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plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

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plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby conradestrada » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:37 pm

I own two table from plasma cam and they don't offer technical support when did this start had not called them in months and I was just advised they no longer provide support and nobody I can talk to about this?

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby 1MORECUT » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:17 pm

If you have a DHC ,DHC2 and 510 with 3.11 or earlier software plasamcam will not offer technical support. If you upgrade your software to Design edge software you will get technical support for you table. PlasmaCam feels the software is outdated and technical support will have a hard time supporting 3.11 and earlier software while supporting Design Edge software.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby little blue choo » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:39 pm

It's a money thing. You may be happy with the version you have but they think you should upgrade to their newer software at a very healthy price. They supported the older version for many years and I don't see it being a burden on them to continue supporting it. Forcing someone to purchase new software is just wrong to me. Just my 2 cents.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:46 pm

I wish they'd gone about it a whole lot differently but it is absolutely not uncommon for companies to discontinue support for decade old outdated software.
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:47 pm

I'm actually surprised that they haven't moved to the model of many other companies and do subscription based support. No subscription, no support.
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby tnbndr » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:06 pm

Just beware that when you upgrade you will lose features that you have with the early version!!! Like dxf export!
Then they will want to charge you extra for that!
If you upgrade I would keep your old version running also, at least on another computer if you can't run both on one.
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby tcaudle » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:29 pm

Early on when they were the predominate player you HAD to have an active service contract or they would not even talk to you. If you bught a used table it cost $500 to just transfer the software license. That created so much negative feedback they finally went to limited free support. The single biggest indirect expense for any vendor is support. As products get older things occur that drives up that expense. The support team turns over and newer members have no knowledge of the older stuff. At some point only senior employees can answer those questions and understand the dependencies involved . While asking you to upgrade to a supported software package may look predatory it reflects the reality that the older a technical product gets the more it costs to do support, stock spares or to even answer simple questions. In a World were even the OS versions change every 18 months and support is cancelled after 5 years or less it makes sense for the user to consider the trade off of running outdated software and/or hardware versus spending the money in incrementally to stay current. I know everybody wants to get all the red off the lollipop they can but technology advances at a point you are in "dog years". Huge advances in hardware and software have happened in just the last 5 years.

A lot of software companies have started to adopt the yearly "lease" model so you pay monthly or yearly for a subscription. Often that may include minor upgrades and support. If you read most software licenses you don't really OWN anything...you have no legal right to resell it. A lot of vendors only offer support to the original purchaser.

One good thing is that the unit cost of a mid range tables has gone down and features gone up. Just as occurred in the computer revolution you get innovation and acceleration of features but the lifespan of the technology is shorter too. The thing to consider is ROI (Return on Investment) that looks at the original cost , cost of maintenance and repairs and Up time over a finite lifespan of the machine.

At least PCAM is still around and the same basic company years later. The same cannot be said of a lot of 15 year old companies. There is a growing group of CNC orphans.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:23 pm

tcaudle wrote: (snipped)
The single biggest indirect expense for any vendor is support.

I know everybody wants to get all the red off the lollipop they can but technology advances at a point you are in "dog years". Huge advances in hardware and software have happened in just the last 5 years.

At least PCAM is still around and the same basic company years later. The same cannot be said of a lot of 15 year old companies. There is a growing group of CNC orphans.


Very well said. I am NOT defending Pcam's attitude toward customers, sales practices, etc but the fact remains that they continue to sell tables and one of their biggest advantages is the integrated CAD/CAM they have in their software. People react very differently when they're made aware of upcoming changes rather than springing them on them....
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby tcaudle » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:50 pm

I'll say this as gently as I can: When its all wound up together you end up with a compromise and little flexibility. It forces a full upgrade regardless. It does tie the customer to one vendor for everything including all support and if that goes away the options are not very broad. While ease of use is a factor so are training wheels on a new bike. I take my hat off to PCAM for having the best marketing ever! It sells the Dream, not the Machine. The beautiful color brochure is chocked with things you can make with your new plasma table. One page about the machine and some specs. They almost single handedly built the Hobby Plasma market when commercial tables cost six figures and weighed as much as a Buick. Fast forward 17 years and there are a huge number of choices and paths to explore. PCAM is still a good choice for some people that are intimidated about the learning curve.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby 1MORECUT » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:36 pm

When you upgrade your software get advanced design, advanced machine control, and advanced height control upgrades, plus metric units and a second seat.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby 1MORECUT » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:55 pm

Postby tnbndr » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:06 am

Just beware that when you upgrade you will lose features that you have with the early version!!! Like dxf export!
Then they will want to charge you extra for that!
If you upgrade I would keep your old version running also, at least on another computer if you can't run both on one.


You do get to export out dxf files with the upgrade. Design edge software is full of new features Like Exclude crossovers which are a big times saver that worth the money by its self.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:08 pm

There absolutely is a compromise and a lock into the single source. Another company that has this approach makes the iPhone.

I doubt the PlasmaCam is chosen because of an intimidation of a learning curve as much as to avoid an unnecessary learning curve. It will fit some people and not others. Some people are tinkerers and want to mess with every bolt and screw, others just want to plug it in and turn it on, some fall in between.

I'm happy with my PlasmaCam, if I knew then what I know now I might very well have gone a different direction. When I first got it, it was for use in a HVAC sheet metal shop.
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby Greybear » Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:36 pm

I just ran into this problem myself. Unfortunately it's not limited to the software. I was calling to get some tips on removing my torch holder from the z axis motor and gantry slide so that I could fab up some alternate tool holders (I have a DHC table). As soon as 'Rex' heard I was running a DHC table, I got an extended pitch to upgrade to a DHC 2 table and DesignEdge. When I told him I wasn't quite ready to plunk down $6k for upgrades I didn't really need, he essentially stopped listening. He asked me if I still had my original assembly video. When I told him I did, he said that the instructions for parts replacement was on the video and that this would answer my question. When I responded that I had already watched the entire video and it didn't contain a parts replacement section, he emphasized that it did, and that he couldn't off me any more help. BTW, the DHC video contains assembly instructions for the table (and the torch holder is already assembled when shipped), and instructions on modifying plasma cutters for use with Plasmacam. There's no parts replacement section on the DVDs I received.

I understand that hardware and software advances. However Plasmacam still sells DHC parts on their website. Thus, the DHC is not obsolete, although it is older technology. I don't think it's out of line to contact the support line of a company that I've spent nearly $10k with to get some help with a technical question on purchased hardware and expect to get a reasonable amount of assistance. Old tech or not, they built it, and they know how it's assembled.

I also own a 1987 VW Westfalia. When I take it to the dealer for service, order a part, or contact a tech for a question, they don't tell me they can't help me unless I buy a new car. They service the van, they sell me the part, and they help me understand how to install it. It's not unreasonable to expect the same service from Plasmacam. I'm afraid they've lost my upgrade business.

So, anybody have any tips on removing the torch holder on a DHC machine?

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:58 pm

Doesn't sound like they ever had your upgrade business..... Are you saying you can call VW and speak to a technical support person who will tell you how to remove your fuel pump???

Regardless, maybe post a picture of the problem you're having. The torch holder on my 510 is held on with 1/4" bolts so when I wanted to remove it, I took out the bolts.
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby conradestrada » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:03 am

Thank you guys for the reply's my bitch is as stated above I don't need the upgraded bells and whistles I just cut with my tables and cant see spending the money for something I don't need or have any use for. I don't have an analogy I just have a theory if I purchase two machines and they tell me " we provide technical support and if you upgrade your tables we will continue" I think they should stick by it. Or call and advise you the policy is changing and not wait till this happens. I think it is bullshit to use it as part of your sales pitch to upgrade the tables and then pull it like a rug from under you! Rant over thanks again this group is defiantly a wealth of knowledge and we seem to all be on the same page just different states!

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby Greybear » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:41 am

Actually Robert, they did. Until this last episode I'd always found them to be pretty responsive, and they actually were of great help when my controller was damaged in shipping the table to a new location. To get this response from what I considered a pretty simple tech question was just a rude surprise.

And it can probably be chalked up to a close relationship with my VW tech, but yes if I needed tips on replacing something like a fuel pump, I could call and get that kind of help. What I wouldn't get is a line like "sorry, we won't sell you parts or service your car. You'll have to buy a new one". I also understand a small company like Plasmacam isn't a major manufacturer. Even large companies orphan products (Microsoft for one off the top of my head). However when orphaning products the usual procedure is to inform the customer and to phase out support, not spring it on them when they are calling for support or parts.

I agree with you that a subscription model would be a good solution, and I'd be glad to pay for that. It's just a little harder to be asked to pay $6k to solve a problem that should probably cost $200. But I'll figure something out.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:38 pm

Greybear wrote:However when orphaning products the usual procedure is to inform the customer and to phase out support, not spring it on them when they are calling for support or parts.


And I've found fault with their behavior publicly several times on different forums. The biggest problem here is how they went about it.

Greybear wrote:I agree with you that a subscription model would be a good solution, and I'd be glad to pay for that. It's just a little harder to be asked to pay $6k to solve a problem that should probably cost $200. But I'll figure something out.


If you'd been paying $600 per year for unlimited technical support for 10 years you'd have nothing but good technical support. Their $6k upgrade/update which includes hardware is a great deal but absolutely a tough pill to swallow when blindsided with it during a simple question.
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby conradestrada » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:17 am

I think I could swallow that pill if it would have been the conditions not only when I purchased the tables but when I was talked in to upgrading both of them. if that would have been the case but to upgrade both tables and be assured the "free technical support" and then the rug pulled out is my problem. The problem is simply that a simple question of now we don't do that is what pisses me off. I understand they may be to the point of having saturated the market or to much competition that they have to generate new revenue I think they should have grandfathered all the old machines or at least advised us. They damn sure can contact you for new products and sales when they need to. I also think they should have sent out some information that this was coming because to purchase software that is not needed is total bullshit and they will not respond to any questions or have the balls to have Kieth call you back to explain why this occurred is what offends me. I am sure if I purchase the new software they are going to say oh shit our bad now we don't offer technical support for that anymore as well you have to buy a new whistle you may not need but sorry. I do have to say we got good support until now but just to abandon it on a whim is what I find ridiculous. I have a tig we purchased from miller 12 years ago they jumped right in resolved my issues and we moved on I didn't expect free help having never been promised any technical advise but they stood behind their product and we moved on. Having been told how wonderful the free support would be is a whole different problem I literally can't find the problem in any of the literature or videos that were provided from plasma cam is my contention with this bullshit. sorry for the run on sentences but I didn't want to go back and edit I just wanted to bitch.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby Lmpsr70357 » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:51 am

PlasmaCAM had a inside salesman selling their up grade on the side. without them knowing,. so their not supporting basic software anymore. I don't know how that helps them.

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:25 pm

I think those are 2 true but unrelated issues. They did have a crook selling pirate upgrades to DesignEdge and that's caused a flurry of 'update releases' to try to have better security. Maybe they should just go to a HASP key if their programmers can't get it right.....

I would guess the support stopping for 10-20ish year old software/hardware is them figuring out what a crappy business model eternal free support/parts availability is. As an industry professional pointed out above, keeping support people around that know a decade old, phased out software and outdated parts around is not easy nor is it a good business practice. They SHOULD have mailed/emailed/smoke signaled all the owners they could to let them know in ADVANCE that they needed to phase out support and advise of their discounted upgrade options. Instead they sprung it on people as they called in/broke down, or otherwise needed support. This got them people who were already frustrated and dealing with loss of equipment use being blindsided with a blunt realization that they were even more screwed than they thought. A horrible business idea.. PlasmaCam did not consult me for my business advice on the matter and in fact they seem pretty unphased by anyone's opinion in general.
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby 1MORECUT » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:26 pm

A statement from PlasmaCam

The "old version" is just that... old

The software version being discontinued is about 8 years old on average, and the older versions were already been discontinued before reaching this age. All the old software versions shipped for a short period of time (3-4 years) compared to the current models (6 years and continuing). We have supported the old controller for over 10 years and can no longer service the controllers due to incompatibility with software and hardware changes.

I do understand the frustrations. When we have to keep track of the way old products work it undermines our expertise with current products. Tech advice tends to be general in hopes of working for most products rather than specific for the configuration the customer has. Training employees to give generic tech advice to avoid misinformation unexceptionable. Product clutter leads to confusion and more mistakes. I'm sure you can agree that supporting several different software versions as well as hardware changes can be very costly.

There seems to be a universal rule that says you can try to do everything and be mediocre, or you can focus and be excellent.

We have to choose which we want to be.

John

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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby rdj357 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:01 pm

An excellent statement, very true and to the point. If they'd sent that out to owners with offer to upgrade proactively rather than dropping the bomb on them when they were already broken down there would be far fewer disgruntled customers.
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PM 65 w/ Mini Machine Torch
Router Attachment/DW611
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Re: plasma cam no longer offers technical support for thier program?

Postby RPM » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:54 pm

You know all the parts and pieces for these machines are available from places like Grainger. Except for the controller, anyone know who could repair a controller for the older machines?


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