Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

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Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby TheGadgetGuy » January 22nd, 2013, 7:31 pm

Well,

After around two years, my XV-11 has abruptly failed. I came home from work ready to install the 3.1 firmware upgrade, and the Neato was "dead". Sitting at its dock, but no charging light.
I tried several things to get it to turn on, to no avail. No power whatsoever. Checked the power brick with my Fluke meter. The brick is working fine. Tried connecting the power brick directly into Neato. No effect.

Ok. So I decided that perhaps it needs to be reset, so I disconnected the batteries, and let it sit for 10 minutes or so. Reconnected everything, and still no power.

So, I finally did what I usually never do: I called for help. I called Neato Customer Service. The girl on the phone was rather sure that I "just need to buy new batteries". I explained that up until today, the Neato's run time had not diminished, and that it exhibited no signs of worn batteries. She still insisted that the batteries must be bad.

I then asked to speak with a supervisor. A girl named Michelle answered. She had me do some basic diagnostics (press red button for 15 seconds). Didn't work. She then repeated the previous rep's diagnosis that the batteries MUST be the problem. While she was talking, I tested both batteries with my Fluke meter. 8.06v and 8.07v on the batteries. I asked her, so since you are so sure that the batteries are the problem, if I buy new batteries, and it does NOT resolve the issue, what happens then? She said she wasn't sure what she could do. Maybe I should send the robot to be serviced (at my cost). Or, I could buy a refurbished unit for $199. Even after telling her that the batteries are testing fine on the Fluke meter, she still continued to insist that the batteries are the problem.

So here I am, with an XV-11 that I have enjoyed since day 1. The FIRST AND ONLY time I call for help, I get people on the phone who really do not seem interested in helping to solve the problem. Why would they INSIST that I buy batteries, even after I told them the batteries' voltage, and the fact that as recently as yesterday, the Neato made a full run, without diminished battery capacity??

Has anyone else heard of anything like this? I can't stress enough how disappointed I am in Neato the company right now. I'll be honest: I would think that Neato would want to do a better job taking care of their original customers who trusted in their unproven company, and who now are their ambassadors.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby glnc222 » January 22nd, 2013, 8:27 pm

I've yet to find any company selling to consumers with any knowledgeable customer service by phone. Even vaunted Amazon couldn't diagnose a trivial usage problem with a Kindle, nothing wrong with it, and had no knowledge of procedures for using WiFi hotspots. Recently bought a monitor and found that with HDMI outputs on systems, the video defaults to overscan wanted by TV's, and has to be adjusted for monitors which don't like it -- neither the monitor company nor its distributor or retailer had the slightest knowledge of this. A new modem acquired for AT&T wasn't set up properly and customer service had no clue as to the meaning of any options in its menu.

The only service I think Neato offers is that if you have a service plan, at the drop of a hat they will exchange it for a refurbed unit, with no interest in any particulars. It's all covered by an insurance contract and the premiums were paid, so who cares.

There used be a significant difference between service from Dell under professional contracts for commercial applications, and for home use. There still may be technical service in business contexts. And maybe hired services like the Geek Squad and all their competitors have some expertise. Even Apple retail stores have been noted as being pretty ignorant these days.

I think some surveys have shown a broad drop in consumer satisfaction with customer service just about everywhere. Cell phone providers remain at the top of the frustration list.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby vic7767 » January 22nd, 2013, 8:29 pm

Couple of things, even though the battery packs measured 8 volts, they may not be able to provide the 3 amps that the Neato requires to fire up. Second, your Neato is one year out of the stated warranty period.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby glnc222 » January 22nd, 2013, 9:09 pm

Sliding over to the defense table, replacing batteries is standard procedure with every battery operated consumer device, from TV remotes onward. Lacking fancy -- load testing -- instruments, it's the only way to check for an obvious problem, and the cheapest. Virtually everything requires spare batteries on hand. Vacuums are no different.
The only problem is they don't explain this to callers.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby TheGadgetGuy » January 22nd, 2013, 9:41 pm

glnc222 wrote:Sliding over to the defense table, replacing batteries is standard procedure with every battery operated consumer device, from TV remotes onward. Lacking fancy -- load testing -- instruments, it's the only way to check for an obvious problem, and the cheapest. Virtually everything requires spare batteries on hand. Vacuums are no different.
The only problem is they don't explain this to callers.



What you say easily holds true for simple battery powered electronics. Pop in a new set of AA's, and lets see what happens. That being said, it should NOT be standard procedure when speaking with a customer who A) Had a fully functional vacuum as recently as yesterday, and B) Who tested the batteries in the robot with a $1500 Fluke meter.

Ni-MH batteries do not completely 'die' abruptly under normal circumstances. Their ability to hold a charge will diminish over time. In this case, the batteries were able to run a full 40-50 minutes as of yesterday. Literally.

Regardless, I cannot understand how 'dead' batteries would cause a docked and charging robot to POWER OFF while still docked. The robot's charging circuit should have been maintaining the unit's power irrespective of the battery's ability to actually vacuum the floor.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby vic7767 » January 22nd, 2013, 10:33 pm

So, it's time to perform a basic test to see if it is indeed the battery packs or a component failure on the Neato PCAB. It's out of warranty so dis-assembly is now an option to consider. Once the top cover is lifted, access to the battery power connector will present itself. Use a bench power supply @ 15vdc 1 amp and see if the Neato will wake up. If so then replace the battery packs, if it doesn't wake up then replace the PCAB.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby sidehtch » August 13th, 2013, 10:57 am

I have just experienced the same terrible customer service, same issue. My neato was working fine up until I came home today and there is sat with no response to any buttons. I tried the reset by removing the batteries, 15 seconds holding down the power button. Nothing. The amber light glows solid when at the charging dock. My batteries read 7.5V and 7.38V. I called customer service, and since I am out of warranty by a month, they said simply order two new batteries or send it in. They also told me to expect to replace the batteries every year! What? This thing costs $300, and I am expected to drop another $100/year on batteries? Talked to a supervisor, etc, same story as TheGadgetGuy. I want so badly to turn back the clock and not purchase this expensive paper weight. So angry right now. I wish I could get the word out to all prospective buyers, be ready for terrible battery performance and even worse customer service.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby TheGadgetGuy » August 13th, 2013, 11:40 am

Sorry to hear you have also suffered from the same horrible experience.

Unfortunately, I determined that my Neato really was "dead", and that the batteries were not at fault: I bought a new unit from the local Target, swapped batteries, but my original Neato still did not work. The older batteries powered the new Neato just fine.

I can't express how disappointed I was that Neato (the company) would treat one of its earliest customers that way. You would think that they would APPRECIATE people like me, who can afford to spend $400 on a brand new unproven product. A person who other people seek "gadget" advice from. Do you have any idea how many houseguests marveled at the "laser powered vacuum"??

Before buying that Neato, I literally had owned every generation of Roomba since the very first. iRobot was very good to me. After that one horrible experience with Neato (the company), I don't expect I will be purchasing any more of their products.

I returned the Target Neato, and now am completely Neato-less. I can't support a company that treats their customers that way. My "dead" Neato is in a box in the basement.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby eqwalker » August 14th, 2013, 10:59 am

Hum, I've had nothing but good dealings with Neato Robotics support with my two XV-11's. Prompt and courteous with my requests.
Funny, I have the same feelings though with iRobot's support. Horrible attitude when I called them with issues (in warranty and out of warranty). They simply just didn't care no matter who I talked to. I have had many Roomba's, a Scooba, and 3 Dirt Dogs. Love the DD and and Scooba but due to bad customer service I couldn't wait to find other options to replace the Roombas which I did with the XV-11's. Glad I did.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby TheGadgetGuy » August 14th, 2013, 11:15 am

The sad thing is, until my Neato died, I absolutely loved it. Light years ahead of iRobot, in my opinion.

It's quite possible that the quality and longevity of the units has improved since my original model was manufactured, but it is a hard pill to swallow that after such a short period of time, the unit abruptly 'died', Neato (the company) wouldn't assist, aside from insisting that I purchase new batteries, which I proved wouldn't resolve the issue.
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Re: Dead Neato XV-11, and horrible customer service

Postby glnc222 » August 14th, 2013, 1:56 pm

The one procedure not reported was testing the USB connection, which will respond on the charger even with a bad battery or none, and possibly a malfunctioning LCD display. Completely bad batteries, probably not charging at all, report "critical battery error", lighting the ring led's red, not the usual orange (turning off the green component).

If batteries are exhausted and charger broken will also show no life. Measurements needed. 22-24v on the charger plates.

Batteries are in series and the combined voltage is measured in the battery compartments between the red wire on one side and black on the other (find correct sides), using a thin probe into the connector tops. Must be above 12v -- empty battery -- to run the computer display.

The computer alone, parked draws only a quarter amp or so.

A camera pointed into the wall sensor can see the IR lamp lit when parked; 5v supply from the computer board. Absence shows no power on the system board or complete board failure.

Battery normally never goes below 14.7v (30 per cent charge remaining) before requesting a charge, but obviously the computer is running. An empty battery is 12v (supports tiny loads only, and is on course to permanent damage if used more); computer runs on the charger only.

Failure of the LCD or its cable can prevent the whole computer running, besides the main system board. Only swapping parts can test.
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