Update: My machine was returned on February 2nd, 2013. See my “Final Thoughts on Husqvarna Viking” post for more info. I hope this is the end of the repair saga. It seems the part is still scarce so I have no idea how they found one for my machine.
2nd Update: See Tampa Bay Sewing Center’s response to my Better Business Bureau complaint here where they call me a liar.
I suppose I’ll begin at the beginning. For those that don’t want to read this entire post I’ll sum up my recommendations for you:
Rethink your purchase from a Husqvarna Viking dealer unless it has a good reputation for maintenance and customer service. Corporate won’t deal with you if it is a privately owned branch.
The combo machines (embroidery/sewing) have documented tension problems, especially the early models.
If the person selling you the machine doesn’t know how to work it you need to leave, immediately. The dealer my Topaz 20 was purchased from had inexperienced people on the floor selling machines they had no idea how to use.
I give companies the benefit of the doubt. I don’t review products before they are tested and I won’t badmouth a company unless they refuse to fix a known issue in a timely manner. I understand sometimes things go wrong but what I don’t understand is bad customer service both from the Dealer level and the Corporate level. Here is my story.
February 26, 2011 - Purchased Viking Sapphire 855 from Tampa Bay Sewing Center located inside JoAnn Fabrics. – This was my first experience with Viking machines. I did tons of research before my purchase and this model had all the features I wanted. It worked great, sewed great and quilted great. I had a wonderful purchase experience with the floor rep at the dealer. I don’t think she works there anymore.
September 10, 2011 - Purchase Viking Topaz 20 – I gave my Sapphire 855 to a friend and did several quilt commissions to pay for this machine after she decided to give it to me shortly after she purchased it. It is important to note that once my friend decided to swap machines with me we both spoke to representatives at the dealer requesting our information to be updated in their computer system. The first rep told us that shouldn’t be a problem. We were later told it wasn’t possible to do but that if we ever needed service we could just bring the machines in and they would look them up under the original names and service them accordingly.
January 2012 – Thread Shredding and Breakage begins – I began learning machine embroidery on the Topaz in January of 2012. I noticed that my thread would break and shred during certain stitch outs. At the time I was rather inexperienced and I didn’t understand why it was happening. I blamed it on the thread or the design. It was sporadic and there wasn’t much I could do to fix it other than rethread the machine and hope for the best when I started the design again.
I tried various fixes to solve this inconsistent problem. Nothing fixed it long term. I tried different thread brands, needles, thread conditioner, stabilizers, bobbin thread, designs and speeds on the machine.
I began observing my machine to see what was going on with the thread as it was stitching. I quickly figured out my thread popped off the uptake lever arm and would shred under the needle after it popped off. The uptake lever had a design flaw where there was nothing preventing the thread from popping off of it or slipping out when sewing at high speeds. Even at low speeds this began occurring. Using a thread net didn’t prevent this from happening either.
I called my dealer to find out if anyone had heard of this problem before I brought the machine in for it’s first annual service in September 2012. The floor rep working that day had never heard of it the problem. So I did some more research. Yahoo Groups has a Viking Topaz group and I read through several posts there. I found that there are two modifications covered under warranty that I was not notified about. One was an uptake lever modification to fix the exact problem I was having with the thread popping off. I didn’t understand why Viking wouldn’t notify owners of the machine of the available modification.
September 10, 2012 – Viking Topaz Brought in for 1st Annual Service, cleaning and Uptake Lever Modification – I had to bring a printout that I got from the Yahoo Groups page explaining the modification I was requesting since the floor rep had never heard of it and didn’t know if the repair person would know about it. This was a major red flag for me and foreshadowed problems to come.
The modification was done on my machine and it was supposedly cleaned and serviced. I say supposedly for a reason which I’ll get to in a minute.
At the end of October 2012 I began having tension issues. They were sporadic and were typically fixed by turning the machine on and off or leaving the machine off for a while before trying to sew again. I was having tension issues while sewing and while doing embroidery.
November 24, 2012 – I take the machine back to the dealer for thread tension problems. I reached my breaking point in trying to get the machine to cooperate. It was happening more and more. I visited my dealer and dropped the machine off for service.
November 28, 2012 – Machine comes back. Dealer reports nothing is wrong with it. Dealer said repair person tested it and said nothing was wrong. The note on the ticket said the repair person cleaned the tension discs. I beg to differ (see post “Losing Trust in my Dealer” with photographic proof of a thread nest near the tension discs that wasn’t cleaned out after service).
December 2, 2012 – I take my machine back to the dealer to sew with the manager. We manage to replicate the problem once while doing embroidery and a few times while sewing with regular thread and Aurifil thread. The manager made some adjustments to the bobbin case and then completely replaced the bobbin case thinking that would fix it. It worked at the store. I sewed normally and we tested the embroidery unit. I decided to take the machine home to see if that fixed the problem.
December 3, 2012 – Tension problems get worse. After I got home they got even worse than before. I called the manager and told her I’d be bringing the machine in on Saturday, December the 8th.
December 8, 2012 – Dropped off machine with the dealer for service. I spoke with the store manager about the machine and told her I didn’t want it back until the problem was fixed.
December 18, 2012 – Called dealer for update. – I called the dealer to find out what was going on since I hadn’t heard anything. The floor rep told me they’d replaced the motherboard but that didn’t fix it so now they wanted to replace the tension assembly. They had to wait on the part to come in.
December 27, 2012 – Left message to find out status of repair. – I have a strange conversation with the floor rep who calls the manager at home about my problem. The manager informs her that I apparently had a conversation with her when she informed me about the part needed to fix it. They claim they offered me a used version or a new version and I picked the new version because I wanted it done right. This conversation never occurred. I had to call to find out what was going on, they never called me. She then informs the floor rep the part is on indefinite backorder and she has no idea when it will be available.
I called Viking Corporate. Left a message for the regional manager. Asked for him to call me.
He has never called.He finally called me on January 31, 2013 after this was posted.
January 4, 2013 – Call to find out status of part and complain about length of time it is taking. Manager informs me she is going to call Viking the following week to try and find out when the part will be available. Last time she tried to call she said she was on hold too long and didn’t want to wait.
January 8, 2013 – Manager informs me part will not be available until Mid-February. She finally offers a loaner machine. I ask why I haven’t been offered a loaner machine or a replacement since it is taking this long. She told me they normally didn’t do loaners since they don’t really have any machines to loan other than floor models. I told her a loaner wouldn’t do me any good at this point, I really needed a replacement since it was going to be another month. She didn’t acknowledge the request.
At this point I’ve given up. They are holding my $2,800 machine hostage.
January 20, 2013 – I speak to manager of other branch of Tampa Bay Sewing Center. She offers to help find out what is going on with the part and see what she can do about a possible replacement. I explain the situation to her and express my disappointment with the brand and customer service that I’ve had so far. She apologizes and says she will call me back.
January 21, 2013 – Other manager notifies me that the part is still on backorder but that it might be available sooner than they thought. She said she will let me know what she finds out soon. No mention of a replacement.
If you’re horrified about this leave a comment. If you’ve had a similar experience with the same brand or a different one leave a comment. If you are going to share this story with a friend that is currently shopping for a new sewing machine please leave a comment. Let’s show Husqvarna Viking and other sewing machine brands that treatment like this is not acceptable.
I cling to my last bit of hope that I might get my machine back after three or four months of it collecting dust in a repair shop.
January 29, 2013 – Called dealer manager again to get update. She was surprised no one had called me yet to let me know Corporate has been alerted to my problem and has been working on resolving it quickly. She said I should expect a call soon. She told me they estimate a part for my machine to come in by February 8, 2013.
January 31, 2013 – Regional Manager calls me personally. Informs me they had part issues and my replacement part was in a shipment that was rejected by Viking due to quality assurance issues. They had to wait on a new batch of parts to be manufactured. They estimate my machine might be returned to me on February 2, 2013. I requested they please test it and ensure the tension is working properly before I make the trip out to the store which is 40 minutes from my home one way. He ensures it will be tested in the shop and again at the dealer.
February 2, 2013 – Pick up fixed machine from dealer. Machine was tested by employees in the store throughout the day and I also sewed on it for about 45 minutes before taking it home. Hopefully it’s now fixed.