Why you better avoid reFX for now and how you may be treated as a customer of reFX
Read my story about a special kind of service experience …
At the end of 2012 (that is, almost 10 years ago), I became aware of the Nexus software instrument from the Canadian company reFX Audio Software. I was first impressed by the cutting-edge sounds, which were also well presented in the many demos.
In January 2013, I then bought Nexus. Over the years, a sound bank was added – most recently in 2016. I have used Nexus in several productions of mine. Until then, I did not think about anything else, because everything was running and I also did not need any support from the manufacturer until then.
Then in May 2019 the disaster
Then in May 2019 the catastrophe happened. My e-Licenser – the USB dongle that contains the purchased licenses – refused to work on my computer. Nothing worked anymore. Steinberg Cubase didn’t start anymore and Nexus didn’t work either.
Since I had a replacement e-Licenser in the closet for this unlikely case a long time ago, I thought at first that I would simply deactivate the old e-Licenser at Steinberg and activate the new e-Licenser. Unfortunately, it is then not so simple. However, Steinberg has not only exemplary, but also responded quickly and helped me unbureaucratically. The old license was simply blocked and I was allowed to re-register my e-Licenser as part of the availability assurance.
Now I was happy for now and wanted to work directly with Cubase – what did not work was Nexus from reFX.
Of course, I thought: how is that supposed to work? The license is still on the old defective stick. So I thought that at reFX you would get quick and unbureaucratic help and simply block the old e-Licenser and register the new one.
That was actually the first time that I urgently needed help from reFX – unfortunately then I had to experience what reFX means by help and service. I would like to explain this to you in the following so that you know what you are getting yourself into and what will happen to you if something goes wrong and you really need help. Maybe this will save you one or the other bad experience – but in any case you will save yourself money which you can better invest in other software synthesizers.
The first problem was that there are no options with reFX to deactivate an e-Licenser and activate a new e-Licenser. Whether this was due to technical reasons for which Steinberg was responsible or whether it was simply not wanted: I have no idea and as a customer I don’t care in such a situation. Certainly there would have been other ways within the framework of customer-friendly behavior to provide help.
The second problem was that support at reFX is only available through the ticket system. Okay, that’s actually a bit of a problem if everything goes well – but when I was looking for a simple email address, I just couldn’t find anything. Unusual. But okay …
You have to send your defective e-Licenser to Canada
The third problem was that the support didn’t offer any real help. Instead, I should send the defective e-Licenser to Canada so that reFX can test it and decide whether to help me or not. To a mailbox. There is no alternative street address – not very serious, in my opinion (more on that in a moment). Disregarding the fact that insured shipping to Canada from Germany not only takes time but is also not cheap, I would also hand over my proof and would have a difficult time if it were lost on the shipping route, for example. should reFX refuse or not send it back to me. After all, the e-Licenser – defective or not – is my property.
By the way, the ladies and gentlemen from the support team, who, in retrospect, were perhaps just the sock puppets of the only two employees (more on that below), are quite “funny” when they succinctly responded to my concerns about the costs of shipping and handling the customs duties noted that a low value for the defective e-Licenser should be set – well … Even if it no longer worked for me, it contained licenses worth several hundred dollars (including Steinberg Cubase Pro)
And since I was informed immediately that a new purchase would be due in the event of loss, I certainly don’t see a low value given – after all, in the event of loss, the resulting damage should be insured. But that again makes shipping more expensive …
I could be a thief or a pirate – with a proven purchase history
When I was already very annoyed after my ticket was simply closed (the notifications ended up in the spam folder, so that I only noticed after a few days that there was a new reaction) and I clearly expressed my displeasure, I received from ” Michael “- as I now know the owner of this company received an answer in which he latently implied that I would want to sneak a license without authorization – that is, that I might be a thief or a pirate … That’s what I call adding fuel to the fire . Maybe you can understand that I was really angry afterwards and wrote down my anger as an answer.
Steinberg makes the elicenser and has 100% control over it. If they can disable it on their server, that doesn’t mean it magically stops working. We also have zero evidence to support ANY of your claims, so we have to rely on our policies to protect us from fraudulent claims. We’ve had quite a few over the years.Michael, Support Staff @ reFX Audio Software, Canada
I don’t think it’s a sign of intelligence to say something like that to a customer and frankly I don’t accept such allegations. Technically, this is also untenable – and even if you generally think negatively about customers, it would have been about one copy at most. But how many of the customers of reFX report about defective, stolen or lost e-Licensers and how many of them are up to evil? Probably the smallest part.
I made the mistake of venting my displeasure and complaining very clearly about the customer-unfriendly behavior in the ticket system. The result was that reFX completely refused to communicate and banned me from the support system – so I no longer have a reasonable opportunity to contact me. In almost 50 years of my life, I have never experienced anything like this at any other company.
A serious entrepreneur doesn’t have to hide
When I sent my incomprehension about this in writing by post, I encountered further oddities. The company specifies a PO box as the address (reFX Audio Software Inc., PO box 61543 Brookwood, Langley BC V3A 8C8, Canada). There is no information on the responsible persons, there is no sales team, no contact form – you feel a bit like you are on the website of a Chinese scammer.
Reading the End-User-License-Agreement, the terms or the data protection declaration doesn’t make you much smarter. There is no information about who you are dealing with – instead, the company hides behind the company name. It is questionable whether these are legally binding documents in this form outside of Canada.
Encouraged and curious, I wanted to know who is behind this company – if only because I wanted to write my point of view to him and let off steam.
One source of information was what I consider to be the reputable website of Dun & Bradstreet (See it here). And there I finally found some (informative) information. The house address is given there, which is around 45 minutes by car from the post office box address (reFX Audio Software, 9120 154 St Surex, BC, V3R 0B9 Canada) and even a telephone number can be found there – in contrast to the reFX website. And finally I find the names of the managing director (Michael Hartmann) and his partner (Elliot Rigets).
I find it sad that I have to research such information and I can’t find it on the website of this company – which, according to Dunn & Bradstreet, only has 2 employees and generates less than $ 350,000 in income. That doesn’t give me a serious impression. On the contrary. This is also supported by the very bizarre understanding of service.
Of course, the amount of income or the number of employees does not play a major role at first – but for me it is not a sign of intelligence to damage one’s own reputation without need through a remarkably customer-hostile company policy – if you look for something on the Internet for reFX (for example at Trustpilot or here, here, here, here and here – just to give you a few links) who understands what I mean.
Lack of service understanding? Thin-skinned? Or just a huge asshole?
Maybe it’s the personality structure of the CEO, who may be a talented software developer but have no idea how to deal with customers, or maybe it’s the workload you have at such a small company that makes it thin and stressful leads. Maybe the managing director is just a huge asshole – I don’t know, because he is more or less hiding and simply excludes customers from support who do not respond gratefully to refused help.
The fact is: As long as everything works, you have bought a mediocre to good sounding rompler for a comparatively large amount of money and can enjoy up-to-date, ready-to-use sounds by purchasing additional sound packs. So far so good. If something goes wrong, however, one should not hope for quick help, for friendly help, or for help at all.
I am now curious whether Michel Hartmann or Elliot Rigets will go one better and after a devastating understanding of service and the exclusion of support, the next step will be an expropriation and delete my licenses – according to my experiences so far, I would not rule that out and it would be in the picture fit. On the other hand, I’m done with this company for life.
Therefore my recommendation: Better to steer clear of this company and buy from a provider who values their customers and does not have a disturbing view of the human being, where customers seeking help are potential thieves and pirates.
Shortly after I published my article here, an anonymous source leaked me a mail correspondence, which is apparently the discussion between a customer of reFX and Michael Hartmann. This customer apparently felt the same way as I did: Broken e-Licenser, disastrous customer support.
I find a few of his statements – from the customer’s point of view – quite disturbing. They reveal a deep bitterness, great arrogance and a complete lack of appreciation towards his discussion partner.
In light of this illuminating conversation, I now feel pitty for Michael Hartmann. He seems to have had many bad experiences in his business life – up to receiving death threats (which is completely unacceptable regardless of the facts described here and should be punished). This has apparently turned him into the asshole that customers experiencing problems and not getting proper help experience and describe today.
He should urgently refrain from having direct contact with customers. On the one hand, as a protection for himself. On the other hand, because this is not how a company should deal with customers. There are specialized service providers, mini-jobbers, students, volunteers, communities that can do the job – and any of these options would probably be better for reFX than Michael Hartmann continuing a scorched earth policy towards demanding customers.
Note: My statements correspond to my view of the facts and my personal opinion and have been compiled to the best of my knowledge and belief. All screenshots from reFX.com and Dun & Bradstreet were taken by myself on November 10th, 2021. I have archived the ticket IDs and the complete texts of the tickets with me.