Friday, July 17, 2009

My Human Touch Massage Chair Needs Repair

So all I wanted to do was have my daily massage session in my Human Touch massage chair. Well, it decided to go on strike, after all the Toronto city workers were, so why not it! The remote started beeping -- continuously. Once it started beeping, the chair stopped working. Nothing I did worked, whether turning it off and back on again, waiting so many seconds before turning it back on, unplugging and plugging it back in. And so I called Human Touch, an American company and the manufacturer of this amazing piece of technology that saved my sanity from whole back and stomach pain, neck stiffness, foot pain, and sore legs. They suggested there was a short in the remote. I'd only replaced the remote last summer, and the cord was in good condition, but whatever. Better a problem in the remote than in the back rest where the massage mechanism is, right? Like I could determine fate.

So they e-mail Intertemp International, the company based in Calgary that takes care of shipping parts to Canadian customers. Of course, they wait a day to do that, that was Thursday, June 26th. They had also told me to give them two business days to get a call from Intertemp, and if I hadn't heard to call them. I did, on the Monday. I was starting to get this feeling of dread, partly because it was now the week of the big national holidays for both countries and the Calgary Stampede was gearing up. The cheerful person who answered said it was too soon, but they had e-mailed them on the previous Thursday and had discussed whether they had the remote in stock or not. And besides they may not call before shipping it out. It wasn't yet two business days from Thursday, never mind that I'd called Wednesday! Give it a couple more business days; well that was Canada Day, and then it was their holiday. Not a peep all week.

The next Monday I call again. The cheerful person said she couldn't understand why the hold-up, she'd e-mail them again.

Finally! Tuesday, July 7th, Intertemp calls me to say remote was being shipped out, it was only $40 plus $22 for Sameday Worldwide courier. Of course, in my missing-massage-chair rattled state, I don't question why the courier is so friggin' expensive or realise that's for ground shipping (according to their wesbite, expedited ground is a max of 3 days from Calgary to Toronto). Only later, when things get real good, that I started thinking about why a 900g-2lb remote costs more to ship than books or a big bottle of laundry detergent, heavier things I've had shipped to me for less. Anyway, he assures me that it'll be at my place by Friday.

Friday comes and goes. Great, now I have the weekend to get through, and by this time my neck is stiffening up and my lower back is feeling weirdly under pressure. I'm slathering on the arnica cream, and my dose of chocolate is slowly increasing.

Finally! Monday arrives and with it the courier. I open the dirty flexible-plastic envelope to see a white box, looking a bit betraggled with a cord emerging out of one ripped and taped end, wrapped round the box. There's no bubble wrap, nothing to protect this exposed cord or the box contents from the inevitable banging round a courier truck. When I straighten the cord, the kinks from being wrapped round the box remain. The remote is inside the box and comes straight out followed by a plastic bag. I paid full price for this? But never mind, it's the wrong remote.

I call Human Touch again. I've practically got my file number memorized by this time. They apologise, don't know how that happened, they'll e-mail Intertemp and have them send the right one for free. No kidding, for free! But how about a credit for that shipping charge and for the fact it'll be almost a month by the time I get this new remote, and how about having it get to me by the next day (like the time Palm sent me a replacement in less than 24 hours from California). They have no control over costs or shipping time, but they will mention the lack of bubble wrap.

I call Intertemp the next day, having found them online with their 1-800 number. They're sending out the right remote that day, the one for the 10i, not the 10. What the?? It's the 10, I want, not the 10i. He rechecks the e-mail, we go through part numbers, and finally I describe it to him to make sure we're talking the same one. I then say I want it, like now. He says 3 to 5 business days. I say that's unacceptable, it's already been 3 weeks. He says he only got the order July 6th; I say no, I first called June 25th. He's adament he got no order till the 6th and ain't budging on that. So, um, Human Touch told me about a fictitious conversation they had with him? They just made up that part about sending Intertemp an e-mail on the 26th? I wonder all this as he quickly apologises, but also informs me that he has absolutely no intention of either sending the right remote by air since he ships only by ground with Sameday -- and clearly calling up another cheaper courier like Pulolator or even Canada Post to ship by air is something beyond him -- or crediting me with some part of the original remote cost, cause I should just suck up this sucky customer service. Satisfied with having ensured I know whats what, he mentions he'd bubble wrapped the previous package. Uh no, you did not, I counter. I am absolutely unbudgable on the fact that the package that arrived at my place was inadequately protected and not only that I wondered about the original packaging too. So we had a discussion about how he receives the remotes from Human Touch -- 50 to a box, remotes inside their own boxes, cords hanging outside the little boxes. If nothing else, I was pretty sure the thing would be in good condition when it arrived as I was so very adament about bubble wrapping it this time. And of course, I'd tattled to Human Touch about the first one.

Finally! The right remote arrived today. Are you as bored and sore with this story as I am? Tough, it's not over. It was so bubble wrapped and taped, I needed scissors to open it. The cord was coiled and secured in its own plastic bag with tape. The remote was in its own plastic bag inside the pristine white box. It even smelled new. Only problem was that after I'd lain on my back (the massage chair had frozen in its fully reclined position), pried the remote out of its deep-socketed phone jack-type plug (bad design), popped new remote in, and turned it on, the new remote beeped as continuously as the old one.

When I held down the on-off switch in on position -- which I did by accident -- I discovered it stopped the beeping, and I was able to get the chair in the up position. (Why the hell didn't I do this earlier by accident? I also later learnt from my Uncle, an electronics expert I was probably rebooting the software when holding down the button.) Then I was able to use the foot/calf massager. Yay! But using the back massager, well, that only worked for about 2 minutes, then the remote started beeping and the chair froze once again. Hold down the on/off switch. Try again. Again massage for 2 minutes, and again beeping. As my hand went back to the on/off switch onc again, it hit this cable that comes out of the side and into the back. The beeping stopped. Hmmmm... Well, doesn't matter anyway. The chair is modular designed, which means there are no specifications for the internals, no replacement parts for the chair back. You replace the whole darn thing. That'll be $357 plus shipping (OMG, what extortionate charge will that be?!). Worse, my chair is discontinued, so the back may not be in my colour or even available. That'll be the cost of a new chair please, only a few thousand, like I have money like that hanging round. Oh what the hell, I already got into debt fixing my foundation.

Anyway, I won't know till Monday cause it turns out that communication between the US and Calgary is on prehistoric time. It absolutely boggles my mind that in the age of computers, it takes 24 hours to get a distributor to check inventory. But they can e-mail me the instructions on how to remove the back cover and the entire back right then and there. Good thing as information on my discontinued chair, which is only 5 years old and had the back replaced once already, is nowhere to be found on their website. So going into week 5 -- sounds like the bloody garbage strike -- I'll get a call, or I'll call them, to find out the bad scoop.

8 comments:

Phung said...

Thank you for taken your time to wrote your coments
wow what a painfull process
did you finally fix it? It you did. What is final out came?
I has same problem because my nephew fulled the controller and broken the cord
i opened and reattached the cord but the beeping after
i tried to held down the on/off but didn't fix the beep
any help please
thanks

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

Phung: The saga ended with me giving up on that chair when I was told that the next step was to replace the back and buying a "new" demo model. The back is modular so unless you're handy and know how to take it apart, you have to replace the whole thing, and get someone in to do it because it requires two people who know how to put it together. It ain't easy. Again, if handy, you can replace it yourself.

If what I did didn't work for you and it's just the cord, you could replace the remote. Remotes aren't too expensive, and that might do the trick. If not, I'm sorry I don't know what else to suggest that's inexpensive. For me it was a choice of a new back (expensive) or new chair (more expensive but with better massage action and more options). Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I just tried to get a replacement remote for a HTT-9C. Human Touch was by far the least helpful customer service depertment I have ever dealt with. I was basically told my chair is now worthless and to buy a new one. Why would I buy a new one from a company that could care less about their customers?

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

Good question Anon! Sometimes there is no option and you have to upgrade. But how they tell you makes a diff to how you feel about doing it. Perhaps eBay or one of the other selling/swapping sites will have your remote listed...

Nick NYC USA said...

Human touch is absolutely a waste of time. My chair crapped out in less than three years. It has had both arms in the back mechanism come off the bearing. It is retained by a plastic round piece, which has eight bolts. These chairs are garbage, I have the HT-136. I was told to replace the whole back for two simple ten cent clips, at a cost of $400 with shipping. What a load of crap. I went and bought a FUJITA chair, with in home warranty service and every part can be purchased separately. My suggestion, sell the junk on craigslist and by a different manufacturers chair, just research parts availability... Good luck

Anonymous said...

All these things you went through because you assumed the remote was bad. Did you read the instructions, or explain to the company what the problem was instead of just ordering a remote you assumed was the problem? If you explained the problem and they said the remote was to blame that 's even worse.

However, I would agree that a better brand name, one with service and parts in Canada would be a better choice. I also have a defective controller here, except this one is actually defective. I'm having fun trying to locate it for our customer.

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

Anon: I always read instructions. :) And I did explain quite clearly the prob. I write down in my phone notebook what I'm going to say before I make that kind of call anyway to ensure I don't forget any details.

I can't believe this happened back in 2009. It doesn't seem that long ago. I ended up buying a new chair, a floor model, that would be serviceable in Canada. I went over every option to ensure I was making the right purchase for me. The one I bought had more features and better massage action than the one that went belly up.

Good luck in your search!

Massage Chairs said...

What a painful process, you had to go through!!! Feeling lucky as my family don't have massage chairs.