Let me start off by saying that this piece is a significant deviation from our norm. I’m writing this in response to over a month of frustration and poor service which, while not terribly remarkable in and of itself, is something I simply can’t ignore from a company that makes its living off of gamers.
Gamers are typically tech-savvy. We do research before we invest in our electronics. It was with that level of scrutiny that I decided to purchase an Astro Gaming A30 headset with 5.8 GHz wireless system early this year. I was extremely excited to be able to bring Dolby Surround Sound into the rooms in my house that aren’t equipped with a home theatre system.
My excitement has eroded to pure disappointment over the past six months, though, through a series of poor customer service experiences.
The first problem I ran into was with the initial shipping. Astro Gaming is located on in San Francisco. Regardless of where you are located, they ship via FedEx Home Delivery. This service typically takes a week to get from one end of the country to the other. I knew this going in. Unfortunately, my initial shipment was delayed a number of days (despite assurances on the Astro Gaming website that orders go out within one business day). They did manage to charge my credit card days before shipping, though (which is also contrary to their policy). I did get a refund on my shipping, which was a completely acceptable appeasement- until the package actually arrived.
When the order finally did get to me nearly two weeks after ordering, it had been mispacked. Instead of the USB chat cable (required for voice communication with the wireless system on PS3 and PC/Mac), I was sent an Australian power converter. Stuff happens and I assumed that it would be a simple matter to have this corrected. Instead, I was forced to contact three different people, take photos of all of my equipment, parts of my equipment, and the incorrect item to prove that I didn’t receive the USB chat cable. All of these hoops were to make sure I was not trying to steal a $10 item on a $260 order. It was insulting, unprofessional and I was made to feel like a criminal
Until late May, I enjoyed my wireless system and even purchased a set of custom speaker tags using their very cool online design tool. I was happy. Astro Gaming staff even made it possible for me to purchase an additional power supply for my transmitter (Tx) so that I could more easily move the system from room to room.
About two months ago, though, when I started podcasting and playing PC games again, I got reports from friends that there was significant trouble with my microphone. These issues had never emerged when using my system with my consoles. When I had the Tx connected to both my digital output and the USB chat cable, my voice sounded robotic (to the point where I could easily emulate a Dalek shouting “exterminate!”). I did some research on Astro Gaming’s forums to find that this problem wasn’t entirely uncommon. Unfortunately, each of these threads terminates with advice to contact support directly. No one shared their post-contact experiences, or if they were even able to remedy the situation.
I contacted support and, after some emails back and forth with one of their representatives, it was determined that my wireless system needed to be repaired or replaced. Before sending the items back, though, I purchased a second miniToslink to Toslink cable (each of my three computers has a combination port), just to make sure that it wasn’t the cable. The new cable arrived and the problem persisted on each of the computers. Off went my wireless system and chat cable.
Nearly three weeks later, I received a box back from Astro Gaming. Inside were a brand new chat cable- and my original equipment. There was no information about the problem, or the results of evaluation, and the new chat cable didn’t help. I was extremely unhappy. Getting in touch with support became an exercise in frustration, as I simply wasn’t getting a response. I took my disappointment to Twitter and finally got some attention from Stan Press, a marketing representative from Astro Gaming. Stan was extremely helpful in getting me first a new Tx then a new receiver (Rx) quickly. Unfortunately, the problem persisted. It was still impossible to get actual troubleshooting support from Astro Gaming and I was left to spend hours researching and diagnosing the problems without any guidance.
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