A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us or on my own Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting website at www.mylesrose.com

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Etymotic Earphone problem?

This piece is less about the actual product and more about Etymotic's customer service.  There was a problem and I contacted Etymotic in two different ways, twitter and direct email.  I was hoping to be contacted to discuss the problem.  Unfortunately all I received were links to their website. Bottom line, their customer service would be just as effective if it were outsourced somewhere across a major ocean.  Even though this company is based in the USA it seems we were not speaking the same language.

My son has had a set of these earphones for 14 months.  The cord is deteriorating.

In my quest to point out the best in products, the worst, the fairly priced, the overpriced, good customer service and bad customer service I thought this would be a good subject for my next blog piece.

My son knows high end audio.  He knows how to take care of things.  He is careful with his equipment.

I would like to say that my son is happy with the sonic quality of the product.

The MC5 may be a good value for the money from some design points but their lackluster customer service and materials they use in their construction leave much to be desired.  If you want another one of those throw away products that die about the time the warranty expires consider yourself informed.   

If you wish to read the details just click on the "read more" link below.

Look at the features in the lower right of the above screen snapshot.  "Best durability and warranty".  

Look at that second item; Kevlar reinforced cable.  

There may be Kevlar in this cable somewhere but since this has detached and deteriorated from ends as well as in the middle of the cable I am not sure of how durable these cables actually may be.  Perhaps you had a bad run of cable or some other QA issue which has been resolved.  I will refrain from judgement until I have more information.

Warranty?  One has to send back the old set and wait.  Doesn't seem like very good service when you have something that still works with a problem that is that of faulty material or manufacturing.

There is the letter of a warranty and a spirit of a warranty.  If you buy a car with a three year warranty and the doors fall off that is something that should be covered no matter what the life of the car if it was determined that the problem was a manufacturing or material defect.  Just my way of thinking.  Perhaps that is why I recommend some amplifier and guitar makers and do not recommend others.

Before my son goes without his headphones though, let me say this.  How about you replace these under warranty in this way. I request that you send him new ones and supply a box with return postage paid.  At that point we will be happy to send the old set back to you.

Before you cite handling problems I will repeat that the cord is deteriorating from end attachment points AND in the middle section of the cord itself.  You can see this in the photos below indicated where black electrical tape has been employed to keep the set serviceable.  In one shot the deterioration can be seen as the electrical tape has slid.

I will be tracking the response from the maker and will post any company response I receive.  

Click on any of the above four photos for a larger image.


So far they are not doing well on customer service at all.  I received a link via a "canned" tweet.  Did they read the post?  Did they look at the photos?  Did they provide service that was any better than ho hum service at best?  Did they look at me as an individual customer or ....  ????

In twitter jargon, my experience with customer service: #FAIL

It is clear from the photos that this is a manufacturing / material defect.

In my mind, a good company stands behind their product.  If their reputation is important they do a bit more than follow generic procedures and act as if there is only one solution to EVERY problem.  Rather than the customer suffering for their mistake the company stands up to the mistakes they have made.

You may make a product that is selling well for you now but with this sort of service attitude and the use of inferior materials you will not see your business increase.  You will probably see your reputation decrease.

People do take attitude into account before spending their hard earned money where their are options.

It is interesting to me that nobody attempted to communicate with me to understand the details of the problem.  All anybody did was send me a link to your warranty page.

I just sent the below email to Etymotic customer service.  2-22-12 at 1:00pm PST:

I have had one interaction with your twitter customer service.  I am less than impressed.

Full information and photos are on my blog post which can be read at http://la-economy.blogspot.com/2012/02/etymotic-earphone-problem.html  At the moment there have been 4,516 reads of my post.  I have a strong subscriber base (most are folks in the music industry) and will continue to update this piece as events unfold.

It is unfortunate that your folks on your twitter page (also posted some of this on your facebook page) are not a bit more proactive and seem to have no empowerment to satisify an unhappy customer.

I await your reply.


Myles Rose


Just saw this on twitter.  Thought it was worth a mention.

I am not surprised that Etymotic deleted the comments and links I had posted earlier today on their facebook page.  2-22-12 late morning PST.

2-22-12 2:30pm pst - The latest email dialogue.  No change, no help.


It seems as if you did not read the blog at the attached link.  I have no intention of sending a working set of earphones back for cord problems.  The blog has supporting photographs and information.

You have done nothing more than your folks did on twitter.

In addition, due to a move there is no receipt available.  On your warranty form on-line one is specifically asked to check a box which state that an original receipt is required.  This is clearly a material defect.

You are now the second person I have spoken to that does not take the time to look at the information or escalate this issue to somebody who has the authority to make a policy adjustment.  This is not good customer service.  

I am requesting that you escalate this to somebody who understands thinking outside the proverbial box.  I will await your reply.

--- On Wed, 2/22/12, customer-service@etymotic.com <customer-service@etymotic.com> wrote:

From: customer-service@etymotic.com <customer-service@etymotic.com>
Subject: Re: I am not happy with your customer service
To: "Myles Rose" <myles111us@yahoo.com>
Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 2:20 PM

Dear Myles, 

Thank you for your email. 

Etymotic Research warrants all products against defects in material or workmanship for a period of one or two years from the date of original purchase from an authorized Etymotic distributor or reseller. Etymotic will replace the defective product at its option if returned within the warranty period to our service facility in Elk Grove Village, IL.

I have included the return details in the link below and I am happy to oversee your claim.  Please let me know when you have sent the earphones so I can look for there return and expedite for you.


Best Regards,
Maureen (Moe) Defoort
Customer Service
Etymotic Research, Inc.
61 Martin Lane
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Email:  customer-service@etymotic.com
Toll free:  888-389-6684
Main:  847-228-0006
Fax: 847-228-6836

You know your music.  Etymotic knows your ears.

I am not happy with your customer service

Myles Roseto:customer-service
02/22/2012 03:08 PM

I have had one interaction with your twitter customer service.  I am less than impressed.

Full information and photos are on my blog post which can be read at http://la-economy.blogspot.com/2012/02/etymotic-earphone-problem.html  At the moment there have been 4,516 reads of my post.  I have a strong subscriber base (most are folks in the music industry) and will continue to update this piece as events unfold.

It is unfortunate that your folks on your twitter page (also posted some of this on your facebook page) are not a bit more proactive and seem to have no empowerment to satisify an unhappy customer.

I await your reply.


Myles Rose


Myles S. Rose


I have heard nothing since one person from Etymotic sent me a link to their website from twitter and from one more who sent me the above email from them after I wrote to them from their website.  Nobody seems to want to be proactive in making their product better, seeing how and why their product failed or making an unhappy customer feel better about their company.

One more customer with a defect who was sent to their warranty page.  Perhaps they need to admit they have a problem and handle things in a different way?

Over 9,700 people have read this blog piece since it was written on 2-21-12. Looking at just today, 2-24-12, here is the geographic data on where folks were from who read the post:

This is where the referrals came from:

Every other company I have interacted with via social media understood the strength of social media either right from the start or in short order.  One fellow at ATT thought social media was nonsense.  He is mentioned in one of my ATT pieces.  He was in the President's office in Dallas.  His replacement understood the value of social media, customer service and improving relationships with the customer.  This does not seem to be the case with Etymotic's customer service people.


No word back but some info from my friends on facebook including my buddy Nial who is the owner of http://www.solidcables.com

Please click on the above image for the more readable original size

I was sent this link - http://www.head-case.org/forums/topic/8909-etymotic-and-the-utter-failure-of-the-new-foam-tips/

Another customer with another problem but the same customer service procedure; don't resolve the issue just send them a link.  In this case they suggested to the customer that they should buy something else from them.  The customer was not too happy at their lack of service and suggestion.

To continue ... the more folks that read this post the more information I am sent from people who also are not happy.  If I was looking to invest in a company this is one that would not make my list.  Maybe they got away with their antics in the past but now the word will be spreading via facebook, twitter, google buzz, add this, stumble upon etc.

The cat is out of the bag Etymotic.  Your antics will not be flying under the proverbial radar quite as often.

Side note ... I have still heard nothing more from your customer service people or anybody else from your organization.

Sent to me by somebody who read this post who is helping to spread the word

No word from Etymotic customer service.  I guess they figure that if they ignore me I will just go away.  Well, as of this moment in time, 14,458 people have read this piece and the count rises every hour.


Over a month has passed and still no direct email, tweet, call or contact of any sort from these folks since the initial form letter.  That is fine with me.  24,581 people have read this piece and it will continue to stay on the net to warn others of the very bad customer service (and substandard materials) that are a hallmark of Etymotic.

Updates will be posted as they become available.


  1. just so I got this straight
    a set of headphones, still under the 2 year warranty, are breaking, and you don't want to send them in to get repaired free of charge? I am not following this at all. either it's under warranty and you get them replaced for free, which I have 2 times from etymotic even though they were caused by things out of their and my control.

    did you call customer service? the first time I had an issue I called in and they sent me an RMA and sent my headphones in, no questions asked. second time I called in they took control and walked me though fixing my headsets and replacing the filters. the third time I called in they sent me another RMA, so I could send back the headsets my daughter broke(she's three).

    so either you are not calling CS, refuse to send them in, or are unwilling to do the things needed to get them replaced, again free of charge.

    seems like a crazy vendetta to me.

  2. Kevin,

    I was trying to open a dialogue with them so they could contact their cable vendor and improve their product. My issue with them is that they did nothing to open a dialogue with me. I wrote their customer service folks directly.

    I have over two decades in QA/QC and know a few things about cables. My son likes the sonic quality of their product and his set still works. He spends many hours each week on a bus and his music is his diversion.

    I felt I could help these folks and after posting photos and giving them details it is clear that this is a material failure.

    Considering these earbuds have an internal cost that is lower than you might even guess wildly and since the probability just may be that they have a material and design problem one might think that they could have taken a simple step to do more than just send me a link to their website.

    It seems very clear to me that they did not escalate this problem to somebody who might consider doing more than what two different Etymotic sources did. They don't care from my viewpoint.

    Yes, this will be a crazy vendetta as I tend to warn others about bad products and bad service. It is what I do.

    I don't know how you can say I was unwilling to do the things needed to get them replaced. What I can see you saying is that I am refusing to do is follow their procedure without opening a dialogue, which I tried to do on two occasions, one directly with their customer service.

    15,781 people have read this piece since I first posted the piece. The piece has generated many retweets on Twitter and I have received many compliments and support from others. You are the first (and so far the only) person who has taken a stance where questions you ask are answered in this piece or the only person that seems to indicate that when a company has a procedure it should always be followed even when there may be reasons to follow a different path. I have had others contact me who have had problems with Etymotic.

    A this point I will watch the count on the readers of this post continue to rise as I hope for some sort of dialogue initiated by Etymotic. The ball is now in their court.

  3. Hi there,

    was searching on the net for bad customer service from etymotic and found your blog. just curious, did they ever get back to you at all?

    Kind regards,

  4. Jason,

    The only thing they did was send me an email with a link to their warranty page that asked for forms to be filled out if the item was within the warranty period when it failed. It was a few weeks out of the warranty period and the photos showed it was an obvious material / QA / design problem.

    Bottom line, they did nothing other than lose another customer and remind me to keep publishing this link.