An Open Letter to James Dyson
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:
What to do next?
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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),
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:
I wrote an open letter to James Dyson.
Would you mind passing it on up the chain, please?
Thank you so much!
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.
US Independent Team
This company continues to baffle :)
Update September 7
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.