Those of you who know a little bit about me are aware I’m a bit of an audio nut. My headphones cost more than most peoples computers. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that I’d be looking at stereo equipment during the busiest shopping day of the year. And so I was. This particular spree I had decided to look at new Pre/Pro’s and some amps to go in the livingroom of my new home. I looked over the Denon offerings and the McIntosh offerings before finally settling on the PR-SC5509 from Onkyo.


It had everything I wanted. Network connectivity. The ability to play in all my favorite formats (like FLAC), the ability to interface with my favorite streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. All the inputs and outputs I could want. There was just one problem… well 5 actually. Here is how Onkyo lost me as a customer in just 5 easy steps:

1) Intentionally creating artificial barriers to entry

Onkyo in their infinite wisdom has elected to exclude the US from their newer gear. If you live in Europe or Japan you can have a PR-SC5509 with a swipe of a credit card or a click of a button. Unfortunately if you live in the U.S. you are forced to only select from their older offerings. This appears to be the case with a lot of their different equipment lines. Apparently Onkyo considers the U.S. market to be second rate customers not worthy of access to their newest stuff until much later than the rest of the world. You can imagine how I feel about this.

2) Mystery and Magic

When I asked the Onkyo EU team if they were aware why this product was unavailable in the U.S. or if they knew when we’d have access to it I was first met with no answer at all. After a few days they informed me that they had forwarded the request to the US team. The US team tweeted me this:

“@KrisRoadruck @ONKYO_EU Unfortunately, this product is available in Europe but not in USA. Follow us @Onkyo_USA”

Yep thats right. Several days after I asked “whats up with that” their primary response was just to regurgitate what I already knew. No attempt to actually answer my question at all. Then they had the audacity to request that I follow them.

3) Repeated non-answers

After receiving this tweet I informed them that I was already quite aware that it wasnt available in the U.S. which was the whole reason I posed the question in the first place. I again asked for either a reason it wasn’t available or even better when it WOULD be available. To that I received:

“@KrisRoadruck We don’t have that information, but continue to follow us for future info.”

As you can see.. again no attempt to answer my question and continued attempts to get me to follow an account that is clearly not worth following due to inability to actually get info to customers. I told them as much, that I had no intention of following them as they were not a valuable resource. And here we go again:

“@KrisRoadruck please follow us so we can send you a private message with more info, thank you.”

Oh look I might be getting somewhere! Hmm.. seems to get somewhere I have to go somewhere:


“Sorry Kris this info is still too long for a PM, we have a forum and we will post your question w/ answer on there.

4) Run around

So you had me follow you to dm me a message telling me to go somewhere else… ooo.. kay?

So I go to the forum, register bla bla. I can’t create a topic. So they make one:

And for all of this what do I get?

“Hi Kris,
We apologies that you were not happy with our answer. There seems to be a miss understanding. Your original question went to Onkyo Europe which is run by someone else in Europe. We don’t check their twitter very often. However, your question was sent by Europe to the president of our company and he sent it our way. Unfortunately, we weren’t here because of the Thanksgiving Holiday. As soon as your question was brought to my attention I answered it. We honestly don’t have the information at this time, but if you continue to follow us or like us on Facebook we always post about new and coming products. Thank you for being an Onkyo Customer!”

Basically a longer version of “we don’t know but hey follow us on twitter and facebook!”.

5) No way to respond

Yep thats right. This forum will not allow me to reply. Says I don’t have permission even though Im registered and my account is verified and activated. They also never followed me back via twitter so I can’t respond via DM either.

I would have loved for this post to be a great review of my brand new Onkyo Processor/pre-amp. But instead its a post about why I’ll not be buying anything from Onkyo ever again. This is probably one of the best examples of “You’re Doing It Wrong!” I’ve ever seen. If you are going to sell premium electronics, you know the kind that costs thousands of dollars, probably besides quality of product your number 1 priority should be customer service. Not many people shell out thousands of bucks for a stereo so when you encounter the few that can both afford your product AND want to actually buy it… prehaps you could you know… help them do that?

Looks like I’ll be going with Denon for my new rig.

Filed under: Rants

  1. I feel your pain, Kris. Some years ago, I went through a similar process with Bernina sewing machines. The programmable model we wanted wasn't available in the US... nobody knew why, nobody knew if or when it would be, and nobody even bothered to try to steer me to a similar model that would satisfy our needs. Like you, I was forced to buy another brand... one that had a decent grasp of customer service. I wish there had been blogs around back then... I'd have given them a great learning experience in ORM. ;)
  2. Perhaps they are making so much money that they don't want yours. Also the big impersonal corporation disease - where employees are so far removed from the end result that they care less about whether or not you buy from their company than their directive of getting more twitter followers. Their boss probably starts the day off with "ok how many twitter followers do we have NOW" instead of "ok how are we going to help Onkyo's long term health today".
  3. Jey:
    Unfortunate. It's a pity because I know how much you love your high end audio products. I probably would have translated into a customer for them too based off your review but now I'm definitely staying clear of this product. There's nothing I hate more than poor customer service.
  4. Motidad:
    Hi Kris...hope this might explain the situation for you. Onkyo also produce the Integra range of A/V gear for the custom installation market, which was originally for the USA only, but was eventually made available, with localised modifications, to the Australian market for the same purpose. This range is designed more for the integrator than the private buyer, so did not appeal to the Eurpoean market due to the small nature of their custom market at the time. As an alternative, Onkyo designed direct variants (cosmetically) of existing Onkyo products, being the PR-C series, which mirror the Integra range. The PR-SC5509 would be the Onkyo version of the Integra DHC-80.3, which is sold seperately from Onkyo products, hence the non-answers you received from them is my guess. They are great products, but it is economically unviable to sell all products in all world markets from my experience. Hope this explains it; I used to sell Onkyo & Integra in Oz, so kinda understand the thinking here, except the lame replies you received from Onkyo USA!
    • This makes a lot of sense and would have been a viable answer coming from them. And while I agree all products+all markets is unreasonable.. highend products for largest markets seems to be a reasonable expectation. While our government may have no clue how to balance a check book, U.S. citizens are still some of the best paid in the world and thus ignoring it as a viable market for the flagship models seems... I don't know.. silly? Anyway cheers. Now I know where I can purchase what I want!
  5. Jason:
    Hi there Kris, Im in the same boat as you, I dearly would love to purchase this piece of equipment to update my studio. This might put a smile on your face as I just found this today which may be a glimmer of hope. It just maybe be worth the wait, and to think I was just about to by one in France and lug it over to NYC!
  6. Hey Chris, I wouldn't put up with it! I am sure Denon or Marantz would be happy to take your money. So, what kind of headphones are you using? Bill Fletcher Sennheiser hd600
  7. Phillip:
    Kris , this is funny, so the guys tell you that ''you can use their services '' but they find it okay to follow them. OMG..''Do they know your expectations as a customer before they tell you to follow them on twitter. Poor customer service can result into failure of the business..