In an interview with MRTV earlier this month, Pimax COO Kevin Henderson revealed that the company moved its US-based customer support back to China.
UPDATE Jan 14: In response to UploadVR covering these statements, a Pimax representative claimed on Twitter that the company is preparing new service centers in France, Germany, and Poland. The headline and lead have been updated to reflect this. He did not refute the claim that support is currently all China-based, or that the US-based support is no longer active.
Pimax is a company which sells wide field of view PC VR headsets to enthusiasts. It was founded in 2016, and became widely known in 2017 after launching a Kickstarter campaign.
During the end of the interview, MRTV host Sebastian Ang forwarded recent emails he’s received from viewers expressing frustration with the customer support of Pimax. The viewers reported waiting weeks for replies which didn’t help with the actual problem they reported.
Surprisingly, Henderson himself called out the decision to move support to China. He described the problems with such a move:
Some of the people in tech support don’t speak the language that the requests are coming in. So they sometimes don’t understand what the request is. If the request comes in and it can be interpreted more than one way the response that you get may not even be related to your request, sometimes.
That’s why we created the US office and were working on the European offices, but those offices and those personnel aren’t really contributing anymore, it’s all coming out of Shanghai and that’s unfortunate.
At no time did we have less tickets than when the US office was contributing every day. We had actually got the tickets for US-based customers and Canada down to zero.
When asked why this decision was made, Henderson replied that he “wished” he could answer that, and expressed that it was not under his control. “They felt like it was more cost effective and better to do it from Shanghai“, he explained.
We spoke to Henderson at CES 2019 last year. At the time, the US support center seemed to be one of his main projects and he was excited about how it could improve customer service for the company. Henderson’s LinkedIn profile lists him as “Chief Operating Officer and Company Spokesperson”, but also as “Head of North American and European Operations”. With the loss of the US support center, it seems his role will now solely be as a spokesperson.
A Company Still Stuck In Kickstarter Mode
At CES 2020, Pimax announced even more headsets, adding to an already crowded lineup. A wider range of products makes customer support more challenging and costly, which could have led to the decision to relocate to China where labor costs are usually much lower.
Pimax is the only company delivering ultra wide field of view VR to the consumer market- an important feature for immersion. Because of this unique offering, Pimax has a loyal (if comparatively smaller) following which the company can continue to try and up-sell with accessories and new headsets.
But Pimax is no longer a Kickstarter project, and this strategy can only last so long. Given the price of its products, if it wants to appeal to and retain a wider customer base it will need to get serious about support.