InFocus Wants $125 To Replace Plastic Part Smaller Than A Quarter

George has an Infocus model C170 video projector. The “leveling foot,” (a piece of plastic that seems to be no more valuable than a poker chip), split in half. George called InFocus, thinking that it would be easy to replace. Not so. George writes:

The leveling foot on my Infocus model C170 video project split in half. It is no bigger than a coat button. I their customer service department (800-294-6400) and after several transfers was told that it would be a minimum of $125 to have this part replace and I must send them the projector to have it replaced.
This is a less than $1.00 part that I can put on in less than a minute and they want to charge me $125 for it.
Outrage!

Are leveling feet made of some rare plastic that only grows in the foothills of the Himalayas? —MEGHANN MARCO

Comments

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  1. JohnMc says:

    Remember the $600 toilet seats? Know why they are that price? Not because Boeing wanted to charge that much but they wanted to discourge having to support the ‘tool’. Boeing expected the govt to go down to Ace hardware. But being the government, noooooo….

    This has that kind of feel to it. I would hazard that there is a suitable replacement in the bolts bin at the local Ace store.

  2. joemono says:

    Does the $125 cover labor? Does the $125 cover the cost of sending it back? Or did the CSR tell him the part itself is $125?

    If the part is less than a dollar and he can replace it in less than a minute, why doesn’t he just go that route?

    Also, since when does the size of something have anything to do how much it’s worth?

  3. quantum-shaman says:

    Why not just take the offending part to Lowe’s and find a 10-cent rubber gasket the same size? And while you’re there, you can go for the up-sell on the $2,500 patio grill…

  4. Canadian Impostor says:

    Go to the hardware store and buy yourself some nuts. Problem solved.

    If they don’t have something suitable, use an industrial supply like http://www.mcmaster.com

  5. joeblevins says:

    Sounds like he needs to take a wad of duct tape to it…

    I am sure that $125 is mostly labor.

  6. B says:

    $125 is the minimum fee for any repairs. Since the part apparently costs less than a dollar, I would think having the part shipped to him would be the best route, but apparently inFocus won’t ship the part.

  7. Skiffer says:

    @JohnMc: I second JohnMc’s comment – it’s just so minor InFocus doesn’t want to deal with supporting it.

    Check your local hardware store – or if you want more variety, check out http://www.mcmaster.com and search for “machine feet” or “leveling mount”.

  8. scoobydoo says:

    I’m fairly sure you can’t unscrew the feet without opening the projector, so it isn’t a user replaceable part. On my infocus it’ll unscrew to its longest setting and then not come out further.

    To me this means that the $125 covers someone opening the projector (possibly in a clean room) and fixing the leveling foot.

    Yes it sucks, but it would explain the insane cost.

  9. gilman says:

    Oh man, don’t get me started on InFocus tech support. I’ve bought two projectors from then and have RMA’d each of them multiple times for various reasons.

    For the first projector the people I talked to were competent and knowledgeable and the RMA was so painless that I actually bought another projector from them.

    By the time I had to send in my second one for RMA (ok so at this point I realized they had a build quality problem.) they had outsourced their entire tech support system. The people they had were bottom of the barrel, even by the grim standards of outsourced tech support. They barely spoke English, flat out lied to me several times, and constantly asserted that there were no supervisors that they could transfer me to.

    They managed to lose my projector in the system and couldn’t find it for a week. They mangled my address on the RMA (and I sent it via email so it wasn’t me mumbling or not enuciating) and I called 4 or 5 times to get it fixed. It was never fixed and they ended up shipping it to the wrong house.

    If you’re thinking about buying one, based on my experience if you buy an InFocus proejctor you will probably need to return it for repair at least once in the first year or two (I never thought I say this, but if you buy this product buy the extended warranty!) and their service sucks.

  10. rbb says:

    @JohnMc: Yes, I remember the $600 toilet seat flap and how the media never bothered to follow up on the story.

    From wikipedia:

    The $600 dollar toilet seat was actually fair and reasonable. The United States military services are often in the position of making equipment last decades longer than originally designed. For example the B-52 bomber is more than 50 years old and expected to be useful for another 20 years. The famous toilet seat came about when about twenty Navy planes had to be rebuilt to extend their service life. The onboard toilets required a uniquely shaped fiberglass piece that had to satisfy specifications for the vibration resistance, weight, and durability. The molds had to be specially made as it had been decades since the planes original production. The price of the “seats” reflected the design work and the cost of the equipment to manufacture them.

    The problem arose because the top level drawing for the toilet assembly referred to the part being purchased as a “Toilet Seat” instead of its proper nomenclature of “Shroud”. The Navy had made a conscious decision at the time, not to pay the OEM of the aircraft the thousands of dollars it would take to update their top level drawing in order to fix this mistake in nomenclature.

    Later some unknown Senate staffer combing lists of military purchases for the Golden Fleece Awards found “Toilet Seat – $600″ and trumpeted it to the news media as an example of “government waste.” The Senate then wrote into the appropriations bill that this item would not be purchased for anything more than $140.00. The shroud has never been purchased since, as no one can make the shroud at that price.

    President Reagan had actually held a televised news conference, where he held up one of these shrouds. During the press conference, he explained to true story. The media at the time and still today, would much rather have the public believe that the Pentagon was actually paying $640.00 for a $12.00 toilet seat.

    Bottom line, no matter what you see in the press or elsewhere, the Navy never actually paid $640 for a “Toilet Seat”.

  11. quantum-shaman says:

    @rbb: Call it a shroud if you want, but it’s still a frigging toilet seat! Oh and mil-spec toilet seats to “satisfy specifications for the vibration resistance, weight, and durability”? Please. It takes a contractor on the government tit to think up something like that.

  12. darman says:

    “The leveling foot on my Infocus model C170 video project split in half. It is no bigger than a coat button.”

    Why not use a coat button?

  13. MalichiDemonos says:

    Two words… SUPER… GLUE
    One word… Epoxy

    I once Epoxied a cordless drill handle back on and its survived for the last two years. I usually buy that Epoxy thats used to seal gas tanks. You know, the black tube with the white middle that you have to play with like silly puddy.

  14. acceptablerisk says:

    Seriously, if it’s just the the plastic foot, just glue on something approximate and go on with your life.

    Even if they were willing to do it for free and pay shipping both ways, I’d probably just glue a button on the end or something to save everyone the hassle.

  15. Joe_Bagadonuts says:

    Get all MacGyver on that foot…super glue, epoxy, JB weld, matchbooks, or coins/wadded up money you’ll save from not having to deal with the inFocus. But it is a bummer that they’re not helpful with such a seemingly small and minor part replacement/fix.

  16. Greeper says:

    I love consumerist readers.

  17. GitEmSteveDave says:

    I lost a screw on the battery cover of my TIMEX ironman watch when I replaced it. Now the watch beeps intermittently, and also some buttons take a lot of force to get them to register. I called up Timex with all of the info, and asked if they could mail me this obvious 3 cent screw taped to an index card. I said I would even send a SASE. Their response:

    Send in the watch at a cost of 10-15 dollars, plus shipping, and we MAY send your watch back repaired. Needless to say, I didn’t need to hear ALL of the beeps anyway.

  18. Dacker says:

    InFocus HQ is about 8 miles from my house in Oregon. It’s a “Dead Company Walking”. They have terminated most of their staff over the last 4-5 years. The company is up for sale, but there are no buyers. The Asian manufacturers have basically put them out of business with better and cheaper products.

    If you (rightfully) have an issue with that part now, just wait until there is no one to call when you need something irreplacable!

  19. royal72 says:

    thanks for this kinda info, pretty seals the deal that i will never be doing business with this company.

  20. Designersheets says:

    You can “A” go an buy a cheap tripod and steal the foot off that for a few bucks, or go buy some polymer clay for 2 bucks and mold yourself a new one, bake it and poof all done.

  21. capitalass says:

    Are leveling feet made of some rare plastic that only grows in the foothills of the Himalayas?

    Meghann,

    The leveling feet are actually a rare polymer that does not grow anywhere (as everyone knows that plastic does not grow), but are, in fact, the actual feet of rare woodland creatures that roam the Himalayas. They are an organic-fiberglass-polymer substance that the navy also used to use to make “shrouds.”

    Due to their unique shape, they satisfy the stringent specifications for the vibration resistance, weight, and durability that infocus demands.

  22. CumaeanSibyl says:

    As much as I hated the movie Independence Day, the stereotypical Jewish father got one thing right when the president asked how the hell the military funded Area 51 without anyone finding out:

    “You don’t actually think they spend twenty thousand dollars on a hammer, thirty thousand on a toilet seat, do you?”

    Inflated line items are how governments and corporations get the cash for preserving dead aliens, or spying on reporters, as the case may be. And now I have to go, because if I’m on the Internet for too long at any one time the NSA will triangulate my location and send the black helicopters to forcibly fluoridate my precious bodily fluids.

  23. Nytmare says:

    If this was an auto part, it would cost $125 for the part itself, no labor. (I’m mad cause I just had to pay $52 for a little plastic sensor no more complex than some Chinese-made toy you’d find in a cereal box. For the third time, cause they don’t last.)

  24. Hoss says:

    Maybe google “Infocus projector service”?

  25. rbb says:

    @nytmare: Tell me about it. One of the worst things you can hear at the parts desk is “We can’t get that. You have to buy the [foreboding music] ASSEMBLY [/foreboding music].” One time the float broke on the fuel sender in my van. Just a little piece of foam, over-valued at say 25 cents. Did Ford stock it. Nope. But they galdly sold me the “ASSEMBLY” containing a new fuel pump, regulator and fuel sender (with the float I needed) for $149 :(

  26. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    This is just like Plantronics. We use a lot of their headsets at work, there is a small ABS cover over the microphone that breaks. Plantronics won’t sell the little piece of 25¢ plastic, they will only sell the entire headset at around $130.
    What a bunch of weasels!

  27. gte910h says:

    http://www.utileplast.com/ will work to make a replacement for about $15 bucks. Its plastic that becomes as malleable as wax when heated to 160 F and will hold threading.

  28. Anonymous says:

    This happened to me too! I wanted a replacement dust filter on my SP5000 and they said I had to send it in for $170. Horror story here:
    [problemstosolve.com]

  29. austek says:

    Replacement lamps are a significant cost of projector ownership. The rated lamp life given by manufacturers is the time till the lamp will be outputting only HALF of its original brightness.

    There are some new Diamond Lamps which are about 10% cheaper and have the bulb from the original manufacturer who supplied the projector manufacturer. There’s more info on purchasing a replacement lamp at [www.presentationtek.com]