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Author Topic: Flex Radio: terrible marketing communications  (Read 8982 times)
K4FMH
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« on: January 28, 2013, 11:51:00 AM »

As Forums Coordinator for the 2013 Capital City Hamfest sponsored by the Jackson (MS) ARC, I met with Vice President, Sales and Marketing Greg Jurrens, K5GJ, about doing a Skype-in session during an SDR Forum. He agreed and said it might be an innovative means by which their sized company could reach smaller hamfests like ours (~ 1,200 attendees for years). He assigned a Mrs. Hicks in their sales group to coordinate with me. I emailed her numerous times prior to the Hamfest to confirm and to coordinate a novel idea that K5GJ suggested: remote control of a Flex 6000 class transceiver at the end of the Forum!

Mrs. Hicks, wife of VP of Engineering Steve Hicks, N5AC, never returned a single email. A month before the Hamfest, I called Flex Radio and re-confirmed their participation in the Forum with Greg Jurgens. He confirmed and said he would handle it himself and was 99% certain that the 6700 model would be available for some of our attendees to operate remotely. Thus, I advertised the session to be given by Jimmy Wooten, N5VSB, with Flex Radio's participation. I also emailed them regularly as did N5VSB as last weekend's ham fest approached. Not one reply!

I completely understand when a company cannot keep a scheduled appointment. Things happen. What I cannot understand is the lack of good business practice and common courtesy by fellow hams who are effectively promoting your company's product. Please note that I am a Flex 3000 owner and love it. Moreover, I enjoy SDR in general and have owned a Perseus SDR since they appeared on the market so these comments are not based on any anti-Flex ideologies. My other business dealings with this company have been most positive. This one, however, was not!
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NI0Z
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 01:40:36 PM »

A great reason to never tie yourself to a vendor.  Ultimately they will fail to meet expectations, communicate incorrectly, ect. 

I enjoy being vendor neutral these days.  No vendor is safe from my scrutiny or candid feedback.  This is a freedom we can enjoy if we don't ever align ourselves.

I suspect it's going to take a bit for Flex to deliver on the software portion of the radio.  I am not sure when they started coding, however, something of the size and magnitude of what they would have to create is probably at minimum an 18 month endevour to deliver something that represents quality.

I own and operate a flex today, it does ok, it's a CPU hog though.
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K4FMH
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 03:22:34 PM »

NI0Z,

I'm not tied to a particular vender...we just had requests for Forum presentations on Software Defined Radio, primarily for newcomers to SDR. I'm OK with them being a no-can-do but simply a no-show after heartility agreeing to make an appearance...leaving our 'Fest with egg on our face because of our promotion...that's just not very good.

Personally, I'm somewhat electic in terms of vendors. My shack includes a Flex 3K, Kenwood TS-940S, a Drake TR-7, a Swan 500CX, and a Yaesu FT-857D for portable ops. I like knobs and I like PCs! But I especially like for companies to at least keep their word.

73,

Frank
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 05:09:02 PM »

Ho Hum, what do you expect from a company that took big deposit$ for a 6000 series radio Game Changer, promised it in 3rd quarter 2012 and now it is been re-promised for new dates several more times.

I would hide too.....

I have had dealings with Steve Hicks myself. He promised me that my Flexradio 5K would be tested and tuned to Factory Specs before it was sent back to me after a 160/80 mtr spur mod. My radio was to be the first customer radio to get the mod which was engineered by Steve. I received it not working.... It had a couple of cables reversed. This would have been found if they did any testing at all. The emails I have from him concerning this incident are very illuminating on why I will never buy a Flexradio branded radio again.

I sincerely think I would believe promises from Politicians before I would believe promises coming from Flexradio.

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 05:33:04 PM by K9IUQ » Logged
WD4ELG
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 06:13:46 PM »

Stan

You know me as a Flex 3000 owner since 2009.  I have kept my mouth shut on these subjects on eham for the most part, not wanting to aggravate the topic or make myself look uninformed or biased because of my very strong positive feelings toward my Flex purchase.  I have followed your posts for the past 24 months with great interest.

The comment you just made causes me to feel very uneasy.  You described receiving several emails from Steve, and getting some insight into how Flex Radio works such that you won't ever do business with them again.

I respect your opinion, but is it fair (or should I use another term like reasonable) to provide such a blanket statement to all of us without sharing the details of that exchange you had?  If it's confidential exchange, I understand...if not, I would greatly appreciate your sharing the details that you uncovered from that exchange.  (If you already did in the past and I missed it, please provide the link.) 

Given that you have not been censored for your views here (a good thing!) I like to think that eham is pretty tolerant of dissent so long as the discourse remains courteous.  An informed consumer is a good thing in a capitalistic society.  While each person's mileage may vary with a company, we're not helping each other out if we are acting in an uninformed fashion with the vendors for our hobby.

Just my 2 cents.  Looking forward to your response, Stan.
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 03:07:01 AM »

The president of Flex Radio's favorite statement is "I misspoke...".   Roll Eyes I have heard this statement from him countless times from him at Hamfests since 2003, when Flex came on the scene.  His boilerplate response usually is given to an inquiry about a broken promise or a missed deadline. That should tell you something of his character.  That he would employ people of similar character is not surprising to me at all.  From his Clueless Engineering guy, Steve Hicks, N5AC, to his Mailing List Bulldog, Chief Misinformation Officer and Top Flex Propagandist, Tim Ellison, they all treat customers poorly when you are having a problem.  They will promise you the world to get you to buy their product and that is where the niceness ends...  Sure, there are some decent Flex Radio employees.

K4FMH, I am not surprised at your experience with Flex Radio.  Sounds like par for the course - something that many of us already know.  Of course, the followers of the Flex Radio Cult will never agree and will make many excuses for them.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 03:29:42 AM by KE5JPP » Logged
KE5JPP
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 05:13:03 AM »

Lot's of nepotism at Flex!  Probably part of the overall problem.  They have the president's son, the son's girlfriend, the engineering manager's wife, etc... etc...  Roll Eyes
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 05:31:22 AM »


The comment you just made causes me to feel very uneasy.  You described receiving several emails from Steve, and getting some insight into how Flex Radio works such that you won't ever do business with them again.

If it's confidential exchange, I understand...if not, I would greatly appreciate your sharing the details that you uncovered from that exchange.  

Given that you have not been censored for your views here (a good thing!) I like to think that eham is pretty tolerant of dissent so long as the discourse remains courteous.

Looking forward to your response, Stan.

I will never post private emails. IMO Private emails should not be posted publicly. My experiences with Steve Hicks concerning the 160/80 meter spur mod has been discussed before on the eham SDR forum. My attitude towards Flexradio stems in part from this experience.

FWIW I have been censored here on eham many times over my views on Flexradio. K9IUQ posts have been deleted by eham and I have gotten emails from eham moderators suggesting I cease and desist. Because of this I no longer pay to subscribe to eham, that is they no longer get my $$$. It would not surprise me to someday get banned from here. So far that has not happened. My posts are always truthful and I keep from calling names or using profanity.

http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,84149.0.html

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 05:38:40 AM by K9IUQ » Logged
NI0Z
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 08:47:41 AM »

NI0Z,

I'm not tied to a particular vender...we just had requests for Forum presentations on Software Defined Radio, primarily for newcomers to SDR. I'm OK with them being a no-can-do but simply a no-show after heartility agreeing to make an appearance...leaving our 'Fest with egg on our face because of our promotion...that's just not very good.

Personally, I'm somewhat electic in terms of vendors. My shack includes a Flex 3K, Kenwood TS-940S, a Drake TR-7, a Swan 500CX, and a Yaesu FT-857D for portable ops. I like knobs and I like PCs! But I especially like for companies to at least keep their word.

73,

Frank

Hi Frank,

My remark was not directed towards insinuating that you are a Flex Radio Sytems fan, my appologies as I can see how it came off that way!

Flex has placed themselves in an award position now by having collected money and now missing their target.  Since the fan base is so rabid they would do well to come clean and be more forthwith around the cause of the delays and challenges they are working through.  I doubt many people would retract their orders if they confessed they seriously underestimated the software development cycle, elaborate on what they have learned and why it's important that they get it right.  Honesty still commands respect these days as does meeting your commitments.  They should also publicly apologized for not following through as a part of the overall realignment of expectations.  They can offer another token as a sign of gratitude towards their loyal fan base.

My expectation around this ever happening.... Zero

The ill will it will ultimately create when the software releases with what will likely result in several serious issues, more than people will imagine!  The more you charge for something, the more people expect.  It might get ugly fast for them if they fail to manage the situation.

Remember the Netflix CEO blunder..  Failing to respect your consumers is costly! It's orders of magnitude higher when you are holding their money on promises you are failing to keep.  Those are expectations they created, not their consumers.

I also will go on record that what I expect from my American based radio manufactures is integrity, quality, and an overall level of service that exceeds that which imcan get from a large overseas manufacturer.

Of the ones we have, who meets those expectations?  So far Elecraft is my only positive experience with their Kx3 that to me equated to money well spent.  They have been open about their issues and have made real progress with regular updates to address those issues.  Does this make me an Elecraft fan boy, nope.. Just a satisfied customer at present.  If my Kx3 starts having issues then my experience and this my perception will change.  When I have called so far, I am always greeted kindly, listened to and solutions have been offered.  That is what we should expect from made in America.  A consumers though, I believe our tendency is rapidly become one to favor cheap over quality.  Cheap is ok when you can't afford better and just a mistake when you can afford better.

73!


« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 08:54:53 AM by NI0Z » Logged

K9IUQ
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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 09:55:55 AM »

My expectation around this ever happening.... Zero

It might get ugly fast for them if they fail to manage the situation.

Those are expectations they created, not their consumers.

What is unfortunate is that Flexradio has a long history of making promises and not keeping them. They constantly make the same mistakes over and over. For instance announcing a product in May (Dayton Hamfest) 2012 and still not delivering the product (after taking $1000-2000 down payments) here in 2013. How did this benefit Flexradio?

It has cannibalized sales of their existing product line (great for used sales for Flex 5k's tho) and has yet again highlighted their continuing failure to meet promises. It did give them a nice cash flow for no outlay of product. Money for nothin.  Wink

Reasonable hams have to wonder why they did not delay the 6000 series announcement until Dayton 2013 when perhaps they would be positioned to meet expectations.

Stan K9IUQ
 
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K4FMH
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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 03:26:39 PM »

NI0Z,

No, I didn't take it that way as an insult at all. No worries there...I was just elaborating a bit that I was just trying as a Forums Coordinator to come up with interesting and requested sessions that would please our attendees. I DO like my Flex 3K! But I'm eclectic too on rigs. This is just a business communications complaint, regardless of how I or anyone else feel about their products. This would have been the same had it been, say, my friend Ray Novak at Icom (except I can get Ray to always respond so that would never happen).

I have no dog in the hunt on the tardy Flex 6K series, one way or another. It's way above my ham spending budget at this point!

73 and keep up your fine blog!

Frank
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K9ZW
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 10:15:34 PM »

What did they say when you called them to follow up?

Seems you decent communications in person and by phone, but emailing didn't work?

If email consistently failed me, I'd never be bashful about using the phone to follow up.

Seems you might find out a lot that way.

Let us know what they tell you when you talk to them direct then.

A shame the missed opportunity.

73

Steve
K9ZW

http://k9zw.wordpress.com/
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K4FMH
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 08:18:16 AM »

Steve,

When I called (twice) to follow-up, the VP for Marketing told me that e-mail was the best way to coordinate this. AND, that he would follow-up with me immediately by e-mail when he got in touch with Mrs. Hicks (who was apparently out sick that day). I was told without hesitation or uncertainty that this would work. Now, this is after three discussions with one of their VPs: one in person (Huntsville, AL Hamfest), two via telephone. And, their sales rep, Mrs. Hicks, giving me her card in Huntsville stating that she would be the contact person on this and to e-mail me the dates and particulars. I did this over four different e-mail messages. I left, in addition, numerous voice-mails on her telephone at Flex Radio regarding this.

Frankly, I don't plan on calling them over something that they walked away from and is now over. I've got other fish to fry. But, I do think it behooves me to report this to other hams via this Forum about their lack of business integrity in corporate communications. Feel free to contact them and find out the answer to the mystery if you're interested.

Now, I remain a happy equipment customer with my Flex 3K, their software, technical support, and so forth. This is simply ONE incident that I think other hams in my role of a Forums Coordinator at a ham fest might benefit from knowing. Don't count me as a Flex-hater as I love my SDR among other rigs (see post above).

73,

Frank
K4FMH
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K9ZW
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2013, 08:08:43 AM »


Frankly, I don't plan on calling them .....

But, I do think it behooves me to report this to other hams via this Forum about their lack of business integrity in corporate communications. Feel free to contact them and find out the answer to the mystery if you're interested.


Would seem you are unwilling risk losing your reason to complain by not not making an effort to follow up, but somehow have plenty of time and  enegery to spend making public announcements.

Suggesting that someone else do your job of following up isn't solution orientated - it is copping out.

You are in the best position to follow up, and are the one owed an answer.  Not forum members like myself who have only what we've read from your moaning.

Be strong, make the call and find out what happened.  It will take less time than all this message posting to fill us in on how you're unhappy yet unwilling to do a pinch about it.

73

Steve
K9ZW

http://k9zw.wordpress.com

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KE5JPP
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2013, 09:12:30 AM »


Frankly, I don't plan on calling them .....

But, I do think it behooves me to report this to other hams via this Forum about their lack of business integrity in corporate communications. Feel free to contact them and find out the answer to the mystery if you're interested.


Would seem you are unwilling risk losing your reason to complain by not not making an effort to follow up, but somehow have plenty of time and  enegery to spend making public announcements.

Suggesting that someone else do your job of following up isn't solution orientated - it is copping out.

You are in the best position to follow up, and are the one owed an answer.  Not forum members like myself who have only what we've read from your moaning.

Be strong, make the call and find out what happened.  It will take less time than all this message posting to fill us in on how you're unhappy yet unwilling to do a pinch about it.

73

Steve
K9ZW

http://k9zw.wordpress.com



Steve, you really need to go and soak your head for a while.  When you come back, maybe you should think a little before you attack those who have had bad experiences with Flex Radio.  You are only demonstrating that you are a member of the Flex Radio Cult who thinks Flex can do no wrong no matter what.  You need to take a good long look at yourself.

Flex dropped the ball on this one, like they have done many times before.  K4FMH is relaying his honest experience in dealing with Flex Radio.  I know you (like all the rest of the Flex Fanboys) can't stand any honesty about Flex, but there is no reason to attack K4FMH.  Why don't YOU make a Fanboy call to Flex and ask them why they dropped the ball on this one!

Don't like the responses you get here?  Well, then Steve, retreat back to your blog where you can make all your comments without anyone arguing with you or pointing out the logical fallacies in your arguments.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 09:20:28 AM by KE5JPP » Logged
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