24 Feb 2008
With the amount of music I listen to while working it’s imperative that the eardphones I wear are comfortable, noise-canceling, of decent quality and easy to tuck away. I made the obligatory shot at trying out the stock ipod earbuds way back in the early ipod days, but they didn’t fit my oddly shaped ears. The sony earbuds were pretty good but were too easy to break down with replacable earbuds too easy to fall off and lose. I didn’t want to continue repeating the cycle of purchasing new ones every 6 months, so I made my first leap into the world of semi-expensive eardphones/earbuds with a pair of Shure E2C’s after my mother’s dog, Bailey (God love him), literally ate the last pair of Sony eardphones I would end up owning.
You would think, pay a reasonable premium for the product with the great reviews, and enjoy, right? I thought the same when I first bought the E2C’s. Great sound, fit very snug in my ears, came with multiple styles of earbuds (plastic, foam, etc) and turned out to be what I thought was a great purchase. Worst case scenario – they don’t work out, something happens, and I return it thanks to Shure’s great return policy. To my great dismay this turned out to NOT be the case. After the post-purchase consumer/product honeymoon phase, the wire covering around the part of the headphones that wrapped behind the ears, started to fray. It seemed as if it just withered away after a good amount of time using them – about 9 or 10 months – to the point where the wire covering started digging into the skin behind my ears. The sound quality started to then degrade before the final straw, the exposed wires seemingly shocking me every few days. It’s possible that the shocking part could have been psychosomatic – but after the 5th or 6th time, I would doubt it.
The most disappointing part after all is said and done is that this happened to not one, but two different pairs of E2C’s in the past couple years. After the first pair frayed I purchased the second with hopes that if it happened again, I would be more vigilant on getting it replaced by Shure thanks to the 2-year warranty policy. The warranty, however, instead of being the warm and fuzzy blanket to console myself in the malaise that is my failed, faulty and disintegrating earphones, is more trouble than it’s worth.
If they fail, I would have imagined they would *replace* the headphones. Do it like some computer retailers do – charge your credit card for a new replacement, ship it out to you immediately with instructions on how to ship it back. Once returned the charge on the credit card would disappear, right? That’s the kind of customer service I would expect especially since earphones are something one would use on an almost daily basis! Do I want to wait a few weeks while it’s being REPAIRED without my Flaming Lips, Ice Cube, Gnarls Barkley, Justin Timberlake or iTunes radio? No, not really!
But that’s how it goes. The onus is on you to send it back for *repair* and while you wait either be content in your sphere of silence, or purchase another pair of earphones to tide you over until your next pair of rice-paper wrapped earphones show up at your doorstep. To that, I say – “Fare thee well, Shure, for you have lost yourself a customer”. I am now jumping on the Etymotic Research bandwagon with hopes these last longer, and provide better customer support when I either do something stupid to destroy them (leave them to be eaten by Bailey) or the sweat glands around my ears melt these into oblivion as well. I’ll hold my breath and hope that the return policy with the people at Etymotic is better than Shure’s.