An Open Letter to James Dyson

Dear James

I know that on the surface, this is a petty sob story. I bought one of your vacuums. After about two and a half years, it stopped working. I had a bad experience with customer service. They said to buy a new battery. I did, and it still doesn't work, and I'm reluctant to invest even more into this machine.

"Wah, wah, wah. Throw it out, buy a new one, get over it." says the voice in my head.

Yes, but ... there's more to this story.

Here's why this bothers me, and why I'm writing this letter.

I've been an entrepreneur my entire adult life. And for most of those years, a struggling one.

11 years ago, in 2006, I read your autobiography, Against the Odds, and I deeply resonated with you and your story.

At that time, I was in a long process of winding down one company that didn't turn into much, and the one I'd started after that was falling apart at the seams before it really got off the ground.

It was a period in my life when I was really struggling to figure out who I was and what I was here to do. I'd recently had my first child, and I felt like a complete failure for being so bad at entrepreneurship.

Enter your book. I resonated with your story so deeply. You're a renaissance man: Equally interested in art and science. The artist is the scientist, and the scientist is the artist. Creating machines that are perfectly engineered, and made beautiful precisely because they display their inner workings. For years, I dreamt of one day owning a Dyson vacuum.

Alas, my budget at the time only afforded me a Miele. The salesman down at the store said its suction was so powerful they wouldn't say in any absolute numbers how powerful it was. It was a fine machine, but I had no emotional connection to it.

It wasn't until 8 years later, in late December of 2014 that I'd finally get my own Dyson. We'd moved from Denmark to India and had now arrived in New York City. After a couple of years with somewhat tight finances, we'd finally taken the jump to a bigger (and pricier) apartment, and I wanted to celebrate with a glass of Champagne ... and a Dyson vacuum.

I ordered the Dyson DC58 Trigger Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner (now known as the V6), and I loved it. It set me back $244.96 including tax, but it was worth it for the joy of owning an original Dyson. Plus, it was a machine that was going to last me a lifetime. I'm a big fan of buying quality stuff that lasts, and pay the cost, rather than buying cheap stuff that you end up throwing out.

But at some point earlier this year, it started behaving weirdly. It would only work for a few seconds, then stop. Pushing the trigger does nothing. Give it some time, and it would start working again, but again, only for a few seconds.

My cleaning lady kept complaining, and eventually I started to look into it. Looked online for information. Maybe a filter needed replacing? What could it be? Tried to take it apart, clean it thoroughly, put it back together. Nothing.

That's when i reached out to Dyson support.

Here's the conversation:

[details about the machine, serial number, proof of purchase, etc.]

The machine runs for about a second or two, then stops, flashes red, then blue.

When I put it in the charger, it flashes blue, then red, then blue again.

I've taken the bin off and cleaned the bin and cyclone as described here:

https://www.dyson.com/support/dc58-dc59/dc59-animal/maintaining-your-dyson-machine/how-to-clean-the-clear-bin-and-cyclone

What to do next?

–Calvin

 

 Hi Calvin,

Thank you for contacting Dyson.

We are sorry to hear your DC58 is not working as intended.

So that we can get a better understanding of the issue, please indicate what the light on the battery shows when the machine is off the charger and the trigger is held or at least 10 seconds with no power.

Next, plug the machine into the charger and indicate what the light on the charger itself shows. If no light is present on the charger, please try another outlet and see if you receive the same results.

Please reply with your findings along with confirming your phone number.

Once we have this information we can assist further.

  

> So that we can get a better understanding of the issue, please indicate what the light on the battery shows when the machine is off the charger and the trigger is held or at least 10 seconds with no power.

Blinking red.

> Next, plug the machine into the charger and indicate what the light on the charger itself shows. If no light is present on the charger, please try another outlet and see if you receive the same results.

I don't see any light anywhere on the charger itself. Where's that even supposed to be?

I know the outlet works, tested it. Also, the battery does start blinking red again when I plug it in, after it's stopped blinking.

I'd say 99% the battery's just gone bad.

–Calvin

 

Hello there,
Thank you for contacting Dyson.
We are sorry to hear that your machine is not functioning properly. I would value the opportunity to assist in diagnosing the problem and want to ensure your vacuum cleaner is performing as designed.
Please feel free to reply to this e-mail with a detailed description of the issue as well as your first and last name, the serial number (located underneath the machine, behind the dirt canister, or on the owner’s manual), date and location of purchase and your full address including, city, state and zip code, and your telephone number.
Once we receive your reply, we will be happy to provide further assistance. Thank you for your time.

 

Wait, what?? I just replied to your email. Sounds like we're starting from scratch.

 

 Dude. That WAS my reply. Please try again.

 

Hi Calvin,

Thank you for your reply.

I apologize for the continued frustration but I would like to ask you to test/reset your battery with the steps below.

Cyclone does not need to be removed for this check.

With the bin removed, undo the phillips head screw at the back of the handle.
Undo the phillips screw in the front of the main body.
Pull the battery down, out of the main body.
Press the button on the battery and watch the light on it's side.
Please let us know the results of this test or if this resolved the issue.

 

By now, I've disassembled and reassembled the thing so many times I can do it in my sleep.

Also, I never got an answer to where there might be a light on the charger itself. Pretty sure there's not.

 

Blinking red.

 

Greetings Calvin,

Thank you for your reply.

Please take the machine off its charger and hold down the trigger for 10 seconds. If the machine is continuing the flash red, please count the number of flashes.

Once we receive your reply we will be happy to assist further. Thank you for your time.

 

At this point, it's starting to sound like an April's fool. It's so weird that there's not a guide for this. Or that they didn't ask for this the first time.

I have to sit with a stopwatch counting out 10 seconds, then counting the number of times the light blinks. Which is 32! It would make sense if it was three or four, but 32? So strange. Also, instructions are ambiguous.

 

Are you guys pulling my legs here? :)

I counted 32 flashes since the moment I started holding down the trigger.

If you mean how many times it flashes after I RELEASE the trigger, that number is 21.

–Calvin

 

Hi Calvin,

Thank you for your reply.

The troubleshooting results you have provided indicates that the battery is in need of replacement. A replacement battery, part#967810-03 is $75.99 plus applicable tax and $8.95 shipping. You may contact our secure online chat or helpline by phone to place an order.

We also have a great offer available to you. As a current owner, you are eligible for 20% off original pricing of a new machine. To take advantage of this offer please contact our secure online chat.

If you require additional assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at questions@dyson.com.

 

Here, my heart sank for the nth time.

You're saying I have to pay another $91.68 to make this machine work again. 

Or I can get a new machine, just two years after buying the original, at a <irony>whopping</irony> 20% discount. Oh, my! How lucky I am!

That's 37% of the original purchase price, just 2 years and change into ownership. Am I going to have to do this every two or three years? So much for paying extra for quality that's going to last. And really, almost $100 for a replacement battery? I can buy an entirely new hand-held vacuum, battery included, for $21.76 including tax! I happily paid more than 11 times that amount for a Dyson, because I believed in you, in your company, in your mission, and in paying extra for quality.

My customer service experience didn't leave my confident that they knew what they were talking about and that a new battery would solve the problem, so I wasn't inclined to shell out another $100 for a new battery. 

Instead, I found this one on Amazon. I'm someone who will generally buy the original. Heck, I even buy f**king HP toner for my HP color laserjet, despite the ridiculous markups on those. Sucker, I know, I just don't want to deal with the hassle and complications of non-original parts.

But in this case, the non-confidence-inspiring customer service, the fact that it stopped working so soon, and the high cost of the battery pushed me over the edge, and I got the non-approved battery. Put it in the machine, and ... same exact problem.

Of course, there's a possibility that the new battery I got was defunkt, and it really is a battery problem. It's entirely possible.

But at this point, I'm even less inclined to try a new battery.

So I guess we're at the point where I throw the machine out and never buy a Dyson ever again.

And that's fine. It's a sunk cost. I'll move on, it'll be fine.

Except, James, I really resonated with you. I was so excited that finally here was a founder, an entrepreneur, who cared about more than just the fastest and sleaziest way to make a buck. Who cared about making a good product, and maybe even (and I may be projecting here) providing good service.

That's the loss I'm experiencing. The loss of faith. Not the loss of a vacuum.

I do understand that it can be challenging to maintain quality in a huge company like Dyson.

Yet, of course, I'm hoping you'll find a way to make this right.

With love (and a feeling of loss),
–Calvin

Update September 2

After posting this open letter, I also sent it to Dyson is a reply to our support thread. Here's what I wrote:

Hi there,

I wrote an open letter to James Dyson.

Would you mind passing it on up the chain, please?

http://calvincorreli.com/blog/2780-an-open-letter-to-james-dyson

Thank you so much!

–Calvin

Today I received the following response:

Thank you for your interest in Dyson Products. Currently, we are not looking to sign any new retailers. However, as our business continues to grow, we continue to change our business plans and strategies.

I hope that if we do decide to enlist new retailers in the future, I may contact you to see if you are still interested. Assuming so, I will keep your inquiry on file so that I can get in touch with you immediately.

Kind Regards,

US Independent Team

 This company continues to baffle :)

Update September 7

Hi Calvin,

Thank you for responding. Your inquiry has escalated to a member of our leadership team, and I am glad to assist. Upon review of your email and Dyson account, I am sorry to hear of the issue you've experienced as this is not what we expect.

To ensure you have a fully functioning Dyson DC58 handheld vacuum, I have placed an order for you to receive a replacement battery. Your order number is 1141596646, and should arrive to you within the next 7-10 days. Once the order is ready to ship, we will email tracking over, so you can know when to expect arrival.

Although I am confident the replacement battery will resolve the issue with the unit, should you find the unit is not operating as intended after replacing the battery, please let me know by responding to this email, and I will be glad to review any other options at that time.

Again, I apologize for the inconvenience and frustration you've incurred and look forward to getting this resolved promptly.

Have a great day!

Kind regards (ak),

No word on whether James Dyson saw the letter or not, but this is definitely a move forward.

20 comments

Having the same exact problem. How did the Dyson battery work?

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Gregory Muir Jan 28, 2018 02:02pm

Same problem, found your letter by trying to google it. I've had the damn vacuum for less than two months. It sounds like the battery choked. I fear I've been duped like Apple again. "Apple is just better. They plan things out, they use great parts. You pay more but you get more." Nope, you pay more and get the same crap build quality as a Dell and they charge you 75% of the original purchase price for repair parts. (Had two Mac Minis in four years, died of the same memory failure from poor ventilation and a warped mainboard, all due to their poor design.) 

Perhaps Dyson is the same, pay more for the same China-manufactured Walmart disposable crap. 

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Did the replacement battery fix the problem?

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I have the same problem with their tech support.  I had already done the troubleshooting, determined the charger was OK, and checked the battery voltage, it was zero volts.  I have already ordered a battery from Amazon.  The latest thing they told me is remove the battery and told me to press the reset button.  The only button I find is the button the trigger activates to turn on the vacuum cleaner.

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Brian Baker Jun 12, 2018 04:32pm

I just bought a Dyson V6 Tefurbished Unit from an authorized Dyson dealer. Opened it up and everything looks brand new.  Charged for several hours then tried to start it up by pulling on the trigger.  Nothing.  Only continuous flashing red lights.  Checked Google and 10 or more flashing red leds indicates defective battery

I call Customer Service who confirms dead battery diagnosis.  Unfortunately she says they are out of stock and not available for a month!  I contacted them again to say this is not acceptable, please send me a replacement.  Stay tuned.

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Same problem here... V6 Animal about 1.5 years since purchase so still under warranty...32 flashes...Customer Service said battery problem but is temporarily out of stock so offered to replace my V6 Animal or I could upgrade to a V8 Absolute at 40% off.  Although the Absolute would come with a soft roller for bare floors, which I would really like because the standard roller won't pick up anything except dust and specks and throws the bigger stuff out,  at $500 on the website, that would an investment of  my original $360 purchased from BJ's plus $300 (and presumably tax) more for the upgrade, a total of $660+ for one vacuum.  Not much of a deal since I can get the V8 Absolute on Amazon for $400 but at least they are sending me the main part replacement for the V6.

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Now on my fourth battery and third motor body on my V6 and it's still got 12 months to go on it's warranty. Fails every three months as regularly as clockwork (32 red flashes). Just fitted my latest motor body and battery so expect this to fail in February 2019. After that, I'm going to the small claims court to get my money back from Dyson.... see how he likes that!

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Andy Cunningham Dec 31, 2018 07:44am

Having the same problem here, 32 red flashes.  Dyson tech support have been good though, sending me a free replacement battery (25 months old).  Also, the cells are Sony VTC4s which is a proper cell designed for the drain levels, so not sure Dyson could have done much more.

I've currently got my old battery disassembled though, and all the cells measure between 3.21 and 3.45 volts, which is pretty normal (I'd vacuumed until it switched off at the point it failed...)  So it seems possible the battery management system is overly cautious, and seems to have marked the pack as failed, when the cells test ok.

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Keeley Bryan Mar 25, 2019 03:32am

I feel your pain. My V6 is 15 months old and it's second battery has just gone and I'm on a second body too. Mine is pretty much every 6 months. They clearly know there is a problem and should have just given me my money back at the start! 

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RayanSB-88 Mar 7, 2019 10:55am

same problem with same model. Dyson screwed me over twice. The original model died after two years. So I bought another one (same model- brand new) and I kid you not it died within two months of very light use. I contacted Dyson and they told me because I live outside the US and the vacuum was purchased in the US the warranty isn't applicable to me and they severed all communication. I'm now stuck with two vacuums that are completely useless. A total value of no less than 600 dollars. I had always been a fan of Dyson but after this mistreatment? NO MORE! 

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Kim McGowan Mar 19, 2019 08:24pm

Where do you live?  I have a V8 with identical problem and am getting the out-of-stock runaround.

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Oh dear, I suspect i'm going to be contributing to this thread soon with a similar story. The refurb V6 had been a bit temperamental on charging since purchase, but as my wife bought it I didn't think to check the warranty info (1 year instead of 2).

Now at 20 months old I got the 32 red flashes on the battery after it failed to charge.

Cust. Servs. confirmed I'm NOT entitled to new one free so have just ordered 3rd party one for £20 (versus £65 from Dyson). I hope this solves it, as like prior poster, I also checked cell voltages and they're over 3v each with a terminal voltage over 20v, BUT only 16v at outlet to vacuum?

It really will be too much if this damn thing is dead after over £200 spent in less than 2 years.

No wonder he's pro-Brexit, he probably hopes to reduce manufacturer's warranties back to 1 year only!

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AcE Krystal Apr 11, 2019 06:16am

Same problem with flasing red led (32 times) on Dyson DS62 after 1,8 year of use.
After trying fixing it myself I contacted Dyson, who sent me a new one under warranty.

Few month later and about ~10 times use, the new battery now also has the red led problem.
Contacted Dyson again, just to try, and they sent me a new one under warranty, was surprised about that, but guess there is a new warranty on replaced parts (0,5 year?). So I'm going to try a 3rd battery.

I Tried to repair my first battery. Voltages where all in same range. I manually changed each cell up again, and they all measure between 4.140-4.149 after letting them rest for more then a month. The cells look really good to me. Though I want to do a capacitance check and maybe even internal resistance.

To me it seems like the charge circuit is over protective, as in both cases the red led came after completely draining the battery to a shutdown of the vacuum. Both cases the vacuum was placed on the charger within ~60 seconds. I think one of the charge chips has set a "flag" in its software that this battery pack has been under-cycled (to low cell voltage) what could possible have damaged the cells and is now protecting the user against these cells by completely going into fault mode. 

If this is the case, Either Dyson should trigger the shutdown more early, or allow for a bit more under voltage if this is save. The change of triggering it now seems to easy as the cells warm up during usage what would up the voltage a bit by speeding up the chemical reaction. If it reaches stopping voltages, the cells are hot. They will cool down, slowing down the chemical reaction, lowering the voltage even more, maybe even to the point where the charger triggers the "under voltage" flag, and doesn't let you use the battery pack anymore.

I hope someone has more knowledge about the charge controller and can tell if you can reset it. There are 2 chips on the board. 1st seems to be the charge controller/balancer and seems to be alway's on. 2nd seems to be a micro controller that is normally cut of power, but gets (if I remember correct) 3.3v from the 1st chip if it needs to power up. 

Interesting node, after charing up all my battery's it would often show a green long led after the 32 red led flashes.

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Eric Winkler Apr 24, 2019 06:56pm

Same for me. Second time getting 32 blinks. They’re giving me trouble because I’m at 2.1 years on my V6. This is obviously a product design problem. What do I do? Keep fighting with Dyson support?

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Andrew Edey May 16, 2019 03:52am

Same old as all the others, I recommend no one buys any Dyson product, the UK supported him on patent rites and our reward he’s going to produce product in Singapore, et tu Brute !!!!

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Those 32 red flashes!  Mine just went down tonight, this battery WILL FAIL YOU.

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Zsolt Müller Jul 14, 2019 02:07pm

It's all the same with all Dyson handheld vacuums. You can find plenty of complaints about the same issue, the battery dies far too early. Sometimes it's not even the battery cells, but the PCB. It's simply poor manufacturing.

 

My v8 started to die almost after 2 years (as it did for so many others): on "max" it would stop in less than a minute, where the manual says it should work for 7 minutes. I was pretty sure that it was a battery issue. The warranty was for 2 years so I felt lucky. Took it to the official service center in my country. First they claimed to have replaced the main body. They didn't even test it, despite me giving a simple and detailed description of the problem (charge it to full, set it to max, keep the button pressed and it'll stop in less than a minute). I took it back, showed them that it's not fixed. Then they replaced the battery and it worked like a charm. There was 6 months warranty on the new battery. Guess when it died. :-) After 7 months it wouldn't charge. If i put on the charger, the red light blinks 3 times and turns off. If I take it off the charger and press the button, the red light flashes 4 times, then the blue light twice and it turns off. Of course there's nothing about this in the manual, apart from the simple scenario where the red light blinks (not giving detailed error description depending on how many times it blinks). I've checked the charger and it outputs 26V DC, so it seems to be OK.

I find the customer service ridiculous and the replacement battery a joke. 7 months lifetime??? It sounds like I got an old, used replacement battery. Or a faulty one. I don't care which it is. Dyson made a name by being an out-of-the-box thinking inventor. I guess after getting successful, money grabbing became the priority. :(

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Lara Whelan Sep 22, 2019 05:58pm

Same problem here over and over. THINKING A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT is in store for this company. It's obvious they have a faulty product because they keep running out of batteries.......

 

Im in if you are

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Same problem! Bought it back in February, and it hasn’t even lasted 8 months. What a joke..

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Eleisa barbour Oct 20, 2019 01:44pm

I've had mine 10 months with extremely light use. Went to vacuum a rug, dead totally dead.

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