4 out of 5 Sun Rating
Phone & email Support
There are two ways to get direct support from SMA. One is via
phone or email support, and the second means is via a customer support
forum. First, I will talk about the direct support. This
information is as of May 2008, so I don't know if it gets better or
worse after that time. As you may know,
SMA is a German company with offices in USA, and they do a large amount
of business here. Support is handled in America for equipment sold
Fortunately, manufacturer support is not something you normally have
to worry about since you'll call your installer and they will
take care of warranty issues for you. Therefore, it is far more
important how your contractor will respond to support issues.
You might call SMA for pre-sales support or if you have trouble getting
support from your installer.
As far as the email and
phone support of SMA, it was superb for me. I called twice to the
California office to ask some tough pre-sales technical questions.
I immediately got to the right person (sorry I know recall the name),
whom was knowledgeable and accurate. I almost thought I was
talking to an engineer since he quickly had answers to my questions
about inverter specifications and communications.
2 out of 5 Sun Rating
Customer Support Forum
Now to report on my unfortunate
experience with the SMA customer support forum. This is a web
site where anyone can signup to post questions or comments about SMA
products. Technically inclined customers are usually the ones to
do this. Most SMA customers are not even going to know about the
site or bother to register. This forum is not unlike other
forums that you may have joined. You run across other
knowledgeable customers whom usually post answers to questions or
share knowledge. My main objective was to learn more about details
of operating the equipment and getting the most during operation. Thus a forum is as much about sharing information
with other customers as it is about getting support from the company.
I give credit for having a
support forum and allowing other helpful customers to make postings.
Forums are a good place for technically savvy owners to discuss ideas
and techniques. I started out my solar research by signing up on the forum and posting
questions. Things quickly went down hill for me as a result
of the information below. That's why I called their support
telephone line as an alternative.
The SMA Support
Forum administrator was censoring postings, deleted some,
and was even be a little rude about it !
That's right, he restricted some customer postings on the customer
support site! My advice is don't plan on using the online forum. The
is not run in a matter that I am accustomed to
seeing for other manufacturer product forums. If what you post is not what one admin
(Jacob Ball) wants to hear,
then he tells you to go away and deletes your postings. That is
what he did to me and a couple other people.
I joined their forum to post questions, suggestions, and try to
help others, I observed very few new customers signing up, and
numerous questions go unanswered. Some questions have gone over 2
years without a response. Most questions were answered by other
two weeks of posting
messages (about 30 messages)... Surprise! I received a private email from
Jacob saying I
am posting too much and demanded I stop!
Gee, have you ever heard a company tell a customer they don't want to hear from
them when they offer suggestions and ask questions? Forum admins
typically like lots of posts and don't censor anything. SMA should want people to
participate and share ideas. Sadly, the forum admin doesn't understand the whole
principle of a user forum.
the actual email quote I got...
"You are posting way to
much, if you have serious questions about you solar install please
contact us directly but otherwise no more posting." Interestingly, I had "serious" questions,
but he didn't want them. Fyi, comments from
two other users said "I like your postings" and "Thanks for
your many replies. The solution worked perfectly." More than
70% of my postings were to answer other customer questions about WebBox
setup where Jacob was giving wrong information. I think
that is what got him angry at me.
In March 2008 (one week
after a formal complaint), a sales manager sent an email to mention they
are looking into the issue.
keep in mind... they will politely and expertly answer questions if you call
them, yet the
support forum is not an option in my opinion. Like I said elsewhere, my site is like a Clint
Eastwood movie.... I post THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY. ;-)
Update 2010. I noticed that Jacob is no longer the admin of the
site and it has gotten somewhat better.
To end on a positive note, I think SMA inverters are
nicely designed. This is a world class company with
state-of-the-art products. I won't penalize a company because of poor judgment
of one employee who does not show respect for customers.
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