Friday, July 1, 2011

Industrial Scientific Drops the Ball

Who's Ever Had this Experience?

"Now you're throwing too many big words at me, and because I don't understand them I'm going to take them as disrespect. Watch your mouth, and help me with the sale." -Kevin Hart in The 40 Year Old Virgin

How many times have you wanted to say that on the phone with a gas detection company? Customer service reps who don't actually know anything about the product line because they haven't actually ever used the product. Technical support guys who don't actually listen to what your problem is before bulling you over with technical terms they don't really understand in an effort to get you off the phone?

Why can't gas detection companies operate in plain English?

Now, of course this doesn't apply to all companies, and I'm going to single one out in particular for their complete lack of respect for the customer over the phone. Why? Because they're the largest gas detection company on the planet and they should know better. Yes Industrial Scientific, I'm talking about you.

My family has been in the gas business for over 40 years, in a variety of positions including emergency response and class A poison blending, as well as certifications for gas detector repair from all the major manufacturers. So when I call up with a question, I'm not asking how to turn the monitor on in most cases, it means I have a serious problem and I'm looking for some help. Now, some companies I know of (MSA, GfG Instrumentation, RAE Systems to name a few) have great technical support. When they don't have an answer, they go looking for it or forward you on to someone who does. They HELP. However, in my experience, Industrial Scientific technical support people shut you down and move on to the next call. Then you get a nice email explaining how they enjoyed solving your problem and look forward to serving you again.

Sorry guys, no amount of emails make up for the fact that your technical support guy basically told me to shove off.

Last week, I had to order an extra pump for an MX6 unit. So as usual, we called up, got the PN, and then ordered it through a local distributor. On the call, ISC told me they had the parts in stock and ready to ship. A week later, when I call to ask how the order is coming, I'm told that the PN I gave was for a sensor, not a pump, and was then told it in an exasperated tone that it would be 5-7 days, sorry. No suggestions on distributors to call, even though my need was urgent. No apology for giving me the wrong part number. No consoling tone, just a desire to get off the phone and move on to the next call.

This is unacceptable.

As an example of bad technical support, here's my favorite emailed reply from an Industrial Scientific Technical Support Representative regarding how reproducible readings are on their gas monitors with regards to different cylinders of calibration gas with the same value on the label:

-----Original Message-----
From: James Moore

Hey Matt,

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you here, but I do have a

"If you use it to detect concentrations in another bottle the readings may be off because of the fact the monitor was given set points based off of another bottle of gas thus the reason it is a detector and NOT an analyzer."

Are you saying that the other bottle of gas would be inaccurate in that case or that your monitors/sensors have a low degree reproducibility?

Best regards,

James Moore



Our equipment has ZERO "reproducibility". Our equipment is to be used for detection of gas for personal safety. It is not an analyzer which is what you are trying to use it for.

Our equipment has a tolerance of -+ 5%, that is also why it is a detector and not an analyzer.

The way the MX6 gives you readings is this,

1: You Zero the unit which basically tells the unit there is zero gas present, it doesn't know otherwise because it is a detector not an analyzer.
2: You apply a known concentration of gas, It is not an analyzer, therefore it doesn't know what you are really applying but whatever you tell it, it bases its readings off of that zero point and that told concentration of gas.

If you are using ISC bottles of gas, they come with NIST traceable analysist reports.

All of Industrial Scientifics equipment is for personal safety. It is not meant or designed to be used as an analyzer.

Best Regards,

Technical Support Specialist

Wow. Thanks Matt. I appreciate knowing that your monitors aren't analyzers, and your putting that in the email 5 times really answers my question. He does actually answer my question with the -/+ 5% answer, but he does so while making numerous other errors and just generally being unhelpful. Instead of realizing that we had a misunderstanding about what the word reproducibility means, he launches onto the offensive. Humorously, Matt doesn't realize that GCMS and TCD analyzers have tolerances and are calibrated just like portable gas detectors.

Thanks Matt, for bludgeoning me on that point 5x.

Now I'm not saying Industrial Scientific makes bad instruments or that Industrial Scientific doesn't have brilliant people working for them. I love the ISC MX6 gas detector. I think Dave Wagner over at ISC is a genius for how he presents advice on gas detectors and teaches people in a common sense fashion. I think ISC gives the best calibration and bump test advice in the industry (bump daily, calibrate monthly). But their technical support department needs to check itself, and quickly, because until this changes, I won't be recommending Industrial Scientific to anyone I know, regardless of how great their instruments are.

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