Above And Beyond: Etymotic Keeps The Music Flowing

Reader John’s $150 ER6i headphones broke over one month out of warranty. He sent Etymotic an email.

I have a pair of ER6i’s with a loose connection in the miniplug. They are out of warranty by a few weeks (I bought them from BH Photo Video February 2nd 2006). The sound to the left earplug goes completely out until I tweak the wire going into the miniplug a bit. What will be the cost of getting these repaired?

Etymotic’s surprising response, inside.

Etymotic responded the next day.
Hi John,

Let’s create an RMA for you to return your earphones for evaluation. Please respond with your address and a daytime phone number.

If you have your receipt from BH, you can send a copy along with your earphones. As long as the problem you are experiencing is a warranted problem, I wouldn’t worry too much about being a few weeks out of warranty.

Best Regards,
Maureen (Moe) Defoort
Customer Service
Etymotic Research, Inc.
61 Martin Lane
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
847-228-0006 fax 847-228-6836

How unexpected. We imagine most companies greet warranty expirations the way a Times Square crowd greets New Years. 10! 9! 8!…

John responded with his contact information and was issued an RMA number. Nine days later, John received notification that his fixed headphones were on their way home. The repair was completed free of charge. Service like this is music to our ears. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER


Edit Your Comment

  1. scoobydoo says:

    How ironic. I had the exact same issue with my ER6i’s and emailed them. Their response was that they were out of warranty (was out of warranty by 3 weeks) and that I could get a discounted pair at just $90. Which was $20 more than Amazon charges.

    The wiring on these things is far too thin for daily use, even though they are marketed for iPod users. I ended up going with a different brand.

  2. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m not sure if that’s ironic. Annoying perhaps.

    Ironic would be if they sent you a replacement pair, which you received right after a 3-ton safe fell on your iPod. :D

  3. Rajio says:

    Its perhaps ironic in the American sense of the word ;)

  4. matrixhax0r says:

    I’ve had my ER-6i’s for more than 2 years and they are still rockin’. The flanges which I have never gotten to replace with new ones are starting to fall off easily and I should probably replace the filters, but overall, I think they are a pretty awesome product (plus you can get then at very steep discounts just by searching on say… froogle).

  5. tedyc03 says:

    Good for him getting in contact with a good CSR. Probably atypical, but still a great story.

  6. chrispa says:

    I had a virtually identical experience with Sennheiser. I phoned them for word on how much a repair would cost and they, to my surprise, shipped me the part I needed free of charge and a few months after the warranty had expired.

  7. grahams says:

    Etymotic has great customer service… I had a very similar experience a year and change after buying my ER-6s (not 6i) back in 2002…

  8. hubris says:

    I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Etymotic. Within a month last year, I had a problem with one pair of headphones, sent it in for replacement and then the pair they sent me didn’t work (they would pause the iPod randomly, which seemed to indicate that the connection was breaking somehow) and they quickly sent me a second pair. Great headphones, though yeah, the cords are a little thin.

    Customer service is awesome though. There’s literally one woman who always answers the phone and is always pleasant.

  9. mjcarrabine says:

    Etymotic does have excellent customer service.

    The post on my ER-4s broke off (I think it was in my pocket) completely, and I sent them an e-mail, and they sent me an RMA as well.

    They replaced the broken post and also replaced the transducer in the other earphone. It was something about them making sure the left and right match perfectly.

    When I listen to lossless audio files on my iPod thorugh my Etymotic headphones, I am always a very happy person.

  10. DudleyB says:

    Etymotic is one of the best companies I’ve ever dealt with. The phones are answered by a real person, I’ve never experienced a wait, and they really want to help. When I first bought my ER6i I did not get the sound I expected, I called and a CSR spent 20 minutes with me explaining how the sound is effected by how well the earphones fit into the ear canals. He took me through this while letting me try it with my music. It made all the difference. They really know their products and audio and care about their customers. I’d much rather buy products from a small caring company than a huge corporation that does everything possible to get you off the line as quickly as possible.

  11. Max2068 says:

    I had a similar experience with Etymotic, twice actually. Two different pairs of Er6i’s lost sound in one channel. Both repairs were in warranty, but the CSR’s were always amazingly kind and receptive on the phone.

    The second time, I mentioned I thought the design of the headphone jack was the issue, since it sticks up vertically instead of elbowing to the side. The CSR mentioned that they had a model with an angled plug, and they would be happy to replace my current pair with the angled set. “The only problem,” she said, “The cord is black instead of white. If that’s a problem, I bet I can get the repair department to put an angled plug on your white ones for you.” Excellent service from Etymotic.

    Hmm, repair old ones, or give me new ones? Hard choice…

  12. Hehlol says:

    I have had this problem before with their products but I have also, like the above story, had this pleasant experience with their customer service center. Both times I sent away my buds and both times I received brand new pairs due to manufacturer fault.

    One can fault them for perhaps having a bad production run or something along those lines, but their service has been fantastic to me. In my experience a woman answered the phone not a machine.

  13. bokononist says:

    a friend of mine has had the same experience with Shure… at least 3 times. they’re absolutely great about this stuff.

  14. sp3nc3 says:

    Fortunately, I don’t have any personal experience on the topic, but I have heard numerous reports of Shure providing similarly excellent coverage on their headphones as well. There must be something about manufacturers of audiophile equipment that makes them strive to keep their clientèle happy.

  15. NeoteriX says:

    I second Shure. Excellent service. Plus, on a side note, the wiring is a bit thicker and more robust than the Etymotics.

  16. scoobydoo says:

    @NeoteriX: Indeed, and that is why I went with them.

    When you sell $100 headphones it makes sense that you provide perfect customer service, it is in your best interests that people keep coming back for your products.

  17. samrosenb says:

    i had the exact same experience with the er-6i’s. the csr basically told me to tell her that i had bought the headphones within the year, then upgraded me to their new black er-6i’s that have a t-shaped input. perfect experiece that i wish i had written consumerist about when it happened a few months ago.

  18. acceptablerisk says:

    It seems as if a lot of the premium headphone manufacturers do well in taking care of their customers. My buddy had a very similar problem with a pair of Grado SR-60’s. They were well out of warranty, but he emailed them and asked how much it would cost to get them repaired. He didn’t even mention how old they were.

    They told him to just pack them up and ship them in. They sent them back fully restored, no charge.

  19. soap1000 says:

    Greetings to my fellow consumerati, long time reader first time blogger. I just wanted to write in to sing Etymotic’s praises.

    I bought a pair of ER-6s back in November and called their customer support line for ill-fitting flang eartips which were causing me discomfort. I talked to a very accommodating CSR named Rick who was so sympathetic to my plight that not only did he send me a pair of every type of tip they offer (which retail from between $14-$20 for a package of ten) but also e-mailed me with advice from one of their own in house audiologists. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of these guys and would recommend their products to any warm blooded audiophile.

  20. hudsong says:

    Those are really nice cans (headphones for you non headphone freaks) too! Glad to see Etymotic is a worthwhile company.

  21. FLConsumer says:

    Any time you deal with professional audio / high end consumer audio, you’ll find this is very common. I’ve had similar experiences with Crown Audio replacing amps 3-5 years out of warranty. Literally, they shipped me entirely new amplifiers to replace amps which were at least 3 years out of warranty. They didn’t pose a fire/safety hazard or any other type of situation where they would be required to address them. I’ve also had good service from both Sennheiser and Shure as well.

  22. mglasspo says:

    Etymotic caters to the professional audio and musician community as well as consumers. It is not surprising that they treat their customers well.

    A well treated customer can lead to many more small purchases, and who knows when a currently unknown musician will make it big and buy their stage IEMs from them.

  23. weisen says:

    The flip side of ranting about poor treatment is just praise for good treatment. When I tore the ear flanges off of my out-of-warranty ER6’s, Etymotic politely answered my e-mail simply asking where to send replacements at no charge. They were pleasant to deal with *and* responsive.

    To scoobydoo, I understand your frustration, however I don’t think that it’s fair to expect that a company fix an item for free out of warranty. It’s nice that the poster in the original article received such treatment, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect this 100% of the time. Maybe they can have an official “grace period” for the warranty, but then people would simply complain when they were only weeks outside of the grace period.

    It would be nice if they offered an inexpensive repair program for loose wires, but I have no idea if the economics of this make sense. $90 for a new pair is getting close to the cost of a repair call for anything.

    And just to be clear: this is coming from someone who right now has out-of-warranty loose wires on his ER6 set and came upon this article when looking to see if repair was an option.