Report: #723296

Complaint Review: Laguna Tools - Internet

  • Submitted:
  • Updated:
  • Reported By: former employees — Irvine California USA
  • Laguna Tools
    17101 Murphy Ave Irvine, CA 92614
    United States of America

Laguna Tools Catherine Helshoj, Torben Helshoj, Rick Kerrigan, Steve Alvarez, Jerry Goodman, Jason Cotton shoddy company lies origin of their products and treats employees poorly not paying as agreed deplorable service all their salespeople are forced liars , Internet

*Consumer Comment: Follow-up regarding our purchase

*UPDATE Employee: OMG you've GOT to be kidding!

*Consumer Comment: Speaking of obtuse...

*General Comment: Not so

*UPDATE Employee: Another employee's opinion

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DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS COMPANY! The machines are chinese crap and they deceive you by their website with descriptions "european style". The Customer service is run by Jason Cotton who has the worst personality traits and simply doesn't care about anyone or anything. Their service is the worst in any company in any industry that you will EVER run across. They treat their own employees like adversaries. It's completely maddening to experience this place! Catherine Helshoj is the wife of the owner Torben Helshoj and she has NO business skills, yet she runs the company. Torben is a good man but makes HUGE mistakes for allowing her to run things. She has repeatedly terminated people on whimsical excuses that she makes up, even the TOP sales reps over the years have all left. The best people no longer work there! She is a heavy bi-polar woman and is suffering from dillusions of grandeur. She has literal fits of rage. She's british. Thinks she's a diva. Just because she married a woodworker doesn't make her qualified to run the company! She has broken state & federal employer laws and she don't care. She thinks she's better than anyone else and has a monsterous ego. They all do. She has not honored agreed compensation, has failed to pay for hours worked, has completely obliterated FEDERAL contracts that dictate what price items sell for, has used attorneys to stifle customer complaints, and the list goes on and on and on. That's her way. Treat people poorly, then act as if it was the other parties doing wrong to her/them. Remember that. The sales reps there are mostly weak order takers afraid of her and feel that they can't get another job. They all complain when owners are not present but are too spineless to say anything. What a shipwreck this place is. They are slowly dying, the reason is themselves as people, terribly ignorant and they continue to let their egos in the way of allowing them to see what is so clear. And that is, things need to change, The owners need to stay home and let others run things but they can't allow that because of who they are!! You cannot win in situations like this. As a prospect for employment...if you talk with these people you will hear nothing but bullshit, the machines breakdown, and the service personnel will have to backtrack repeatedly. That is the way service is done. Sell a crappy machine with parts missing, instead of making sure it was correct in the first place! They will not treat you well. The service is a victim of Jason Cotton. He is a favorite of the owners but that guy needs to go home and stay there. He doesn't deserve a job. Anywhere. They have NO CLUE how to run a company at Laguna Tools. There is NO sales managment so the sales reps have no leadership, not a lick of income potential over the salaries so you get what you get, sapsuckers that have little choice in life but to hack it out there. Sales people are suppose to earn big money doing their jobs...not at this company, it won't happen. They spent countless hours wasted on the phone with complaints!!

Then theres the admin...again completely void of the requisite personality that should be the norm. They are again, just spending time..tick tock. If you're a customer...These machines are the same machines sold at other companies like Grizzly, only Grizzly has them cheaper and you get better service!

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/28/2011 02:58 PM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/laguna-tools/internet/laguna-tools-catherine-helshoj-torben-helshoj-rick-kerrigan-steve-alvarez-jerry-goodm-723296. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 Consumer Comment

Follow-up regarding our purchase

AUTHOR: Acme Guitar Works - (United States of America)

POSTED: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Acme Guitar Works here again.  As of today (3/13/13), per godaddy.com, all three of these domains are available:


...so it's clear that Laguna does not own them.

We bought 7 machines from them for about $70k.  Everything has been great with the machines, no issues, and our experience with our rep (Steve Alvarez) was great.  He was unfailingly knowledgeable, professional, and responsive - and we had quite a few emails and phone calls spread over several months.

We also had good support after the sale. We had a Laguna employee named Javier Bonilla come to our facility here in Florida for a couple of days, and he was great. Nice guy, knew his stuff, and got us up and running with no problems.

We crashed a tool holder on our router (our fault) and they sent another no charge, though it's a $90 part.

We've worked with Bob Alsup (Router Bob) on several occasions too.  We bought a CNC machine, and on a couple of occasions he set up "gotomypc" sessions so he could login to our system and we could watch him while he helped us through problems.  He even came here one morning when he happened to be a couple of hours away on an install.  We called him for help, and he said "I'm not too far from you, how about if I drive down that way tonight and I'll just come by for several hours in the morning and we'll get this going for you?".  Hard to beat that for service.

We've had one snafu, and that's with billing.  There was a $700 or so discrepancy between what we agreed to pay - and what was provided formally to GE Capital - and what Laguna ended up billing us.  That's only 1%, but it's still $700, so it caused us some heartburn given that the lower value was well documented.  Make of that what you will.  I assume it was ineptness, not attempted fraud, but opinions will vary.  We've never paid it.

All in all we've been very satisfied, and have recommended them highly to several potential customers who have come asking about our experience.
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#2 UPDATE Employee

OMG you've GOT to be kidding!

AUTHOR: woodworker - (USA)

POSTED: Monday, October 22, 2012
http://laguna-tools.pissedconsumer.com/laguna-tools-sucks-poor-products-and-service-20111028271366.html or here http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/showthread.php?36694-Laguna-Tools-good-tools-bad-service or here http://www.scaminformer.com/scam-report/laguna-tools-laguna-tools-catherine-helshoj-torben-helshoj-rick-c21963.html

And it goes on and on infinitely on the internet, when you do a search type in 'complaints against Laguna Tools'. Laguna tools has bought the site name complaintsagainstlagunatools.com .org .net etc. YES they are THAT deceitful! They are using reputation managment techniques to bury search results of bad service.

I cannot and will not disclose my name. Employees here are afraid to lose their jobs. Wife of owner is the most vindictive type. Makes a terrible situation for customer ultimately. As far as this last post, well have doubts it was real. If it is then you sir simply are a fool. You didn't do your research. There is a reason why some of us are not using our names. Lawsuit is being considered and once the main plaintiff returns to the country, things may change at this company. My guess is company will slip up, make accusations and then we got them!

If you are a consumer, woodworker or anyone considering purchase know this; Everthing negative you read about this company is absolutley TRUE. Consider that they own the sites described above. That alone speaks volumes. Oh and here's a secret. Laguna Tools doesn't sell or make tools made in Europe. That is also a deception in marketing. That is Catherine Helshoj working marketing. Notice the website and all marketing materials read "European Style Machine" They are made in CHINA. And THAT speaks volumes about Laguna Tools, its owners, the employees. You the customer will be best to purchase elsewwhere. You can get the same machines, painted diferent colors at other stores.
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#3 Consumer Comment

Speaking of obtuse...

AUTHOR: Acme Guitar Works - (United States of America)

POSTED: Sunday, February 19, 2012
The foregoing ramble was as poorly written as anything I've read recently, and this poster teaches business classes? I'll not be attending any of those classes.

The original post was written by an ex-employee.  Perhaps the obvious should be pointed out here: we're getting one side of that story.

The second post is an articulate rebuttal. Perhaps it was written by the owners of the company, as poster #3 suggests, but I doubt it.  It could be that if it were the owners were responding, we'd have heard the other side of the original poster's story.

Poster #3 obviously has some axe to grind.  Could he be the original poster?  The experiences he cites come across more as those of an employee, not a customer.  And while he has plenty of bad things to say in general about his experiences with Laguna over the years, he fails to provide any details about ANY of them.  If he is in fact a long-time customer with plenty of bad customer-service experiences, then a) Why did he keep going back?  And b) Why doesn't he provide a single specific example of the problems he's had?  Or three?

And why can't anyone have known Torben Helshoj for 25 years?  He looks older than 25 to me. Actually, I suspect that there are people who have known him for 25 years. Wouldn't it seem reasonable to expect that any man aged 50 or so, would have known some people for 25 years?  I have.

It's easy to be petty, anonymously, on the Internet. But there are people out there like me who are researching tool purchases, and reading this kind of unsubstantiated, vitriolic diatribe is completely unhelpful, and of course has the potential to provide an immense disservice to innocent people. For instance, assume for the sake of argument that the original poster is just an a*****e with an (unfair) axe to grind.  He goes online and anonymously slags his ex-employer.  Another employee comes across the post and chimes in with "Hey, wait a minute, that's not representative of every employee's experience", so the original poster chimes in again under a different login (again, anonymously), and "piles on" with more damaging testimony. In this scenario, the company has done nothing wrong, yet suddenly has been given an undeserved black eye.

So then I come along, a consumer looking to make a purchase, and have my confidence in the company shaken.  And unfairly.  This does a disservice to me, and also a disservice to the company.

I'm in the middle of a $67k tool purchase with Laguna Tools.  I hope it goes well.  I've had nothing but a great experience from my very-knowledgeable salesperson, Steve Alvarez. And Laguna will be shipping the machinery on a PO from GE Capital, they will not be paid until we've confirmed receipt in good order. Doesn't sound like a company with much to hide.

And speaking of not hiding, I won't either. I am George Ellison at Acme Guitar Works. If you read this thread and it has shaken your confidence in Laguna, feel free to call and I'll relate our experience with them, once we receive our machines.
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#4 General Comment

Not so

AUTHOR: better than you - (United States of America)

POSTED: Tuesday, August 02, 2011
I was just researching a CNC machine and came across this. I am a (former) long time customer of Laguna and I can tell you with utmost certainty that the rebuttal post is not a great come back in that there is NO ONE at laguna working there in Irvine that has known the Helshoj's or anyone at Laguna for 25 yrs! I suspect that the poster is the owner or someone else on their website videos known as Router Bob. I have talked with him at length before and if so, he doesn't work in Irvine so he couldn't possibly know of daily happenings and besides, the rebuttal was WAY off base point. I was considering a recent purchase and decided against it for all the customer service issues that are relevent here. It's all true. I can't begin to tell you how many troubles this firm has caused me and more than a few others over the years.     Read the blogs form numerous woodworkers.
As for the comment that the machines are made to specifications..that was true for only a couple models of saws and they sell few of them anymore. Probably because they were terribly overpriced and maybe a little something called "service" issues.
But more to the first post.
I have actually been in the location when the sales reps have been in the position to overcome the broken bits and pieces of machines, paint chips coming off and other things and honestly I felt embarrased for the sales people there. I can recall having talks with sales people there and it was evident that they are NOT TRAINED in woodworking machinery sales! I asked! In fact there was one instance I offered a jop to a young man there because I felt he had potential and he was expressing miserable daily hassles. Nothing became of it, poor guy is still there.
I no longer will do business with Laguna. I have sales reps at my company too and I would shutter at the thought of my employees having been put in the position to deal with such complaints and service issues. Whoever posted the original topic was dead on right in my opinion. Sales people get paid to sell and at Laguna that isn't really what takes place. There is a ongoing issue with service and Laguna's sales people are on the front lines having to be forced into that whole mess. That ain't sales. I know for a fact that if you were to call in the inquire about a machine the sales reps don't sell at Laguna, they take orders. Big diffrerence. And all you have to do is push for it and they lower their price. That's not sales. My sales reps are managed, held accountable and understand the psychology of sales they have to know sales training. To put real sales talent in such terrible situations that they cannot excell is something a business owner should never do. I've been in the unfortunate position a few times at Laguna over years whereby I had service issues with them. I know the names mentioned. I wouldn't agree that the names above are stellar individuals at doing their jobs by any stretch. But you have to be open minded in these matters and the truth just may be, the employees, sales or service...may not stand a chance if the owners wife is in the way. I overheard her on the phone once completely flying off the handle with someone. This was on a day that they were having some sort of machine sale, parking lot discount thing or something. But I remember some other customer and I said that she came across quite obtuse. I tend to agree that she lacks the proper skills to be the one in charge and you have to ask yourselves reading this if you are researching and you should...why are there so many complaints? Why for years now, has Laguna gone downhill. I suspect they were successful and to some degree perhaps stilll able to carry on due to the business itself and not the skills of Mrs. Helshoj. They were big when the economy was, and machines were being ordered to necessity, not the experience of employees at Laguna. And now they are simply realizing albeit decreasingly so, the name recognition from way back when they enjoyed better times. We all did. But they went Chinese. With that you get poor quality. Mix that with improperly or non trained people and you see what you see here. I teach business classes part time and I cover these things. 
Bottom line is if you are a commercial shop and have a professional company to run with deadlines and all the responsibilities that come with being a business owner, manager, foreman and the like..then you might consider that there are other better quality companies out there with way better service. I wish the parties involved well, I really do.
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#5 UPDATE Employee

Another employee's opinion

AUTHOR: aero320 - (United States of America)

POSTED: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I do not personally know the person who filed with this complaint but work at the same company and know all of the people that were cited in his complaint and see them performing their jobs on a daily basis.  First of all, I have known Torben Helshoj for over 25 years and have always considered him to be a very honest individual.  He has a different personality than his wife Catherine, but they compliment each other and do a very good job running the company.  The fact that Laguna Tools survived the recent recession says a lot for the management and marketing skills of the company.  I have always found them to be honest in their dealings with employees and have not heard any complaints from other employees concerning compensation.  Now if you take a sales job that pays a base salary and also includes a commission on products you sold, it is not the managements fault that you are unable to sell.  There are other sales people in that room under the same plan that do very well (and are some of the finest sales people that I have ever worked with). 

The owners often have food brought in for lunch for the employees and on more than one occasion have taken up donations (sometimes for an employee who has a family problem) for various charitable causes.  The company matches any contribution that an employee makes.  That does not sound like the people that the person who filed this complaint was describing.

In terms of customer service, all companies occasionally have product problems.  Jason Cotton is a customer advocate and is one of the most conscientious people I have ever witnessed in that type of position.  I have seen the service problems dealt with promptly and in a courteous manner.  Some of the Laguna products are made over seas but they are made to the Laguna specifications and are not offered by the other companies as suggested in the complaint.

In my opinion, the bottom line is this ... you have a person who took a sales job with a base salary and a commission program based on sales performance ... for what ever reason, this person was not able to reach a level of sales performance that generated additional income.  Now he is trying to blame the owners and other employees because of his lack of performance ... make your own judgement.

Thanks to ripoffreport.com for allowing me to post this rebuttal.

P.S.  I posted this rebuttal voluntarily without the knowledge of the owners.

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