Grump grump grump. A few years back when our regular gas-powered mower died, I went and did the eco-granola thing and got an electric mower. It’s been a mixed blessing here in tropical Vermont, where green things grow with a righteous fury under the right conditions, and where turning your back on your lawn even for a moment is a declaration of utter defeat, even when you have the proper equipment. With the vegan equivalent of a lawn mower, you’re screwed when the overgrowth really calls for a thermonuclear device straight out of the Pentagon’s arsenal.
But at least I had a mower, and it sorta worked, and it was cool to simply plug it in and recharge it overnight, then go at it again. That is, right up until the charger got fried the other day, because I inadvertently left it out in the rain. Off I went to the Intertubes to find a replacement charger. And behold, there it was, right on Toro’s website. A mere $214.91 with a three week wait for back orders. Two-hundred-and-say-what?!? Let’s be clear: this is a 36V charger we’re talking about, not an MRI machine or the motherboard for the Hubble telescope. Never mind the ridiculous three week wait (helloo, Toro, it’s summer?), but I’d figured $30-40 tops for something as basic as a power converter. Heck, the mower itself (including the charger) goes for somewhere around $350 — so it’d be like a new alternator for your car costing $10K (Toro thinks the basic eCycler should retail for $419, so they’re still ballsy enough to charge over 50 percent of the price of the whole damn mower just for a replacement charger).
Courtesy of teh Google, I soon found a Black & Decker equivalent that sold for $35 including shipping and was in stock (I’ll probably have to snip some wires to get the plugs right, but the heart of the machine will do what I need it to do just fine). That’s much, much more like it.
But, really now, Toro. I’m trying to understand your logic: here’s a part that your customers will only ever need if their existing charger goes on the fritz — it’s not like the generally accepted razor or inkjet printer business model where you fleece your gullible customer by selling them a cheap core unit, and then repeatedly rip their heart out through their wallet when they go to replenish the consumables (ink, blades, whatever). We all know that’s how it works, and we all reluctantly agree to play the game. But this is a “damn, the thing broke, so now I need a new one” scenario. However, rather than, say, offering a replacement charger at cost or a reasonable profit, Toro evidently decided that just such a scenario would be a great chance to sucker-punch a captive audience. Which does speak volumes about Toro’s attitude towards customer satisfaction, and places them firmly at the bottom of the list of companies I’d ever trust with my money. In fact, someone in Toro’s marketing/product department messed really badly with their precious brand here in a futile attempt to make a quick buck or two. “Messed with,” as in: I’m never, ever buying any of Toro’s crap again at any price under any circumstances — so go ahead, business boys, amortize that loss over the next few decades of my yard maintenance needs, and see if it was really worth it.