LeddarTech - refused to refund; initially promised to refund, but reneged on that

Hey guys,

I am facing some difficulties with LeddarTech (http://leddartech.com) and would like to seek some advice here. Here are the chronology of events.

  • 12 April 2016 – Purchased 2x LeddarOne Sensor Modules at about US$350.
  • 19 April 2016 – Received the sensors and started trying to get them to work on the ROS platform. Thereafter numerous emails (more than 20 of them) were bounced with their technical support team. We then realised that our sensors could not even work properly on the SDKs provided by the company as the connection was unstable and dropped a few seconds after switching the sensor on.
  • 26 April 2016 – Requested for a refund from their Sales Director, who replied 2 days later that the company will not be able to refund due to company policies.
  • 4 May 2016 – Escalated the issue to the company’s management team. Got a reply 3 days later from the VP of Sales who then offered to make a refund, which we agreed to. This was the last time we handled the sensors and it could still powered up, albeit the unstable connection that we encountered all along.
  • 13 May 2016 – Sent the units back to the company with their courier picking up the units from my place.
  • 31 May 2016 – Got a response from the company, having well received the package. However, the VP of Sales claims the units sent back are not functional on their end, and thus they will not be reimbursing the units. The issue is my team could not get the sensors to function properly in the first place. Before sending back the items, LeddarTech also indicated that we will not have to bear any costs under any situation. After this response, I have since emailed them 4 times for clarification, some of which were also escalated to the CEO, but am not getting a reply from them.

I am at a loss of what to do. The amount spent is quite substantial for me as I do not have any income yet and purchased these for a side project while doing my undergraduate studies. Could anyone advise what else I can do in this circumstances?

tags: LeddarTech, LeddarOne, LeddarOne Single-Element Sensor Module, M16 Multi-Element Sensor Module, IS16 Multi-Element Industrial Sensor, Leddar d-tec, LeddarCore ICs, Leddar Evaluation Kit

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@dronelover - I now this sort of thing can be very frustrating, especially when you have deadlines to meet and your success is in someone else's hands. I can't make any promises but we may be able to help you with an alternative product. Could you tell us a bit about your project? What sort of LiDAR do you need to get it working? If you look on the LightWare website is there something that might be suitable?

Hi Laser Developer, currently I have a solution in place. I only hope to be able to recover my costs from LeddarTech. As a laser sensor provider yourself, could you provide some advice?

Every company has a different approach on how to handle product returns. Obviously I cannot speak for your current supplier but there tends to be two types of company when it comes to handling returns.

The first are those who have a total acceptance policy and they accept returns with no questions ask. You'll find this with most large retail stores where the marketing value of accepting goods back in any condition is far more important than the cost of the item itself, in other words, they know that the customer will remain loyal to their brand and will buy again in the future.

Other companies have a more combative approach to their customers and try as hard as possible to avoid accepting returns because they consider the cost of the goods to be higher than the value of customer loyalty.

Between these two extremes there are different policies that may permit certain categories of customers (regular customers who place large orders) to have more leverage to return goods than say, individuals.

For your current situation there is no direct legal recourse against the supplier because they can simply claim that you damaged the goods. You probably cannot refute this unless you are running an independently verified quality management system (such as ISO9001) that details how the goods were handled from the moment that you received them to the moment that they left your premises. Included in this system might be "incoming goods inspection" where the supplier provides you with written instructions on how to verify that the goods arrived in working order and you conduct these tests under controlled conditions and let them know immediately that the goods failed or passed. Without this kind of system in place it becomes a finger-pointing exercise.

You can sometimes use the suppliers own quality system against them. For example, customer satisfaction forms a large part of the requirements for a certified ISO9001 quality system, so if your supplier is certified to this standard then you can force them to handle your complaint, otherwise you can report them to their own certifying body. Unfortunately, the company in question doesn't seem to have a quality system in place which kind of explains why your experience with them was so inconsistent.

Since I'm a big fan of quality systems I'll just mention one other thing. You are just starting out on the long and convoluted path of technology development so you might want to start keeping a list of "approved suppliers" (another requirement of ISO9001). This way you will remember to buy from companies who give the best overall customer experience (price, delivery, service etc) rather than from those companies who simply offer the lowest price. When the day comes that your business and livelihood depends on these suppliers, it's good to know who you can trust ;).

Dear Dronelover,

Our warranty policy states that, “during the Warranty Period, LeddarTech’s obligations of warranty shall be limited to reimbursing the purchase price of the Module found to be defective.” We spent over 40 hours answering your questions and coding. We usually charge for this type of support as it is considered applicative support, but we did not. We even shipped you new cables, at no cost to your, after you told us the ones you had received were defective. In your situation, the modules themselves were not defective, and neither were the cables.

However, we have decided to reimburse you the amount of the units.

We are sorry you felt we treated you unfairly. We strive to provide excellent customer support, and we believe you were no exception to our efforts.

Sincerely,

 

LeddarTech

Hi LeddarTech,

You are saying here that the units I sent back were not defective. Well, in your email to me on 29 Jun 2016, your staff shared that the units were defective (ie not functional), and hence a refund was refused. I have attached the above mentioned email in the image below.

Hi dronelover,

Unfortunately, this is a common method of doing business.

Often marketing claims and information are more optimistic than actual operational capabilities.

Worse, they are not really equipped to handle the messy details of actual technical questions or difficulties.

Seems like this is what you have run into here.

Clearly a half baked product being misrepresented as a ready to go solution.

It looks like finally they are offering you a refund, if I were you I would take my money and move on.

I strongly suggest you take a look at Lightware in South Africa as mentioned by Laser Developer above, he is a representative and developer for them and they build very solid equipment.

These guys truly are experts in this field.

And if you have any problem, you can interact directly with the developers to get it solved.

@ LD,

I notice that although you still list the SF40C scanner, you no longer have price or availability.

I would really like to know the status of this as I really think it is a truly great product.

Best Regards,

Gary

Hey Gary, thanks for sharing your inputs. I wanted to show LeddarTech's inconsistency in their email communications and what they are saying here to the community. My interactions with them over the past 4-5 months were full of such twisting of words, changing facts etc. And this screenshot I am showing is just the tip of the iceberg. Definitely would not want someone else to go through the pain like myself.

Thanks for the Lightware recommendation! Others also recommended this in other forums where I posted this issue with LeddarTech. So i am sure to check it out!

Gary McCray said:

Hi dronelover,

Unfortunately, this is a common method of doing business.

Often marketing claims and information are more optimistic than actual operational capabilities.

Worse, they are not really equipped to handle the messy details of actual technical questions or difficulties.

Seems like this is what you have run into here.

Clearly a half baked product being misrepresented as a ready to go solution.

It looks like finally they are offering you a refund, if I were you I would take my money and move on.

I strongly suggest you take a look at Lightware in South Africa as mentioned by Laser Developer above, he is a representative and developer for them and they build very solid equipment.

These guys truly are experts in this field.

And if you have any problem, you can interact directly with the developers to get it solved.

Best Regards,

Gary

Hi Dronelover,

There is another blog on DIYDrones where apparently they got the Leddartech sensors to work.

However, there is a basic problem for this use with Leddartechs implementation especially for outdoor use.

They use multiple LEDs as a pusled IR illumination source, in my opinion for outdoor use this will under many circumstances not yield a reliable return value.

An actual focused laser concentrates much more energy in a much smaller spot and the likelihood that you will get a satisfactory return is greatly improved.

Many outdoor surfaces are very IR absorbent and there are also surfaces that may be illuminated by direct sunlight.

In either case, the IR illumination provided by the IR LED array may not be enough to permit a distinguishable return.

Generally the much more tightly focused laser will punch through.

The divergence quoted by Leddartech is 3 degrees, for a lidar altimeter that is a lot and it also represents a very rapid reduction in relative brightness.

Laser divergence will typically be less than 1 degree.

I think the Leddartech sensors might possibly work OK indoors for limited object avoidance, but a genuine TOF laser based solution like those offered by Lightware is going to be much more reliable as an outdoors altitude detection system.

This is not at all related to which company is better, just that in this case, a tightly focused laser is a lot better than broader area LED illumination.

Best Regards,

Gary


Hello, are you an agent for lightware? I am your client, I am from China, I have encountered some technical questions about commodity sf40c, I can not get in touch with the official website technicians, can you provide me with technical support or related contact information? my email:zhangjiabin545@126.com
Laser Developer said:

Every company has a different approach on how to handle product returns. Obviously I cannot speak for your current supplier but there tends to be two types of company when it comes to handling returns.

The first are those who have a total acceptance policy and they accept returns with no questions ask. You'll find this with most large retail stores where the marketing value of accepting goods back in any condition is far more important than the cost of the item itself, in other words, they know that the customer will remain loyal to their brand and will buy again in the future.

Other companies have a more combative approach to their customers and try as hard as possible to avoid accepting returns because they consider the cost of the goods to be higher than the value of customer loyalty.

Between these two extremes there are different policies that may permit certain categories of customers (regular customers who place large orders) to have more leverage to return goods than say, individuals.

For your current situation there is no direct legal recourse against the supplier because they can simply claim that you damaged the goods. You probably cannot refute this unless you are running an independently verified quality management system (such as ISO9001) that details how the goods were handled from the moment that you received them to the moment that they left your premises. Included in this system might be "incoming goods inspection" where the supplier provides you with written instructions on how to verify that the goods arrived in working order and you conduct these tests under controlled conditions and let them know immediately that the goods failed or passed. Without this kind of system in place it becomes a finger-pointing exercise.

You can sometimes use the suppliers own quality system against them. For example, customer satisfaction forms a large part of the requirements for a certified ISO9001 quality system, so if your supplier is certified to this standard then you can force them to handle your complaint, otherwise you can report them to their own certifying body. Unfortunately, the company in question doesn't seem to have a quality system in place which kind of explains why your experience with them was so inconsistent.

Since I'm a big fan of quality systems I'll just mention one other thing. You are just starting out on the long and convoluted path of technology development so you might want to start keeping a list of "approved suppliers" (another requirement of ISO9001). This way you will remember to buy from companies who give the best overall customer experience (price, delivery, service etc) rather than from those companies who simply offer the lowest price. When the day comes that your business and livelihood depends on these suppliers, it's good to know who you can trust ;).

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