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Alan Smithee
06-13-12, 02:47 AM
I'm obviously sending a snail-mail copy of this as well, but thought it was funny that they DELETED this from their Facebook page AND have apparently blocked me from ever posting there again, as I can't access any options to post on their page anymore. So much for being a VIP customer- Fuck you, Vizi-no!

To all at Vizio,

I am writing to tell you about my experience with your “VIP Program” which started in late 2009. This was my first time buying a new TV in 13 years, and I had been considering several brands and models for a long time. I had been leaning towards Vizio because of its reasonable pricing yet focus on quality, as well as unique features such as the ability to display PAL-format video sources. I finally made the decision to buy the VF552XVT after applying for the VIP Program and being accepted. (Based on the application process, it seemed like Vizio was looking for people who were “into” technology, which I certainly am.) I thought that not only would this be a great chance to be one of the first owners of a revolutionary new TV (it was the first one I had heard of with internet apps, which have now become standard on most brands), but that the program would allow me to give direct feedback to the manufacturer on the TV’s performance. I assumed that at the very least, Vizio would want those participating in the program to gain great trust in the Vizio brand and recommend it to others, and spread the word about how great their TVs were. And call me crazy, but I thought also at the very least, if I were to run into any problems with the TV whatsoever, I would have excellent support from the company in remedying them.

Long story short, that isn’t how it turned out. The surveys were rather minimal and mostly focused on individual internet apps on the TV. On top of that, there were sound problems with both Netflix and Vudu which took several MONTHS to be corrected, despite my reporting them immediately. Although the apps were not my main reason for buying the TV, it was frustrating to have these problems and be met with indifference by those responsible. The last survey included an open-ended space for general comments and I submitted several paragraphs’ worth, but I’ll never know if they were actually read.

More serious was the way this TV’s “smart dimming” feature operated. It certainly delivered better black levels than other LCD TVs, but its flaw was that it cut out the backlight COMPLETELY when a scene would fade or cut to black, making it look like the TV was powering itself off in the middle of a movie. This was not a defect in my particular TV but the way the ‘feature’ was designed, but calling Vizio’s tech support department I was told that it should not be doing this. My TV ended up being replaced with a newer model, the XVT553SV, but upon receiving that I saw that the “smart dimming” had the SAME problem. I decided to just use the TV with that feature turned off, but was frustrated that it could have such a big design flaw and not be noticed by those in tech support. I’m sure it must have cost the company a significant amount to unnecessarily replace my TV.

That isn’t even what has prompted this letter however. Despite the flaws I was still mostly satisfied with the TV and was enjoying it until an unacceptable problem came up. In January of this year, the TV started having problems with the frame rate of filmed material. Although difficult to describe in words, it resulted in the picture sometimes appearing jittery, almost slow-motion at times. It seemed to start after the TV’s firmware had been updated- I certainly did not notice it before and this is the sort of thing I would have noticed right away. On a few internet forums, Avsforum.com in particular, I found that other Vizio TV owners were also noticing this problem. Additionally, I found that on PAL video sources the TV was forcing the “smooth motion” setting on the picture, making filmed material appear more like video, regardless of picture settings. This was disturbing since the ability to display PAL sources was one of my main reasons for choosing a Vizio.

The next few months were a nightmare. I contacted Vizio’s tech support informing them of the problem and was told it would be looked into. After a few weeks passed with no fixes, I called again and it was nearly impossible to explain the problem to some of the representatives. I quickly learned not even to bring up the PAL issue, as they had no idea what I was talking about and just became confused when I tried to explain it to them. Apparently one does not need to have very much knowledge of how video equipment works to work for an electronics company’s tech support department.

Luckily I had purchased the extended warranty, although that too was a nightmare. When it was obvious that Vizio’s tech support people were not very knowledgeable about their company’s products and apparently had NO communication at all with the people who actually designed and programmed them, I was advised to have a repair attempted. Long story short here was that the main board in the TV was replaced TWICE with NO changes to the problem. I quickly learned that many people employed in servicing TVs do not have very much knowledge of them either.

After this I futilely tried communicating again with Vizio’s support department. I had wanted to reach someone at the Irvine headquarters, but all calls were directed to the South Dakota office. There was much bantering back and forth between Vizio and “TWG”, the company handling the warranty, as to who would be the one to help me any further. It was finally decided that TWG would give me the choice between another Vizio TV or a refund check (less a few hundred dollars of the original price). The replacement TV from Vizio would only have a 90-day warranty, and after months of dealing with Vizio I was not willing to take any more chances and opted for the check instead. Last month I bought a new Sharp TV to replace the Vizio.

This experience in itself is pathetic, even more so considering I had obtained this TV through the “VIP Program” which I thought would enable me to communicate with the company more easily. It seemed I was forgotten about as soon as the last survey had been submitted, and it was no big deal that problems with the TV came up afterwards. I would have remained a loyal Vizio customer had this problem been properly handled and fixed, but after months of communicating with un-knowledgeable reps and failed service attempts I will likely avoid the brand now.

I hope that this letter will be read by those who can prevent this from happening again to another customer.

06-13-12, 03:32 AM
They probably looked at your name and figured you were unhappy with how the letter turned out. :)

Sorry to read your experience. Anyone else have similar complaints?

Mr. Salty
06-13-12, 03:39 AM
I'm obviously sending a snail-mail copy of this as well, but thought it was funny that they DELETED this from their Facebook page AND have apparently blocked me from ever posting there again
You find it funny? I would have expected it. Facebook is a marketing tool, not an open forum for customer complaints, especially ones that are thousands of words long.

Long story short

Too late.

That isn’t even what has prompted this letter however.
Then you probably ought to cut it out of the snail mail version of your message.

I feel your pain, but if you really want to get a response to your letter you need to boil the problem way down to the essentials. Keep it to one page if you can.

06-13-12, 07:40 AM
At the very least, your experience has taught me that should I ever need to replace my Pioneer (knock on wood that I don't any time soon), it will probably not be with a Visio (I'll support a company who supports their customers, avoid ones which cause grief). I can possibly understand why they might have deleted the letter from their Facebook page (as stated above, not the place for complaints), but not why they banned you from ever posting there again (unless to avoid repeats of the letter). The snailmail route was probably your best bet, or possibly their corporate office email if available.

This is not the kind of pain I want to experience when I buy a new product. I feel your misery. -kd5-

06-13-12, 08:21 AM
Yea, sorry for your experience, but that is just a terrible letter.

Always start with what you want. Than a very brief explanation of why. And from someone who has to respond to complaint letters, I'll tell you, nothing gets me less interested and lose credibility with the writer than vague insults about company employees and their training.

I have no problem with them deleting or "unfriending" you. You made it clear you did not want to do business with them. They were just helping you with that.

The Man with the Golden Doujinshi
06-13-12, 11:14 AM
I have no problem with them deleting or "unfriending" you. You made it clear you did not want to do business with them. They were just helping you with that.

That actually makes perfect sense, it's just not something you see lately. He got what he wished for.

It's also been brought but I I'll repeat that people usually respond better when making disparaging remarks about their employees.

I would have summed up what the confusion was, so they could be trained on it(on the slim chance that happens, but still...)
"I quickly learned not even to bring up the PAL issue, as they had no idea what I was talking about and just became confused when I tried to explain it to them."

I would have avoided this:
"Apparently one does not need to have very much knowledge of how video equipment works to work for an electronics company’s tech support department."

I had an issue with wbshop.com where I refused two packages and was waiting for credit back. Months pass by and customer service starts telling me that I sent them back to the wrong place and should have used tracking and sent the packages to the warehouse. I tried explaining that you can't buy tracking on packages you refuse and that you also can't pick where they're returned to, since they go back to the return address.

Things repeated a few times, I posted what happened on facebook. I didn't say they were a bunch of drunken circus monkeys but I did explain that they didn't seem to get how refusing a package works because I would get responses of X and X.

Shortly after I post, they said they'd send the issue to management. This was on a Friday night. Beginning of the next week they said they resolved it and I got my refund.

06-13-12, 05:52 PM
Classic example of the shoddiness that exists in companies today. The entire VIP thing was just a poor attempt at marketing, it seems. They had no intention of truly having advanced beta testers, which is what it sounded like at first. Probably because Visio is simply in a race to the bottom.

The VIP Program makes it sound like they have this classy setup for a few people. That makes Visio sound better to everyone, even though most have no interest in signing up for such a program. In someone's head: "Oh, cool. Visio is working with its customers to make their TVs better! They must be making them pretty good. And they are still cheaper than xxx. Maybe I'll buy one."

Alan Smithee
06-13-12, 05:52 PM
The thing is that they COULD have posted an intelligent response rather than just deleting it. They probably banned me because I've posted several other comments about the problems with my TV over the last few months, none of them were insulting or abusive (I admit some comments in my letter may have been, but that just shows how frustrating this whole experience was.) I've seen several other people post about problems there too, and more often than not they just get deleted. These weren't just "Your TVs are junk" posts either- they explained exactly what problem they were having, sometimes with pictures, and just wanted help getting them fixed, but usually they were deleted by the next business day. Meanwhile they leave up any positive comments, even from people who can't spell. My new TV is a Sharp, and checking their Facebook page there are many posts from people having problems with their stuff but rather than deleting them they do their best to try and solve the problem- at the very least they give them a number to call.

What was really funny is that when the warranty company offered me a choice between another Vizio TV or money, I posted on their Facebook page asking for reassurance that if I gave their TV another shot, I wouldn't have any more problems with it. I added that if they just deleted my post without responding, I would purchase another brand. And guess what? They fucking DELETED it!

If you want to see the whole story on the problem with this TV, look here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1391221/issues-with-latest-1-12-vizio-firmware-update/0_100
One person got so fed up that he just junked the TV. Although some Vizio reps have said there is "no possible way" the problem with the frame rate could have been caused by the firmware update, the fact is that they gave us no assurance that they were even aware of the problem and working on a fix for it. (This TV's firmware is updated automatically over the internet, and there's no way for a consumer to roll it back should the new firmware have any problems.)

Most of their phone reps are courteous, but they simply don't have enough knowledge of electronics to be working for an electronics company. The last straw was when one of them asked what I had hooked up to the TV. I explained that I had everything running through my A/V receiver which then was connected to the TV via HDMI, but that I had many components including several VCRs, a laserdisc player and both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players. She then said that this was causing an "environmental condition" where somehow having so much stuff in the room was making the TV's frame rate get jittery. That will rank as one of the dumbest things I've ever heard from an electronics company, and I've heard many.

And call me crazy, but I thought being a "VIP Customer" would have gotten me a LITTLE bit more help with any problems I might have had with this TV. If they had handled this right, I would have remained a loyal customer and defended any negative comments someone else may have posted about them. I was pretty happy with the TV when I first got it, and I actually did post a few things on their Facebook page in their defense when someone else posted something negative. On a few forums where Vizio TVs were called "junk", I commented on how great my Vizio was.

I'm not trying to get anything else out of them anyways. At this point I'm just glad I got enough money from the warranty to get a new TV. I just think with the original purpose of this so-called "VIP Program" being to give them feedback about the TVs, I owe it to them to give them the whole story.

Alan Smithee
06-13-12, 06:00 PM
The page advertising this "VIP Program" can still be seen here, though none of the links work anymore: http://vizio.cmail1.com/T/ViewEmail/y/13F92935F72813B5/0B7DEC996E9A5917C67FD2F38AC4859C

(Just noticed the "Your invited"- that should've tipped me off right there!)

It appeared that they were marketing this to people with at least SOME degree of electronics knowledge- the questionnaire I answered included things like if I had a wireless router, what type of video equipment I already had and how many hours of viewing I typically watched in a week.

The "extras" were pretty worthless too- obviously a sound bar is no substitute for a real sound system; I gave mine to my dad and he's using it with his computer. The Blu-Ray player was a piece of shit- it was the VBR-100, which was already an obsolete model at the time of this program. I never watched an entire movie on it as it would not output multi-channel PCM sound. Vizio only had one firmware upgrade for this player and the sound problem was not fixed. Those who used this player complained also that it had a harder time playing newer titles (since they stopped updating the firmware) and eventually the player typically crapped out anyways. I ended up selling the TV and Blu-Ray player to some friends of my parents who aren't videophiles at all.

Shannon Nutt
06-13-12, 06:39 PM
Your letter is really long, I can see why they deleted it from their Facebook page, as Facebook is primarily for short bursts of thought and that's a really long complaint. I can't see why they banned you from their page - unless, of course, you kept posting it and they kept having to delete it. I'm not saying they're right, I'm just saying I can maybe understand why they didn't want it posted.

06-14-12, 09:16 AM
I think most companies expect that if they ignore you long enough you will simply get tired and go away.

Obviously you are not one of them :) Most companies are smart enough to know when someone simply won't go away and will cause problem for them all over the internet /forum/ complaint letters/ write to magazines. A savvy resolution person from a company usually will contact the unhappy customer and resolve the issue - offer explaination how it was just one occurrence and they are doing everything to get things right. Even if they are not sincere - just to avoid bad publicity.

Obviously Vizio needs to learn that - may be some marketing MBA can look into it,

06-14-12, 07:33 PM
Sorry to hear about your experience, but I do have to agree with what others have said. Your letter is very wordy, and at times a bit too whiny.

The only other thing I can add to the discussion is that my one and only experience with Vizio support was the exact opposite of yours. I have a 47" Vizio LCD, and after about 6 months of use the audio started failing intermittently. At times it would lose all sound, and at other times the volume would increase on its own to intolerable levels. And whenever this would happen, the set was unresponsive to the volume controls on the remote and on the front of the set

I called their customer service number, and lo and behold, the next day they sent a TV repairman (how's that for a term you haven't heard in decades?) to fix the set. Of course, since these sets are really nothing more than dedicated PCs, what he ended up doing was replacing the motherboard, which took all of 15 minutes. That was 5 years ago, and the TV has performed like a champ ever since (which is a shame, because I'd really like an excuse to replace it with a smart TV :lol:).

06-18-12, 01:42 PM
Last month I bought a new Sharp TV to replace the Vizio.

That's exactly what I'd recommend for anyone Stateside who wants PAL capabilities. I spent months researching TVs (and visited several stores with DVD and/or BluRay players--plus PAL discs--in tow) before coming to the conclusion that the Sharp models were the best way to go for that capability (without having to pay extra for grey-market multi-system TVs). Some other brands (or at least some models in the Sony and LG families) are somewhat compatible with PAL (over HDMI and component only), but Sharp was the only brand that also worked with PAL VCRs over the composite connection...

A friend of mine has a Vizio (or did last time I talked to him), but something about the "Walmart-ness" of the brand really turned me into a skeptic (you never see Vizio in high-end electronics stores, but it's one of the most prominent brands in the cheap discount stores).

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