PSA: Be Careful Dealing With Uptone Audio

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jkeny

Industry Expert, Member Sponsor
Feb 10, 2012
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Hi Alex,
Interesting, I had a similar type of customer in 2019 who was buying one of my DACs second hand & wrote to me I'll use his initials M.M)

I warned him before he bought it off ebay to check with the seller that the batteries were fully working. When he received the DAC it was not working & I told him to return it - I don't like trying to troubleshot second hand DACs with a new owner - they can't answer if the DAC has been operated according to the user instructions.

Anyway, he wouldn't return it for whatever reason & about 40 emails later, I told him to stop with the emails & just return the DAC. He got irate & accused me of not having user guides or FAQs on my website as his reason for the excessive number of questions. He bought two new batteries, installed them & reported he loved the sound. A couple of days later he emailed to say the DAC had blown his B&W tweeters & he wanted a new DAC from me as compensation. I told him that was between him & the seller (I don;t believe his tweeters were blown, just that he ran the batteries down & when they are falling below 3V it can cause a harsh sound before the voltage falls below operational V - he probably wasn't operating the DAC according to the guidelines & had run the batteries down? But at this stage, with his threats & accusations I wasn't going to waste any more time/energy with him.

Shortly after, I got emails from a J.S interested in purchasing a new DAC & about 6 emails later he made a remark apologising for "his tedious questioning". I innocently told him that it was a normal level of emails/questions & related, in abbreviated form, my experience with the other customer. A couple of emails later he signs his mistakenly signs his email with M.M name. Don't know what he was trying to achieve writing to me under an alias.

Preserve us from such customers in 2020
 
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mikey8811

Well-Known Member
Dec 24, 2014
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The product we shipped you was brand new. It is still in your hands working. You were unhappy that the insides of the heads of the black end-plate screws showed a little silver from the torque of the driver bit. You sent me fuzzy photos claiming the screws were completely stripped. Such would only be possible if you tried to remove the screws with a hex/Allen key or the wrong-sized Torx bit.

Here are the photos you did not include which clearly show the damage

LPS 1.2 01.JPG

LPS 1.2 02.JPG

That is more than a "little bit of silver" showing - they are pretty stripped.

I do not own a hex/Allen key nor a Torx bit - wrong sized or otherwise and have not attempted to open the unit. I am guessing the previous owner of the used unit you sent me must have. Alternatively, Uptone must have used these implements when assembling the unit thereby causing and knowing what caused the damage.

This is a link to the video documenting the rattling noise:


There is no need to shake the unit to hear the noise. It was immediately apparent as I lifted the unit out of the box when I unpacked it.

You yourself admit to being aware of such damage to units which escape your poor quality control process.
Specifically:

" Perhaps the Torx T10 screwdriver tip my assistant was using to assemble was a bit worn. After many uses we throw away the bits if they start to mare the black of the Torx-star screw."

and

" Any rattle you hear is only from the entire circuit board not being held firm in the slots by pressure from the front/back plates. The PCB has close +/- tolerance for length, and sometimes a few are just 0.1mm short—enough to keep the end plates from holding it steady. We have a trick to fix that (a bit of electrical tape along the inside of the front plate is enough thickness), but perhaps we missed your unit or the temperature is different in your environment"

There is a recurring thread where you tellingly seem to know exactly what has caused the damage. Yet are not decent enough to take responsibility for your own negligence but rather ask me to open up the unit myself and mount electrical tape. As mentioned, I am not technically inclined nor do I own the implements necessary to fix issues with the used and/ or damaged unit you sent. I would have to pay a technician to so so which is ludicrous as I paid for a new and finished product which was clearly not shipped as such.

There is only your word that there are no loose parts and your words have been proven to lack credibility.

Good customer service only happens when you perform it. Not when you just talk endlessly about how good it is.
 

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adyc

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Jan 6, 2013
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It is very easy and cheap to buy a Torx screwdriver. The rattling noise is not very major. I do not find it is any big issue.
 
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howiebrou

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Jun 29, 2012
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It is very easy and cheap to buy a Torx screwdriver. The rattling noise is not very major. I do not find it is any big issue.

I think the point is you shouldn't need to change the screws and it shouldn't rattle. I would have sent it back, tried to get a refund and never buy from the same manufacturer again. But that's me.;)
 
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Brucemck2

Member Sponsor
May 10, 2010
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I’ve purchased four of their products (most recently their network switch) and all performed superbly. At one point I was having a hard time with a software update and I got great support via email that resolved it. The first post in this thread isn’t remotely representative of my experience with this company.
 
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mikey8811

Well-Known Member
Dec 24, 2014
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Here is more of Alex's "transparency" posted on another board. At least the poster had the consideration to redact and block out personal details from the emails unlike others.





"Sooo, not to get into he said she said here but I had a very similar experience with uptone audio. I on the other hand purchased all new direct from Alex products. This is my experience without bogging down into great detail.
1- several times my purchase was delayed even though product was paid. This happened on more than one occasion and occurred for two products I purchased. 2- I two had an iso regen fail and it was replaced after much bantering back and forth. So great but here’s an excerpt of correspondence;

Hi ——-
So let’s exchange the circuit board in your ISO REGEN for a new one (SQ is better, but we are not publicly discussing that since it is an in-line change; and one can tell version only by looking at the board).
Please mail just the IS REGEN (no PS or cables; and no special box—packing material/retail box is not returned) back to us at:
UpTone Audio LLC4647 Indian Peak RoadMariposa, California 95338USA
We will install a brand new board (so it will need some “break-in”) and ship back to you right away. Please include a note in the box.
Thanks and have a great weekend,—-——

I took issue with this statement “the sound quality is better but we are not publicly discussing it” this is where I started to get turned off from uptone products as it was disclosed to me that the early chips had issues and the third version was finally up to snuff. I’m not a fan of being a test bed for equipment from a company and it seams this is what was happening.
2: I also had an lps1.2 fail and again it was replaced and much like the op the replacement came back dinged up and looking used (in Alex’s defence he sent new end plates) again some correspondence;

Hi ——-
Thanks for your thoughtful feedback. Yes, we can certainly improve in some areas.
The LPS-1.2 issue was tough because:a) It took us a while to figure out why it was happening;b) It only occurred on about 5% of the units in the field, so we did not feel the need to alarm people (audiophiles are a skidish bunch and the LPS-1.2 is really our “cash cow”).
Even a failing LPS-1.2 could never harm an external device. Simply not possible with the safety design measures that are part of the product. So the possibility you raise was never a possibility—another reason we did not feel compelled to issue a formal alert. Such was considered carefully.
I’ll pick out and mail a nice pair of end panels for you. I assume that you have a Torx T10 size driver bit handy to remove the screws?
All the best,
———

again there was a issue with the product and failure rate. At the end of the day I sold all my uptone gear including a js2 and moved on. Alex seams like a really nice guy but parts of his business model seam a bit off. Just putting it out there that the op may seam vengeful but there is some merit in his dealings.
 

Superdad

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Apr 22, 2015
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Regarding @mikey8811's continuation of multi-forum posting of false or mis-leading statements and messages taken out of context, there is so much to unpack here, and really it is a waste of my time. But I will set some facts straight and well as repeat the basis for what all this is about--so folks can judge for themselves.



While it would normally be easier for me to quote sections and reply, it is clear that I am going to need to copy/paste this information into replies on the near half-dozen other sites where he is duplicating his baseless campaign. Also, a couple of the points I'll make make may be in response to falsehoods posted on one of the other forums.



A) He claims that we sold him (the only sale ever made to him directly, and it was at below our cost) a used UltraCap LPS-1.2. This is patently false. He bases this on only two things:

1) The fact that the black-oxide Torx screws we used look a bit ugly in their sockets (and I right away had offered to mail him a bag of new screws);

2) The fact that the unit he got happened to have a PCB board which was 0.1mm short (within our PCB firm's tolerances)--just enough so that the end plates don't squeeze the PCB enough to prevent a slight movement of the board in the case if you rock it from side-to-side.

3) We shipped his unit after receiving new boards and testing/assembling a new run. When we received payment from him, we simply took a full, retail boxed unit from the shelf and packed/shipped it. He received for $250 (including FedEx shipping) exactly what any other buyer would have received for $435 (plus shipping).

HE CAN PROVE TO HIMSELF THAT THE UNIT WAS NEW:

Every PCB in every product we produce has a 4-digit date code (this is different from version or revision number). On the UltraCap LPS-1.2 PCBs this number is located on the board next to the power switch. First 2 digits are the week number (01~52), second 2 digits are the year. In 2019 we produced two runs of 250 boards each. The first run was in February, the second run was in July--with boards actually received by us a couple months later. If Mr. Cheah slides the board from the case, he will find the date code of 2719. That is June 2019, when the bare board was produced--populating of board and receipt by UpTone was about 8 weeks after that.



B) He quotes another client who posted that he received goods back from us with nicks/dings/scratches on the cases:

1) Such damage NEVER occurs here at our facility. My assistant assembles hundreds of units and she comes to me when she sees even the smallest of blemishes on a new case or plate.

2) It is always astounding to us the condition that some repair units arrive to us, often due to the total lack of care taken either in their home use of it or in their packing for shipping. People send things to us loose in poly/Tyvek shipping envelopes. We also see people being extremely rough with I/O jacks--including ripping them from the PCB, tearing off traces in the process--and turning the boards to scrap.

3) We always return repairs in the same case as received it--and we wrap/pack in the same foam as new units. Sometimes we'll receive a unit with so many scars that I can't bear to send it back in that same case. So I'll pick out some vastly better looking--but still 'B' stock--chassis parts and use those.



C) He complains that when we repaired his original LPS-1 under warranty, we replaced his entire circuit board with one from someone else's unit. This is true, but to his benefit:

1) We could have repaired his old board. But it is a complex design, repairs take a lot of time, and there would be possibility of other parts having been stressed but not found/replaced.

2) Original UltraCap LPS-1 boards have not been produced since 2017. The model was discontinued and superseded by a more advanced, more costly design.

3) We sometimes accept trade-ins of working, original LPS-1 units from people who want to upgrade to the new model. That deal is $275. We do not make any money on these trade ins, but it does give us working units to use for repair/exchanges for the few LPS-1 units that come back for repair under warranty.

4) We sometimes also repair LPS-1 boards, but because Mr. Cheah is located overseas we felt it would be more prudent to send him a fully test traded-in board.

5) Yes, the original LPS-1, with about 2,000 units sold, had a higher than expected long-term failure rate--about 3%. With the more advanced LPS-1.2 we made a number of architectural changes to address reliability, though it too, owing to some complex aspects (candidly explained elsewhere) has had a few hiccups.



D) He posts about a user who was concerned that we replaced his ISO REGEN circuit board with a newer version. This is odd because:

a) I know who that gentleman is (in Canada) and I checked our records. THE UNIT HE SENT TO US WORKED PERFECTLY--on my bench with the LeCroy protocol analyzer, and in my audio system.

b) Because he was in Canada, and because I wanted to be sure to rule out his problem being with the ISO REGEN, we installed a newer board for him free of charge--and paid for the international shipping.

c) Like any manufacturer, we reserve the right to change and improve our products without notice. Sometimes there are very small parts where we can make a difference. Usually the change is on purpose, but sometimes a part will go out of production, forcing us to search for a equal or better substitute. The idea that we need to publicly disclose every in-line change is ridiculous.

d) If we make a large enough revision to the basic design of a product, we will announce that. All our circuit boards have version numbers. The boards are populated with tiny surface parts, placed and soldered by expensive machines in a factory. This is not the old days where hand updates can be made. And since the retail price of our products--at only double our actual costs--is most all in their single circuit board, offering to upgrade users to a slightly newer revision would be prohibitively expensive, either for us or for the customer.



E) Mr. Y.A. Cheah claims that he has not received any refund. This also is false.

1) Below is a screenshot of the notification of chargeback that I received from my e-commerce site. HE RECEIVED HIS MONEY BACK LAST YEAR!

2) It is UpTone who has lost--and much more than just the cost of the NEW PRODUCT WHICH HE STILL HAS IN HIS POSSESSION. There were shipping charges, the cost of the original replaced unit, and the hours spent both in e-mails with him and now in defending our reputation across multiple forums.

3) I have challenged the chargeback and it will be up to his credit card company to decide the matter in another month or so.

----

To summarize:

==This is a baseless campaign by a person who we treated well (as we do all our clients) but has some other agenda.

==This is about scratched screws and a perfectly working product with a circuit board which knocks 1mm from side-to-side in its rails if you shake it.

==Every true fact or e-mail from ANY UpTone client anywhere in the world will prove just how exemplary our customer service is. As do the many kind comments offered here and elsewhere.

==Am I perfect? No. Are our products perfect? No. But we are producing and selling good value products at a reasonable price and treating our clients more than fairly. (It is not as if we are selling products each costing thousands of dollars; And we have all heard stories about audio companies selling expensive products and not treating their customers well.)

== We often loose money going the extra mile and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Because I take the long view about generating customer loyalty. We don't advertise, so word-of-keyboard is what drives the business.

==This April marks the 10-year anniversary of UpTone Audio (begun in 2010 when I formed as an LLC with MusiCaps after the closure of Hovland Company). So we must be doing something right...

Really I am done with this matter now.

Cheers,

Alex Crespi

UpTone Audio LLC
 
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