I find myself without reason to complain, and every company should know this feeling does nothing to generate sales. After such an experience at their hands, their doing only what’s required will bring this issue to a close and nothing more. Doing the absolute minimum tells me they don’t care that my experience was such a disaster and that could very well happen the next time I have a problem with their equipment.

Simply, there is no hint of “Holy crap, we really screwed up …” in their reply, never mind “… and we’ll make it up to you.”

Why would I consider their equipment in the future?

[Update: Emotiva wrap-up]


Little man


Mars One


  1. Shawn

    Personally, I would not purchase again. It’s nice that they are sending a new box, but I suspect the warranty period for this one, started with the initial purchase and will end accordingly and is not extended. A nice gesture would have been an extended warranty.

    • Rick

      While I agree, it’s not as bad as you think. They warrant their gear for five years so I’ll still have three years left if they don’t restart the clock. Not that I’m apologizing on their behalf, mind you…

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