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Saeco Espresso Machines (other) - Chip Scardo's Review
Posted: April 7, 2003, 5:51am
review rating: 6.7
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Saeco Espresso Machines (other)
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Arrow The Saeco Espresso Machines (other) has 15 Reviews
Arrow The Saeco Espresso Machines (other) has been rated 7.57 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Saeco Espresso Machines (other) reviews have been viewed 106,460 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Marty Stein 8.50
Steve Watkins 8.00
Andrew Kerr 6.80
Gary Cook 6.66
Jeffrey Davis 6.66

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 3.6
Product Reviewed: Magic Deluxe
Manufacturer: Saeco Quality: 0
Average Price: Varies Usability: 5
Price Paid: $800.00 Cost vs. Value 4
Where Bought: Espressopeople.com Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 1 year Overall 0
Writer's Expertise: Just starting Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Avoid at all costs.
Positive Product Points

This machine looks great and cleans up easy.  It's impressive to watch and (when it works) makes both great shots and a great cup of coffee.  Visitors love it.  The ability to use preground coffee is really nice for making a cup of decaf at any time.

Negative Product Points

Very unreliable.  After 3 weeks the water level sensor stopped working.  After 9 months serious groaning starting coming from inside the machine.  At 12 months the brew cycle became quite short.  And at 14 months it basically shut down.

Detailed Commentary

When I first received this machine I was so happy with it.  It was an amazing machine brewing amazing coffee.  I loved showing it off to visitors.  It was beautiful and very easy to clean.

3 weeks after I got it, the water level sensor failed.  A little diagnostic work showed the magnetic float in the tank had quit floating.  I called Saeco.  This was my first experience with their customer service department.  After a few minutes I ended up in voice mail.  I left a message.  I could still brew coffee by reaching in the tank and holding the float up -- not exactly how an $800 machine should be used.  After a couple of weeks, Saeco still had not called back so I left another voice mail.  I also called espressopeople.com.  They told me it often takes 10 days for a call back.  So I waited another 2 weeks, then gave up and ordered a replacement water tank, for $20 or so.

After having the machine 9 months it started groaning while brewing.  Groaning so loudly that my wife could hear it upstairs with the machine downstairs.  Again I called Saeco and they didn't return my call.  I called espressopeople.com and they told me maybe it needed decalcifying.  I had already been using the Saeco DeCal I bought from them, as well as using only filtered water.  Another call to Saeco went unreturned.  What was I to do?  I just put up with the noise.

At very close to exactly 12 months. the brew cycle started getting short.  It would stop after 3, 4, or 5 lights no matter I had the brew cycle programmed for.  Another 2 calls to Saeco went unanswered.  I sent an email to main (in Italy) Saeco from their website.  
This is the email I sent:
------------------------------ ------------------------------
I have left messages with the US distributor to try
to get some help with it but no one returns my calls.

It has recently started to shorten the brew cycle.
It will stop brewing as soon as the 5th light comes on.
Sometimes it even stops after 3 or 4 lights.  It's
been cleaned and decalcified regularly.  I've tried
reprogramming it, but that didn't help.  It does this
no matter what size cup I'm brewing and no matter
how many ounces I've programmed the cup to be.

What can I do about this?

Thank you
------------------------------ ------------------------------
A few days later I got an email from the customer service manager in Annapolis Maryland:
------------------------------ ------------------------------
I believe we do have one message on file from last week for you, under the telephone # ***-***-****. Please confirm if this is the case.
How long have you had your machine for? The reason why I ask, some of the brew groups have a stainless steel screen as you look down into the funnel. If this is clogged, less water will go into your coffee and more water will go into the tray. To clean it just remove the phillips screw, make sure the screen is clean and all the holes unclogged, and then put back in place with the smooth side up.
Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
------------------------------ ------------------------------

Of course I had cleaned that screen during regular cleaning but did it again.  And then I sent this email:

------------------------------ ------------------------------

Thank you very much for getting back with me.

That phone number is correct.  Of course it cannot be
guaranteed that I (or any customer) will be available for
a call back, which makes that a less-than-ideal method
of getting support.  Email is great though.  

Anyhow, I have had the machine 13.5 months.  At your
suggestion I removed that screen as well as the other
one and cleaned them both.  They have both been cleaned
in the past too (probably every 2-3 months).

Now the machine stops brewing after 3 lights.

Even holding one of the brew buttons to program the
length of the brew cycle will stop after only 3 lights.
The machine has been making moaning, groaning
noises for about 6 months now.  I never got a call back
from Saeco about that problem so I've just been hoping
it would go away.  When that started, at the suggestion
of Aabree Coffee (where I bought it) I replaced all the
o-rings and lubricated (with the Saeco lube) anything
I could find that moved.  That did not reduce the noise.

And so now I suppose (just a guess) that whatever is
making the noise has led to this reduced brewing
cycle.  Of course it could be 2 different problems.

Thank you again, very very much for helping me
with this problem.  I'm resorting to my french press
for now -- which only will do coffee, and I'm having
to drive for espresso :)

------------------------------ ------------------------------
... to which she responded:

------------------------------ ------------------------------
I spoke with one of my techs, and they believe it could be the flow meter (controls flow of water through machine). It would have to come in for service.
I attach a Return Authorization form for you to fill out. Also, as the unit is out of warranty, please confirm where you are based for possible service centers in your area.
------------------------------ ------------------------------

To which I responded:
------------------------------ ------------------------------
Thank you again.

Is there any chance that this could be done under warranty?
The noise did start well within the warranty period -- I just
never received a call back from Saeco.  Beyond that, it's only
5 weeks out of warranty (2 of which of been spent trying to
communicate with Saeco).  And further, the Saeco website
says that this model has a 2 year warranty.
------------------------------ ------------------------------

And back from Saeco:
------------------------------ ------------------------------

The 2 year warranty is for Europe, and will be found in the European website. Our warranty is of 1 year on parts and labor. Please fill in the Return authorization form. I will also need your proof of purchase.
------------------------------ ------------------------------

To which I wrote:
------------------------------ ------------------------------
Ok thanks.

What will the charge for this be?

And, if I'm out of warranty, why is a proof of purchase needed?
I can get that, but it will delay me getting this back to you.
------------------------------ ------------------------------

The reply:
------------------------------ ------------------------------
We will try to assist you as much as possible, but I do need a proof of purchase. No charge for the estimate, and then we'll take it from there. I won't be in next week, but one of my colleagues will take care of that for you.
------------------------------ ------------------------------

The RA form was completed and sent in.
The next week I sent the machine to Saeco and after confirming wth UPS that it had been delivered, I sent a fax and email to Saeco asking for a status.  I received this unbelievable email.
------------------------------ ------------------------------
Thank you for contacting Saeco USA. Saeco is dedicated to providing the highest quality Customer Service, which is only to be expected from a Company that produces such a high quality product. We are constantly on the phone. If you reach voicemail, please be assured we are here and are assisting other customers.

We are currently back logged and a behind with returning calls, repairs, and emails. Over the past year the coffee machine industry has exploded and we are doing our best to keep up with the ongoing demand. If a company is going to have a problem, being popular is a good problem to have! At this time we are training new employees, have temporary employees and are interviewing for several other positions with in our company to continue our growth. I would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing you.

Again I would like to apologize for any inconvenience and assure you I will do my best to assist you or appoint someone qualified with in the company to assist you. At this time it is taking 8-10 weeks to get an estimate.

Thank you for your patience,
------------------------------ ------------------------------

This somewhat frustrated me and I replied:

------------------------------ ------------------------------
Please understand that this email is intended to allow Saeco to
rectify this situation.  It would only be fair of me to give Saeco
a chance to 'make this right' before I posted this report on
the internet at such places as coffeegeek.com and alt.coffee,
as well as the local forums maintained by businesses that sell
your product, as well as the consumer affairs offices of
Maryland and Virginia.

I suggest that you produce an estimate for me by the
end of the day today and that the machine be repaired within
one week.

While being so busy may, at first glance, seem like a good
problem to have, it surely is not.  On the other end of that
'good problem', I had a very expensive coffee machine that
lasted 1 year and is now in for repairs which will take almost
one fourth of a year, repairs for which I must pay.  Does that
sound particularly like a company that is (quoting you) "dedicated
to providing the highest quality Customer Service"?  Does an
expensive machine that lasts such a short time seem (again,
quoting you) to be "such a high quality product"?

An 8-10 week backlog of machines in need of repair only
demonstrates (to me and anyone who might read of this later)
a poorly built or designed machine.  It could also be interpreted
as meaning the machine was considerably overpriced.

Is there anything you own for which you would personally find
an 8-10 week delay for a repair estimate to be acceptable,
let alone to be indicative of a company that even has a
customer service department?

Your excuses are simply reasons, not excuses.  There is
no excuse for such poor service.  And your attempt at
thanking me for my patience does not create any patience --
I am not patient with this situation.  However, I do look forward
to your estimate and your expeditious repair and return of my
machine that I so dearly love to use and 'show off' to all my
------------------------------ ------------------------------

I received this reply:
------------------------------ ------------------------------
I can understand your frustration. I show your machine as being received in our warehouse on March 4th. As stated on the return authorization form under normal operations it takes 4-6 weeks for repair. I will make your repair a priority and put it on our fast track list to ensure it is completed with that time frame. Again I would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to ask.
------------------------------ ------------------------------

6 weeks later I received a fax from Saeco with the repair estimate.
This is just to do the estimate!

$245.45 for the repair!  The fax indicates that they are going to replace a 'PCB, Magic Button' -- I am not kidding.  That's it.

At this point I have no choice -- I must pay this or pay for them to ship my machine back, or have them destroy it.  Those are literally the 3 choices provided for on fax.

I have not yet decided what to do ......

Buying Experience

Espressopeope.com were great to deal with until I had a problem, then they just wanted me to go away.

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Posted: April 7, 2003, 5:51am
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