Orion (Telescopes.com) shows its true colors - and they're not pretty
Most of you know that I recently purchased an Orion EON 115mm ED triplet Apochromatic refractor from Amazon.com. I have purchased many Orion products in the past and was, in fact, going to mount this scope on an Orion Atlas EQ-G mount.
Unfortunately, when the telescope arrived, the case was damaged. There was a large broken dent in one side and a warp in the other side. I promptly contacted Amazon and I can't say enough good things about the people I dealt with there. They offered to take back the scope with no questions asked but as it appeared to be just the case that was damaged, I asked if they could just replace the case. I was told to find that case on Amazon and they would gladly swap it out. After searching though, it became apparent that Amazon didn't carry that case. The Amazon rep called Orion (with me on the phone as well) and we spoke with a very nice, helpful gal at Orion. She assured me that Orion would make it right. All I had to do was provide the original sales invoice and, if possible, some photos of the damage. I was happy, and I let Orion know what a happy customer I was. Days later, I got a followup email letting me know that they were out of stock on that case, but it would be back in stock in a few weeks and I would be contacted again. They would even provide a prepaid UPS shipping label so I could return the damaged case.
But then management must have stepped in - that's the only explanation I have for what happened next. A couple of days passed, and I got yet another email telling me that no, it's not their responsiblity as it was damaged in transit. I could either request that Amazon replace the case (which I had already done) or ... OR ... "Another option is that we can sell a new case to you. We have them available and in stock for $99.00 plus any applicable sales tax. We can waive the $9.95 shipping and handling fee if you would like to go this route."
I was floored. Here I had spent nearly $1800 on an Orion product and Orion was not going to stand behind it and make it right in any fashion - outside of waiving a $10 shipping fee if I spent another $100.
I contacted Amazon immediately and once again, Amazon was more than happy to take back the scope. So I packed it up and also returned another $500 worth of field flatteners and additional Orion accessories I had purchased.
Having bought scopes, cameras and accessories from High Point Scientific (including my amazing Coronado BF30 solar scope) previously, I promptly contacted them and purchased a Meade 115 Series 6000 APO refractor with an additional field flattener and other needed accessories. At this point, I had determined that I would never buy from Orion again.
And then I got yet ANOTHER email from Orion management, this time apologizing that the gal who originally helped me didn't know what she was doing and should never have offered to replace the case and, furthermore, saying "I’m not certain why we would suggest you can buy a case when Amazon is perfectly capable of resolving this issue for you." Finally! They said something we could agree on! And Amazon did promptly resolve the issue for me.
I know there are complexities with shipping and distribution channels, etc. But Orion lost a customer who has spent thousands of dollars with them in the past and potentially would do so again in the future. All over a $99 case, which cost them far less than that. I hope they are happy.
Even if you are one who comes down on the side of Orion and agrees with their handling of this, it's obvious that the right hand does not appear to know what the left hand is doing over there. That, in and of itself, doesn't give me any confidence in doing business with them in the future.
I do a lot of outreach with high school astronomy programs, youth groups and senior centers. I'm frequently asked where people should buy and which scopes are good for beginners. Guess which company's product line I will no longer recommend?
I'm looking forward to this Meade scope. Having an LX200 ACF scope in my collection already, I'm thinking I will like the Meade quality much better anyway. The focusing mechanism on the Orion EON 115ED felt loose and rough the one time I got to use it. Maybe this is all for the best.
Enjoy the money you saved by not replacing my case, Orion managers. And my continued thanks to the others at Orion who did offer to help before management threw them under the bus.