Espresso Machine Vendors - The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
snjsanders

Postby snjsanders » Aug 01, 2018, 5:40 pm

I've been have been involved on this site for a few weeks and had great feedback from helpful members on my decision to buy a new espresso machine and grinder. I want to thank all those that have provided feedback to help me in my decision. I have decided to buy an ECM Technika Profi with a Compak E5 from Joe at Espresso Outlet.

There are only 3 vendors that have the ECM Technika that are recommended on the resource link on Home-Barista. Obviously there is WLL, 1rst Line and, finally Joe at Espresso Outlet.

I was unsure who to buy from.

(THE BAD..or at least the one person in technical support that I talked to)
WLL obviously is the one that dominates the market and has a lot of informational videos. They were my first choice because their sales department was awesome, but then I talked to technical support. I had a question about the BWT water filter and asked the technician if the BWT filter bypass chart was based on TDS or Total Hardness (GH), his response was ppm. After trying to explain to him both TDS and GH can be measured in ppm and which one did he want in ppm, he could only answer with ppm. This went on for 10 minutes and I finally thanked him and hung up. My conclusion was that if I had a problem with my ECM machine and had to deal with this technician, I might throw myself and the ECM off my third story balcony!

I was also dealing with Diane from 1rst Line Equipment, and she was also awesome and cannot say enough good things about her. We were in a discussion about the ECM and I was still trying to get a handle on if the BWT filter was what I needed. She told me that she would have one of her technicians get back to me on the BWT.

(THE GOOD)
Meanwhile, Joe from Espresso Outlet called me that night at 9pm and we discussed all my options for an espresso machine and grinder package. He was extremely knowledgeable and willing to spend the time in helping me make the decision and after he said that I can try both (ECM Technika Pofi and the Compak E5) and if I didn't like I could send it back and he would eat the shipping and no restocking fee, I decided he was the man I wanted to work with. As far as the filter was concerned, because I live in an area with no magnesium, he recommended that I buy the BWT from another vendor because he did not stock it. So that night I purchased both from him.

(THE UGLY)
The next day, someone for 1rst Line Equipment called me. I asked if he was the technician calling about the BWT water filter. He said no he was the owner of 1rst Line Equipment. I thanked him for calling me and asked if he could help me with information on buying the BWT filter. He then asked if I had purchased the ECM machine, and I told him I had purchased the machine last night from Joe. He asked why I did not purchase it from 1rst Line Equipment and I told him I just liked Joe and wanted to buy from him. He then went on a tirade on how he makes money on the machines and not the accessories. I asked him if he was saying that he did not want to sell me the BWT filter and he said, no he did not. I said, obviously I made a good decision on who I bought my machine from and hung up.

Obviously, I am new to this world and my limited experience with these companies are not comprehensive enough to make absolute conclusions. I still love WLL but I think they may be growing too fast to be assured that a competent person will be answering on the other end of a phone call to technical support. Obviously, I love Joe and love supporting small companies like his at Espresso Outlet. But based on my own personal experience with the individual that identified himself as the owner of 1rst Line Equipment, I would give up drinking espresso before I gave them a dime of my money.

chipman

Postby chipman » Aug 01, 2018, 6:43 pm

1st-line has a great reputation. The owner is on these forums helping out many times. never heard of Joe before. Good luck, hope you made a good decision.

User avatar
keno

Postby keno » Aug 01, 2018, 7:46 pm

Suggest you might want to read this, particularly the section on vendor complaints.
Guidelines for productive online discussion

User avatar
HB
Admin

Postby HB » Aug 01, 2018, 10:02 pm

To elaborate on Ken's post, we discourage publicly complaining about service since it invariably degenerates into the same tedious sequence outlined in the Guidelines. This is enforced more stringently for members with short site histories because (a) they may be unaware of the community norms of this site and (b) we've sadly uncovered a few cases where a vendor masqueraded as an irritated consumer to publicly slag their competition. I don't believe (b) is the case here, but I am putting this thread on cooldown to head off a "can you top this" competition on worst customer service story.
Dan Kehn

1st-line
Sponsor

Postby 1st-line » Aug 02, 2018, 5:28 pm

snjsanders wrote:I was also dealing with Diane from 1rst Line Equipment, and she was also awesome and cannot say enough good things about her. We were in a discussion about the ECM and I was still trying to get a handle on if the BWT filter was what I needed. She told me that she would have one of her technicians get back to me on the BWT.

The next day, someone for 1rst Line Equipment called me. I asked if he was the technician calling about the BWT water filter. He said no he was the owner of 1rst Line Equipment. I thanked him for calling me and asked if he could help me with information on buying the BWT filter. He then asked if I had purchased the ECM machine, and I told him I had purchased the machine last night from Joe. He asked why I did not purchase it from 1rst Line Equipment and I told him I just liked Joe and wanted to buy from him. He then went on a tirade on how he makes money on the machines and not the accessories. I asked him if he was saying that he did not want to sell me the BWT filter and he said, no he did not. I said, obviously I made a good decision on who I bought my machine from and hung up.

But based on my own personal experience with the individual that identified himself as the owner of 1rst Line Equipment, I would give up drinking espresso before I gave them a dime of my money.


Hi Steve, I appreciate your public feedback, but let me add some fair balance here.

First, Diane spent a abundance of time with you on the phone over the last two weeks. I understand that our competitors may have spent a similar amount of time. Second, I apologize Diane made an error in making you think a technician will get on the phone to talk to you about BWT. I am sorry, but technicians, including myself, are not dime a dozen and are truly dedicated to helping our customers who purchased equipment from us. Existing equipment customers are always 1st.

I sincerely apologize about my sometimes 'NY roughness' that can come across the wrong way. I do NOT feel I went on a tirade as described. Before I called, I already knew you purchased from Joe because many companies buy from our wholesale division. Just an fyi... our wholesale division supply many companies on the internet as well some big chain stores across the USA.

When I called you, I advised I was one of the owners and I asked if you purchased the machine from us. You said no. I advised you to contact Joe as he was the place of purchase for the machine. I am sorry you became upset about this.

Here is our reasoning.... A customer purchases a $2000+ machine from another vendor. The same customer purchases the softening system from us for about $300-$400. Who do you think the customer is going to call with the MANY questions for the hookup of the machine to the BWT system to the water line? This is why we recommend that customers acquire the BWT system or water treatment system directly with the vendor where the machine was purchased from so the responsibility for the install falls on the selling machine vendor.

The secondary reasoning is when a problem arises down the road. We had a customer who bought a quality HX machine from us. This customer decided to buy a cheaper $100 filter only system from our competitor. Five years later, there are severe limescale issues. The system that was purchased was horrible. We blamed the system, and the customer had to throw away the machine it was so bad - boiler seams cracking, pipe ends deformed, fittings were cracking, etc. If the customer was redirected back to us, he would have not lost the machine. In your case, Joe may have a different recommendation than what we recommended. Like this, there is one vendor that handles the machine and water treatment 'soup to nuts' and takes responsibility for it.

Just as we respect your every right to decide where you purchase from, I hope you can respect our right to decide where our 'limited' support, recommendations, and technical services are allocated to. Unfortunately, I have to be quite frank that we are not always able to help those who purchased their equipment elsewhere. If we did, our service level would drop for our existing equipment customers. Again, technicians are not dime a dozen and this is our reasoning to recommend that customers buy their water treatment systems from the company he/she purchased their equipment from. We have done this many times.

I know Joe for years, he is a great guy, and he has a great company. I am pretty sure he can assist you with a water treatment system for your needs.

Again, I apologize if I came across the 'wrong' way.
Jim Piccinich
www.1st-line.com
1st-line Equipment, LLC
★ Helpful

snjsanders

Postby snjsanders » replying to 1st-line » Aug 02, 2018, 7:52 pm

Jim,

Thank you for your response and apology. No worries, I accept your apology and I am sorry if my response was slightly over the top. This forum is stocked with people spending $2-20k on espresso, so maybe our "over the top responses", comes with the territory. Consider it over and done with.

Steve

1st-line
Sponsor

Postby 1st-line » Aug 03, 2018, 6:32 pm

It's all good! Thanks for understanding!
Jim Piccinich
www.1st-line.com
1st-line Equipment, LLC