In the unfortunate event that your Flex rig ever needs to come back to the mothership to be serviced, this article will tell you a bit about a radio’s journey through the FlexRadio service department and what you, our valued customer, can do to help prepare it for a smooth ride.
First and foremost, our HelpDesk (https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/requests/new ) is your friend. If ever you encounter a problem with your radio, this is the best and first place to find a resolution. Opening a HelpDesk ticket puts you in a queue where nine out of ten times our all Ham, customer-focused, support team can resolve issues remotely without the need to send your radio to the Austin Service Center. This step is critical if we do need to service your radio because the information our support team gathers will help speed repair. This article introduces you to the FlexRadio service process and team members that shepherd your radio through.
Your first line of contact will always be the Support department, comprised of the following team members:
- Tim Ellison, W4TME – Customer Experience Manager
- Ken Wells, NM9P – Support Technician
- Dan Quigley, N7HQ – Director, Amateur Products
If your radio does need service, here are the team members at our Austin Service Center that care for your product:
- Katie Gartman – Shipping and Receiving
- Dawn Patterson, KI5FMO – Office Manager
- David Tkach, Ham-In-Training – Service Technician
- Toby Driscoll, N5SIM – Service Technician
- John Patterson, K5OOP – Technical Operations Manager
- Dan Quigley, N7HQ – Director, Amateur Products
Stage One: Inbound Receiving/Inspection
- Triage and RMA:
When Tim, Ken or Dan determines that your radio requires a service technician, they issue you a Return Material Authorization (RMA), the number used is the HelpDesk ticket number, underscoring the importance of starting with a Support request. The RMA documents the details of how to package your radio for a safe trip to Austin.
Once your product arrives in Austin, Katie submits a notification to your HelpDesk ticket indicating your product has been received. This typically occurs within 24-48 hours of receipt but can vary depending on Shipping and Receiving workload.
- Visual Inspection:
Katie unpacks and inspects the product to make sure no damage occurred during shipping and the product is in the condition described by the customer. She records and describes in the ticket, items in the box, the condition of each item, a description of the packaging, and any other relevant information. This information is normally used internally. If the radio was damaged or received in a condition not noted by the customer, then a descriptive note, along with pictures, is sent to the customer.
- Queue Assignment:
Once inspected, an RMA label is printed, attached to the product and it is transferred to the service queue.
Stage Two: Repair and Assignment to a Service Technician
Our service queue is managed under the FIFO (First In-First Out) method and that process is managed within these prioritized categories:
- Special Circumstances
- Warranty Repair
- Out-of-Warranty Repair
- Trade-In Product Repair
Once a service technician is assigned a radio from the queue they introduce themselves, via their HelpDesk ticket, and let you, the customer, know that your radio is now on their service bench for diagnostics and repair *. After another visual inspection the service technician begins their work:
- Problem Reproduction:
Before any tests are run, the technician reads through the data collected in the HelpDesk ticket to fully comprehend the nature of and the operational conditions under which the failure occurs. This is where the data collected during the interactions with our Support Team is vital. When possible, pictures or videos of the failure are exceptionally helpful and expedite this part of the process.
Once the failure is reproduced on the service bench, then the tech moves forward to the diagnostic portion of their work and using a variety of augmented firmware and test equipment they isolate the failure to a specific board or component. (note: During this phase, the technician may also run a full factory and functional test to find additional issues before documenting a diagnosis) or, in the case of non-warranty repairs, a cost estimate to the customer.
- Cleaning, Disassembly and Repair:
The product is cleaned internally, disassembled to the extent required and the faulty components are replaced at one of several rework stations. In rare cases, a circuit board may be sent to a local, specialized vendor for X-RAY or to replace high-density Ball Grid Array (BGA) components.
- Confirmation and Testing:
After repairs are completed, the technician verifies the reported or discovered failure no longer exists and that the repair resolves all issues and verifies the radio meets specifications by subjecting the product to the full suite of factory tests and calibrations. Before the radio leaves the bench, the technician performs a functional test of the radio ensuring a good experience when it is returned to you.
After all repair work is completed, the technician updates the HelpDesk ticket with the information pertinent to diagnostics, repairs and test results and assigns the ticket back to Shipping to be repacked for the return journey to your QTH.
* During the repair process, your service tech is available to you through the HelpDesk ticket. If needed, the tech may also contact you via telephone for additional information.
Stage Three: The Journey Home:
Once the repair is completed, you will receive a notification through the HelpDesk ticket that your product has moved to the Return Shipping/Billing queue.
If your product is out-of-warranty, you will receive a repair invoice via Paypal. This usually occurs on the same day the repair is received from the service technician for return processing. In-warranty repairs are processed at no charge.
- Cleaning and Repackaging:
The product is externally cleaned and properly repackaged for the return journey. If the packaging we received is inadequate in any way, it is either replaced or augmented. When the product actually leaves our service facility is dependent on the shipping and receiving workload. But usually, it is the same day or the day after repairs are completed. FlexRadio pays the cost of all return shipping fees.
Once the outbound shipment is ready to go, another note is added to the HelpDesk ticket indicating the product is being returned to the return address and includes tracking information. Our shipping department always works with customers to accommodate any special shipping/return instructions like a change of address, vacation holds, etc. Please note: Depending on the time of year, this Holiday Season for example, longer than normal delays can occur in all stages. But we always strive to return your radio in top-notch condition and into operating in your shack as soon as possible.
Your FlexRadio Service and Support Team