Posts Tagged ‘VHF radio’

How NOT to do customer service…

/ December 6th, 2008 / Comments Off on How NOT to do customer service…

I recently asked Uniden if they had a blog set up for product suggestions from their customers. They responded that they did not have a blog and did not intend to set up one. They went on to say if I sent them an email, they would ensure that it got to the right department. I found this very short-sighted on their part, but complied with their request. Below is the response I sent them.

Ok. Let me begin by suggesting you start a Blog for your customers. Without one you are behind the times and out of touch with your customers. I may not be a typical Uniden customer, but I currently own seven Uniden products (3 scanners, 1 Marine Radio, 2 WHAM mics, 1 cordless phone), but I would think you would want to keep me happy and create a forum where you can listen to me and others like me. I suggest your Management read the book “groundswell” by C. Li. here are a few suggestions/comments:

WhamX4 mics

1) Volume Power button. This is wrong. When I am in the cockpit of the boat and want to turn up the volume, but I press the button too long, I turn off the Wham mic! This can be at a critical point in communications, and I just lost my ability to talk. This design decision was made by someone who does not sail and has not been on the ocean when a lot of things are happening at once.

2) DSC menus. The menus are different from the main radio meaning that I have relearn how to make a DSC call al over again depending if I am at the radio or at the wireless mic. This is bad. Also, the DSC calls take too many steps. It should be more like a cell phone and offer speed DSC. That is one button DSC calling.

3) Battery life. The batteries completely died after one year of operation requiring 20% of the cost of the mics to replace. This is too expensive to maintain. Also, the battery life is about 2 hours. We might get 3 hours if the batteries are new, but 3 hours is too short of a battery life. Luckily we run 2-3 hour watches, so we just change them out when we go off watch. However, they need more than 3 hours of charging time so the batteries never reach full charge. (Note we run two mics, if we had only one, it would likely have been tossed overboard in frustration long ago.)

4) Setting up and using the intercom is too complicated. This took us quite a bit of time and the manual was particularly unclear.

5) [Added, not sent to Uniden] The one second delay between keying the WhamX4 and the initiation of transmission is too long. Emergency communications is often fast with short transmissions. One second often means the start of the speech is cut off.

UM525 Radio

1) The UM525 needs better image rejection and selectivity. We sail in the SF Bay area where there are many public safety and paging repeaters. They constantly bleed over into the radio making the squelch break. This is no untypical of recreational boating areas, and I have had many colleagues and friends disparage Uniden products due to this selectivity problem. ┬áIf you compare the specifications of your competitor ICOM, their image rejection is nearly 20 dB better. Again, you don’t have to make me happy, but as a radio engineer, I recommend the ICOM rather than Uniden radios.

2) We connected a GPS unit to the radio, but it sure took a while to figure out the pin connections. You should have a web-site with pictures and configurations for all of the major GPS manufacturers.

BC296 and BC796 Scanners

1) Generally I have been happy with you scanners, but the interface is getting harder and harder to operate. I have not had a chance to view your new products, but these clearly had some problems. The digital audio codecs sound worse than the GRE/Radioshack models. Also, there is a manual voice optimization that your competitors do not require.

2) Memory management. None of the scanner manufacturers seem to understand memory management. The memories need to be flexible. Memory banks are a thing of the past, and they do not work with they way we listen to trunking systems. When we listen to scanners, we listen within the context of scenarios. Casual background listening, emergency fire, emergency police, etc. Memories need to be programmed, but then scanning them needs to be governed by a scanning scenario.

For example, I may want to only listen to a few local channels in the background, but then when I hear something happen, I want to change the channel list (with a single button) to bring in the other channels (along with a priority order of scanning) that allows me to monitor the situation. For example, I may hear of a fire over the police channel (the only one I was monitoring), I hear that this is a traffic accident, so I want (with one button) to switch to a scanning list that scans the HWY patrol, fire for that location, ambulance (for that location), and Lifeflight. And this has to work seamlessly with the trunking systems. Can I do this with a computer connected to the scanner? Yes, but why do I want to? I have three portable scanners so I can take them with me! This is not a hard engineering problem.

3) Quality. Take a look at the AOR form factor and case design. It is much more rugged and ergonomic than the BC296. Spending this much money on a portable scanner means it has to be ruggedized for harsh environments. If AOR can do it, so can Uniden. Like I said, you don’t have to listen to me, but think about how much product intelligence you might get if you started an online forum for your customers. Don’t worry about me, but I will ask this same question of GRE and AOR.

Kindest Regards,


I will be interested to see their repsonse-if there is any.