My experience with FLIR/Raymarine customer support has been poor, at best, even when it comes to products they still "support". Some specifics.
My boat was equipt with an older version (ST4000) when it was made obsolete (non-supported by Raymarine) and their $52 U.S. drive belts were no longer available. Second sourcing these belts through Kaymen Industrial Supply, I found these to be a Kevlar, metric belt manufactured by a French supplier and available for $6.27 U.S. from Kaymen.
In 2010, I replaced the ST400 with a Raymarine SPX-5 wheel
autopilot (equivalent specifications to the ST4000' a unit which was used extensively, including cruising Mexico
for a year, also bashing back from Cabo San Lucas). To be fair, the limit on these units are for a 16,500 pound displacement
and my boat displaces 17,000 pounds, unladened. The new SPX-5 autopilot was put into service
for the sail south from San Diego
to Cabo San Lucas and on up to La Paz
, BCs, MX. It was used intermittently during the following four and one half years while sailing in the Sea of Cortez
(nearly all sailing during this period was day sailing
with a vast majority hand steering).
In preparation for the return bash to San Diego
in May, 2015, it was discovered the auto-pilot no longer functioned. Inspection
revealed the black, internal drive ring had fractured into three long arcs. It should be noted, when not in use, the helm
was covered with a proper wheel
cover and shaded with a proper bimini
. During storage
over the summer, the bimini
was taken down but the wheel was removed and stored in the salon
while the helm
was wrapped in canvas
(failure not due to UV or exposure to the elements).
Raymarine/FLIR was contacted in May communicating the failure and my obvious disappointment. The initial response from FLIR via Raymarine was that if I had the receipt of purchase
they would be willing to offer a properly sized autopilot, less the purchase price
of the SPX-5 unit. They did point out the autopilot was undersized for my boat (16,500# spec versus 19,000# displacement
[sic] unladened; actual displacement 17,000#, unladened).
While in Cabo, I met with the instrument guy at Cabo Yacht Center and he said he couldn't help and expanded to say in his opinion, based on experience, Raymarine products were substandard (his was a more colorful description) and wouldn't be surprised if they were to go bankrupt.
I sent a copy of the original purchase receipt to Raymarine in early June. By mid-July, I still had not heard anything back from Raymarine. I sent a follow-up e-mail to the individual at Raymarine with her manager at FLIR copied. Without taking me off the distribution, the woman at RM asked her manager what she should do with this customer (accidental transparency on her part). It's the end of July and still nothing heard, even though, initially they were offering a price
off-set on a properly sized unit if I could provide the receipt of purchase. So much for follow-through, honesty and timely customer service.
Thanks for your indulgence for my lengthy, verbose, vent.