Maybe, just maybe, customer service isn’t dead

Logitech G15 keyboard
A recent experience with a customer service call left me (gasp) satisfied and happy!

In this era of “the customer is always wrong” and total concentration on short-term quarterly profits and greed by companies, I had begun to think that the concept of customer service is really dead. Actually, more than a few times, I’ve been known to say that the only leverage we have as customers in American society today is the ability to dispute a payment on a credit card. A recent call to Logitech, my preferred brand of keyboards and mice for many years, proved to be a very pleasant and positive experience, so maybe we cannot announce that Mr. Customer Service is in the pine box quite yet. Here’s the story…

When Logitech announced the G15 “gamer’s keyboard” I knew I wanted one. It has a nice LCD display on it, which games, media players, or other applications can display data on (for example, iTunes will display the song title, artist, etc.) along with a nice rotary encoder volume control and the usual media control keys. It has a bank of 18 programmable macro keys, which I admittedly don’t use a ton but can be handy for automating things. However, the killer feature that I had to have was the backlight!

I had the keyboard backlight option on my Apple Powerbook and I loved it. Like most gamers or computer nerds, I often exist in a room that has dim lighting as a matter of preference when viewing a computer screen. The Powerbook’s keys were illuminated such that the letters actually lit-up unlike the cheap LED keyboards you often find which just have light coming from around the edges of the keys. Well, the new Logitech G15 had the same kind of backlighting except it’d be for my desktop machine — it was now officially on my “buy” list.

When the keyboard was released, I found a decent sale on it, so I grabbed one of the very early releases of the keyboard. It arrived and everything was great. The software, even though it was version 1, worked as expected and didn’t give me any problems. Various cool little applications began appearing to display things on the LCD and my current addiction, errr, game of choice, World of Warcraft, even introduced official support for the display in the 1.11 patch. I was happy with my new ultra deluxe keyboard.

Skip forward about six months to a couple of weeks ago. My G15 has been performing completely as expected, which is pretty much what a keyboard should do. However, I’m noticing on the keys that I frequently use, the black coating is starting to wear thin and in some cases, making the letters just a blurry mess when backlit. I could see that the keys themselves are made of a translucent plastic that is then coated with a black, opaque coating to block the blue backlight except where it’s desired. Hmm… I was thinking that for a $75 premium keyboard, this should not be happening.

I went to the Logitech website and found a customer service phone number to call. They had fairly standard hours and naturally, when I was calling (from one timezone over) they were closed. I called-back the next morning and within a couple telephone button presses to answer brief questions (“are you using Windows or OS X”, etc.) I was talking to a real, actual human being! The total time to talk with someone was probably no more than 90 seconds. The guy who answered the phone spoke english and was clear and easy to understand. I mention that because many of you will be familiar with tech-support departments being staffed in other countries with hard-to-understand accents (think Dell).

I told the service agent that I had one of the early G15 keyboards and that the paint was wearing off on some of the keys already. I had read that Logitech was replacing these very early units because a component was left out of the paint mixture which caused it to wear prematurely and mentioned that to him. He only asked for the serial number and part number from the bottom of the keyboard and placed me on hold for a couple minutes while he looked into it.

Upon returning to the call, he mentioned that they’d be happy to send me a brand-new unit at no charge. I didn’t even have to return the old unit, or jump through some hoops with faxing the purchase receipt or other paperwork to him. He verified the production date/batch via the serial number and without question, fixed the problem and didn’t even charge me shipping to send the new unit out! He asked me to cross-out the serial number on the defective unit and that I was “free to do with it what I please”.

I received the new unit about 1.5 weeks later via DHL. It was a retail packaged, sealed G15 – not a white-box or refurbished unit like many manufacturers send for warranty replacement. I’ll be placing the new G15 on my main gaming machine now and moving the “defective” unit to my servers in the basement, which is gross overkill for some machines that don’t get much more than 1 hour per year of typing, but I don’t really feel that it’s right to sell the old G15 considering that Logitech asked nothing of me to replace it.

So, that’s my long story — I am as pleased as possible with the handling of the incident and I’ll be informing Logitech of that on the e-mail survey they will send me (which I agreed to in advance). It’s stuff like this that makes me appreciate supporting a good company even it it costs a few bucks more. I’ve always been a Logitech user, as I prefer their mice designs to the other brands, but you can bet that now, I’ll probably never stray from the brand. My time (and frustration) are worth money to me and the fact that I didn’t have to haggle with the service agent or take time to return the old unit is worth much more than the few bucks I paid more for the quality branded keyboard (and that’s not even counting the features the G15 has which are not available elsewhere).

Kudos to Logitech — I hope that many more companies learn from this and realize that not all of us are bottom-feeding Wal-Mart shoppers looking to save 10 cents on an item that’s been cheapened and crappily designed with no support or warranty.

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