Viking Acoustics - buyer beware!

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djsina2

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May 31, 2019
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I hope the mods leave this post up since there have been a few people who have reached out to me about Viking Acoustics products since I owned 3 different pairs over ~7 years and had good experiences. When I placed an order for my 4th pair everything went wrong. This was roughly a half cash and half trade-in credit with my current pair. I paid the cash in Aug 2019 and sent my trade-in speakers shortly after that. To make a long story short there were some setbacks (original speakers painted wrong color), some changes of plans for various reasons (could not source good wood), and by the time things got on track COVID-19 hit. I was extremely forgiving of the situation due to what was happening in the world. Every few months I would try to check in but there was never any sort of firm ETA. In the spring of 2021 I started to doubt whether I would ever receive these speakers. I was now at the 20 month mark with no audio (shipped my trade-in pair in 2019) so I placed an order with another manufacturer. Of course as soon as I did this my Viking's were ready to ship...

Before the speakers even arrived Viking apologized for the poor packaging (this is important later). When the speakers arrived I was shocked they were not destroyed and even emailed Viking this. From my memory they were shipped in cheap Home Depot moving boxes which were barely big enough to hold each speaker. The delicate wood horns stick up above the top of the cabinet and were very close to the box with essentially zero protection. There was very little packaging inside the boxes, just some scraps of foam and whatnot that looked leftover from something else. The first stand I pulled from the box had a big ding in the wood. This was obviously shipped to me this way because the box had no damage and it was the center pillar of the stand which would have been impossible to hit once in the box. I then pulled the speakers out and saw the finish of the black painted cabinets was cracking all over. Also, none of the imperfections of the ply were filled prior to painting so there were voids and divots all over. Extremely amateur looking for a retail $15k speaker! I asked Viking about why these were shipped to me like this and their response was "it gives it character". The other issue was I use a specific set of speaker cables with a certain size spade and also a ground lead. I made it clear from the start that I needed the binding posts and ground lug to fit these cables. I even drew a nice schematic of it in Visio and sent it to Viking at the start. I was assured this would be taken care of and I reminded them at least a couple times long the way. Despite all my effort they paid no attention to it and my cables would not fit.

Viking refused to take the speakers back despite all the issues. They said I could ship them back, they would refinish them, then list them on their site for sale. They made it clear that I still own them. So, I re-packaged them back into the same boxes, using the same scraps of packing material, and shipped them back. Of course on the way back one of the horns gets destroyed and Viking blames me. They make a new horn for it and get it listed on the website for sale sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2021. In Dec 2021 I finally see the status change to SOLD on their site so I ask where my money is. Viking says they are not sold but will send back some of my money. After prodding them a second time for my money they sent a check for 90% of my cash payment, as in I am still out 10% cash plus the trade-in value of my original speakers. A few months later after more excuses and lies I became aware that a WBF member purchased these speakers and indeed his check was cashed in Dec 2021. I confronted Viking on this who still continued to say they were not sold yet. When I pressed harder on where the rest of my money is Viking would respond with cryptic one sentence emails like "we're in the middle of a major hiccup" and "we're in the middle of re-organizing". They would not answer my direct question of "why are you not returning my money?".

In the end I am out X thousands of dollars, went without audio for almost 2 years, was delivered a laughable product, and have wasted so much time dealing with this company and their lies. There are many great speakers out there and trustworthy companies to deal with. Save yourself a major headache.
 

djsina2

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Some pictures of the finish that both speakers had…
 

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bazelio

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Yikes. When you say cash, does that mean he only accepted wire transfer payment (in addition to partial trade-in value)? What's the small claims situation like in New Mexico (I think that's where Viking is)? You deserve every penny back. I can understand that at some point, however, it may become a question of time and hassle vs whatever remaining debt you're owed. Bummer.
 

treitz3

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The tube lair in beautiful Rock Hill, SC
The post will remain.

Tom
 

djsina2

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May 31, 2019
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Yikes. When you say cash, does that mean he only accepted wire transfer payment (in addition to partial trade-in value)? What's the small claims situation like in New Mexico (I think that's where Viking is)? You deserve every penny back. I can understand that at some point, however, it may become a question of time and hassle vs whatever remaining debt you're owed. Bummer.
Sorry, cash meant paying with debit/credit card. Unfortunately that payment was made over 30 months ago at this point so I have no avenue to work through my bank. The small claims is something I should look into but being on the other side of the country won’t make it easy. Still cannot understand why Viking just doesn’t return the money I’m owed. I did absolutely nothing wrong during this ordeal but they are implying that by stealing my money.
 

TheMooN

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What a shocking story @djsina2 , my commiserations to you and hope that this company makes good and proper restitution to you.

A statement from their website home page gives some indications of what’s going on however doesn’t come close to absolving them of their obligations and for the way that you have been treated.

” Existing Order Update:

We're working through the supply chain and labor issues currently. This has affected the supply of fine woods and components. Local labor issues are also a factor but to a less degree. We are accepting Orders on TubeMaster and Berlin Evo at this time.

Thank you for your patience. “
 

djsina2

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That message has been there for years. If I owned a company and knew I couldn’t supply a quality product I would stop taking orders and let the existing customers have a way out. The speakers I ended up with are also handmade by a very small company. They said 45 days to complete, during the height of COVID-19, and it was done on time and to perfection (with amazing packaging).

I didn’t want to make this thread but after 2.5 years of nonsense I’m fed up. I’ve exhibited far more patience than any sane person would.
 

tvad

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Aug 22, 2021
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As one who was considering Viking Acoustics loudspeakers, I thank you for posting your experience.
 

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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Wow, I'm sorry to hear this. I know David, before Viking he owned dc10 Audio so he's been making speakers for a very long time and I've never heard anything like this before.

That said, this isn't the first time I've seen something like this happen to small manufacturers, and not just in audio, it's unfortunately somewhat common. I'm also into racing cars and mt bikes, it's the same in these industries too. Right before dc10 Audio was sold I showed with them at RMAF along with Audio Tekne, and at the same show I provided AC power products to Vapor Audio and Lampizator. Vapor had similar issues and I'm not sure they exist anymore. What we can't see is why, and I assure you David at Viking must have some very difficult circumstances for this to happen. I'm not sure what it is but I hope he can make it right for you in time @djsina2, I think if given enough time he will but that certainly doesn't excuse what's happened. So, I'd keep the door open to receiving money, and in time I think it's likely you'll get paid back, I am sure this is not what David wants to do. With Vapor, it's owner's wife died in a fire while traveling and I don't think he ever got over it and couldn't maintain the business, which was struggling to keep up with orders before that. It's sad, both Viking and Vapor made excellent speakers and had tons of happy customers, but also some really unhappy ones too. So I'd encourage folks to understand these things are a result of very difficult personal circumstances and not just unscrupulous people trying to scam others. That certainly does not justify dishonesty or delivery of sub-par or defective products though.

As most of you know by now I have a speaker I've been working on and this kind of issue is exactly why I'm not selling it yet. I'm working on it but I've decided my business model can't involve taking orders, I'll make speakers and sell them when they are completed. I am not willing to complicate my life to the point my business is 100% of what I do either, there has to be a balance and if I can't find a good way to do it I won't do it. These kinds of issues are something I am unwilling to get myself involved with.

Not that that's the case here, but it's also common for customers to be unreasonable. I just had a potential customer ship back cables after 3 months with no communications whatsoever and if I don't refund him he's sure to file a fraudulent chargeback case and will probably come on forums complaining about it and trying to harm my business. That's life I guess. I just try not to stress about it. Whether you're the buyer or the seller issues are sure to come up no matter what you do. I wish everyone the best in these difficult circumstances.
 

djsina2

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@DaveC I am partially blaming you because I bought dc10 (Viking) based off your feedback from 2013 RMAF. :D

Like I said, I was a happy repeat customer for 7 years. I have no idea why Viking is doing this. None of this was my problem or fault, none. Any reasonable company would have never shipped an item like I received. I mean look at those pictures, am I the crazy one? In the end none of this even matters anymore. They sold goods which were owned by ME and stole my money.
 
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DaveC

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@DaveC I am partially blaming you because I bought dc10 (Viking) based off your feedback from 2013 RMAF. :D

Like I said, I was a happy repeat customer for 7 years. I have no idea why Viking is doing this. None of this was my problem or fault, none. Any reasonable company would have never shipped an item like I received. I mean look at those pictures, am I the crazy one? In the end none of this even matters anymore. They sold goods which were owned by ME and stole my money.

I agree, you are not crazy and imo you are a victim of theft or fraud. I hope that David compensates you eventually.

I accept responsibility and will give you at least $20 off any ZenWave cable you'd like... :)
 
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djsina2

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Here's a summary of all the communication over the past 6 months:

Viking 11/13/21 - We'll be sending you some money this week and then again next week

Me 12/10/21 - Any update on sending the money?

Viking 12/10/21 - Give us your mailing address

Me 12/10/21 - Mailing address sent

** I received the check for 90% of my cash payment on 12/20/21 **

Me 1/28/22 - Any update on the rest of my payment?

Me 2/4/22 - Please provide update on payment

Viking 2/8/22 - They are not sold

Me 3/20/22 - When am I getting my money? Someone on the forum has my speakers

Viking 3/20/22 - Payment next week, the buyer just received them

Me 3/28/22 - Did you mail my check?

Viking 3/28/22 - We're in the middle of a major hiccup

Me 3/28/22 - Why is my money being used for this?

Viking 3/28/22 - We refunded your payment already and finally sold your damaged speakers

Me 4/7/22 - Why do you refuse to return my money?

Viking 4/8/22 - We should be able to send you money next week

Me 4/21/22 - You were paid for my speakers months ago, why are you not returning my money?

Viking 4/21/22 - We're in the middle of re-organizing, sorry for the delay

Me 4/21/22 - Why are you holding my money and refusing to return it? I have nothing to do with your re-organizing.

Viking 4/21/22 - You should have taken more care in packing them, they were damaged in the return shipment

Me 4/21/22 - I packaged them the same as I received them from you with the same poor packing materials

And that's it, no communication since then. Obviously Viking is trying to pin the blame on the customer for 1. their shoddy workmanship and 2. their shoddy packing job.
 
Feb 14, 2022
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So disheartening to hear of a company in this very small industry, not taking care of their customers. I know I will never even consider making a purchase from this unethical organization.
 

djsina2

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I’ve received an email from Viking demanding I remove this “inflammatory” post or I’m never getting paid. Viking states if I do get paid they will be deducting the shipping and repair costs from what I’m owed.

They also said the boxes were not from Home Depot they were from Bubbles & Boxes. Not sure what that is but I apologize for my misinformation! Whatever they were, not suitable for shipping valuable delicate speakers.
 

TheMooN

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Interesting that they referred to your posts as “Inflammatory” rather than inaccurate and defamatory, which one would usually expect when a customer lifts the rock on an audio forum.
 
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I am not sure you will receive a dime from these folks even if you take the post down.

I am of the opinion that they should give you a full refund and pickup the garbage they shipped you.
This is a very small market and they are tainted now!
 
Feb 14, 2022
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This line from your original post is what I am formulating my opinion on.

I didn’t want to make this thread but after 2.5 years of nonsense I’m fed up. I’ve exhibited far more patience than any sane person would.
 

djsina2

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They were paid for MY speakers by the new owner back in Dec 2021 and refused to pay me. And if you think about it they sold my trade-in speakers years ago. How long am I supposed to wait, 5 years? They’ve proven over and over (see the last 6 months of messages) that they have no intent of paying me. Since they were MY speakers they sold (their words) the funds should have immediately been forwarded to me.
 

TheMooN

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No idea whether there is such a facility in the US but for my part I would be having a discussion with a ‘No Win No Fee’ firm of solicitors ( altho they are fewer on the ground than there used to be due to changes in litigation insurance cover )
 
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