I am an ex-employee of Viscom. Within about a week of working at the company it came to my attention what type of company I was working for. In this post I will start by giving an overview of the company. I will then explain in detail some of the scams that they have run on customers. Finally I will explain what customers can do to achieve some kind of satisfaction.
Viscom is owned by Jim Peterson and his wife Sandra Peterson. Viscom sells computers on an infomercial appearing on ShopNBC and ShopNBC's website. Most of you probably know Jim as one of the infomercial's lovely hosts. Jim and Sandra both actively manage aspects of Viscom but never come in contact with any people at the company other than the management. I personally only saw Jim in the building on one occasion.
Directly underneath Jim Peterson is the call center manager, Mark Salinas. Mark Salinas is directly responsible for all of the day to day happenings at Viscom. Predictably, just like the Viscom as a whole, he is quite incompetent. At my time at Viscom Mark's primary responsibility was infrequently parading through the call center shouting "Let's take some calls girls".
Please note that there were very few women employed in the call center due to sexist hiring policies, more on that later. When Mark wasn't sexually harassing his employees he was known to be quite busy playing Internet chess and looking at pornography in his office. Needless to say, Mark's management skills are non-existent. The fraudulent state that Viscom operates under can be partly attributed to Mark.
There are many managers underneath Mark. Janos Schumaker manages all shipping and is the technical expert at Viscom responsible for keeping all the companies computers operating normally. Tom is the night manager. Tom is very nice on a personal level, but as a manager he is a ruthless defender of company policy. Tony is a manager during the days and evenings. This is the manager that you want to talk to. Tony is a very understanding person and will often put reason before company policy.
Justin is one of the daytime managers. If you ask to talk to a manager during the day you will probably end up talking to Justin. When you are talking to Justin you will probably notice that he doesn't seem like he is attentively listening to you. That is because he isn't.
One of Justin's signature traits is that he will ignore the customer while they are talking. Once he hears a long pause he will say something like "I'm sorry ma'am but there's nothing I can do. I need to stick to company policy." If you end up talking to him feel free to test him on this. After talking for a minute give him a quick quiz on what you have said. He won't know a single detail.
Justin is also responsible for a previous post on the ripoff reports website. With authorization from Mark, Justin pretended to be a former employee and refuted accusations made by previous employee posts. Most of these claims made by Justin in his were outright lies.
Other than the deceptive advertising and the incompetent management there is another reason for the horrible support Viscom provides to it's customers. The technicians hired by Viscom to give support are often unqualified for their jobs. There are some technicians that are better then others, but this is only by chance. Other than being unqualified the employees are also completely untrained.
When hired at Viscom the technicians are given no training or supervision. This results in technicians making numerous mistakes and giving customers incomprehensible troubles during their first few months of employment. The lack of training is compounded by a high employee turnover rate (most likely due to bad company policies, low pay, lack of management, etc.) The result is that customers get to play a game of roulette every time they call. The unlucky ones getting promised things they will never receive and being left with non-working computers for months at a time.
The technicians are also severely limited in what they can do. As dictated by management, calls are only to last for 15 minutes. If calls go over that limit the technician will be yelled at and if it happens repetitively they could become unemployed. Everything that a technician needs to do, ranging from replacements to sending out missing items, needs to be approved by management.
The problem with this is that management frequently will reject these requests for no reason and without notification. So while a customer thinks they are getting shipped their missing mp3 player, the request to send it out may have already been rejected by management. By the time the customer realizes that it hasn't been sent out weeks may have gone by, they may even be beyond the the 30 day period where they can have missing items sent to them.
Besides being under-trained the Viscom call center is also under staffed. To keep call times low the call center needs about 50% more technicians than they currently have. This especially applies to weekends. This under-staffing has led to technicians repetitively dropping calls from the queue(hanging up on customers) and transferring customers to other numbers or departments at the first possibility.
For instance if you are having a problem with your printer the technician will probably instantly transfer you to Lexmark. Even though the problem may be with your computer.
The technicians shouldn't be participating in any of this behavior but they only do it because otherwise customers wait on hold for 15-20 minutes and management gets angry. This behavior continues because management is either too inept to notice or because management doesn't care. Either are distinct possibilities.
Management often times will lie to the call center staff. They have said that 3.06ghz processors were hyperthreading when they weren't. They have said that systems weren't advertised with remote controls, when they were. Management insists that the call center tell customers unreasonable times for all sorts of things.
According to management if your tower needs to be swapped out, you will have your new tower in about two weeks. In my time at Viscom I never saw a tower swap take two weeks, generally they take 3-4 weeks. Missing part shipments, and call back time frames are also misrepresented by management so that the call center staff can misrepresent them to customers.
When a technician cannot figure out how to fix a customer's problem it is put in for a "level 2 callback". The person's problem is put in a queue for a level 2 technician to call them back. Unfortunately Viscom has much more level 2 callbacks than they do level 2 technicians to handle them.
Often times it will be three to four days until the customer gets a callback. Even then, if a level 2 technician calls a customer and gets an answering machine that customer will be instructed to call Viscom again. Again, the customer will be put in for a level 2 callback and so on.
This means customers can have to wait a long time to talk to that level 2 technician. Viscom currently and for some time has only had one competent level 2 technician, Jesse. From a customer perspective all other level 2 technicians can be considered level one technicians.
Previously Viscom has used a different strategy to alleviate the amount of level 2 callbacks. Every night Mark would delete about half of all the callbacks entered into the system. Eventually the old night manager found out about this and put an end to it. Unfortunately that old night manager is no longer with the company. Whether or not Mark is still deleting level 2 callbacks remains unknown to call center employees.
Earlier I mentioned Viscom's sexist hiring policies. In support of this I can say that there are three women currently working at Viscom. The most notable fact in support of this is that recently a woman was interviewed to be a new customer service representative. This woman was a friend of Viscom's current secretary.
While this woman met all qualifications necessary she was turned down for the job because of her attractiveness. The reason for this being that Mark was afraid that with an attractive woman working at Viscom there would be a possibility of sexual harassment issue. Can I have some salt with my irony?
Other than the call center, Viscom also has a warehouse where the computers are shipped out. In the warehouse there isn't much of anything notable except for the racism among employees. Many of the warehouse employees are Mexican and are routinely harassed because of their heritage. Management has shown no interest in this situation.
I will now explain the different scams that Viscom runs on their customers. The first way that customers are scammed by Viscom is through the infomercial on ShopNBC. DO NOT trust was Jim Peterson or any of the other hosts tell you.
On the show Jim Peterson says he is from a large computer manufacturer and then shows you pictures of the production line and warehouse. The pictures he shows you are from the company "ECS", not Viscom, which is the company Jim Peterson owns. While the actual towers are made to order from ECS for Viscom, Jim represents ECS like it is his own company, which it is not.
I have no idea what they mean on the infomercial when they say "7 levels of support". On the infomercial they also claim that the computer comes with in-home support. This is a complete lie.
If the hardware department determines that a component in your computer needs to be replaced then a contracted technician will come to your house to replace that component. This technician will not answer questions or help with any of the issues you have, the technician will merely install the new hardware and leave. This is the only time anyone will come to your house.
The computers that Viscom sells are not anything close to what the hosts on ShopNBC make it out to be. Some of them have quite fast processors, but Viscom skimps on all of their components. The monitor, mouse, keyboard, TV tuner, et cetera are all the lowest quality components Viscom can find.
The video cards on all of their systems are built into the motherboard. This means that you will NOT be able to play modern games or use graphically demanding applications. Their systems don't even come with any kind of windows restore disk. In the event that you need one after your warranty runs out you'll have to cough up another $25. Viscom has even shipped their computers with faulty memory.
The entire V308xx line of computers has system stability problems due to incompatible memory. Customers with this model of computer can expect their system to randomly restart, ranging from once in awhile to quite frequently.
When Viscom sold computers that were rated at 3.06ghz they were advertised as hyperthreading. These processors were not hyperthreading processors. Management told all of the employees that the customers had hyperthreading processors and that no replacements were to be given. Unfortunately all of these customers got scammed.
Just before Christmas(2004) Viscom sold lots of systems with TV tuners. According to the infomercial and the ShopNBC's website these systems were supposed to come with a remote control for the TV tuner. Unfortunately Viscom's stock of remote controls ran out.
Instead of opting to notify their customers and send remote controls when they came back in stock Viscom took a fraudulent approach to the issue. They removed the remote control from the picture on ShopNBC's website, removed the remote control from the bill of materials, and notified the call center staff that these systems were not supposed to come with remote controls. A select few customers who complained enough managed to get their remote controls. Thousands of other customers did not.
Viscom's policy is that if a computer's hardware fails within the first 30 days to replace the computer with a new one. Until about 3 months ago this was not happening. Used computers were frequently sent out as new. Often times computers that had been scratched and spray painted.
Recently because of the volume of the computers needed to be replaced and the lack of staff to do it, they have had to start following their policy of giving new replacements. Currently any replacements within the first 30 days will be replaced with new computer. How long it will stay this way is unknown.
Viscom manages to fraud not just their customers but ShopNBC as well. If a customer complains enough to ShopNBC and if they have legitimate claims then ShopNBC can authorize a return of the system well beyond the 30 day return limit. When this happens ShopNBC will credit Viscom for the full value of the system. This type of return is called a "zero credit return".
Per Viscom's agreement with ShopNBC, Viscom is required to either throw away or part out the system. Instead Viscom returns the systems to ECS, the manufacturer of the computer, for credit. This means that by providing a defective product or incompetent support Viscom ends up making money.
If you are a customer having problems with Viscom there are only a few methods to getting satisfaction. The first way is to become as big of a hassle to Viscom as possible. Keep calling, writing down names, and demanding whatever you deserve.
If that doesn't work you need to take your case to ShopNBC, The Better Business Bureau, and The attorney general. ShopNBC has the power to order Viscom to do whatever they want. This is because they have the power to kick Viscom off of the ShopNBC network.
ShopNBC is a somewhat reputable company and if you provide evidence that you have been scammed they will try to help, but even with ShopNBC you need to be persistent.
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Viscom