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  • Concerned About Miller Quality

    Hi All, I have been a diehard Miller customer for several years and have been right on the edge of buying a Multimatic 255 and Trailblazer 325 since seeing their release. When I first started welding, I did my research on welders, looked at forums and talked with some very experienced folks about brands and quality. I had known the major US brands were Miller and Lincoln but wanted to hear about other brands quality, reliability, features and so forth. In the end I settled on Miller and bought a Multimatic 200, a Spectrum 875 Extreme and a Ti9400 PAPR helmet and all the small accessories.

    Bottom line, recent events have made me question the reliability or Miller equipment. I have had several warranty repairs done on all three pieces of equipment. My spectrum (MG244027P) needed a main board with only a few hours of use on the machine. I can’t say how much time was actually on it but seriously not much hence I say only a few hours. My Ti9400 needed a new glass as it was not turning off and killing batteries and I needed a new blower pack as it was giving me a Clogged filter warning when the airflow was at full force. In all three cases, Miller got the repair or replacement done. I called each time to make sure what I was experiencing was a legit warranty issue vs user error. The only drawback was each warranty claim cost me a week or two of working.

    Recently I have really come to question Miller quality. My Multimatic 200 (MG264020N) starting having issues. It started giving me over-temp warnings and forcing me to stop welding and let the machine cool down. The machine was three years old at this point and I wasn’t doing anything different then in all the welding I had done before. I called Miller service and to verify that it was a possible warranty issue and not user error and was told the specific error is probably a main board issue. So, I took it to the ONLY repair shop in Albuquerque, NM. It took two weeks to get it back, I looked at the old board and sure enough some of the conformal coating was gone and a solder contact was arcing. Upon starting my project again, the machine started giving me a bridge current error, I called Miller, they said take it back and that the repair shop probably didn’t connect something properly. I was down another two weeks. When I got it back, the shop said they replaced the Interface board. I took it home, tried to fire it up and immediately got another bridge current error. I called Miller and took it back to the shop the following Monday. I was down another three weeks. I called the shop to get status, they said they were going through a 50-page trouble shooting guide and on the phone with a Miller Engineer. I called Miller to conform what the shop was telling me…they had no record of the interface board being shipped out and told me that component was on back order. They also did not have a record of having an engineer talk to the repair tech. I had always been polite on the phone with Miller but at this point I was getting really frustrated. I believe the repair tech damaged my machine and lied to me and Miller. When I picked it up they said it needed another Main board. That’s apparently two main boards and two interface boards.

    Prior to picking it up the THIRD time in TWO months I was entirely fed up. The unit was now well into lemon territory. I feel like my welder was damaged and I was lied to. I feel like I could not trust this welder and now that the warranty is up, what happens when that damage has other latent effects and my welder goes down again…I’m on the hook for repairs. So I talked to the service manager at Miller, explained my frustration and that between me and my dad we are planning to buy 4 to 5 welders in this fiscal year. I said that since I was looking at a Multimatic 255 I asked if she would credit the cost of my welder and I would pay to upgrade to a 255 and send my 200 to them. She said she would ask the product managers if that is possible and I have never heard back. I left a voice mail that was not returned. This really makes me question the reliability or Miller and their interest in their own reputation

    Now I understand that there is no requirement for Miller to stick by the reputation others have given them. There is only a legal requirement for them to honor their published warranty. But with all the trouble and as patient as I had been I had I hoped Miller would consider that this unique situation as one that should be solved with a unique solution. They did not.

    Now I’m left with a decision, I really like the miller look and features but will I be left up the creek without a paddle if I buy more miller product. I settled on Miller because people I know and trust said it is a reliable product line, it’s the Caterpillar of welders, “you’ll have it for 10 years” or “I have never had trouble with my Miller. I paid a Miller price because I wanted that reliability. If I wanted Harbor Freight reliability, I would have paid a Harbor Freight price.

    So, my question to the forum is where to go…can I trust Miller or should I go with Lincoln. Am I going to buy another Miller and just be disappointed again or have my experiences been unique?

    I have posted this to Welding Web and Practical Machinist as well. Thanks for reading.

  • #2
    That stinks, and it sounds like this is more of a service support issue than anything. I am pretty sure you put a Miller Service Center on notice, and I have no idea as to their sales/service volume is in Albuquerque, but would guess it's low based on their lack of service centers and corporate/regional apathy.

    There's definitely opportunity for improved service and product satisfaction available, particularly if trained techs have access to the schematics. I am not trained by any means, but can read a schematic, follow a logic or power signal, use some electronics tools safely, and usually troubleshoot a to a component. The last gen Spectrum 625 is the only one I didn't see to success, particularly because I didn't have the time to trace the schematic.

    Just saying...

    Comment


    • #3
      Man, that sucks you’ve had that terrible of an experience. While I’m certain there are some good miller authorized repair shops and some really good miller techs, I have not had a good experience with my local Miller authorized service center either. On the few occasions I’ve had contact with them, their solution has always been the same....”you need to buy a new machine.” .....no thank you. I’m still waiting on a call back on a gas solenoid I ordered from them three years ago. Glad I didn’t pay before I got it. I can call them WITH THE MILLER PART NUMBER for what I need and I’ll never hear back. At this point, I only call them for parts as a joke because I know they won’t call me back.

      But as to your machine woes....that sucks even more. Whenever you have something break down, it’s always hard to trust it again, unless you fix it yourself. These new machines have evolved that chance into near impossibility for the average fix-it guy. I have no doubt that if miller had squared you away they would have created a rabidly loyal customer with a mere cursory gesture in the grand scheme of things. Conversely, the brush off has seemingly created something of the opposite. I feel your pain, had a recent issue of similar frustration with a different company in a complete different industry. A promise made and now they won’t return phone calls or emails. As far as I’m concerned, that sort of treatment makes your choice easy. I would also venture to say there is a guy with a similar predicament the only difference being his machines are red.

      You have lots of options, amigo. I say follow your instinct. I, for one, have a very long memory and would not easily forget how I was treated. A guy once told me I was stupid for holding grudges, so I haven’t talked to him since.

      Comment


      • #4
        Begin by understanding there is NO MILLER WELDING, there is a division of ITW called Miller.
        ITW is a numbers driven company, all numbers all day.
        ITW grew Miller from a 300 Million division to a 18 Billion division by strict application of the Pareto principle a/k/a 80/20
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle
        There are many articles written about this available on line.

        There are A customers (1000+ units per year) and B customers (less than 1000 units a year) and there is retail.
        Retail is not a profit center, and may in fact be a cost not worth having to ITW. That decision will be made by a low level manager.

        No insult intended, you are a retail customer. You therefore deserve very little if any of a Milled department manager's time because you are not profit. Returning your call and or fixing your machine are not profit, and in the eyes of ITW everything must be profit or it will be eliminated.
        Your complaint might have been entered into the system, but as a retail customer the system sent it to the Who Cares file.

        Attitude at all ITW departments is 20% of customers create 80% of problems. Shed that 20% and be more profitable.

        Lincoln is no longer the company it was when James Lincoln came to work there. Welders may not be Lincoln's primary income product, might be more $$$ in electric motors and that is where attention will be paid. Going back to the 60s Lincoln factory reps told customers straight up "You don't buy enough machines for me to look at your problem".

        Continuing down the line, ESAB is now Esab department of another GIANT holding company. Same management school fools will totally run ESAB in 5 more years, and old hands who know the machines will be put to pasture in the name of PROFIT.
        We no longer have a world of Bob's Welding Supply who buys a trailer load of machines and sells them after checking the new machine out. Factories now shp new machines direct to the user and put Bob's profit in their pocket.
        Add in employee turnover in large manufacture/retail operation, and EEOC and you wind up with Sally on the customer hotline. Sally will only be there until she finds a fool to pay her student loans, she doesn't know a welder from a sewing machine, and she doesn't need to. IF she's in a good mood she might interface with her screen to assist you. IF the customer 3 ahead of your call pissed her off, you're screwed! Nothing you can do to change it.

        You want to take it to the next level, Quality Control and product inspection before shipping are now pretty much eliminated. The only manufacturer I'm aware of still doing both is Hypertherm. If a bad machine regardless of color gets to the customer, Hey, blame the shipper, and let the customer try getting satisfaction from him.

        SERVICE no longer exists and Warranties are a joke. In 5 years Horrible Fright will be eating SnapOn's lunch because HF's volume allows them to swap out defectives and they just instituted in house financing.

        Comment


        • #5
          Franz, I hear ya. I guess its just the sad truth. To the credit of Miller service, they were attentive as far as the warranty work was concerned I have my machine back and it seems to be working. My real concern is that the authorized loser who repaired it did damage that won't show up until the 90 day extended warranty is out. But think about it...how many companies are buying 1000+ machines...10, 100 that's peanuts compared to me buying 2 or 3 and talking up the brand to others who buy 1 to 3 who then talk up the brand to others who buy 1 to 3 until there are millions of folks buying 1 to 3 machines. Maintaining reputation goes along way.

          Ryan, you are also right...had they come through I would have likely put a Miller Sticker across the back window of my truck, talked up the brand at every opportunity, bought more product, and so on. Now I have to be honest about my experiences, the last thing I would want to do is recommend Miller to a friend and they they have an experience like mine.

          On the topic of Harbor Freight...you get what you pay for. Yeah they have a life time warranty on hand tools but here's the catch. If Snap-On says a wrench will brake off at 100 ft-lbs I believe it. I could torque it right up to 99.99999 ft-lbs and have no problem. But the HF tools well who knows...did you get the good one or was Xi Chow having a bad day and you the wrench with a bad cast that snaps off at 98 ft lbs and jams into your face...at that point who cares about the replacement.

          Comment


          • #6
            It's all companies today, not just Miller. I would never give up my transformer machines,.I don't need 50 buttons and touch screens on the front of a machine to lay down a safe bead.

            Comment


            • #7
              There's a encyclopedia to be written on the subject of Warranty and how manufacturers and dealers skate around performing repair or replacement to buyers.
              Back in 64 I scraped my pennies together and bought my very first pickup, brand new from the factory via train and trailer for $1968- plus tax and plates. I'd read every bit of literature provided by dealer and GM, and I was absolutely certain I was coming out ahead even though I'd be just about broke when I drove that truck off the dealer lot.

              Few weeks ito ownership it penetrated my thick skull filled with youthful ignorance that the cab really shouldn't smell like gas every morning, and there was no logical reason for the gauge to drop from full to 3/4 overnight. I had time so I pulled into the Service Department and conversed with the gent in the white shirt with a couple labels sewn to it. I also pointed out the black streak from passenger door over rocker panel to the ground. He looked me over and figured he'd s#!t me and send me on my way. That night I did a little investigating and determined the gasket between tank and sender was defective and I was loosing 4 gallons of gas every time I filled up and the truck sat..

              Next morning I was back and a tad smarter. Mr Shirt told me he had sent me on my way the day before and he didn't want to see that truck again for no imaginary gas leak. I suggested he give the cab a sniff.. He said I had probably just slopped gas filling the truck. I pointed out the cardboard wasn't in the cab covering the tank, and if he looked he could see the track from gasket to floor and across the floor. He swore he didn't see any gas. He also had no idea what was dissolving the floor insulation and running tar out the door. He also informed me he had no intention of putting a mechanic on looking for a gas leak.

              OK, game on. You see this cigar in my hand? He sure did. What you think is going to happen when I blow the ash off and toss it into the cab trying to hit the ash tray? He opined I might be slightly off the centerline of sane. I agreed. I was also right next to the door and figured I'd be clearing it fast while the cigar was still in the air. Whiteshirt was on that Teriphone PA real quick summoning a mechanic to get in my cab and change the gasket under Warranty. Problem got solved the way it should have been the day before because I had the power to enforce the Warranty..

              I drove away knowing Warranty was just another horsecrap word salesmen use to close sales. Don't matter if it's a TV, Welder, car, truck or pen, once the Dealer has your money he don't much care about investing another minute of his time in you unless you're buying something else.

              When Hobart Bros and Miller Electric sold wenders they spent time building Dealers and the Dealers spent time building a customer base. That all changed in 1994 when both companies became departments in a giant holding company. Just like Case & John Deere small Dealers who had plowed the ground and produced a crop of customers got shed so Corporate could add to their profit. The Dealer who made a few hundred on a machine had incentive to keep the user happy and profitable. Supercorp had Northern Hydraulics with a paper catalog and slightly lower price to the end user than most Dealers could match. I watched it unfolding, and I asked a lot of people how far that 20 bucks they saved on a new machine was going when they had to haul the machine 150 miles to the Service Center for a problem the local dealer would have solved if they helped him keep his doors open.
              Manufacturer don't care about you one bit. SuperCorp ranoff the guys who knew the old machines and could weld with them. The magic screen can replace them. Wanna bet?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ryanjones2150 View Post
                A guy once told me I was stupid for holding grudges, so I haven’t talked to him since.


                Richard

                Comment


                • #9
                  Franz, I'm a manager of 20 techs on a fairly famous research machine...I'm going to put your post on my info board! God forbid one of my guys threatens to light a cigar and throw it in the oil tank...OH HOLY CHRIST!

                  Whats really sad is this is MILLER'S FORUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND NOT A SINGLE MILLER TECH HAS SAID ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hey Franz, guess what, Sally still works at Miller. I spoke to her on the phone the other day when I had a problem with my Syncrowave 351. She put me on hold for more than 15 minutes. Do you know what it's like to listen to ads for new welders over and over again while you are on hold ?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by coupeute View Post
                      Hey Franz, guess what, Sally still works at Miller. I spoke to her on the phone the other day when I had a problem with my Syncrowave 351. She put me on hold for more than 15 minutes. Do you know what it's like to listen to ads for new welders over and over again while you are on hold ?
                      Sally must not be doing well at finding a fool to pay off her student loans.
                      I once envisioned that department at Corp HQ in a flight of fantasy. I envisioned the EEOC quota gynoamerikans zipping the halls in 4 passenger roll bar equipped golf carts bouncing them off the nerfs as they zipped along. Twas not a pretty vision, and I fully understood the need for dual wheels on the cart as well as the crash wagon backed into an alcove off the main hall.

                      As to listening to the sales propaganda, in fairness I must admit I once owned a chunk of a vendor peddling that phone system equipment. A large part of the programming revolves around how long the caller can be retained listening to the crap. Some systems even sample the caller end of the line to predict when he will terminate. Even factoring in the company picking up the cost of the call on a T1 line, it's very cheap advertising to a target audience.
                      I'll also state clearly the last time I spoke to anyone on the phone at corporate, I paid for the call and used the dirct number to the person I needed to speak with. He was walked out by Security ot long after responding to a question on his thoughts on the MadDad Big Blue "motorscooter" on display in the lobby. I am aware of subsequent purges and confiscation of Miller Electric manuals to be buried under foundations then yet to be poured.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am with Tackit. My Sync is a 1981 model and still buzzes a bead as good as the id10t running the thing can do. Picked it up used off Craigslist around 13yr ago for 800 clams.

                        Funny cigar story Franz. Reminds me of the time working at the CNC machine shop and we had one of those greasy scrap guys next door. The kind that would take in anything and paid a couple guys $5/hr to separate all the metals. He didn't want to invest in a wire stripper, so when he got to about 10 drums of insulated wire, he was attempting to set it on fire using gasoline, what a stink. Well, at the time I was much younger and dumber and smoked myself. He yelled at me to get away "you are going to blow us up!!!" as I took a puff. I laughed and told him it was perfectly safe, the amber was not hot enough to vaporize and ignite fuel, so he bet me $20 (which was worth a lot more back then). I grabbed his fuel jug with the butt hanging out of my mouth and poured a gallon in the bottom of a 5 gallon metal bucket, he went running/screaming as I flicked the butt in the can - which - never did ignite. Fizzed out as quickly as if it were a puddle of water.

                        With you telling that story, I imagine the salesman had the very same look on his face as well.
                        J.Caraher
                        Wide Open Throttle Technologies (WOT-Tech), Pompano Beach FL
                        Miller Sync 300,Hobart 190
                        RogueFab pneumatic, Hossfeld Manual
                        Kitamura CNC, Bridgeport 2j
                        TunerPRO, HPTuners, AEM, Megasquirt, DynoJet
                        NASA Racing Official/Driver

                        YouTube Link, Instagram Link, FaceBook Link

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As my wife says to the kids "just throw it into Google" when we are all stumped with a typical kids' "why is the sky blue" question.

                          Result is researchers threw 2000 cigarettes in a pool of gasoline, and not a single one ignited: https://www.scienceabc.com/eyeopener...line-fire.html
                          J.Caraher
                          Wide Open Throttle Technologies (WOT-Tech), Pompano Beach FL
                          Miller Sync 300,Hobart 190
                          RogueFab pneumatic, Hossfeld Manual
                          Kitamura CNC, Bridgeport 2j
                          TunerPRO, HPTuners, AEM, Megasquirt, DynoJet
                          NASA Racing Official/Driver

                          YouTube Link, Instagram Link, FaceBook Link

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            1964 I'm working on Lyell Ave straight across the street from the old horse firehouse. Company owner brings in a wrecking contractor to remove a 2½ story house on the property, and they walk a 1" cable thru both stories and back to the winch on a tracked loader about D-6 size. Operator climbs on and winds cable on till crunching sounds come from the house and the winch has no more to give. They stop traffic and start across the street collapsing house behind the machine, back up, wind more and pull again. Then they unhook the cable and wind it all back on the drum. They even shoveled some of the asphalt back in the holes the grousers cut. Building got loaded on trailerdumps and went to the incinerator.

                            Boss has a pile of about 1000 pounds of scrap building wire, and he wants it cooked free of insulation. OK. I tack a couple barrels end to end, cut a door and pack them with wire. Add a couple gallons of fuel oil and light it with a kitchen vent blower adding combustion air. Firemen sitting on their bench across the street watching as the neighborhood smokes out. I had a full city block covered with smoke when they sent a man over to ask me to dial it back. By then half of one barrel was burned thru and there was no dialing back. It pretty much burned out by quitting time and the copper was way too hot for anybody to steal. Pretty much business as usual back then.

                            Same pickup a few months after the tank gasket decided it would start fine and quit running as soon as I let off the key. Bad ballast resistor. I called Service from work, and they were more than willing to send a mechanic out to the pickup with a replacement ballast resistor for some reason. I think they had a party when that Warranty ended, but they didn't invite me. When I bought the 66 they didn't even want to talk to me about making a deal on a $5000 (1966) truck. I had 2 other dealers who wanted to talk and the Master Dealer for the area as well.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The only interaction I had with the fire Dept as adolescent was a being youngun was the time I lit all my mom's boyfriend's Pentouse magazines on fire in the basement. Not only did he blacken both my brothers and my eyes, she later pulled out a 4' piece of baseboard and went to town. I was old enough that it didn't hurt...the look one her eyes when the buff fireman said she can be taken in for child abuse. All those Onset Mass thought a bomb went off. Meh, the principal at the school hit 3x what a 30yr old 85lb woman could put out. Smoked like a chief, same with Grandma - she beat my uncle senseless with a broom for lighting up a joint next to his brother trying to pass the DEA exam. Times have changed...very much. Modern people are far too soft. I am so happy the wife agrees with the offspring raising, my daughter graduates college in Dec with ZERO debt, and dual majors. Something differentiates a worker and a person desiring a paycheck.......
                              J.Caraher
                              Wide Open Throttle Technologies (WOT-Tech), Pompano Beach FL
                              Miller Sync 300,Hobart 190
                              RogueFab pneumatic, Hossfeld Manual
                              Kitamura CNC, Bridgeport 2j
                              TunerPRO, HPTuners, AEM, Megasquirt, DynoJet
                              NASA Racing Official/Driver

                              YouTube Link, Instagram Link, FaceBook Link

                              Comment

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