Review: Velocity Micro’s Cruz Reader

This isn’t much of a review of the Cruz Reader. But it is a review of the business and customer support practices of Velocity Micro, the company that makes the Cruz.

The Cruz shown in the photo below was bought by my wife Lisa, as a birthday present for me in September 2010. I had done a good deal of research on eReaders and the Cruz looked like it would be the right eReader for me. In addition to being an eReader, it had a color screen which I could use to display photographs, would display Office documents, and would do email.

The Cruz arrived in twice the time paid for: Lisa paid for two-day delivery. It took four days to arrive, which is typical of UPS, in my experience. The Cruz seemed to be working properly for approximately 48 hours, then the WiFi went south (and no, it wasn’t dropped, heated, or hammered upon, etc.). Without the WiFi working properly, the Cruz was of little use to me since I couldn’t easily download books, Office documents could not be displayed because the Android application that handles that is Web-based, and email was impossible because it requires some sort of internet connection.

After several phone sessions with Velocity Micro (VM) support technicians it became obvious that I had a defective Cruz. Other devices such as an iPod Touch and a netbook had no problem connecting with my WiFi network, whose signal strength was listed as “Excellent” by the Cruz. I spent a dozen hours field testing the Cruz over a three day period before giving up. During that period of field testing I had reconfigured my router, rebooted the unit and performed hardware resets multiple times, and installed the firmware update, all to no avail.

When I contacted VM yet again to arrange to return the unit, I was informed that there was a 15% restocking fee. I sent an email message to the person I was told was the manager of Cruz Technical Support, an “Ellen”. I asked Ellen to waive the $30 restocking fee (15% of $200) since the Cruz I had received was defective. I received no response, though I had given my telephone number and email address.

Several days later we received an email message from VM, which began with “Congratulations!”. VM had credited back $170 and retained the $30 “restocking fee”.

Two more times into the breach: I phoned VM tech support and asked the tech for “Ellen”. The tech said she would connect me to Ellen’s voice mail. I told her I didn’t want to talk to a machine, that I wanted to talk to a manager who could be responsive. She replied that Ellen wasn’t available at that time. I asked when I could call back and she would be available. The tech replied, “Never”.

That seemed somewhat less than helpful, so I located the email contact information for the President of VM (no phone number was available via the Website). I wrote to the President explaining my experience with the Cruz, and again asked that the “restocking fee” be credited back to us. I received the following message via email the next day.

That email arrived 12 days ago, as of this writing, on 10/12/2010. I have received no response from the President of Velocity Micro.

The Bottom Line: Because we took a chance on the Cruz Reader, and it is apparently the policy of Velocity Micro to “rip off“ customers who receive defective units, we are now out over $50 (the “restocking fee” and shipping two ways). Velocity Micro is incredibly unresponsive. It is quite apparent that it simply does not care about its customers.

But it is not too late. Velocity Micro still has time to return the money we lost and redeem itself for its robber baron business practices.

Mr. or Ms. President of Velocity Micro, I am still waiting.

Update 6/23/2012: I am still waiting…