Super, indeed, fi

Superfi logo

After returning my projector to Superfi, Panasonic dragged their heels in collecting the unit (it took them nearly two weeks). Over a week later and Panasonic still haven’t offered any resolution at all. Somewhat fed up, I called Superfi and strongly requested a refund.

To their very great credit, they took this request seriously and immediately put me in touch with the person who could make it happen. The lady dealing with it simply took my name and request and gathered the other information herself from Superfi’s records and the Coventry branch. This was refreshing as it meant I didn’t have to re-explain the entire situation to another person.

A little while later I was called and made an offer. Superfi had told Panasonic that they didn’t want the projector back. Superfi obviously want to keep their sale and so suggested an equivalent Sony projector (the VPL-HS60) and refunding the difference in price. I rejected this offer because I was thinking about moving to an LCD / Plasma television if I got the refund. Superfi asked what product I would like to replace my projector with and I requested the Samsung LE40M87. It was on Amazon for about £1,000 but wasn’t in stock. Superfi said they’d get back to me after contacting their Samsung sales rep.

A short while later I was called with the news that Samsung did not have any stock of the LE40M87 and didn’t think they would be getting any until July! They also couldn’t match Amazon’s price and said that they would normally sell it for £1,500. Looking on the internet, the average price excluding delivery seems to be £1,100 and all the places that advertise it do not seem to have it in stock. The only ‘real’ shop to carry the LE40M87 is Comet and they sell it instore for £1,299.

Then Superfi stepped up to the plate. They said they could get the LE40M87 when it came in and that they would match the price of the projector (£1,200). They also offered to loan me a brand new Samsung LE40R87 (the M87’s predecessor) until the M87 arrived. They also offered to deliver the R87 free-of-charge the following day (they normally levy £25), a Saturday, by the way.

I decided to accept this offer and am absolutely delighted with the loan and delivery of a R87 until the M87 arrives. I may be paying a little over the odds when compared to an internet store but I am getting a terrific loan television until the M87 arrives (the R87 is a fabulous television in its own right, it was brand new and it’s also a 40 incher), I used my projector for about three months (in total spread over the course of about six months) and I feel far happier about resolving potential problems with real people at a local store who know my name.

Isn’t it nice when sellers treat you well, even after they’ve got your money?

Only one hurdle to go now. Superfi have got to provide the LE40M87. I’ll post back in July with, I trust, the good news.


Panasonic logo

Panasonic PT-AX100E
My replacement Panasonic AX100 projector has become faulty. I’ve only had it three months. I’ve returned it to Superfi today for repair. I also asked them to ask Panasonic to provide me with the option of a replacement or refund. It will be interesting to see what transpires with that request.

Regarding Superfi, I sent them an email detailing the problem and told them I would be in later today to return it. They made the effort to call me first thing this morning and tell me that their weekly shipment to headquarters was scheduled for 10am and if I got the projector in before that time it could be moved on straight-away. Splendid.

The fault is something to do with the iris mechanism. This controls the amount of light that is emitted from the projector and, according to the manual, contributes significantly to the life of the bulb. Well, the bulb’s still going strong…

The most visible symptom is this: the projector turns itself off when you turn it on.

The “Self Check” option in the hidden / system menu places a red light next to the word “Iris”.

Looking back now, I can see that I first had an inkling of a problem about a month ago. The picture suddenly lost life and vibrancy. I had been operating the projector on its “Normal” picture setting up to this point and now the picture was underwhelming. It was fixed by changing the picture mode to “Vivid Cinema” and I remained very happy.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a slight discolouration of the picture on my browser window (which is predominantly white). The left edge of the picture was pink, the right edge blue. As time went on, this got worse and was joined by the bottom half of the picture being tinged grey. While playing games or watching movies, the discolouration was not noticable but, as I say, when using the computer it is distracting so.

About a week ago, the projector started misbehaving in the first couple of minutes after you switch it on. About thirty seconds to one minute after switching on, the image would suddenly go extremely dim for about half-a-second, then return to normal, then dim again, then return to normal and be fine until the projector was switched off.

A few days after this behaviour manifested itself, it started to switch itself off when turned on about one time in three. Now, it switches itself off every time.

I did manage a workaround however. You turn it on. It turns itself off. You can then hard switch it off using the power switch on the back. Wait a second or two for the light to go off and switch it back on. Power up and the projector will display a picture until you turn it off again. Then you’ll have to do this again.

Panasonic PT-AX100E Hidden / System menu

Panasonic logo

Panasonic PT-AX100E
You can access a hidden menu on the Panasonic PT-AX100E projector by bringing up the menu, highlighting the “Options”, er, option and holding down the Enter button for a few seconds. The “Options” menu must be highlighting the first option “Input Guide”. The menu is called “Ext Options”.

While I have no idea what most of these options actually do and therefore strongly recommend not changing them, I did have a fiddle with the “Flicker Fixing” option. In this you get six screens showing your current input in red, green and blue in desk and ceiling mode. You use the Up and Down controls to switch between screens and Left and Right to tune the value. If the image flickers, take a note of the original value, then tune the value until the flickering stops or becomes much less intense. Use the Return or Menu buttons to return to the menu.

Another option I looked at was the projector “Self Check” which gives you the temperature of the unit and tells you there are five fans inside! I sit directly underneath my projector, it is literally a foot above me, I can touch it while sitting. I use it in Eco-Mode and the noise it produces ranges from virtually silent to audible but unobtrusive. I’d have never guessed there were five fans working inside. The noise of the projector is drowned out by the fan on my Xbox (not 360) sitting a couple of meters away on the other side of the room!

Oh, and by the way, the projector is still working fabulously. Yay!

Is poor customer service necessary?

It’s probably been clear that I have been largely unhappy with Superfi Coventry’s customer service. Superfi Coventry were consistently polite but were always passing the buck to Panasonic, their Nottingham headquarters or Superfi policy. Martin at Superfi Head Office, on the other hand, was active in resolving the situation and I felt confident in his desire to get the matter expedited. From my first contact with him, it took two weeks to receive a replacement projector in my hands. For comparison, within two weeks of returning the projector to Superfi Coventry, they had simply sent it to Nottingham Head Office but without any details of its provenance or even that it needed to be replaced because it was faulty (none of my emails were forwarded and mention of a fault was made on the appropriate paperwork).

Things going wrong, especially new technology items (and the Panasonic AX100 is not just a minor evolution, indeed, it’s new size may shock owners of former models), is a circumstance that must happen with reasonable regularity. While there is natural disappointment at an item you have purchased being faulty it is how that situation is dealt with by the retailer that determines the quality of the customer’s experience.

So what would have made me happy? I shall propose such a solution and leave it to you to determine whether it is unreasonable or financially undesirable from Superfi Coventry’s point of view.

This is an overview of what happened:

  1. December 1st: I ordered the projector.
  2. December 8th: I received the projector.
  3. December 16th: I reported the fault but told Superfi I would be placing the projector into Normal for fifty hours to see if that sorted it.
  4. January 5th: I requested a replacement on January 5th, 28 days after receiving it.
  5. January 8th: Superfi Coventry responded by saying they could not arrange a replacement because it was now more than 28 days since I had received it and Panasonic don’t furnish replacements after 28 days. An interesting note here is that this is the only time in all my email correspondence with Superfi that they replied on a different day to when they received the email.
  6. January 9th: I returned the projector to Superfi Coventry. They say that it will take about two weeks to be sorted.
  7. January 10th: Superfi Coventry send the projector to Superfi Nottingham for processing but do not supply the email provenance and do not make it clear that a refund / replacement / repair is being waited for. The fault description on the repair job card says in its entirety: “see notes can you please call panosonic as they are aware of fault” [sic].
  8. January 19th: I request an update from Superfi Coventry and they get in touch with Superfi Head Office and inform me that the projector is still sitting there awaiting collection by Panasonic. When asked to chase it, they suggest I call Superfi Head Office direct and give me the appropriate name and number. I call Superfi Head Office and he sounds genuinely surprised when I tell him it is faulty, that it has been faulty for nearly six weeks now and that I am waiting for a repair / replacement.
  9. January 22nd: Superfi Head Office call me (a most pleasant surprise) to tell me that Panasonic have now picked up the projector and should be authorising a replacement. He’ll call me when they confirm.
  10. January 26th: Superfi Head Office call me and let me know Panasonic have authorised a replacement and that it will be at Superfi Coventry with their next delivery. Panasonic items arrive there on a Thursday.
  11. February 1st: Superfi Head Office call me and let me know that the projector is at Superfi Coventry ready for collection. I make arrangements and collect it.

What I wanted to happen:

  1. January 5th: I request a replacement projector. Superfi Coventry respond in their usual timely manner after making appropriate arrangements and tell me they’ll call when it arrives and I can bring my faulty projector in and swap it for the replacement at the same time. This is especially nice because they know of my severely limiting health (I have told them about it on several of my emails) and that travelling to Superfi means making special arrangements and extra physical effort and pain.
  2. Preferably January 8th or, acceptably, January 15th: Superfi Coventry call me to let me know that the replacement has arrived. I make arrangements and take the faulty one in and return home with a new one.

In general, I wanted Superfi Coventry to do the chasing. I wanted to leave this matter in their hands and for them to contact me when the situation was resolved.

I was happy when this was the circumstance with Superfi Head Office. It instilled confidence and a feeling that a satisfactory resolution was something they were actively working towards on my behalf.

Am I being unreasonable?

New projector on its way

Martin at Superfi Head Office confirmed today that Panasonic have authorised a replacement unit and that it should arrive at Superfi Coventry with their next Panasonic delivery. As the previous projector arrived on a Thursday I should get a phone call on the 1st February to confirm collection.

To be honest I think it is a bit of a poor show that the projector wasn’t here this Thursday as Martin had arranged this on Monday but as long as it’s here next Thursday I shall be adequately satisfied.

Let’s just hope it works!