Friday, September 28, 2012

The disappointing customer service of Artex

I've opined on various spots over the years that American business would be a lot better off if it stopped blaming its problems on everything but themselves, and got back into the game of customer service. Sure, we all shop for things based on price, but nothing can keep a customer from coming back like crappy customer service.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you Artex.

I bought a 406 ELT from Aircraft Spruce (oh yeah, I also give you Aircraft Spruce) several years ago, and then didn't install it in the plane project until a year or so ago, after its warranty had expired.

I decided to put the antenna outside the aircraft rather than hide it behind the rollbar because (a) I actually like the look of antenna arrays (I think it's from being in the radio business and (b) Aircraft Spruce's catalog item insisted the antenna would withstand a 200 knot breeze.

While still in my Phase I, without any gear leg fairings or wheel pants, my antenna snapped off. As you may know, it's impossible to go 200 knots in this condition. In fact, with my fixed pitch prop, it's impossible to go 130 knots. But there it was, a stub sitting where my antenna used to be.

A new antenna, Aircraft Spruce told me, would be $226, so I took the advice of people on Van's Air Force and contacted both companies to see if they have any shame about selling a substandard piece of equipment, and any interest in customer service.

Apparently, not.

"Scott," who identified himself as a manager at Artex, called me right away after receiving my letter and story and he couldn't have been nicer. "That shouldn't have happened," he said. "We'll send you a new one tomorrow." He said the model I had was an old one and there had been an improvement and a revision. I got the sense that the company realized they were selling units that didn't confirm the performance claims.

And that was the last I heard from Scott. No antenna ever showed up and this week I called for the third time and left a voicemail message, and for a third time, the call was not returned.

It's a most curious situation, indeed.

As for Aircraft Spruce, they asked for the antenna back for evaluation. I sent it back, and that was the last I heard from Aircraft Spruce.

In the meantime, my RV-7A is sitting on the ground with a hole in the top skin. It's not going flying without a functioning ELT; it can't.

In the end, I'll have to spring for a $226 antenna, to replace the one that couldn't survive 30 hours of flight time. I should probably move the antenna to behind the rollbar, but, frankly, I don't want to rewire the plane at this point, I question the performance of an antenna in that position and, besides, I want the products I buy to perform as advertised. I want manufacturers and resellers to value the amount of money I've spent (not only on this, but on all the other stuff I've purchased for this plane) enough -- I want them to value their customers enough -- to make me satisfied. I'll spend more money with a company like that.

Or, you companies can just bitch about how the world is against you and your business is declining through no fault of your own.


  1. Couldnt agree more Bob. I've had a few hickups like this as well during my build. As someone who aspires to one day be a business owner, I am flat out amazed, at how much businesses just dont get it when it comes to customer service. Case in point, I'm doing my own avionics so I dont have much need for an avionics shop...but I have continually funneled business to SteinAir for misc items...why? They treat me great...I actually 'want' to spend my money with them because of their excellent customer service. Is it any wonder SteinAir has more business than they know what to do with? A connection maybe? Superior customer service pays huge dividends to the bottom line for a business, now and in the future.

  2. Stein lost his shirt on that D2A/Chelton debacle a few years ago. But his priority were his customers and that did not go unnoticed by his customers, including potential future customers. He's a perfect example of how American business should work. I credit it to his radio broadcasting genes. :)

  3. Bob, will you post your experience on my website, so my users hear your story too please? Glenn

  4. Bob, it's always someone else's fault, isn't it? American business, Airtex, Aircraft Spruce. 99.9% of Aircraft Spruce customers have enjoyed years of good service; perhaps that's one of the reasons they are the market leader. But one issue and you proclaim the company is the root of all evil in the world. Look in the mirror. Maybe you shouldn't have bought the unit so far ahead of time that the warranty was expired by the time you flew it. Maybe you should have put the antenna inside like most RV builders. Maybe you should stop whining and complaining about life's little setbacks that all of us encounter.

  5. Maybe you should have the guts to sign your name, tough guy.

  6. Way to defend yourself against legitimate questions Bob. Do you honestly think every transaction by every company with every customer is a positive one? We're all human and we all make mistakes, so to write off 2 companies because of 1 isolated incident and then go 5 steps further and blast them on your blog is completely uncalled for and immature. If we all did the same as you every time we didn't have a positive experience with a company, there wouldn't be any businesses left that we could deal with. Seriously, who do you think writes more reviews, people that are pissed off about something or people that were completely taken care of and assisted in their problems? Good luck getting 100% positive service from any other company you do business with in the future.

  7. Oh, I'm sorry, anonymous, did you think I owed you a response to your points? Funny, that's exactly what I'm asking of Artex, the courtesy of a response and you seem to have a problem with that. ARTEX has already acknowledged that their antenna shouldn't have failed and has already said they should replace it, so none of that is an issue here. The issue here is simply a failure to return phone calls and respond to the questions of a customer. It really is that simple, anonymous.