Terrible Philips Customer Service and My E-mail to the CEO

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I e-mailed this to Paul Zeven, CEO of Philips North America, this morning. The letter and timeline tell the whole story. What do you, dear AI reader, think?:


Dear Mr. Zeven,

I'm am writing for your assistance in speeding up an already drawn-out process of getting my Philips DVD Recorder returned to me. Please have someone in your office contact me at this e-mail address or (my phone number) within a few days about this matter.

After purchasing the DVD Recorder at a local retailer on January 15th of this year, I began having problems with it on February 18th. I sent it in for warranty repair and Philips received it March 16th, according to UPS tracking. Since then, I have experienced numerous delays and terrible service from your company. Yesterday, I was told that, apparently, the company has either lost my DVD Recorder or found it to be unrepairable. I am now in a 15-20 day review process to determine if I should get a new one.

It seems to me that if my old DVD Recorder is no longer in the picture, that it would make sense that I deserve another one or a refund. I have a difficult time understanding why that decision must take so long -- especially after your company has had my product nearly 1 1/2 months.

No one at your company seems empowered to make any decisions that can speed up my case. Every time I've spoken with your staff I've heard that I have to wait even longer. Whenever a decision needs to be made, my case goes to a multi-day review. When I've been told I would receive a call back, I haven't. I just don't trust your customer service personnel any more.

Could you or your office please contact someone in your organization who is empowered to wrap this up much more quickly than 15-20 days? I have never had this much difficulty with a company before. I'm certainly inclined to steer friends and associates away from ever buying Philips products in the future because of the terrible service I've received. I wouldn't want anyone to go through this like I have.

My current Return Service number is (concealed), and apparently (Jane) in Consumer Relations has been assigned my case. Below, please find a more detailed timeline of this entire matter and what transpired between me and your company. If you have other questions, please have someone contact me. Thank you for your attention in this matter.


Michael (Concealed)

Blue Springs, Missouri USA


Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005: Bought DVD Recorder (DVR) at Best Buy, Independence, Missouri.

Friday, Feb. 18, 2005: After turning DVR on after waking up, found out that all TV Guide information was gone, needed to be redone, including all settings for its location, etc. Other miscellaneous problems occurred during normal operation, however none as serious as the reset.

Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005: In the morning, discovered that DVR once again reset all TV Guide information. Called Philips and given information to return it to Philips. Given RS#(concealed). Told I would have to pay for shipping there and that turnaround would be about 10 days.

Monday, Mar. 14, 2005: Sent out DVR to Philips from UPS Store via UPS ground at a cost of a little more than $15.00.

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2005: According to UPS tracking, DVR arrived in the morning at Philips. Signed for by "SHUMATE".

Thursday, Mar. 31, 2005 (11th business day after receipt): Called Philips to check on the status of my DVR. I simply wanted to see how close the unit was to being completed. (Janice) said the DVR was still in the ÒDepotÓ waiting for a new TV Guide board to arrive. She advised that I call on Friday, April 8th -- if I donÕt hear back sooner -- to check the status. I thought at the time that it was a bit excessive, but understood if there were unpredictable delays. NOTE: Apparently sometime this day it was determined that my DVR would be another 20 days to repair. I didnÕt find this out until later.

Monday, April 4, 2005 (13th bd): While working that evening, (Janice) called and left a voicemail on my cell phone. She said that she wanted to inform me that my DVR would be another 20 business days.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 (14th bd): Frustrated that my DVR was taking so long and would take quite a bit longer, I called again. I spoke with (John) at the Depot and (Jennifer) in Consumer Relations. Given new RS#(concealed). (Jennifer) said the information on my DVR would need to go for review to find out whatÕs taking so long. She said I should expect a call back within 3 business days. That call never came.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 (20th bd): Even more frustrated that I never heard back from Philips, I called again. The call lasted more than one hour while I tried to get someone on the phone who could get me a replacement DVR. I finally was handed off to (Jamie Doe), who said she was a supervisor in Consumer Relations. She said that there was no one else I could talk to and that I would just have to wait 7 more days and my DVR should be repaired. That way Philips could ensure that IÕm getting a unit back that works correctly. If not fixed by the 7-day span, Philips would begin the process to get me a new DVR. Reluctantly, I agreed, but told (Jamie) that I wanted a phone call back on or before Friday, April 22nd. That would have been the 7th business day after our conversation. (Jamie) assured me that she personally would call me on or before that day. She never did call. I also asked that she pass my case on to ÒcorporateÓ for review and that there be a note for them to call me. She gave me an address for consumer complaints: Philips, P.O. Box 671539, Marietta, Georgia, 30006.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 (24th bd): During the afternoon while I was away from my cell phone, (Jane) from Consumer Relations called and left a voicemail. She said that my case was assigned to her for review and resolution. Along with giving me my new RS#(concealed), she gave me a phone number to call in case I received my DVR or had other questions. That number was 1-866-845-3578. Her allusion to the idea that I might receive my DVD recorder any day gave me some hope that all the problems were drawing to and end.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 (29th bd): After not receiving a call from (Jamie), I called Philips again. This time, I was very frustrated and wanted to know what was going on and why IÕve never heard back when I was told I would. I talked to someone (other than Jane) in Consumer Relations and gave her the case number. She said that she needed to speak with (Jane) for a moment and put me on hold. Upon her return, she told me the case is now under review for me to get a new unit and that I should probably receive a new DVR in 15 to 20 days. I told her that was unacceptable and relayed how angry with Philips IÕd become. I apologized personally to her that she was receiving the brunt of my frustration. I said that IÕd never recommend that anyone buy a Philips-Magnavox product again. Although she listened attentively, she said there was nothing she or anyone could do while the case was being reviewed. I asked what happened to my original unit. After placing me on hold for a moment she returned and said that my DVR must have either been lost somewhere or deemed unrepairable. I asked when that determination was made, but she said that information wasnÕt documented.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 (30th bd): Wrote an e-mail to Paul Zeven, CEO Philips Electronics North America, asking for assistance.

cc: \tWilco Groenhuysen, CFO

\tSies Plokker, Senior Vice President

\tTerry Fassburg, Vice President


  • Reply 1 of 16
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    "He" has already replied with a seemingly pre-formulated message:


    Dear Mr (Concealed),

    I hereby confirm that I have received your email. It will be forwarded to

    the relevant manager for further handling, and my staff will track the

    completion of the complaint handling.

    You will be approached in the coming day or two by our specialists to help

    out in the situation. I regret the inconvenience caused.

    Thank you for alerting me to the situation.

    Yours faithfully,

    Paul Zeven


    Philips North America Region

    1251 Avenue of the Americas

    New York, NY 10020

    Tel: (212)536-0526

  • Reply 2 of 16
    Our company CEO has a staff who handles these. Deemed 'presidential escalations'. There is a dollar figure which will be associated with your complaint. If it meets a threshold.. it will be handled. If not, it will be ignored. I suspect in 5-7 more BD you will get a new unit in the mail.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    Yeah, and the whole situation just seems absolutely bizarre to me. Even now I'm sure that my case is a significant rarity in how they handle repairs, etc. It just seems like they suffered a severe customer service breakdown on this one. NotUnlikeMyself, I hope you're right. I have "Ed" to record on TBS everyday, and I've not been able to for well over a month!
  • Reply 4 of 16
    If it's any consolation.. call centers flow like this.

    Front Line (tier 1)

    Front Line (team lead)

    Tier 2(if technical) or Floor Manager(if non-technical)

    Tier 3(if technical) or Customer Care Manager (if non-technical)

    Engineering(if technical) or Director of Customer Relations

    Then you are at the end of the line for technical problems.

    For complaints it then goes on up.

    Churn Management (Win backs)

    Director of Operations

    Presidential Escalation.

    Executive Hotline.

    (that's our order anyway)

    If you can get through to the person managing the call center (usually a 'Director' level position) THEY are the ones who actually change policy re: call handling etc. They *want* to know about these break downs. It's the people right under them (who you spoke to) who don't want to escalate to them. If you come in through the front end of their corporate # and ask for the "Call Center Manager or Director of Call Center Operations" you'll get to the right Joe. Anyone else above or below can't help you. Any lower and they don't want to lose their jobs...any higher and you get to the "churn/winback" group which will write you off instead of internalizing your comments and revising processes. You want to get to the department which isn't geared to 'handle' you. Tier 1/2 and floor manager ARE. Churn/Winback ARE. It's the call center manager/director who has the *really* changing power...

    Best of luck mate.
  • Reply 5 of 16
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    I'm pretty sure that Philips outsources most of their consumer electronics for one thing. Of course, the arrangement leave them as the folks who are supposed to maintain the brand.

    For the second thing, in the commercial sector, Philips is an extremely annoying company to deal with. Basically, we avoid them like the plague unless absolutely necessary. In order to get any information about anything they offer, be it brand new or several years old, one must go through several layers of regional and global beauacracy, which can take months.

    Philips, a Dutch company, may just be the poster child for how the modern, EU enterprise is supposed to behave. But for the rest of the world, where profits aren't a luxury, it is simply unacceptable. I'm convinced that Philips owes much of its "success" to a buddy-buddy relationship with EU policy makers and the subsidies that result.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    I'm just afraid that I'll get some model that I don't want or doesn't have the features mine had. This DVD Recorder had an internal hard drive and TV Guide On Screen. Very cool device...when it worked right. \
  • Reply 7 of 16
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,665member

    You will be approached in the coming day or two by our specialists to help out in the situation.

    Oh shit! Leave town now!
  • Reply 8 of 16
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    So my whole situation with Philips turned a corner today. This afternoon, I got a call from Dominic, the one and only Presidential Liason for Philips North America. Sounds impressive, doesn't it? This guy's entire job is to handle situations that are referred to the company's top executives. Situations like mine. He was kind and very apologetic.

    First, the bad news: It's still going to take 15 to 20 more days for me to get a DVD Recorder back.

    Now, the good news: I HAVE been authorized to get a new DVD Recorder.

    Dominic has been given my case and is dealing with why everything has taken so long. He was going to order that I get a replacement authorization but found out that one was issued two days ago -- the very day that the you-know-what hit the fan where I was concerned.

    Yeah, I have to wait another 15 to 20 days, but hearing that from the Presidential Liason means a lot more and is much less distressing. He said that it takes so long partly because it's their policy, but also it'll take that time to process the replacement request, get a unit, write it off, package it up for shipment, and then finally send it off. I should also note that, from what I understand, I should RECEIVE it in 15 to 20 days. So it won't be soooo long.

    What happened to my old unit? Nobody really knows. He said that every now and then a box will slip through the cracks. It doesn't necessarily disappear, it just gets misplaced. Eventually it'll be found (probably under a workbench somewhere or who knows where else), but in my case they aren't going to make me wait any longer.

    So here I wait, watching plain old TV. But today, I spoke to a man that reports directly to the CEO of a major corporation...and he's gonna git 'er done! Kinda cool.

  • Reply 9 of 16
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,757member
    And are they going to compensate you for the months spent without your recorded? This is your property, which likely included a 1 year warranty, which is a part of the cost of the device. Did they offer to refund a portion of the cost of the unit? The shipping? They have had your money and your recorder for months. At this point, it costs them nothing to send you a new unit. Chances are good they are about ready to EOL the unit or rebrand existing units under their magnavox line and clear them out. I wouldn't go for just a new unit. I would demand at the minimum, that along with the replacement, I want my shipping refunded at the least and a portion of the price of the unit refunded. Also, make sure you are getting a new unit as a replacement. Sony Canada offers only a 1 year replacement warranty on their VCR and DVD devices. If it breaks down, you are responsible for shipping it to a third party for repair. If the can't fix it, they send you a REFURB unit. While this seems like it should be illegal, it is not.

    Can I ask why you didn't just return it to BestBuy?
  • Reply 10 of 16
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member

    Originally posted by Tulkas

    Can I ask why you didn't just return it to BestBuy?

    At the time it started breaking down it was already two weeks past the cutoff for refunds/exchanges.

    I'll double check to make sure it's a new unit that I'm getting, but we seemed to use the word "new" a few times while we were speaking today. He seemed straightforward enough that he would have told me if I was going to get a refurb. Plus, he knows that I only had the thing 6 weeks before it broke. Barely used, might as well send me new.

    I'll also make sure that the warranty will take effect the date I receive the replacement, not January 15th.

    It's not my style to ask for a refund of part of the purchase price or shipping. At this point all I want is to get my DVD Recorder back.
  • Reply 11 of 16
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    You're willing to accept his explanation for another 15-20 days delay? I know in my company if some situation got to this level, we'd have a solution to the customer the next day.

    You're just having to wait while various levels of Philips' bureaucracy. It's BS, IMHO.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,757member

    Originally posted by CosmoNut

    It's not my style to ask for a refund of part of the purchase price or shipping. At this point all I want is to get my DVD Recorder back.

    Generally, for a defective unit, it wouldn't be my style either. But, given the run-around you've been given and the fact that have held your possession for so long, it would seem equitable that you be compensated.

    As for the warranty start date, you should check into it. Most often, I believe, it does not reset when you get an exchange. In some cases, if you exchange in the retail store it will, as you can ask to refund and repurchase the unit to get a new purchase date. But, if thenew unit breaks down, your current proof of purchase will have the original date, which is the date used for warranty purposes.

    Oh, and as for him using the word 'new'. He could simply have meant this as a nmeans to distinguish the fact that you will not be getting your 'old' unit.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    Let us know when the new one arrives.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member

    Originally posted by mikef

    You're willing to accept his explanation for another 15-20 days delay? I know in my company if some situation got to this level, we'd have a solution to the customer the next day.

    I'm willing to hear it from the Presidential Liason over some grunt that only replies, "That's just our policy." At least Dominic gave some kind of a reasonable explanation.

    And he said he'd do what he can to expedite (sp?) it. I have a feeling this is one of those cases where they over estimate the time to cover their asses, and it really will take less than that.

    But I'm certainly going to call and ask that I get a BRAND NEW DVD Recorder in the original packaging. I think I may also ask if there's a way to get an extended warranty for the unit, too. Hey, he and I'll chat and I'll keep you all posted.
  • Reply 15 of 16
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member

    Originally posted by CosmoNut

    I'm willing to hear it from the Presidential Liason over some grunt that only replies, "That's just our policy." At least Dominic gave some kind of a reasonable explanation.

    I don't think it's reasonable, but I understand what you're saying.

    As a related aside, if consumers would just speak up a little more and express our dissatisfaction with these types of corporate policies, the world would be better place for the consumer.
  • Reply 16 of 16

    hey man you're doing better than me... I can't even find their damn mailing address for warranty returns... any chance you still have it scribbled somewhere? thanks -Pat

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