I filed a BBB complaint against the manufacturer at first and then the dealer. Since the manufacturer ignored my complaint and even my emails (!), I filed a BBB complaint against Spearit Sound of Northampton, Massachusetts on 11/4/2011.
In my first complaint, I wrote that: "In 2001, [an amplifier] was purchased at Spearit Sound (Northampton Audio) in Northampton, Massachusetts. Richard Moulding was the salesperson. On August 19, 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a release indicating 50 (!) reports of the amplifier overheating, including reports of smoke and electrical fires. If Spearit Sound had been truthful about the amplifier and its problems, I would not have purchased it. The CPSC confirms my complaints."
I asked for a refund by cash, check, or PayPal for the price at the time of purchase, $2,600. I informed Spearit Sound that once Spearit Sound issues a complete refund by check, I would consider this matter completely resolved and agree not to escalate it any further against Spearit Sound. [continued below]....
..... I would then mail the amplifier directly to Spearit Sound by FedEx with insurance for $2,600 and signature confirmation. The amp will be mailed inside its original shipping box. In fact, the original shipping box includes the original shipping label which notes Richard Moulding's mailing address: Richard Moulding, Spearit Sound, 351 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA and a phone number of 413-584-9547. I even attached a photocopy of the box's label to my complaint as evidence!
Richard Moulding replied to my complaint through the BBB interface and wrote:
"According to [the customer], his amplifier was purchased in 2001, eight years prior to the recall. Given that we had no knowledge of any problem with [the amplifier] prior to July 2009, we feel it is unresonable to be accused of being less than truthful about a problem about which we had no knowledge at the time.
Spearit Sound, formerly Northampton Audio, was made aware of a potentially dangerous problem with an oversized fuse on the [amplifier] via a product recall notice from [the manufacturer] of [manufacturer's address] on or about July 1, 2009. The notice stated that under certain conditions, the amplifier could potentially cause overheating, smoke, and possibly fire. This was our first notice that any such problem existed. We were therefore completely truthful with the customer eight years earlier."
The reply was signed:
On 11/21/2011, Spearit Sound replied to my complaint through the BBB interface with instructions on how to obtain my $100 rebate and new fuses.
On 11/22/2011, I replied to Spearit Sound. I sent the following message:
"The manufacturer ignored my BBB complaint and letter sent via certified mail with return receipt and electronic receipt: 70093410000189797702.
The manufacturer did not reply by any means and for that reason in part it received a grade of "F" from Connecticut's BBB.
You were well aware that this amplifier was popping fuses from the second day I bought it. In fact, I had to repeatedly bring it back to Spearit Sound for service.
You had gotten in touch with [the manufacturer] regarding the popped fuses. The manufacturer was most certainly aware of this issue.
Check your service and surveillance records and you will notice that your employee performed fuse replacements on my amplifier. Not to mention the employee fingerprints on the insides of the unit and fuses...plus phone and inventory records.
At the time of sale, you claimed that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the amp. But you sold it at much lower than usual price, that is, well beyond the typical discount for a "current" product. Moreover, this was a supposedly brand-new and factory sealed model that you sold at a near-dealer price. [At the time of sale, Richard Moulding claimed the above]. Why be so generous if you did not have insider knowledge of its defects? My wife was right: too good to be true. Why didn't you keep this for yourself?
As I mentioned above, please be aware that there is a record of everything, especially in regards to computer forensics. I bring this up because of the significance of this recall. It goes well beyond my personal experience and my gut instincts from the beginning. You were aware of this issue many years ago. You were in contact with [the manufacturer].
You claim you were first made aware of the issue back in July 1, 2009. Nonsense. If that were true, then why did you not contact me immediately? Why did I, the customer, have to initiate the contact. Did you bother to contact the other customers who purchased this amplifier? If so, do you have proof of this?
In all, please issue a full refund of $2,600. Now, you do not have to admit that you were aware of it prior to '09. I'm only asking for customer service, not an admission of guilt or conspiracy. From there, I will return the amp to you by FedEx with insurance for $2,600 and signature confirmation.
According to Jeff Bezos of Amazon, "...if you make a customer unhappy he won't tell five friends, he'll tell 5,000 friends."
So, perhaps my 5,000 friends ought to know why I - a (former) repeat customer - have taken my business elsewhere."
On 11/29/2011, Richard Moulding replied:
"While I respectfully disagree with the customer's assertions that we had prior knowledge of a defect in his amplifier, that we would have in any way attempted to sell him an amplifier with a known problem, and/or that we would ever refuse to take responsibility for a recurring problem on a product we have sold, I am, nonetheless, sorry to hear that the customer is upset with the current condition of his amplifier. Even though his amplifier is ten years old and we have been completely out of the loop, there is still time to get to the bottom of his concerns. We agree that his amplifier should be checked for normal operation, for any signs of heat-related damage, and for proper fuse values in accordance with the manufacturer's recall notice of 2009. If there is anything that we can do to facilitate this, we are happy to accommodate the customer.
For the record, we do not deny the possibility that the customer experienced a blown fuse or blown fuses when his amplifier was first hooked-up in. This is not uncommon. These fuses are designed to blow under certain conditions. From the customer's own testimony, it would appear that these fuses functioned normally back in 2001, unlike the fuses described in the 2009 recall notice. (Please reread the [manufacturer's] recall notice copied in our previous reply if there are any questions about this.)
We also do not deny the possibility that this amplifier was sold for $2,600, though no sales record has been found. That seems to be a fair and normal market price for an amplifier with a suggested retail price of $3,000 back in 2001.
I hope this is helpful,
On 12/2/2011, I replied and rejected the business' response. Since I have still not received a refund, as promised, I am complaining to the general public and others to make everyone aware of my negative experience at Spearit Sound. Oh, and be aware that there are others. Hence, I have taken my business elsewhere and do not shop there anymore.
(Oh, and another bizarre aspect of this story is the fact that Richard Moulding claims he cannot find a copy of the sales order even though I have the original shipping box with his full name and address on it: RICHARD MOULDING, SPEARIT SOUND, 351 PLEASANT STREET, NORTHAMPTON, MA 01060. PHONE: 413-584-9547. I will include a link with a photo of this as proof.)