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Shamed into doing the right thing? Reader Gary M. wasn't amused. Upon the strength of reviews, ours included, he'd bought Raysonic's CD168. When the unit's laser reader gave up its ghost, his troubles began. The former US distributor and his service center no longer dealt with the brand. Contacting Raysonic directly, this is what he was told: Hi Gary, you bought CD168 from Q4S. It is Q4S to do the CD168 repair. You can change CD168 to another brand from Q4S. Raysonic cannot help you. You can see Q4S want to sell you a product but cannot keep up to his promise. Even other brand products (Q4S) may be having the same problem too. - Ronald

Because the former distributor had been canned by Raysonic, he'd also been cut off from replacement parts. Gary contacted me hoping I'd have another company contact. He somehow doubted Ronald was the owner. At least he hoped he wasn't. Given Ronald's tone, could you blame him? "Gary, you can send it to China if you want to repair. It would be $1000 (import tax to China + repair + shipping back to you). I would request you repair in US. Your CD168 is out of warranty so Raysonic will supply you a laser pickup (free) for CD168. The rest of the parts for the CD168 you have to pay for. - Ronald

I did have a different contact. In fact I'd never dealt with Ronald whose customer service conduct seemed dubious. My contact netted Gary what seemed like a far more satisfactory answer: "Dear Gary, sorry for letting you misunderstand. Raysonic always supports our customers. Our suggestion for you is to look for a local technician to repair your CD168. Considering the issue, we will support you free-of-charge parts you need to repair your CD 168 and the parts are also free of shipment cost. Once again, feel free to contact us at anytime. Best Regards, Raysonic - Steven Leung

This finally had the right ring to it even if the apology seemed like face-saving spin. Unfortunately something else beside the laser reader had gone bad in Gary's player. This required a schematic to fix. Which Raysonic refused to provide. And that meant all of Gary's local repair places refused to work on his machine as well. With his system down until he could afford a new player, Gary was far from pleased. In fact he suggested I retroactively pull the award we'd bestowed on Raysonic's machine those many years back. Surely this company didn't deserve the distinction.

This I gave serious thought. On balance I decided on a different tactic. I have now created a separate page for negative reader feedback about manufacturers. It's been made visible with a stop-sign graphic right above the audioreviews gallery and also on the main letters/feedback page. Complainers wanting to be published there will require a certain level of documentation. This will minimize the potential for sockpuppet abusers who want to harm a maker by creating fake bad feedback. It'll never be an iron-clad solution of course. Yet the mere existence of said page might have the effect of what Gary called shamed into doing the right thing. Whilst far from the same as a solid business ethic to begin with, if it prevents certain mistreatment or gives customers a motivational tool, it'll have accomplished something. A side effect will be that companies exposed for this kind of customer service will not find me open to their future review solicitations.

PS. A few months later Gary contacted me again. Raysonic had signed up new US distribution. That company proved extremely helpful to sorting out Gary's issues to his satisfaction. He asked that his original emails on the feedback page be deleted to not handicap the new importer.