What’s the Point of Registering My Lawn Mower If They Don’t Tell Me about a Recall?
UPDATE 05/03/2012: According to the repair shop, companies must notify customers directly of a safety recall but not recall for other reasons.
Remember last June, when I bought a new Toro lawn mower? I’m sure you do, because I wrote about it in rather specific detail at the time. What I also did, like a responsible consumer, was dutifully mail in my product registration card so I would be notified of any future product recalls or other issues. Then I proceeded to forget about it and use the mower all summer.
All was well until the end of the season, when the self-propel mechanism abruptly stopped working. Since it was a new machine, I thought perhaps it needed a simple adjustment, which I tried to make according to the instructions in the owner’s manual. The bad news is that I couldn’t fix it. The good news is that it was still under warranty.
Then, in true procrastinator fashion as winter set in, I forgot about it.
Now it’s spring, the grass is growing, and the self-propel mechanism on my lawn mower still doesn’t work. I checked the Toro web site to find out where/how to make a warranty claim. And lo and behold, I saw this.
Hmmmmm, I thought, my lawn mower is a 2011 walk mower. So I clicked on the link, which brought me here:
For Immediate Release
PRODUCT NOTICE: Toro Announces Quality Issue Affecting Certain Models of Walk Power Mowers
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (June 13, 2011) — The Toro Company today announced a quality issue affecting certain 2011 models of Toro walk power mowers with rear-wheel drive transmissions. The company has seen a higher-than-normal rate of customer returns due to a failure in the self-propel drive system. This issue does not pose a safety concern; it simply requires the replacement of three screws in the transmission system.
Toro apologizes for this quality issue and the inconvenience it may pose.
Product: 2011 Toro® Super Recycler®, Recycler and Commercial 21 walk power mowers with the rear-wheel drive self-propel system.
Sold at: The Home Depot and independent Toro dealers in both the U.S. and Canada.
Issue/Remedy: The failure indication is loss of the self-propel function after a few hours of use. If you are experiencing this issue with your Toro mower, we ask that you please take it to a local Toro authorized servicing dealer for a free repair under warranty. If you purchased your mower at The Home Depot, please do not return it to the store.
[ . . . ]
Affected Toro Walk Power Mowers:
- Toro Recycler walk power mowers— the model/serial number can be found on a decal on the left rear of the mower.
Model Number Serial Number
At which point I stopped reading because my mower is a model 20332 with a serial number in that range and I bought it at Home Depot. Which means that I get a free repair. Actually, I would have gotten a free repair anyway, because the mower is still under warranty for another few weeks.
But then I realized that the date on the announcement was June 13, 2011, which was about eight days after I bought mine. Did I mention that the problem didn’t start until the end of the mowing season, which if I hadn’t done that final cut of the year would have been the beginning of this mowing season? Did I mention that I mailed in the registration immediately after purchase, so as to be infomred of any product issues? Did I also mention that I never heard word one from Toro until I read about it by accident on their web site?
I’m mildly annoyed. I am willing to cut the company some slack and presume that they probably hadn’t yet put my registration information into their system at the time this announcement was released. But since it was early summer and everyone in the northern hemisphere was at that time buying lawn mowers, you’d think they would have had a way to make sure that the newest customers would have been notified directly.
I like the mower and the company is doing right by fixing the problem. But Toro management, if you’re reading this, you really need to work on your customer notification procedures. I can’t possibly be the only person who fell through the cracks, and if the problem doesn’t turn up on some of the others’ mowers until after their warranties are up, they certainly shouldn’t have to pay for the repairs.
Now, before I go to bed, I’m off to my garage to load the lawn mower into my car so I can deliver it tomorrow morning to a Toro authorized servicing dealer, who tells me that there is a one week backlog of lawn mower repairs right now. I wonder how many of them are 2011 Toro® Super Recycler®, Recycler and Commercial 21 walk power mowers with the rear-wheel drive self-propel system.