May 1992

Complaints rising on fax modem

by Simson L. Garfinkel

Princeton, NJ: Customers have voiced a wide range of complaints ranging from delayed orders to faulty products against Neuron, a vendor of modems and data-communications software for NeXT computers.

The complaints also include claims of poor technical support, failure to honor warranties, and failure to provide customers who have beta software with final releases.

"I've sent several e-mail messages, faxes, [and made numerous] phone calls. None have been replied to," said Philip McDunnough, a professor of statistics at the University of Toronto.

Neuron executives, however, disputed the claims. "We've had a few problems and we're working very hard to straighten them up," said Dan Gittleman, Neuron's president. "Everyone who has called us has been helped."

Neuron entered the NeXT market last fall with the $1095 FAX96+ modem, which could transmit both data and faxes at 9600 baud. The Neuron modem came with Marble Teleconnect, Synapse, a VT100 emulator, and a UUCP-configuration program.

But FAX96+ customers who contacted NeXTWORLD reported a variety of problems with the product, including an inability to communicate with certain brands of fax machines and data modems, bugs with the software, and a failure on the part of Neuron to support Teleconnect. Customers also reported delivery delays up to two months long, despite the fact that Neuron had billed their credit cards when they made the order.

"I don't think that they set out to harm anyone in the beginning," said one contractor who has worked closely with Neuron. "I'd say that they had cash-flow problems. I would attribute it to bad management of the project."

Neuron discontinued the FAX96+ in January, claiming that the problem was with the 9600-baud Digicom modem, not with its driver software. In place of the FAX96+, Neuron began offering the FAX1414 modem for $895.

Neuron's Gittleman, however, had a different take on the situation. "We've had problems with people who haven't had any technical problem, but have complained about problems with the modem trying to get them to get us to give them free upgrades," said Gittleman, who refused further comment.

But that's not to say Neuron doesn't have satisfied customers. "There's still no other option that I've heard about that lets me do 9600-baud data and fax on the same port, and have it switch automatically," said Curt Welch, an independent NeXT consultant in Virginia.

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