Is CNC Phone Support Free?

CNC manufacturers are typically generous with phone support, but tough economic times may threaten that. August 3, 2009

Does anyone have an idea of what the major CNC router manufacturers do for after sales tech support over and above the warranty? I am talking about phone support, not field service. It seems that Multicam has instituted a new policy with their dealers to charge for phone support for any issues you wish to discuss to the tune of $700/ yearly or $50 a call for 15 min. We have a 1995 HolzHer edgebander and we can troubleshoot and talk to tech support anytime we want, no charge.

This whole thing seems like just another way to generate revenue when machine sales may be down. We are contemplating the purchase of a new machine to replace our older Multicam. You would think that in this day and age you would want to do everything possible to keep your customers happy and coming back. So, what are the active policies of the other guys?

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor T:
Most give free phone support for a period of time and then charge some sort of subscription fee after the time has elapsed. Usually that free period is about a year which is long enough to get you through most issues you will face. When a customer buys a machine from us, we handle all of his machine, tooling, and software training at his location and give him support after the sale. The customer calls us directly and we will either go to him or talk him through is issue on the phone. Most dealers do not have that capability though. Don't buy from any company that doesnít give you at least a year of free phone tech. You simply won't learn everything you will need to know at their little three day mini schools they send you to when you buy the machine.

From contributor C:
We run two large Anderson routers. They have been 100% supportive seven years after our first purchase. I know that it is the same for Stiles as we have two big ticket machines from them also. I would not buy a machine that had limited free phone support.

From contributor G:
I bought a 1998 Routech about four years ago, used, from a private party. Over the years SCMI has always provided me free tech support over the phone. Most of the time a tech returned my call within the hour. Even though most of the issues were my lack of training, they were very kind and have walked me through many problems over the phone. I appreciate their help profoundly. They are first class from my perspective.

From contributor D:
We have a C.R. Onsrud router and, like many of the other posters here, receive excellent telephone support 24/7. Onsrud has first-rate support people, most of who have actually worked on the production floor at some point, so they know their machines inside and out. Many support organizations can directly access your machine via the Internet if you have a connection.

From contributor U:
You might also want to look at the Thermwood routers. I don't have one myself, but the folks whose CNC services I've used have had nothing but praise for Thermwood's service. I use their free eCabinet Systems software and I get terrific support for that product, so I would imagine that the support must be great when you buy a machine from them. I had one friend who got the free software and a Thermwood tech spent a couple hours on the phone with her (no charge) to resolve a problem that was caused by another application. That's what I call service. Thermwood also provides free support forums for both their CNC routers and their software.

From contributor F:
Diversified Machine Systems (DMS) does not charge for after-warranty phone support even if a company bought the machine used. The Fagor controller offers the capability for remote administration so many problems can be resolved that way. They will discover repeat sales come from service.

From contributor S:
We have a Biesse Rover machine that is several years old. The free telephone support we still receive is as if the machine was still brand new.

From contributor S:
Omnitech Systems offers a two year warranty on parts and free technical support for the lifetime of the machine.

From contributor R:
The key here is a true partnership with your machine tool dealer. SNX Technologies offers its partners a two year parts warranty and free phone support while you own your machine.

From contributor J:
I too have received many hours of free tech support from several machinery manufactureís and suppliers. I can also see this disappearing with slow machinery sales. Customers always think that phone support is free (since no one had to come out), it isnít. It is built into the cost of machines. The tech on the other end is usually the best of the best and he has to get paid somehow or your service is completely gone. As mentioned earlier, some of you are really not getting service, you are getting training. It could be you have a new employee or your current employee does not possess the basic skills needed to operate the machine or you bought used. This cost should not be put on the machinery manufacturer it should be paid for by the customer who is receiving the benefit of the training. Donít get me wrong, in a warranty situation the support should always be no charge, but if you require support because of your lack of training (whether itís a new employee, or you bought a used machine). I know we all want it but I see it disappearing and we are going to have to accept it.

From contributor A:
I have had my Flexicam for over two years now and still get phone support anytime I need it. I spoke to the head of North American the other day for 30 minutes about a unusual part I needed to fixture and cut. I have emails for the tech who installed my machine and several other people in the organization and have never had any issues getting anything I need. They are a class act for sure. I have had nothing go wrong with the machine since I got it. I have managed to ruin a few collets and toolholders due to operator error but parts are only a day away.

From contributor R:
Years back I used to sell CMS machines. They used to provide really exceptional service and support, three years on the machine and phone support for life. We had 13 year old machines that we were still talking with. CMS's prices were high, but the machines and service were recognized as the top of the industry. At the time, (mid '90's) we figured that $40,000.00 of the machine cost was for the service and support. The service and support will be paid by the customer, one way or the other. CMS was at least honest about this, and received the money up front.

From contributor F:
How much of the market share does CMS have today? The capability of current generation controllers to provide remote access (tele-diagnostics) for troubleshooting many maintenance issues has greatly reduced service costs from both the OEM and customers perspective.

From contributor E:
Guys, put yourselves as a business owner in the shoes of the machinery manufacturers. How much does it cost in overhead to staff an office with techs for phone support? In most cases these are the Sr. technicians with many years of experience that could be generating top dollar in technical field service for the company. How long do you give technical support on your product and pay the overhead for phone support? Even if you built in the cost of this service to your product evenly it will cost you for the service. Most machinery manufactures offer free support, but the lean toward charging is not a new idea, as wages go up and the price of machinery coming down someone has to pay the guys on the phones. Look at the price of a machine ten years ago compared to what you can get for the same price today. We purchased a Biesse 342 approximately 15 years age at a cost of approximately $200k. It was and still is a great machine but I can buy three times the machine now for the same price.