Kone (the elevator company) deserves a bad rap on the internet

TLDR: Our local elevator company is shitty. I just want to vent and to put something out there on the internet that maybe someone researching their elevator options will find.

Most major companies have a pretty good handle on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). You may love or hate the company, and agree or disagree with the causes they support, but at least most of the big corporations I’ve encountered can put up a decent, professional front.

Not so our Hawaii branch of Kone. I serve as volunteer executive director of a very poor non-profit. We have one elevator, which we of course need to keep in service for ADA reasons, aside from the fact there are times when we need to move large objects that would be a pain to move up and down the steps.

We pay Kone about $470 every quarter as a “maintenance fee” - a HUGE sum for us. (Our annual budget for EVERYTHING is $80,000.) In exchange, we get nothing: if they need to service the elevator in any way, we incur several hundred dollars worth of charges. They tell us we are required to have a maintenance contract under Hawaii state law so we simply have to pay them the quarterly fee.

Recently they proposed installing a new phone system for us, one that would be cheaper than paying Hawaiian Telkom a monthly fee for the elevator’s emergency phone. Installation was going to be expensive - $600 or more, as I recall - but then our phone bill would drop.

We asked them about their CSR and said that we serve children, making us a good candidate for a lot of CSR programs. We were told by their rep that they do indeed have CSR programs, and in fact they are targeted at children! To wit: on Oahu (not our island) they do elevator safety education for school kids.

Really? That’s all you guys do? (To be fair, if you look up the Finnish parent company, they have a few CSR initiatives in Europe, but we’re talking Kone USA, not to mention Hawaii specifically.) No offense, but children safely using elevators is not one of the burning social issues of our time.

Anyway, after we did our best to convince them that we are a worthy cause, they said they would install the new equipment for free and then give us a $25/month discount on the phone service they would provide. YAY.

Then, they said, “Oops, your elevator system is so old we can’t use the new system. So we won’t be installing it.”

A pity they didn’t figure that out BEFORE we went through the rigamarole of seeking a discount, but oh well, these things happen. So we asked if they’d give us a break on the quarterly maintenance fees instead, since they had promised us an in-kind donation worth close to $1000 this year.

They said nope.

While I understand that no company is obligated to help us just because we’re a non-profit, I still think this experience is … not good.

Someone from Otis wrote me a while ago, just after Kone promised us the free installation. I said “no thank you, we shall remain loyal to Kone because they are helping us out.”

I’m gonna reach out to the Otis guy now.

What does your maintenance agreement actually entitle you to?

The right to ask them to come charge us money to fix our elevator, near as I can tell. If we didn’t pay the maintenance fee and our elevator broke, they’d ignore us.

Hard to believe, I know. I keep thinking I must have the facts wrong, but I’ve seen the invoices and met the representative.

I’m contemplating asking them to show us the law that requires us to maintain the service contract, but it won’t be a fast process. They pretty much ignore us most of the time.

Do they do any basic PM on it? Looking at the Kone website, their basic maintenance package is just them throwing some grease at it from time to time but repairs aren’t covered.

“Otis! My Man!”

I hate to be a hater
But Kone Elevator
Is worse than Darth Vader
Something something Christian Slater
(mic drop)

There. Is that rap bad enough?

I don’t know anything about elevators, but I take it Kone sold you the elevator, right? So if you reach out to Otis, will you have to replace the elevator with an Otis? Or can Otis maintain a Kone elevator? If that’s the case, why can’t some independent contractor do it? Maybe someone who just got out of elevator school and is trying to get a start in the business?

Who does your annual elevator inspections? Are they required in Oahu?

I’ve reviewed a very large number of elevator service contracts Granted these are for large commercial buildings in states other than Hawaii. But every building has contracts for 3 elevator-related services: inspection, maintenance, and monitoring. These services may or may not be separate contracts. Commonly one might see one vendor doing maintenance and inspection while the elevator phone monitoring is done by the fire alarm vendor.

Anyway…the vendors don’t have to match the brand of the elevator. We tend to use Schindler for many of the Schindler elevators, and other local vendors as well. We’ve replaced Otis as a vendor in almost all cases.
Anyway, I suggest you ditch Kone immediately and find a local vendor. And I’d definitely expect that a technician should be checking the elevator at least quarterly.

Seconded. At the very least, the representative you talk to should at least be courteous and interested in keeping you as a customer.

Update: Otis reached out to us a while ago - coincidentally just after Kone had told us they’d give us free installation and half price on the phone. So I thanked the Otis contact and told him we were committed to Kone for the time being, but I’d contact him in the future if things changed.

Since they HAVE changed, I went back to Otis. They’ve asked a few questions about our elevator brand, type of maintenance contract, etc., and will prep some estimates for us.

I forget the elevator manufacturer, but it is neither Otis nor Kone … our building was constructed in 1938 so everything we have is old and falling apart. I’d originally had the same thought as you, and was surprised to discover our elevator isn’t made by Kone. But it’s probably made by some company that went out of business in 1954.

“Independent contractors who just got out of elevator school” probably don’t exist and if they do, they wouldn’t be cheap. In trying to justify their costs, Kone showed us some of the certification stuff their technicians have to go through (for a price, of course). Since elevators present very serious safety issues, there are controls on who can market themselves as an elevator repair person.

It’s probably partly bunk - out-of-control certifications/regulations that various interest groups have lobbied for are a notorious way for certain professions to limit how many people practice, so they can jack up their prices. In some cases, like optometry or elevator maintenance, it’s plausible that there are public health and safety reasons at play as well as greed.

As well you should! But I’m prejudiced since Schindler was my professional 1990s. IIRC, they have a strong presence in Hawai’i.


Elevators, huh. What, you’re too good for a dumbwaiter?

Why don’t you have a lawyer look at it? surely you can find one willing to do some pro-bono work for a non-profit.


I love that people are even looking at this thread. I mean, really … a pit thread about elevator maintenance?

I didn’t expect any responses, I just wanted to get something out there on line in case someone is doing a search. And yet this thread is not only attracting responses, but even some helpful ones. (Thank you Green Bean, I will look into Schindler. This site makes it easy to find contact information for them and others.)

I think this thread is proof that Dopers will read anything :slight_smile:

Well, it was near the bottom of the Pit list, but then Dropzone’s post raised it back up again. Now it’s slowly lowering itself down the list again &…

I’ll just excuse myself from this thread & take the stairs

Never ask the consultant where in the law it says you are required to use their services. Reach out to your local government inspection offices and get the correct legal requirements.

Maintenance contracts provide the basis for companies to hire staff and maintain inventories even when your stuff isn’t broken. They tell the company they need staff and parts sufficient to handle X elevators in region Y. At least that’s how it was when I priced maintenance.

I would be shocked beyond shocked if there was a law requiring KONE elevator to send a repairman to your building because you asked them, without a pre-existing maintenance contract, to repair your ancient non-KONE elevator. I don’t even know what that law would look like.

I would be shocked if such a law existed also (and of course no one is saying it does), but it also seems odd that a building owner is required to have a maintenance contract - if your elevator is broken, it seems like you could call a company that would be happy to come out if you have the money to pay them. You might have to wait behind contracted customers, but then you might wait anyway, depending on how well staffed your contracted company is (and if it is a bad day/week for elevators).

The service contract is a hedge for the company. They are guaranteed a minimum level of revenue + an uncertain number of repairs.

If they agree to ad hoc repairs for unregistered clients, then their current client base may find that option worth pursuing, increasing the uncertainty of their future revenue. If all major service suppliers repair for unregistered clients, then they all have uncertain revenues, and individual repairs depend as much on whether or not you’re busy this week as on your client base.

Ultimately, I think the major suppliers all prefer the subscription model, and it’s not to their benefit to change.