Friday, December 16, 2005

Blackburn Customer Service - Positive

This worked out well. This past summer I bought a Blackburn Quadrant 4-LED headlight. It looks very 1950s retro. It's not a super-bright Luxeon LED light like the 5-watt DiNotte Ultralight (review here), 3-watt Light and Motion Vega or even Blackburn's own 1- and 2-emitter System X X3 and X6 lights, but does cast a useful beam, makes the bike visible, attaches quickly to any bike and doesn't cost a lot. I ended up buying a second one so that the children could each have one for those times we end up riding in the dark.

As much as I liked the light, one of them kept popping off its mount, usually when I'd go over bumps like the driveway thresholds along the West River Parkway bicycle path. There's few things more annoying or momentum-destroying than clocking along at 15 mpg, going over the bumps and having the light come off. Now you have to stop, turn around, ride back, pick up the light, reattach, etc. It's very aggravating, especially when it happens more than once in a ride, as happened to me one night riding home from church. This light fell off enough that now one of the four LEDs doesn't light.

I discontinued use of the one that kept falling off but used the other still. I decided to write Blackburn and ask if I could return the light for replacement. I wrote this email from work. Diane the customer service rep wrote back and said "Thank you for your inquiry. This is a bit unusual I will be glad to replace the light for you, please allow time for delivery." I wrote back to ask where I should send mine back to, then left on some business travels.

I got back Thursday and there was a box on my desk. I wasn't expecting anything, but opened it and there was a new Blackburn Quadrant in there and no note about having to return the old one. She got the address from my email signature.

I'm pleased with this. I haven't had many occasions to have to return things and appreciate the responsiveness that Blackburn exhibited here. Would I recommend the Quadrant for your bicycle lighting needs? Well, it's more for casual night riders than for serious, frequent or commuter riders, but if you want a light that's pretty cheap to equip your fleet (I can't afford HIDs for all the family bikes! Or for mine, for that matter!), it works pretty well. I also like the Mars 3.0 taillight, with two yellow side-aimed LEDs as well as five red rear-facing ones, which you can get packaged with the Quadrant for under $30. (LBS Plug: I got mine at The Bicycle Chain around the corner from us). In fact, the Mars is one of the lights I equipped with lithium batteries for my winter bike. I am looking forward to a review by James Sharp of Lactic Acid Threshold of several LED headlights including Blackburn's System X3 3-watt Luxeon headlight and even of DiNotte's forthcoming $169 3-watt LED taillight! He has a photo of his handlebar with several of the high-power LED headlights on it; it must look like a night football game is on when he lights them all up! I wish I could talk companies into sending me a pile of expensive lights to try out!

1 comment:

Jim said...

When I worked at a bike shop, we had several of those returned for the same reason. Some of my coworkers took the initiative to mount the returned lights on their own bikes for testing purposes. To my knowledge, none of them was able to reproduce the problem (or maybe they were, and I never heard about it). Anyway, it seems that it is a problem with the product more than it is with an individual specimen.