Repairs, orange light, last tube going out, and diagnosis in the aftermath

Hello, just finished paying $578.62 in parts and labor to have my laser tube replaced and likely something else as the initial quote for just the tube was $300, I had got the orange light on my Glowforge after cleaning the machine and not exactly sure what else was wrong with it and how to prevent these needs for repair going forward. Tried going about maintenance by the manual to the best of my knowledge and have a bad taste in my mouth over the lack of nuance from support over my repair. With that said, is this standard procedure and the grey area of what is being fixed a formality, unlike having a car repaired where you have an assessment of what was wrong? If anyone has ran into this same problem and can provide insight into prevention of making the same mistake again, it would be greatly appreciated. This was the vague response I received from support leaving me to reach out to the community in hopes someone else may’ve screwed up in operating/ maintaining their machine in the same fashion:

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If I recall correctly the tube replacement was $500 - $300 for the tube, then $200 ($100/ea way) shipping for the total of $500 then the rest may account for tax?

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I don’t have more information on the repairs that were made.

So… Maybe GO GET MORE INFORMATION?! I mean, what the heck kind of customer service is that?

I wish there was more I could do to help.

Maybe GO GET MORE INFORMATION?! I mean, what the heck kind of customer service is that?
Wait… Did I already say that? Well, it applies to both! Come on!

Any reputable mechanical repair will detail exactly what was replaced as well as provide you with the damaged components that they replaced if you want them. Hell, you can even have your old oil after an oil change. I think there are cases where you can’t physically take some broken components… But, as far as I know, a repair person needs to be able to demonstrate to their customer the damage and need to replace a component.

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Well, this was in addition to the $200 already paid for the round trip shipping, so $778.62 so far. Two more of these and I’ll have a brand new machine. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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i agree with @Tom_A. there’s no reason at this point that they should be treating the GF as a magic, secret black box. it’s been out in the wild for 2 years and has been thoroughly dissected. if you want to charge someone 25% of the cost of a brand new machine to repair it, it’s incumbent upon you to explain what you repaired and why. the secrecy does nothing but breed contempt from your customer base (and from other people who use other laser cutters from other vendors who don’t play this game). it’s plain insulting.

when GF does this, they risk making their customers feel like GF thinks they’re just not smart enough to understand what’s going on inside the machine. it’s insulting.

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T H A N K Y O U!!! Precisely my thinking on this. Hate to say it, but this response from them made me Google the Epilog.

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Exactly, was one of the earlier adopters at the end of ‘17 and had high hopes and still do, this has really left a bad impression on me, especially after having formed a small business tailored around the machine.

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Here’s an article that describes what I’m saying pretty well…
Glowforge, please note the word “sleazy.”

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Spot on. I’m even willing to admit I’ve done something wrong to get me into this in the first place, I’m not trying to absolve myself of responsibility in the matter, but I do demand more openness and transparency than is being given to me. Even the invoice was as bare bones as the reply, and I do have to question why the Glowforge is designed in such a way that the delicate looking boards and circuitry are exposed to the debris and elements that are inevitable with regular use? Anyways, that insightful invoice :

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For a small business (not a craft fair type of ad-hoc business) I’d go with an Epilog Zing 24 in the form factor the GF fills. Support, service and no secret magic stuff.

I’m really comfortable with the mechanics & electronics of lasers so my own business I’d go with a pair of Chinese 100W machines instead. I could be virtually guaranteed I’d always have at least one of them operational all the time.

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Definitely appreciate the suggestions and insight! Love the GF when it’s working, but if this is a preview of the months and years to come, I’m not married to them.

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I perform repair for 3D printers and I always give a full detailed rundown of every part replaced, adjustment made, and test run on each printer. This is for two reasons: 1. It gives the user a solid explanation of what was done and why, and 2. It provides documentation of the repair. I have had to use this more often than I like when a user comes back and complains that such and so isn’t working after the repair, since I can point out that it wasn’t affected during the repair.
@dan as a user I would expect the same treatment on my GF.

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Ah sorry! Well then that explains nothing since the shipping was pulled out of that number. I agree with your frustration, I would totally expect a breakdown of what I was paying for!

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It just makes sense, and good on ya for being transparent and thorough in your own repairing! Was told the tube was likely shot though they have a 10,000 hour life expectancy, surely some clarity as to what went wrong with just that alone could be provided.

You’re totally fine! Yeah they mentioned it’d at least be $300 on the tube, anything else wrong it’d be an additional cost of course, but don’t see how there’s not more communication between the repair tech and the arbiter of how much the invoice will be.

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GF’s business model isn’t really suited to someone using it as a critical production tool. The ambiguous time-frames for support (3 days to weeks), the lack of local ability for almost all repairs, single source for parts or support, the dependence on their cloud operation and lack of constancy in the application is all antithetical to the ability to control your production schedules.

It’s great for hobbyists who can be down for a day due to server issues or where unexpected updates cause previous good files to work differently (they can absorb the time to troubleshoot and fix the file without losing sales). Even a 3 or 4 week “problem to send back to repair to return to your doorstep” isn’t going to be more than a major inconvenience. Its simplicity to use is good for schools and makerspaces. Their target market is adequately served by their business model.

Businesses generally can’t live with the uncertainty of the GF support model.

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while i agree with all of that…

there’s still no excuse for charging someone $275 for “repairs” with no description of what that is. we wouldn’t accept that from any other vendor. not your car, not your HVAC, it’s just bad customer service. it’s not a “black box”.

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Damn, I’m afraid of you being right on the pulse with that one, definitely puts things into a realistic perspective if what I’m dealing with is the norm, really do appreciate the breakdown and brutal truths of it all. Just hoping my GF here on out justifies the initial + repair costs and then some before I decide to jump ship.

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No doubt. But we’ve been conditioned over the past several years to accept it because our only other choice is to abandon the platform. In everything you need to take the bad with the good. When the bad overwhelms the good for you it’s time to move on.

It’s possible that this was just one untrained new employee but it may also be a further manifestation of GF’s core approach to the business. It used to drive me nuts the way they ran the company, but I’ve stopped because it’s not changing. The positives still outweigh the negatives for me. But a lot of the reason for that is because I have nothing material riding on this. I’d be in a far different place if I were trying to make a living with it (& I know many people are - but they’re only one issue away from having their source of production shut down for a month or more and I’d wager they’d not be well able to survive that).

It’s an awesome machine for newbies. It does some very cool things. It’s really nice that the software updates can and do change the capabilities of the machine in a good way. But I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on it

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Maybe they need an oldversion.glowforge.com or oldapp.glowforge.com so if something does break you there is always access to the previous version. However this does not help much for firmware updates.