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Re: My tf201 story so far
After 15 months, 7 repair round trips and two replacements, I finally got Tiger Direct to give me a full refund for my Prime. Here is the full ugly store which I took the time to document. Enjoy.
My not so excellent adventure with Asus.
As an engineer and scientist, I like gadgets that help me work faster, smarter or just make work more fun. That being said, I still went kicking and screaming from my LG feature phone into the brave new world of "smart phones." My best friend and business partner convinced me that his Android phone was the best tool he had ever had at making him more productive and it just integrated into his life seamlessly.
So, off to the Verizon store I went to get my new Motorola Droid X. If I was going to take the plunge, I was going to leave the keyboard behind as well. I loved it. Email anywhere, watching movies on a phone, audio books, all my music, everything in one place.
So it should come as no surprise that I looked forward to getting my hands on one of the new Android 10 inch tablets. Apple was never really a choice for me. As a Linux guy ( I am currently running Mint 14), I found the closed ways of Apple to be too stifling. An Android tablet with a quad core Tegra 3 processor with 1200 x 800 LCD display, now that I could wrap my geek mind around.
So, I ordered my Asus Transformer Prime..... and waited..... and waited. I was reading about the endless delays, the Wi-Fi problems, GPS problems, etc, etc. But this was Asus. A company with a great reputation for innovation and quality!!! Or at least that was my impression.
I finally got my tablet in January of 2012. Again, like all the other "early adopters", there were teething pains. Since the unit came with Honeycomb,, the leap to Ice Cream sandwich was greatly anticipated. But there were problems. The devices liked to reboot frequently, and the Wi-Fi performance was nothing to write home about. My lowly little Motorola Droid X could get more bars and outperform the big bad Asus Tegra 3 equipped tablet, especially in terms of signal strength.
But the tablet was cool and I soldiered on. Little nagging problems like screen issues, dropping Wi-Fi connections while the unit was asleep, and persistent occasional reboots were tolerated. Then, one day I realized something. When I really had to rely on a computer to get a job done, I turned to my desktop and laptop. The Transformer Prime was for the fluff work. It just wasn't ready for prime time (pun intended). I couldn't count on it.
Then in August of last year, it all came to a head. I was fed up with a very expensive piece of hardware failing me repeatedly. After all, I had bought the big daddy of android tablets, with 64GB internal storage and keyboard/ docking station. I thought I had a laptop replacement, kind of a "laptop lite" so to speak.
Here is what I was then living with:
1) Frequent rebooting
2) Losing Wi-Fi while unit is asleep, had to turn Wi-Fi off, then on to restore Wi-Fi
3) Unit has to be booted to turn on after sleep
4) while the unit is off, the speaker clicks
5) sporadic raster scan lines on left side of display
I would walk by the tablet which I hadn't touched in hours and it would be rebooting. I would try to wake the unit up, and I would have to hold the power on button for long moments, and then the tablet would cold boot before I could use it.
One of the more obnoxious little gremlins was that I have a battery powered amplifier with a pair of Polk Audio speakers that I use to listen to NPR, or music or other on-line programs when I am in the kitchen. The tablet stays on the kitchen counter for easy access to the web and other necessary stuff like recipes or movies listings. This way, I don't have to walk downstairs to my office every time I need to go on line or something.
Anyway, when I plugged in the amplifier to the 3.5mm audio jack on the Prime, and the prime went to sleep, it would make a screeching sound through the speakers. I tested my phone, my children's iPhones, iPods, mp3 players, everything I could find. Nothing made noise through the audio jack when it was asleep. I even tried USB powered speakers from different vendors. Anything that was internally amplified would pick up the noise from the tablet when it was turned off.
And if that wasn't bad enough, when I would get done reading at night and put the Prime to sleep at the head of the bed, the speaker would click. It would just click once at random intervals, but it was distinct and drove my wife and I crazy. So I would have to power down the unit before I could go to sleep.
So I called Asus and talked to the customer care people. That is a euphemism for what Asus delivers. The person on the other end of the line apologized profusely for the trouble I was having. I told him I didn't want his apologies, I needed the tablet to be as reliable as my phone or any of the other electronic gadgets I was proud to own. He first suggested that I do a factory reset to see if that cleared up the problems. I didn't think it would, and I really dreaded having to completely rebuild my tablet environment again, but Asus was not going to do anything until I took that step.
At this point, I have to give Google credit for doing all that they can to make the reinstall part of the factory reset as painless as possible. As many of you know, it takes time to download everything, put your personal files back on the device and just make it yours again.
As I suspected, nothing had changed, reboots, noise, Wi-Fi loss, it was all still there.
So, now it was back to Asus customer care. I got an RMA number and was invited to send the unit in for testing/repair, at my expense of course. In this one regard Apple has it all over the rest of the consumer electronics industry.
When I got the unit back, it didn't behave much differently so I called Asus back. This time they covered the return shipping. I took the time to send a letter to Steve Chang, President of Asus USA in Fremont, CA. You can read my October 4, 2012 letter for yourself which is included here for your enjoyment.
As a harbinger of things to come, in preparation for writing my letter, I called out to Fremont and asked for the name of the President of Asus North America and was told they would not disclose that information. So a few searches on the web later, and I was snail mailing to Steve Chang, President, Asus USA.
Not only did I not receive a response of any kind from Steve Chang, I got a tablet back that had more parts replaced and still didn't do much better. However, while they had the unit, they managed to misalign the micro SD card slot, so that when I put the SD card in the slot, the card went between the card cage and the device bezel.
As carefully as possible I tried to remove the card and somehow damaged it since it would no longer work in any device once I got it out. So now I was out a Class 10 32GB micro SD card.
I had rebuilt the tablet environment three times so far and still did not have a tablet that was stable and trustworthy. So back to customer care. This time, I called Fremont, CA., the US headquarters for Asus and tried to get a real manager on the phone, a person whom I could talk turkey with.
I should also point out that I had placed a call to Tiger Direct which is where I had bought the Prime from in the first place. I finally got a manager and related my saga to him. He said they couldn't do anything after 30 days and I would have to work it out with Asus. He seemingly threw me a life line at the end by saying he had a great relationship with a high level manager at Asus and he would call him and have the man get in touch with me. I should expect to hear something back that very day. That was months ago. When I tried to call back to Tiger Direct 2 days later, I couldn't get back to a manager, and since he didn't give me his name, I was at a dead end there.
So now that I was working with the Fremont customer care people, and they were apologizing for all my troubles, I just knew things were going to get better. Okay, so I am an eternal optimist. I told Aaron L, he was my new go to guy for all things Asus Transformer Prime, that I was fed up with the tablet and Asus' service, that this time when I got the unit back, that the internal speaker didn't work at all. Nothing, nada. When I plugged in a headset or an external amplifier, that worked great. But of course it still had that wonderful screeching sound coming from the audio jack when it went to sleep and it would still lose Wi-Fi during sleep mode.
I was told that since the internal speaker was a new problem I would have to pay for the return shipping. I was incensed. I still had old problems, but because I had a new problem that was obviously caused by something they did when they replaced the motherboard again, it was my fault and I had to pay for the shipping to return a piece of junk back to Asus.
I was really feeling the customer care love by now. So I wrote another letter to Steve Chang, included a copy of the previous letter and sent a courtesy copy of all of it to Aaron L. This time, I was demanding a replacement tablet, and not another TF201 transformer Prime. I wanted a TF700.
You see, I had spent so much time on the phone with so many Asus customer care people, I had been querying them on the reliability of the Prime. Several were forthright enough to admit that the Prime was not a stable product. The TF700 and TF300 were good stable products. I had paid almost $700 for the tablet and docking station and I wanted a quality product I could count on and enjoy using.
I had been nice enough to detail my liquidated damages to date in the second letter to Steve Chang, just so they knew I was serious about their having supplied me a tablet which was substandard.
Well, if you are betting folks, I'll bet that you can guess what kind of a response I got from Stevie Chang this time. You guessed it, crickets. Not a peep. I did however get a replacement tablet, another Prime of course. Remember when I first mentioned that one of the original problems/ complaints about the Prime was its poor Wi-Fi reception, well this one is atrocious. When I put the tablet on the kitchen counter, I get between one bar and zero bars. The throughput is at 1Mb per second according to the Android Wi-fi status page. My current Droid X2 phone gives me a reading of -74 db using Wi-Fi Analyzer and the tablet is at -84 db, one whole decade lower than my tiny little several year old smart phone.
Of course when I called Fremont, they are very good at directing you into customer care. I could not get in touch with any one in management, even when I specifically asked to be put through to a manager. After holding for 20 minutes I hung up.
I sent an email to Aaron L informing him that I wanted a full refund, I was done with Asus, I didn't want any more of their customer care. He was nice enough to point out that they had tested the unit before it was sent out and I could return it for testing and repair. My confidence in their testing and repair knows no bounds.
In all my years, I have never seen a company do such a good job of hiding behind automated phone attendants . My son had a problem with Microsoft when he tried to extend his warranty on his Xbox. They misread the date on the receipt and told him that they would not renew his warranty. I helped him compose a letter to Bill Gates. The letter was respectful, informative and simply asked that the problem be fixed. Within 2-3 days of the letter getting to Redmond, WA. my son got a call from Bill Gates personal secretary (well, that was who she claimed to be), and she gave him a telephone number to call and the name of a person to speak with. With one phone call the problem was fixed.
I have done the same thing with a Siemens multi-line phone system I had bought for my home office that proved to be quite troublesome. With one letter, the problem was fixed.
This time the tablet was replaced again but I had to wait a month to get it. The bulk shipment from Taiwan was running behind. So now I had my third TF201 Transformer Prime tablet. The result? Same, same. Poor Wi-Fi, lost Wi-Fi during sleep, noise from the speaker. I would almost give Asus kudos for building consistently crappy product but after about 10 days, this tablet developed a whole new level of gremlin. If I tried to watch a movie or listen to music that was stored on the tablet, it would play for a while then just freeze up. I could use the home key, or back out from the app. If I tried to restart the video or music, it would just lock up without playing. I would have to reboot and then all would be good for five, ten or even fifteen minutes. Then wash, rinse repeat.
I was beyond my breaking point. I sent an email to Aaron L. and he was kind enough to send me an RMA to return the tablet for "evaluation". This was the third tablet, What's the old saw about doing the same thing and expecting a different result? I was going insane.
So out of shear desperation, I called Tiger Direct back. I was connected with a manager after I told my tale of woe to a nice young lady. I got to a manager who said his name was Alex. I recognized his voice from my call of so many months ago. I regaled him with my saga since we last spoke and he simply asked if I had the original packaging. I replied in the affirmative. He said I would have an RMA for return and full credit by the end of the day. In fact, I did.
Several days after I returned the Asus TF201, I got a letter from a law firm letting me know that I could take part in a class action settlement regarding the Wi-Fi and GPS performance of he TF201. I was ineligible if I had returned my table for a full refund. I was never so happy to be ineligible for anything in my life.
I am currently shopping for a new tablet. Needless to say it will NOT be an Asus. I still want the keyboard/ docking station like the Prime, and HP just announced such a critter.
A few parting comments:
In this era of impersonal texting and a frenetic pace that we maintain in our lives, have we so lost our own self-respect that we no longer demand we be treated better than sources of corporate cash flow? The web is rife with the sordid details of Asus' missteps with the Transformer Prime. They rushed it to market before they fixed all the problems. I have no problem when a company makes a mistake. Oh, how I wish I was perfect.
I have demonstrated numerous times I will take the time to communicate with a company, inform them of my problem and give them the opportunity to correct the problem. I would hope that any customer, friend or loved one would afford me the same courtesy. Asus has demonstrated on more than 7 occasions that its brand of customer care is no care at all.
I strongly urge everyone to take heed and demand more of our corporate "citizens." Just because Asus is from Taiwan doesn't mean we can't hold them to good ol' American standards of conduct (yeah, those 1950s standards, not the current ones).
October 4, 2012
President, ASUS Computer International
800 Corporate Way
Fremont, CA 94538-3287
I am writing to you about the Asus EEE Pad TF201 Transformer Prime tablet I purchased. You can reference RMA #s USG7297512 and USG72A1671. I have owned an Android phone for several years and was eager to own an Android tablet. I wanted the best I could find and waited for the Prime. It was a serious tablet, from a great company. I also liked the idea of the keyboard/ docking station.
Having owned Asus motherboards and an Asus laptop, I was smitten with the design innovations and quality I had experienced with my Asus purchases previously. That lead me to purchase an Asus gaming tablet for my son in August, replacing a long line of Dell laptops.
I had heard about the Wi-Fi issue, and then the GPS issue with the TF201, but it was the only Tegra 3 tablet available and I had confidence in Asus.
So I purchased my shiny new TF201 in January after waiting about 6 weeks from the date of order placement. There were several updates to address issues and I, as well as all other early adopters lived through them. I was supposed to get a GPS dongle which I called about several times and was promised but never received.
Six or 8 weeks ago I started experiencing several persistent and irritating problems with the tablet. These are documented in the RMA but the list includes:
6) Frequent rebooting
7) Losing Wi-Fi while unit if asleep, had to turn Wi-Fi off, then on to restore Wi-Fi
8) Unit has to be booted to turn on after sleep
9) while the unit is off, the speaker clicks
10) sporadic raster scan lines on left side of display
So I was told to do a factory reset. Which I did, and completely rebuilt the application environment, at the cost of several hours.
Then I was instructed to send the unit in for repair, which I did. The paperwork reflects that the main board was replaced.
I received the tablet back two days ago and once again rebuilt the application environment.
The speaker now makes a high pitched noise when sleeping when attached to an external speaker/ amplifier.
I still lose Wi-Fi while the unit is asleep. And this morning the display went crazy when I turned the unit on. I had to turn the unit off and back on to restore the display.
After spending nearly $700.00 for a 64 gigabyte tablet with docking station, a sum which would get me a pretty nice laptop, to have these ongoing problems is disappointing and a colossal waste of time and money.
When I spoke with the customer service representative I asked if there was an Asus Android tablet that was reliable and stable. He made mention of the TF700 as being the most stable and reliable Android tablet that Asus currently offers. I made clear that I would accept a swap out of the TF201 for a comparable 64 GB TF700.
I shipped back the tablet and docking station today to the Grapevine, TX facility. I hope you can expedite this replacement so that I lose no more time and productivity with this issue.
Thank you for you prompt attention to this matter. I would prefer to remain a satisfied member of the Asus customer family.
Ed Wahler, President
December 17, 2012
ASUS Customer Care Team
cc: Steve Chang
President, ASUS Computer International
800 Corporate Way
Fremont, CA 94538-3287
I am returning the Asus TF201 tablet to Asus once again; for the fourth time in 4 months actually. Therefore, this letter is intended to memorialize the issues, the events and the expenses I have incurred to date as result of the poor design and build quality of this tablet.
When I got the tablet in January of this year, I had already heard about the poor Wi-Fi and GPS performance issues due to the aluminum case. I also suffered through the early frequent reboot problems. Several software updates were installed while this problem was addressed.
Then about 7 months into the device's life, the problems became many and varied. To restate just a few:
1) The device would either reboot randomly or turn itself off. This could happen while it was in use or asleep. I would walk by the device which I had not used for hours and it would be rebooting. I go months without rebooting my Android cell phone.
2) The screen would get raster scan lines on the left side, making reading very difficult.
3) The device would lose Wi-Fi connectivity while it was asleep whereby I would have to go into settings, turn Wi-Fi off, then on at which point it would immediately connect to the Wi-Fi router. This problem persists to this day, even after two mother board changes.
4) When the device is connected to an external amplifier,/ speakers, when asleep, it makes a high pitched screeching sound from the 3.5mm headset port. I have tried several external speaker setups, and they all behave the same way. Anything with some gain will pickup the noise and transmit it to the speakers. My Motorola cell phone, my children's iPhones, several ipods and other mp3 players have no such problem. Sounds like poor design and shielding to me.
5) When the unit was returned the first time, I attempted to reinstall the Class 10, 32gb micro SD card I had previously been using in the tablet. As I inserted the card into the slot, it failed to engage with the card receptacle. Instead, it became lodged between the receptacle and the tablet housing. During my technician's attempts to extricate the card with a small screw driver and tweezers, the card must have been damaged since it no longer worked. Liquated damages $35.00.
6) The Asus return policy says remove all screen protectors and other affixations. It cost me $26.00 each time I had the techs at BestBuy replace Zagg screen protector and body protector. Zagg replaced the Invisishield the first time, but since their product did not fail, I purchased replacements the second two times at a cost of 35.99 each time. Liquidated damages (26.00 +26.00 +26.00 +35.99 +35.99) = 149.98.
7) My CFO puts the value of my time at $275.00 per hour as President of International Energy Development. Each time the tablet was returned as well as the factory reset prior to returning the tablet as directed by Asus customer support, I had to spend approximately two hours reinstalling the apps, loading data and testing the tablet in the demonstration system which I bought the device for. Total time 8 hours. I use the device to connect via blue tooth to an energy management system which we license to certain OEMs. As a result of the continually unreliable performance of the tablet, I have had to continue transporting a full laptop to the customer locations in which I demonstrated our equipment. The reason I bought the TF-201 was because it was from Asus, a company I thought engineered and manufactured quality products as well as the docking staion which gave me full keyboard capability. Having to carry a laptop has cost me additional expense at airports, time and hassle. Liquated damages $2200.00.
8) The last time the tablet was returned, I later discovered that the internal speaker does not work. This past week I also discovered that there seems to be no sound transmitted out the HDMI port when connected to an HDMI TV or monitor. The sound only comes out the 3.5mm audio jack.
9) The placement of the micro SD card receptacle is also still not proper, at least not as it was when the unit was first delivered to me.
So three problems persist, two old and one new one. The micro SD card slot and the Wi-Fi loss during sleep mode are persistent from at least the first repair. The sound problem is the latest device failure. Pursuant to my state's lemon law, I am now entitled, as a matter of law, to a replacement unit.
However, during my many conversations with your own support personnel, they were honest enough to admit that the TF-201 is not a very stable product. They intimated that the TF-701 is a much better product. Having just reviewed the history of this particular tablet, I have zero confidence that the long term performance of the TF-201 will meet my expectations nor the express warranty representations made by Asus. As this tablet comes upon the one year since delivery date, I have to strongly consider my options regarding what to do with this tablet and its costs to date.
I have been asked to submit an article to an online technology publication documenting my experience and history with the Asus TF-201. Since I want this over, as well as I would believe that you would also, I make the following proposal: Exchange my TF-201 for a TF-701. Remember that I also have the TF-201 docking station. I will not disclose the swap to any outside entity. The article I submit will simply detail the extraordinary lengths Asus went to fix my problems and how professional and courteous Asus staff were to work with. It can end there. I can use the tablet for the original purpose which it was intended, and then I can finally tell my sales team that the Asus tablets are approved for use with our energy management system as a blue tooth control terminal.
The other option is I have no choice but to pursue my liquated damages currently totaling $2384.98. As Honda found out, one person can make a difference in small claims court.
I am including a copy o the letter I sent to Steve Chang on October 4, 2012, which went un-responded too I might add.
I await your decision. I can be reached at XXX-XXX-XXXX.