Repair Costs and Process

Hey folks,

(TLDR; how much have people paid for repairs? what can i expect from the process?)

Posting here as I already have an email support thread open, and don’t want to overburden the support staff. I’m also hoping to get meaningful information from the community, and as per that thread’s rules, it seems likely something posted there might get prematurely closed. SO

My laser suddenly stopped firing. I’ve owned the Glowforge basic for almost exactly a year. The unit has been used rarely to low throughout its time with me. I’ve gone through the recommended cleaning process with the support staff, and it has been determined that the unit must be sent in for diagnostic and repairs. Thus the frustration truly begins.

I’ve been told my unit cannot be repaired in the field, and that some parts that need replacing require calibration that again, cant be done in the field. In order to have a tech make an assessment, I must pay $200 and ship the unit back to have a diagnostic run. Then presumably, IF the repair can be done, they will let me know the cost before doing it. (Though, THIS gives me pause…)

It is clear that there is some information reported from the glowforge that has enabled them to make this assessment. I have asked for ballpark figures on potential parts and repairs, but they have simply said they “do not have a price quote to provide at this time.”

From THIS thread, it seems there is a standard laser tube replacement ($499, not including shipping) that many people have had to go through, and I suspect this may be part of whats going on for me. I’ll refrain from any more speculation regarding my unit on this point though…

When I asked what if the repair cannot be done, the reply was they will simply “ship your unit to you” (DEAD mind you! This was actually something they offered as I’m asking for their help fixing the machine!)… or I can purchase a refurbished unit less a discount that includes a buyback credit for my irreparable machine. There was absolutely no indication of what that cost might be.

So… It seems I am now going through the worst case scenario that many other owners have gone through, experiencing the difficulties and frustrations in owning this black box closed system, completely dependent on the company for everything, and witnessing their oblique service strategies. Maybe other folks who survived to tell the tale might balm my throbbing wound.

I am hoping, yet not expecting, that the service reps will offer some sort of numbers or helpful information. But in the mean while, maybe some folks would be willing to share what they’ve encountered on the way to a successful repair of a faulty machine, both in process and cost.

— EDIT : Line removed as it was soliciting feedback that I was not actually after. —

Thanks for your time and potential help.

-Casey

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Yes, but there is a bit of drama happening, so maybe it’s apropos. I don’t have anything directly constructive to say here - luckily my machine has been OK - but good luck, and I’ll be interested to see how it turns out.

As for indirectly constructive… I mean fundamentally, this is a pretty simple machine as far as these things go, with modular parts. Swapping out components 1 until it works seems pretty doable, so I suspect they’ll be able to fix it. They may just look it over and immediately turn a refurbed unit out to you so that they can have a faster turnaround [repairing this one when they can], I don’t know if they have the scale to make that smart, but I suspect maybe so.

1 (smells electronic to me, so I’d start with main boards after a visual inspection of the tube to ensure it’s not physically broken… then it’s time for quick swaps and/or multimetering)

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You might be the first person to admit to actually reading them.

I’m going to be up front with you as a result. We don’t know what it’s going to cost, and they don’t either until they look at it and determine what’s wrong with it exactly. At that point, they will decide whether it can be repaired, in which case they will charge parts and labor, like many automobile dealerships do. Or they will offer to replace it with a refurbished unit, whichever is going to cost you less. (That part is based on knowing the kind of people they are, so it has to be taken on faith, which very few people like. )

Unfortunately, the shipping cost is rather like the plumber fee you have to pay to get them to come out and look at it and determine what the problem is…no way around it.

About all I can do is tell you that if I were in your position, I would ship it to them and let them fix it. And that isn’t much help, I know. Other people have usually come on the forum when they had to send their machines in for repair, and we don’t usually hear what the results of those transactions are. I suspect that if it were horrible, we’d never hear the end of it.

So I’d send it in. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Where are you located? In the US? The $499 is supposed to include shipping for US-customers.

At least I’m not alone, but I hate to hear another person dealing with what I’m in the middle of. A previous commenter linked to my post about a tube repair, but what’s weird is you say they quoted you at $500, my tube quote was $300 plus whatever else may be wrong, and the standard $200 shipping. Well when they got back to me, it was actually $578 for repairs, and literally Z E R O info on what was wrong, what was replaced, and how to keep from giving them $800 every five months, which was the duration of my use. I’m beyond pissed myself and this whole ordeal sparked my curiosity into anyone else than GF for my next laser cutter, as much as I’ve loved it. Really sorry to hear this again.

This is kind of my big worry… I’m honestly not sure what I’d do. I keep hoping GF will start to train people to service units so this is less of an issue over time. I guess I’d send it in at least and see what happens.

I don’t think you’re being particularly dramatic (we’ve seen plenty of drama around here) and I think your concerns are reasonable. Only you can know how much is too much to invest, though.

Hope it’s a reasonably easy repair!

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A looong time ago I realized that I would often step on a fork on the path and often had to make a decision that I could not see what the results would be. Sometimes I hoped that it would fall into place and turn out the best I was imagining, but it never did. Sometimes I worried it would be the worst I could imagine, but it never was as bad as that. Paying attention to Murphy’s Law I made such sacrifices as I could think of with plans “a”, “b”, “c”…“zz” and such redundancy as I could think of as sacrifices to Murphy, and took the path with the least undesirable outcome.

I know the math of buying a lottery ticket and so do not do so, but when the office is chipping in to buy several I still know the odds, but the very slim chance that they did win and I was not in was a horrid enough outcome that I would rather lose the cash and support the hopes of others than not do so.

Having the Glowforge die is something we all face as a possibility, and the most expensive machine will still have the same. The choice when all personal things are exhausted is either have something decorative in the office or pay the piper and even a refurbished machine would still produce with the chance and reasonable probability that the final cost would be less, even stepping up from a dead Basic to a refurbished Pro with a new tube, might be a better result than what was before.

Life is far too short to keep hurting yourself more as anger or regrets are hurts you can control even if you could not control the cause. Likewise injuring yourself over the less than certain possible injury, have no value once all the sacrifices to Murphy have been made. Rather than reliving all the most horrid moments, I choose to re-live the finest ones, grateful that they existed for me to revisit often.

/ End of Philosophical rant

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I really appreciate your candid and clear description of your situation. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of data points around getting these machines repaired. Most of the time it seems that a warranty replacement unit has been sent out.

It’s tough. One of the reasons I would stick to a basic is that I would have a less expensive brick after the warranty runs out.

Then again, as @evansd2 said, the parts aren’t going to be the issue. Its the calibration that makes the difference. I can’t imagine them not being able to fix a unit, but maybe I don’t understand what it takes to get that lid hinge fixed or the lid camera replaced.

Not having a good explanation of what actually has gone wrong and how it is going to be fixed is an issue. Yes, opaque. That’s the word. Sorry you are in this boat.

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A place we will all be … sooner or later. Sorry that it all seems so uncertain.

Kind of reminds me of repair of tvs since they’ve gotten so big you can’t take them to a shop. You pay a large fee to have a company come to your home. Seems that it is usually more than a new tv for a repair. Ugh!

The positive side … it shouldn’t be as much as a new Glowforge for our repairs. Sorry for your situation.

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Thank you for pointing this out. I seem to remember the 499 popping up in several places as for the tube only. But rereading the comment, it clearly says including round trip shipping. The tube warranty bit is a little unclear though…

Hey metaldrummer13, as horrifying as your post was, it made me feel sane and not alone. So thanks for sharing your very frustrating story. And is indeed one reason why I came to the forum to see if anyone else would be willing to share their repair cost/story.

Its the 800 every 5 months thing that gives me the most pause here as well…

Any update on the status of your situation. You’re all repaired and set? Any additional aftermath you’d care to share?

Good luck man, and appreciate you chiming in.

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Thanks Christy.

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“sacrifices to Murphy”
Appreciating this concept.

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Re: the lack of repair data points.
This seems to imply that I am one of the rare situations where a glowforge has had a major issue after the warranty period? Sigh. Thanks for weighing in.

I do recall reading somewhere (in the FAQ perhaps?) that the laser is a thing that over the life of a unit will require replacement. This is the only part that I know of, outside of the add on filter, that all users can expect to need servicing at some point. It says there that the tube is rated for 2 years… so im coming up short by half!

This whole situation comes down to expectations and communication I suppose. Good luck to everyone as they find themselves in this situation.

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Heh. Something about your reply makes the situation all the more frustrating. Perhaps the machine is simple… only relative to ones skill level. I hadn’t considered thinking about it in this way. I’m generally one for open source soft/hardware as a philosophy, and so I jumped on the glowforge train with some reservation. This process has more or less strongly confirmed my feelings. I’ll be slower to take the plunge in the future.

In the mean while, one can hope what you’re saying is right. Its too bad none of the parts/labor are documented anywhere. Perhaps the myself and the community might compile our post repair receipts to build an expectation roadmap for future folks in need???

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Thanks Jules,
I hear you, and yet… and YET… there is clearly diagnostic information being sent from the unit to their system. This is a cloud based operation, and who knows how much metadata is being sent with every cut. (No seriously… who knows, someone tell us please!!!)

With that information, they could at least make rough assessments, subject to change. By making that information available, and then making information obtained during the diagnostic available, they would be providing users, the community, trust based information about the process.

Your comparison to the dealership is apt. And also horrifying. Apologies to automotive mechanics, but they dont exactly have the best reputation on the block, however undeserved. The car is the biggest black box in the culture for most people! That said, man, theres a world of difference between a place who will explain everything to you pre-inspection and post-inspection, and give you heads up estimates before going into that diagnostic phase. Setting expectations is HUGE.

This whole trust thing? I’ll admit its difficult to lean into trust right now, given how even the earliest communication is, given the things I’ve read in the forums, and given that if this is how things are now… do I want to continue risking that moving forward?

Anywho, I intend at least to be as transparent about the process and its aftermath on the forums, so that other folks encountering this will at least have some sense of what they can expect.

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Sorry, wasn’t trying to pile on.

Google openglow, you might like what they’re up to if you don’t know already (you probably do given that you’ve been here for a year?). I’m mixed on this. Open source is a good idea in theory but in practice sometimes you get really janky Wild West pastiche bug-riddled products… or worse, forked messes where it’s not easy to even know what’s current.

You mentioned relative skill before, open source software requires a lot more engaged and educated users, I wouldn’t want that here. I just want it to work, and when it doesn’t I want someone to ask rather than have to figure out who is actively maintaining the code and hoping they’re good enough to help.

Unfortunately you’re having issues, but I’ve been lucky and had almost no trouble, maybe my perspective is tempered because of that. I wonder if yours would be if things were working properly for you too? I’ll admit that GF support isn’t great in some ways (cough response time black box cough), but at least you know where to find them and they’re committed to the job.

You might really like what openglow is up to.

Some of Glowforge software has been released I think. No API, but there is some out there I think?

A lot. And some is obtainable right now if you know how to pull your logs. It’s documented on the forum:

Good luck, I hope you get a good resolution.

Maybe not a rare situation. Probably are more cases but the resolutions aren’t documented on the forum at all or with a closed topic taken to email, we don’t know what happened. Again, I appreciate the reasonable conversation here. This is especially relevant since so many devices become closed systems that the user can’t repair at all.

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Tube warranty in what regards?

The tube doesn’t have an explicit warranty outside of the normal warranty period. All replacement parts have a warranty of 3-months per the warranty guidelines (https://glowforge.com/warranty)

Glowforge warrants Proofgrade materials and spare parts against defects in materials and workmanship for a period of 3 months when used as instructed in conjunction with a Glowforge product.

The logs do contain some information, but it’s not something that is going to pinpoint the problem in every single case. Much like OBD-II codes on your vehicle (which contain even more data), they aren’t going to necessarily say, this is exactly what’s wrong so an exact estimate can be given to fix it. Using that example, it could be anything from the actual sensor that’s recording data, to anywhere upstream before the next data point is being recorded.

Just to throw an example out, it could be a coolant flow issue: it could be the pump dead, it could be a leak that results in no coolant being able to be pumped throwing the code, the leak could lead to additional damages that sensor data isn’t available for. The sensor itself could have died, meaning just the sensor needed to be replaced and not the pump. Or, it could be a problem with the control board where the sensor ties into it.

Each scenario presents a different repair approach; it would be really tough to sit there and ballpark a repair cost when you just don’t know.

I don’t know Glowforge’s process for testing… but if they have developed what are essentially service manuals (which I’m guessing they have to some degree for the techs), it’s going to be a series of diagnostics to pinpoint the issue.

Issue: check A > if A checks out, proceed to B, if not, proceed to A2 > if B checks out, proceed to C, if not proceed to B2, etc etc etc.

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