At Pro Tools Expert there is a lot of discussion about what to buy, but in this post Editor Russ and post production contributor Mike Aiton want to share their experiences of buying and why ‘where to buy’ is just as important.
Mike’s Pro Tools Dealer History
When I upgraded to HDX from my HD3 I bought my HDX card and Slate Raven from Media Pros. I had always been a loyal customer of Scrub, but they weren’t Raven dealers. Also I had to to have all my purchases on one invoice (for VAT reclaim purposes), so I was forced to jump ship as I was determined to buy a Slate Raven.
Russ’s Pro Tools Dealer History
I have used HHB Scrub for several years. About 4 years ago they guided a post house I was running through a complex Pro Tools HD upgrade. They were across the street which was handy, however they are a dealer sitting in the middle of Soho, the film and TV capital of London with hundreds of companies they need to serve. However they were brilliant, they helped us navigate the pre-sales, the financing, the install and several glitches afterwards. So when I came to buy my Sonnet it was a no-brainer, again Ben Scully worked very hard to get me the best price and a fast delivery, he even sorted out one for me to try before I made the commitment.
Mike’s HDX Card Death?
Last night Pro Tools crashed. Upon re-launch, the HDX card needed a firmware update. Why? Who knows., so I duly obliged. After updating the firmware, you have to power off, remove the plug and press the start button to purge the computer motherboard of power (thank for the tip Neil), then re-power. After re-powering and re-launching Pro Tools 11.2.1 I get the same message about the HDX card needing a firmware update. after several cycles of this I tried a few different things: such as updating the firmware from 10.3.8 and 11.1.3 - same result. I then thought maybe my OS is corrupt, so I booted from my back up and tried the same things - same result. The I booted from my partition I made with a fresh install of OSX 10.8.5 and nothing else. I then installed Pro Tools 11.1.1 and tried to install the HDX driver - which failed. This made me believe that my card was “up the Swanee” (a quaint english colloquialism for “shagged”).
Russ’s DOA Sonnet Chassis
My Sonnet Chassis arrived a few days later. As already mentioned Scrub organised a demo one for me to evaluate so I knew how they worked and how much noise they made. So imagine my surprise when I plugged in the power to my brand new Sonnet Chassis to hear what sounded like a mouse having his nuts fried. I called Scrub immediately to tell them that the Sonnet Chassis was DOA and explained the issue of the odd noise coming from the PSU.
Mike’s Dealer Reaction
I phoned Media Pros at 9:00am this morning and left my mobile number and a message with someone for support to contact me urgently. I had also emailed them last night. I got an auto reply from my account manger that he was on holiday. About 9:35am I started getting emails about serial numbers and performing Avid Digitest on the card to which I replied that Avid Digitest wouldn’t load as the firmware was wrong. I then phoned and asked to speak to tech support - no joy as they were “unavailable”. After a “polite reminder” (ok - let’s be fair a very uncharacteristic full on throwing of toys out of the pram) that I was a unhappy customer with a broken card and a big deadline to meet and I really need to speak to support - they eventually rang back.
Note to readers - if you have unhappy clients, speak to them, don’t email them.
After long discourse of “have you tried turning it on and off?” - which then eventually led to “oh you have really given this a good go haven’t you” and the realisation that my card could be faulty. I was then given an Avid Support case number and advised that Avid would let me know of charges. I advised my dealer that my card is less than a year old so still under warranty - you would think that they would know that wouldn’t you?
Here’s where I really lost the plot “OK that will materialise on their system then.. There is a charge for warranty advance replacement, you can also elect to go for a warranty repair which means the Avid repair itself is free of charge but you have to send the dead card back to Avid repairs in Ireland at your cost.” Er - no! I bought my card from Media Pros and will return it to Media Pros. It is up to them and Avid to deal with it - not me. I will not be shipping anything to Avid in Ireland at my cost. NOT NEGOTIABLE!
I am struggling to understand the added value of a dealer if this is Avid’s and the appointed Premier Reseller’s attitude.
Russ’s Dealer Reaction
After a couple of email exchanges between myself and Scrub I was informed that the distributor for Sonnet did not do advanced replacements for products… shit I thought, not impressed with that on a DOA product being used by professionals. However, Scrub ordered a new one to exchange for mine in advance of the DOA once being returned by me. A day later the new unit arrived, no mouse nuts frying. I then emailed Scrub who arranged for UPS to collect the DOA unit. The whole episode cost me nothing - quite rightly so.
The only thing my dealer has done that is remotely caring to a client in trouble and feeling very vulnerable and exposed is to arrange a loan card. I had offers of a loan HDX card from Russ this morning (thank you kindly) and Neil offering his computer advice. The PTE team are right behind me and have been very supportive, and my dealer emails me anonymously and sends me corporate jargon that inflames me.
HHB Scrub have been around for a long time and have a great reputation, I may be wrong but I think they are Avid’s largest professional UK dealer. If that is the case then there’s a reason for it and they deserve both the sales and the reputation. Great pre-sales, great sales experience and they go the extra mile when things go wrong… they get my vote every time.
It is when things go wrong that you often find out if you made the right decisions… buyer beware!
There has been a lot of discussion behind the scenes on the team today about running this story. One very valid point made by a couple of the team is that because we run Pro Tools Expert then it is highly likely that we can get service not normally available for regular buyers. We think that all buyers should get great support irrespctive of who they are, after all we are all buyers.
Of course it goes without saying that both dealers have a right to reply to this article. We would be interested to see that.
An update from Mike Aiton’s dealer, he received this email…
Good news.. Bad news is I’ve seen your post on Pro Tools Expert. Suffice to say it did not impress.I’ll be in touch with you about that in due course.
I am not there to “impress”. I am there to be served and have my problems sorted in a timely manner - otherwise I might as well buy from a cardboard box shifter.
A good customer service response would have been to tee off with an apology and then get to the green in one with a “how can we work to make things better?” type of approach. It’s not hard to be nice.
Phew - after an exhausting and somewhat emotional day yesterday I can now report progress.
My HDX loan card from Media Pros arrived at the tail end of the day and it worked first time, proving my original card was unwell. Now its down to Media Pros and Avid to sort it out. Thank goodness for warranties
I finished my Sample Logic sneak peak at 2am last night, now I have to finish a series of six 25 min docs by the end of the week…..
I feel, even this morning in the cold hard light of day, that I shouldn’t have to be rattling my dealers cage to get an adequate response. Yes a satisfactory interim outcome has been achieved, but it was an unpleasant journey to get here and that is what I have reported. Take from it what you will.