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UPDATED! Testing the PonoPlayer/Kickstarter returns process

  • A merchant isn’t judged solely by the product that it sells or by the method with which it is sold. After-sales support and service also matter, particularly when things go wrong. With a high-street dealer there’s a store to revisit whilst click-only operations sit behind email addresses, hopefully with return shipping details at the ready.

    The casual Kickstarter user might think that because they were billed by the crowdfunding project hosting site that returns and refunds would be handled via the same channel. They’re not. Kickstarter sidestep the issue by handing off funds to the would-be manufacturer once the funding minimum is reached and the campaign has ended.

    kickstarter_refunds

    The upshot? All after-sales issues fall to the manufacturer and not Kickstarter.

    With my PonoPlayer’s middle button slowly moving from intermittent to persistent fault – when pressed it sticks in the ‘ON’ position – I stopped by the Pono website support page for assistance.

    pono_message_1

    My message immediately saw support ticket confirmation via this auto-reply:

    pono_support_ticket_1

     

    The return process will be documented via this post so stay tuned for whatever comes next….

    UPDATE 12th Feb:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your patience.

    We’re sorry to hear that you are running into trouble with your Pono Player. We’d like to offer a repair. In the mean time, we can ship you a Yellow loaner while we make the repair to your Limited Edition unit. Please let us know if you are interested in a loaner.

    Can you please confirm the following?:

    Current Shipping address
    Pono Player Serial Number

    At this time, we are unable to provide you with a prepaid return label to the US. We can approach this in two different ways.

    Our first option is that we can provide you with our UPS account number, so you can take the Player to a UPS location and ship it back under our account at no cost to you.

    Our second option is that we can reimburse you for return shipping if you provide us with a receipt.

    Our return address is as follows:

    Pono Repairs
    1234 Pono Way
    Youngtown, CA 95020*

    Please let us know how you’d like to proceed.

    Kind regards,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

    UPDATE 13th Feb:

    Hey Brandon

    Thanks for the offer of a loaner yellow’un whilst you fix my player – that sounds great.

    How do I located my player’s serial number?

    My shipping address is:

    John Darko
    1 Snake Way
    Sharktown
    NSW 2000*
    Australia

    As you can see, I’m in Australia. Are there UPS drop-off points here? If not, I can mail it back and you can reimburse me for the shipping costs. Do you require the player complete with original packaging and contents or just the player itself?

    John

    UPDATE 16th Feb:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for the update!

    The serial number of your Pono Player is located on the bottom “triangle” of the player, next to the USB port.

    If you cannot find a UPS drop off point close to you, you can call them and they will pick up your package for you.

    If you are not comfortable with this process, feel free to pay for the return shipping charges and keep your receipt. We can then reimburse you by sending you a refund check. (please note that the refund check will be converted into USD)

    Just in case you need it, our UPS account number is as follows:

    X12345* 

    All you will need to send is the Pono Player itself. You will not have to send back the charging cable, microSD card, or wall charger.

    Your replacement will be scheduled to ship today, 2/16/2015. Once it ships, we will provide you with a tracking number.

    We hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any further questions.

    Mahalo,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

    UPDATE 16th Feb:

    Hi John,

    Your loaner Player has been shipped.

    Here is your UPS tracking number:1ZX0482387627862F36644840524

    http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/track?track=yes&trackNums=1ZX0482387627862F36644840524&loc=en_us

    Kind regards,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

    *Home address, Pono return address, tracking numbers and Pono UPS account number altered here for privacy reasons.

    UPDATE 18th Feb:

    Hi John,

    We’d like to reach out to you to provide you with an update.

    We have a new Clear Pono Player in stock that we’d like to offer as a replacement. We hope to save you time and effort in processing a replacement vs a return for repair since you are not in the US.

    The UPS tracking number of your replacement is as follows: 1ZX048F34751753640443659036

    Feel free to proceed with the same return instructions for your defective player.

    Please let us know if you have any questions!

    Mahalo,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

    UPDATE 18th Feb:

    Hey Brandon – apologies for the tardiness of my reply. I’ve been out of town for a few days. I will ship you the defective player upon receipt of the replacement. Thank you – this is truly great support service.

    UPDATE 19th Feb:

    Hi John,

    Thank you! We’re glad we could help!

    We will be on the lookout for your return.

    Mahalo,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

    replacement_pono_player

    UPDATE 23rd Feb:

    Hey again Brandon

    Replacement clear PonoPlayer arrived yesterday – thanks. Just transferring my music across from the defective unit to the new one before sending the former on its way to you. Serial number is 14380600.

    Best,

    John

    UPDATE 2nd Mar:

    Hi Brandon

    I couldn’t get UPS Australia to play ball with pick up so I decided to mail the faulty unit back to the Pono Returns address previously provided. I re-purposed the box used to deliver my replacement unit.

    John

    UPDATE 3rd Mar:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for the update.

    We’d be happy to reimburse you for the return shipping costs. Please attach your receipt to an email and send it to [email protected] We will then send you a reimbursement check.

    Also, can you please send us a return tracking number so we can anticipate the delivery of your return?

    We appreciate your help!

    Mahalo,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

    return_shipping

    UPDATE 4th Mar:

    Hi Brandon

    Here’s proof of postage:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/sg4kamfsdymcfpa/return_shipping.png?dl=0

    And here’s a close up of the tracking number:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/sqrj87f58z4hvxw/pono_return_tracking.jpg?dl=0

    AusPost tell me that you’ll be able to track the parcel once it arrives in the USA.

    Rather than refund me the AU$21 shipping, are you guys equipped to donate the money to a charity of your choosing? I sincerely hope so.

    $21 is a small price to pay for a such an accommodating returns/support service. If only all Kickstarter-funded projects were as speedy with support ticket replies as you guys. Hats off to ya! 🙂

    Best regards,

    John Darko

    UPDATE 6th Mar:

    Hi John,

    We’re very happy to inform you that per your request, we’ve made a donation on your behalf to The Bridge School organization.

    This organization supports children with severe speech and physical impairments. Here is a direct link if you’d like to learn more:

    https://www.bridgeschool.org/

    We greatly appreciate your kindness and generosity!

    Thank you again!

    Mahalo,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

    UPDATE 10th Mar:

    Hi John,

    We’ve successfully received your return on 3/9/2015.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us!

    Mahalo,

    Brandon
    The Pono Support Team

     

    And that’s all she wrote. I received a replacement PonoPlayer and the faulty one was returned to California.

    I hope that my detailing this process provides some insight into the standards of service that can be expected from the Pono Support Team – the service in this instance was truly exceptional. Should your Pono Support experiences differ in any way to mine, feel free to expound in the comments section below.

    [For those paying attention and wondering what happened to the yellow loaner, it was called back to base by the Pono Support Team via UPS before it touched down in Australia].

    You can read my full review of the PonoPlayer here.

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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