Although Iomega is by no means alone in the PC industry when it comes to complaints of inadaquate customer support, the company nevertheless has raised the ire of a large number of customers who are vocalizing their opinions on private Web sites and public user forums.
One of the main problems Iomega faces involves its rebate offers. The company ran three promotional campaigns for its popular Zip drives this year, only one of which is still running.
The "Zip Hold Everything" campaign, which ended September 30, apparently experienced the most delays. A number of users reported waiting three to four months, and one user who posted a message to a CompuServe forum claims to still be waiting for a rebate seven months after they applied in July, when the program began.
A fairly typical complaint comes from this user: "Iomega has not returned calls...[Iomega] told me that they were almost caught up, told me they were working on it, and the last time I called (Dec 22, 1996 )...I was told that...they never got the first [rebate sent in]."
Iomega then proceeded to tell this user to fax in a new form. "I am a long ways from the closest fax machine, as we live in a very rural area...they always led me to believe they (already) had it [the form]," she said.
Iomega apparently had her warranty card but not the original receipt that was mailed in the same envelope, she noted.
"Iomega had not anticipated the overwhelming response to its rebate program," a company spokesperson said. "Unfortunately, some people were affected by a delay in receiving their rebate checks because of this huge response," she said, cautiously noting that a number of delays were caused by forms incorrectly filled out by customers.
"Iomega is now caught up, and [customers] should expect to get their refund checks within the time outlined in the rebate information (six to eight weeks)," she assured.
But some users debate whether all aspects of Iomega's customer service have caught up.
"Since my purchase of my Iomega Zip Drive I have found that dealing with Iomega for either this rebate issue (which was one of the main reasons I bought the drive) or for technical support has been nothing but hassles. I suspect that they have sold too many drives for the resources that they have in place to support them," said Steve Whitehead from Canada. He said he has been waiting for a rebate since late August.
One customer who is a senior technical support engineer for a high-tech manufacturing company says he has sent in a number of electronic mail messages and has not yet received a response.
Iomega, for its part, says it has upgraded customer support services. In August, the company contracted with MCI's Call Center Services in Chandler, Arizona, to provide fee-based support. Zip and Ditto owners must pay $14.99 and Jaz owners $19.99 per incident for support. If the problem is attributed to a defective product, customers will not be billed for service.
The company claims to have cut the amount of call-waiting time with the new service, but many users may have decided to use the company's free email and fax tech support instead--causing delays in that response system.
Iomega says it has sold 2 million Zip drives since its introduction in 1995, and its Jaz and Ditto lines of data storage devices are selling well too. But as complaints of poor technical support grow louder, some of the luster on Iomega's initial popularity is starting to wear off among consumers.