Some background: I placed an order for a R1 and some accessories in mid-November and paid the order in full a few days later.
It took a couple of days from paying the deposit to first hearing from a Bomb squad rep. Once I paid the order in full, I have received zero emails from the rep. I haven't even received an email letting me know if the money I sent has arrived in RED's bank account.
I emailed the rep a very important question on the 19th of November. I have yet to receive a reply.
This is an example of poor customer service, no matter how you slice it. There are no excuses for that either, not in the world we live in today. Everyone can be reached anywhere 24/7. People may fall ill or be extraordinarily busy, but even that is no excuse for leaving a customer twisting in the wind, so to speak.
I live in Northern Europe and do regular business with several US companies. Most of the companies reply within 24 hours, and the ones that don't, I hear from within 48 hours. The reply might be "I don't have the information yet, I'll get back to you as soon as possible" - but it's a reply.
Why not replying at all is such a big no-no
I contacted a member of the RED team with a few technical questions. He replied promptly and provided some very helpful information but left some of my questions unanswered. I replied and submitted, politely, the unanswered questions again.
Five days later and no reply. This leaves me wondering if A) the e-mail got lost, B) I offended the person somehow, C) I was inquiring about something which is a trade secret, or D) the person is up to his armpits in work and simply hasn't had time to formulate the answers.
Which is it? I have no way of knowing.
In case of (B), I certainly don't want to re-send my email and risk offending the person further. In fact, I might consider never contacting the person again. Also keep in mind that actions (and non-actions) of all personnel always affect the image a customer has of the entire company.
But perhaps it wasn't (B) but (C), instead. Again, I have no way of knowing. A quick note along the lines of "Sorry, that's proprietary information and a trade secret" would have taken less than half a minute to type and send, and would have laid the matter to rest immediately.
(D), while the most probable one, is still no excuse for leaving the customer guessing. Just have a template email stored which says basically "Sorry, I'm swamped with urgent work and can't reply to you just yet. Please rest assured your email has been received and I will reply once things cool down a bit."
You can actually set the email client to reply automatically to all queries with the template email when you're too busy to check your inbox.
While I love RED to bits for all their innovation, trailblazing and sheer ballsiness when it comes to developing cameras, their customer service via e-mail seems to leave some room for improvement.