VPI service problems

Am I the only one having a problem with service from VPI? After buying
a HW-27 Typhoon record cleaning machine from them based on the positive
reviews and recommendations of all the audio mags (not an inexpensive
purchase) and using it carefully and sparingly and enjoying it
immensely, the vacuum motor blew out it's gasket and began leaking like
a sieve. I was disappointed but thought OK stuff happens. Then my real
problems began. To say that their after the sale service is lacking
would be a huge understatement. Emails went unreturned for weeks,
attempts at phoning resulted in many messages left ignored and then
being told that they only respond to email inquiries, which again go
unanswered for weeks! Contacting all of their authorized dealers
doesn't help as no one seems to be able to get or stock the parts and
they tell me that it would take weeks for them to get them as well.
Finally after five months of effort I received my replacement motor
(which cost $240 plus shipping) and now six months later the second
motor has blown it's gasket and is leaking all over the place again and
I am right back to square one. No returned emails for weeks and weeks
and a pricey record cleaning machine ($2200) that is inoperative and
will be down for months and months again. Is their business so good
that they can just ignore their customers? Are the dealers really
unable to help as well? Am I the only one with this problem? Anybody
have any thoughts or ideas on how to help?

I did not offer a lifetime warranty as I do not work for VPI. My speculation is based upon prior experiences as clearly indicated in this quote:

"I am naive enough to believe that if I had ever sent that 25 year old HW-17(f) back to Mike for service, he would have cured it of its ills and returned without charge."

In addition, HW himself speaks to this issue in the Vinyl Asylum parallel thread dealing with this topic. I am paraphrasing here, but HW states that VPI often performs repairs on products well outside the warranty period. If you poke about that thread, you will find that information.

I do not know, but I believe whether or not you are any original purchaser may weigh into that decision – i.e. whether to charge for repair work or not.

In any event, I am sure this topic has been fairly well exhausted despite the fact that I remain unclear as to the final resolution. If you read the Vinyl Asylum thread, there are many more comments on this topic including from HW himself.

It is now 6:30 AM here at the beach and time to take the golden retriever, Shiloh-the-Dog, for his walk. I will be back in the classroom/lab in a few short weeks, and consequently will have little time to dabble in the world of BLOG – if that is what this is.

Yes, Birdie, when the teacher has nothing relevant left to teach it's time for a walk...
As I have watched this thread develop for the last couple of weeks I have been amazed at the reactions both pro and con to my original posting.
So many accusations and so much invective has been hurled back and forth (especially on the AudioAsylum website) that I thought it was time to try and clear up a few things.
First I am glad to hear that so many people have had such good experiences with VPI both from a sales and service perspective. It somehow makes me feel better that I did buy
the right product after all. Clearly Harry and VPI have their strong advocates and loyal fans. Unfortunately he also seems to have some strong detractors. I don't count myself in either camp. As I have said I have never had any contact with Harry in any way shape or form. (I'm
surprised that in spite of all of these postings that is still the case).
Secondly, All I can do is relate my own personal experiences with VPI and allow other members to glean what they will from it.
I have however had a lot of emails asking about the warranty situation with VPI. It seems to be unclear to many of the members. Now my HW-27 Typhoon would have
been out of warranty when the first vacuum motor failed as it was just past the two year mark from being purchased. When after a month of waiting and emailing trying to make arrangements to get it fixed I finally got thru to VPI, I queried them about the warranty as I was unsure at the time what it was. I was told in no uncertain terms that the HW-27
came with a 90 day warranty. When I stated that I thought that it had a longer warranty than that I was told to look at my owners manual and there in the back, on the last page, lo and behold it says quite clearly that the warranty is only 90 days. Now if you go to VPI's website and look at the advertisement touting the HW-27 and scroll to
the bottom it states it comes with two years of warranty coverage but if you click on the HW-27 owners manual word document and go to the bottom you will see the
warranty coverage as being 90 days. here is the link http://www.vpiindustries.com/clean_typhoon.htm
Now I know that people are going to start right in with "Oh no that's wrong" and "They have always repaired my XXX model for free even when it was long out of warranty" Well, all I can say is that this is what they have listed on their own site and this is exactly what I was told my
warranty coverage was. If the coverage is something different depending on if you are buying or in need of repair than that needs to be pointed out up front not after the fact. If the warranty is somehow different as
I am sure that VPI will claim then one would think that they could get it accurate on their own site. It seems like a chance to play fast and loose with the warranty coverage depending on who you are or what the circumstances are. When I called because my second vacuum motor had
failed after only five months my only question was if that replacement part had a warranty at all and if so was it more that 90 days. I still haven't gotten any response to that question. That is what led to my original post asking for help from the members. Boy oh boy, if I had
only known what I was letting myself in for by asking that simple question. (As a complete aside, with the help of several members I did find a replacement motor from Ametek for $72 dollars instead of the $240 listed on VPI's website, but when all of this warranty stuff came up I went the extra mile and managed to locate the engineer at Amtek who
designed the motor who kindly let me pick his brain and having never heard of VPI asked me a bunch of questions and asked me to send him pictures of the inside of the HW-27. He made a couple of suggestions and is going to send me a different motor to try out that may be better suited for this application. But he did point out that all of these
Amtek motors come with a two year warranty from the manufacturer and asked for me to send the defective motor back to him to look at which I will do at some point in the future. But I digress)
So I guess the answer to everyone's questions about warranty
coverage is that I don't know exactly what it is. I suppose that I will have to go with what it says on VPI's own site in black and white and say that it is 90 days parts and labor warranty at VPI's sole discretion. I don't know if that clears things up or makes them more cloudy but this seems to be the current state of affairs.
I must say that I have also been down the same road with VPI.....Some days are good and some are not so good....I had a Plinth repaired there, It was repaired expertly and without flaws......But it took a long time and I had some problems with communications.....I just tried to buy some parts this week but again bad communications......I got a answer from Mike on my first e-mail about a tonearm base and price but when I e-mailed again about the payment I got no answer, so I e-mailed again and again and again, still no answers....To give credit, VPI makes a wonderfully made in USA product......But they need better communication or they will not survive in this business world of today.......Will
I realize that this is an ancient thread - prehistoric by internet terms actually
But I still feel the need to say something here with regards to VPI and the Weisfeld family’s dedication to what they do and to their customers

The OP’s cleaning machine was leaking in mid to late 2010...........while at the SAME TIME, the matriarch of the Weisfeld family (and co-founder of VPI) Sheila Weisfeld, was dying of cancer
She mercifully passed in 2011

So yeah, there was a time when service was distracted when dealing with VPI............EVERYbody felt it and for those who made a little effort to inquire, KNEW what was going on (it was not a secret)

It was, and still is, a very tiny family run business and a decade ago there were even fewer people working there than today (Sheila answered the phone, at least the few times I had to call with a problem) ALWAYS super kind and pleasant - Harry clearly married "up"

VPI has sent me replacement parts, gratis, for a cleaning machine and a table I bought from a dealer more than 20 years ago (and this in the past couple of years)

All I had to do was ask nicely and explain in detail (they always ask questions first) why I wanted what I needed (they are a bit skeptical about consumers doing "self-diagnostics" and I can’t say as I blame them)

and as for whimpering about the significant cost differential of buying repair/replacement parts from the manufacturer versus a wholesaler (or even retailer for that matter)?

Markup (tremendous) is standard practice in almost every durable goods business in the United States of America (think buying parts at the NEW car dealership rather your local parts house)

or try buying a part for your washing machine or refrigerator on line and see how that goes (items that "they" produce in the millions and often share the identical parts across half a dozen brand names)

Heck, you’d faint if you knew the markup on parts with your local INDEPENDENT mechanic..................

If you think VPI is "bad" take a look at the LEXICON MC-1 (just one example, and a 20 year old model now, that I have PERSONAL hands on experience with)

I bought it NEW - after about 10 years it died - smoked power supply and who knew what else could have possibly been taken out

They wanted over a Grand for a VERY generic switching power supply that is/was WELL documented as routinely failing (blows/burns out resistors) and this was less than 10 years ago, long after that model had been discontinued

Anyway, I digress................

LEXICON informed me that it was a proprietary PS, that THEY were the only source (I had originally requested a schematic and was going to simply repopulate the board with some decent resistors as that was the only fail evident) Unfortunately a few were burned beyond recognition and I didn’t want to guess the values

nor did I want to drop a Grand to find out that the PS failure had taken out something else that possibly WAS proprietary and making a repair not so cost effective a solution, as I would have to deal directly with LEXICON, maybe even an IC which was/is no longer available (the worst words to here in Solid State).................follow my diagnostic logic?

They again insisted "no schematic for you" as this design is PROPRIETARY

Bottom line, thankfully I can do a lot of my own work - I opened it up and the supply is/was little more than an ARTESYN 100-240VAC universal supply switching supply (and the cheapest build in their line up)

I was able to purchase one for about $25 bucks (and I had to switch/reverse the two wires in the plug for the power board) - guess THAT’S what made it "LEXICON/Harman" "proprietary"

a $25 dollar PS, NEW, at retail, in a pre-amp/processor that sold for $5,995 U.S. dollars in 2001, which they made quit clear that they didn’t give a crap whether I ever got working again or not.............not a Mom & Pop outfit like VPI but a multi-national folks

Something to think about

If the OP is still around?:
I am sorry that your RCM developed issues at such a sad and horrible time for the Weisfeld family

and for the record, I have ZERO as in NONE, affiliation with VPI or any of the Weisfeld family except that of being a (happy) owner of some of their products purchased through an authorized dealer

VPI is the EXCEPTION, rather the rule, and I wish there were more out there like them

Sorry for the sermon, but sometimes it’s good to think about both sides of a story