Redditor Get Charged $950 to Repair $3800 Earbuds, Only to Find That They Were Crudely Glued Back

The payment invoice for the repair
The payment invoice for the repair

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And no, they are not even custom IEMs.

A Redditor, u/bearman94, accidentally damaged his $3800 Empire Ears x Astell & Kern Odyssey Universal In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) and sent it in for repair.

He was reported to be charged $950, reduced from an initial quote of $1800, and had expected a comprehensive rebuild. When the earbuds were returned to him, he found that the premium IEMs were crudely glued together.

How It All Began

The incident began when the Reddit user, who owned a pair of Empire Ears/Astell&Kern Odyssey Universal In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) valued at $3800, accidentally dropped and cracked them.

Acknowledging his responsibility for the damage, he approached the company for repairs. The initial repair quote was a hefty $1800, nearly half the cost of the IEMs. However, after negotiations, the fee was reduced to $950.

The e-invoice of the repair
The e-invoice of the repair

Expecting a thorough rebuild of his high-end audio equipment, the user was taken aback upon receiving the repaired IEMs.

To his disappointment, the IEMs appeared to have been hastily glued back together. He described the glue as brittle and expressed concern over its durability.

The repaired unit still showed visible signs of the initial damage, including the crack, and he reported experiencing driver flex, a common issue in poorly repaired earphones.

You can see the shoddily repaired shell. (From: u/bearman94)
You can see the shoddily repaired shell. (From: u/bearman94)

Bad Customer Service

Adding to his frustration was his interaction with the company’s customer service.

After raising the issue, the company offered to re-examine the unit, but subsequent communications were met with delays and unresponsiveness.

When the user finally received a response, the company stated that further repairs would incur losses for them. This statement, along with the company’s questioning of the user’s honesty on public forums like Head-fi and Reddit, only intensified the user’s dissatisfaction.

The situation took another turn when the company demanded the return of the damaged unit if a full-priced replacement was to be provided. The user saw this as an unfair practice, where the company would receive full payment for a new unit while retaining the old components for potential reuse.

This case has sparked discussions among consumers regarding the expectations and realities of customer service in the luxury audio industry. Questions have been raised about the justification of high repair costs, especially when the quality of repairs does not meet the high standards expected from premium brands.

Community Reaction

Empire Ears IEMs are apparently called “Sugar Shells” in South Korea.
Empire Ears IEMs are apparently called “Sugar Shells” in South Korea.

Given that the IEM is not even a custom IEM, the high product price and outrageous repair fee have caught many by surprise.

OP unable to get the IEM to be reshelled into a CIEM and $3400 is pinch to pay for a universal IEMs (From: Reddit)
OP unable to get the IEM to be reshelled into a CIEM and $3400 is pinch to pay for a universal IEMs (From: Reddit)

Some has actually called for the boycott of the luxury brand.

Don't think this will make much of an impact (From: reddit)
Don’t think this will make much of an impact (From: reddit)

Others have a much better repair experience.

$100 repair fee for a glue job is much more acceptable
$100 repair fee for a glue job is much more acceptable

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