Thursday, November 4, 2010

Customer Service!

So I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, that I was too lazy to get myself out to Harris Cyclery last week, and placed an order BY MAIL from my LBS!  It arrived less than 48 hours later,  and the small amount of shipping was totally worth not having to find time to get myself out there- because I'd still be waiting for my new lights..

As the evenings get dark earlier, I've been wanting a blinking light to supplement Gilbert's fender mounted generator light.  My fender light  ( A B&M Secu-light Plus) is very bright, and it's never impeded by any of my luggage, but I'd like something mounted slightly higher and with some flash. Since most, if not all generator lights come only in steady mode (supposedly a consequence of German bike law requirements)  it would have to be battery powered.  I have a planet bike Superflash hooked onto my bag, but it's a little tenuous, and I  wanted to mount it horizontally at the back of my rack, which didn't seem to work with the Superflash.  So I picked up a Cateye LD610.  I've seen a couple of other people who have them, and they are eye catching, if not as blinding as the Superflash.

After some fumbling with the Flex-Tight bracket ( had to get instructions on Google, as the package directions were too cryptic for me, I attached it Saturday morning before the Pastry Ride.   Unfortunately about 5 minutes into the ride, I hit a rough patch of road at speed, and the light fell off and under the wheels of the car right behind me  (the reason I was going at speed over rough pavement).  Remarkably, the LED's were still flashing, despite the lens being shattered into a hundred pieces.

I was mad that it hadn't even made it through one stinking ride,  so I emailed Cateye, asking them what they could do about it.  First I got a boilerplate response about returning it for covered warranty service.
I emailed back saying that I was disinclined to pay money to send it off, only to be told that hitting the pavement and being run over by a car, was not covered by the warranty.  I got another email back shortly saying "what I meant to say is,  send it back, we'll replace it."  YEA!

Thanks Cateye for getting back to me so quickly ( less than 24 hours), and having such a customer friendly policy!   When it comes back, I'm going to epoxy it into the damn bracket, and not rely on friction and the bracket detent alone to hold the light over urban pavement.   I don't leave Gilbert out in the rain or even ride in the rain enough that I'm worried about it failing from weather,   although I will have to check the battery replacement process.


  1. I've been liking the Blackburn Mars series for their highly adaptable mounts. I've got a Mars 3.0 on the rack of the Raleigh, and used to habitually clip a Mars 4 to either the seatpost of the ANT or on the light loop of the Carradice as a supplement to the Spanninga. The 4's clip cracked and nearly snapped off once on a cross-state ride and it's been sitting in the basement ever since. Your story's reminding me to contact Blackburn and see if their customer service is as good as Cateye's.

  2. Wow! That is some fantastic customer service. We had a Cateye headlight break into about 10 pieces when disassembled a bit, uh, aggressively for a battery change. It was a few years old, and we hadn't kept the receipt, so there was no hope of a warranty replacement... all as lead-up to say that DH took it into lab and soldered the connections back together and it's working to this day. I was impressed with both his skills and the underlying quality of the parts used by Cateye.
    I'm glad to hear that the other side of the business is as impressive.

  3. agreed, great CS story! kudos to cateye for readily agreeing to replace it.

    battery LED lights are a mixed bag. i really don't know which brand i prefer. on the one hand, i think cateye lights are generally bright, and their headlights cast a very nicely focused beam. on the other hand, i have not been impressed with their mounting hardware (i've had cateye lights fall off as well).

    conversely, planet bike lights are not as bright as cateye (with a few exceptions, like the blaze and superflash), but at least they seem to have gotten their mounting systems optimized! and i also like that PB uses the same mount for most of their lights, so you can interchange them. not so with cateye.

    i did have one bad experience with a planet bike "sport spot" helmet headlight. it did not stay waterproof and the terminals inside corroded. no matter how many times i opened it up to clean the terminals and get the light working again, they would simply corrode again within a few days, and stop working. i contacted PB about it, and never got a response. it was still under warranty.

    i've had the worst luck with sigma lights. they seem to go through batteries more often than cateye or PB, and their mounts are horrible. i'll never buy sigma lights again.

  4. Planet Bike does offer a mount that'll attach a Superflash to a rack. I have a love/hate relationship with Cateye and am now looking for non-Cateye headlights after having two crack during normal use where the base attaches to the bracket, and having two other brackets fail. It'd be nice if AA rechargeable batteries would fit in Cateye lights that use AA batteries.

  5. Steve-
    I can mount the super flash on the rack, I just don't like the way it looks,I'm funny that way!
    I don't see why I couldn't use rechargables,they seem interchangeable, it's jut the hassle of removing the light from the bracket.

  6. I, too, seem to have caught the annual visibility upgrade bug: I just purchased a planet Bike Rack Blinky 5 to supplement my B&M Securelight. I bought it both for it's size and the built in reflector. It has the typical PB mounts and is powered by two AAA batteries. I would have much preferred a pair of AA's, not only would they last longer, I have quite a few rechargeable ones at home.
    I still haven't got rid of the bug, I am pondering another blinky to add to the clip on my Arkel Shopping pannier - at least I can use one of my other blinkies for that.

  7. mark-- i have a PB blinky 5, and i like it a lot!

  8. If you put rechargeable batteries in a Cateye HL 530, it breaks the light. Really. Cateye did not provide enough space for the minimal extra diameter.