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Musings on my first 12 months with DJI
1082 18 2015-5-18
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Abe
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Last Saturday I was about to sell my Phantom 2 Vision+ to a Craigslist buyer, and when I turned it on to show him how it worked, I couldn’t get live view to work on my iPhone. The camera worked, and indeed everything worked, but I just couldn’t see the live camera view on my phone. The buyer had an Android device and downloaded the DJI Vision app, and he couldn’t get it to work on his phone either. After 90 minutes of trial and error, we both walked away disappointed.

Needless to say, I was not able to sell my Phantom, and after trying every forum suggestion for this kind of problem, I’ve concluded that the WiFi module has died and I have to return it to DJI for repair. This Phantom is 3.5 months old. I lost an $800 sale.

It got me thinking about my entire DJI experience to date.

In a nutshell, I’ve spent, including accessories, about $9,000 on five DJI quadcopters in the past year. I crashed my first Inspire – entirely my fault. Of the remaining 4, my P3 Pro is a week old and doing fine, and my other three:

1) My first P2V+ flew out of range and RTH failed to work, so it flew away and was never found.
2) On my second Inspire, after only three weeks and three flights, the landing gear stopped working and has been sent to the LA Repair Center for warranty repair.
3) My second P2V+ (described above) the WiFi module died after 3.5 months and I will have to send it in for warranty repair.

Of my five purchases, three suffered from product failure within a few weeks to 6 months of purchase. And the time it takes to get them repaired is getting longer by the week, now approaching two months.

I believe that DJI has the most attractive quadcopter offering on the market in terms of cost and out-of-the-box experience. But in reviewing my experience over the past year, there is a very real quality problem that is exacerbated by an overwhelmed support organization.

DJI’s success is largely about taking what was once a narrow market for build-it-yourself RC enthusiasts, and expanding it to a mainstream audience where every household will have one or more of these flying cameras. But the whole basis of that success is at risk if three in five are faulty. And the support turnaround time needs to be a couple of weeks, not the current 8 weeks and growing.

I tried calling DJI today to get an RMA for my 3.5 month-old P2V+ with the failed WiFi module. There were 21 callers ahead of me so I had to hang up. I tried emailing in advance but after 36 hours have had no response. I shipped my 3-week-old Inspire for repairs three weeks ago and they have had it for two weeks, but it has not yet been checked into their system. Where is all this headed? I have spent $9,000 in 12 months and have one working unit that is a week old.

Nearly every time I fly, a crowd gathers around and I’m pretty sure at least one person ends up placing an order for a DJI quadcopter. The guy that wanted to buy my P2V+ on Saturday? I think he’s now reconsidering whether he wants to buy one. First time I’ve seen that. Both DJI and I lost a buyer.

I'm hopeful DJI turns the corner and begins to improve both quality and support. Fortunately for them no other company has really challenged them. Yet.


2015-5-18
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Colonel Angus
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Great write up Abe !!
I can say I agree 100% with your insight on about almost all the issue's you made mention of with the exception of I haven't lost a bird yet including my trainer fc40.
I still prefer my pv2+  with hopes to buy a P3 soon but not until DJi starts addressing the customer as CS just sucks.
Man what a bad steak of luck Abe..Feel for yah man!!



2015-5-18
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Abe
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Colonel Angus Posted at 2015-5-19 14:37
Great write up Abe !!
I can say I agree 100% with your insight on about almost all the issue's you  ...

I think you'll like the P3, Colonel. It flies slightly better than the P2V+, but with the Inspire's electronics and user experience (RC, Pilot app, firmware update process). And I hope you continue to have better luck than I've had with product reliability!
2015-5-19
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jimhare
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Abe Posted at 2015-5-19 21:52
I think you'll like the P3, Colonel. It flies slightly better than the P2V+, but with the Inspire' ...

Sorry to hear about your experiences Abe!   
2015-5-19
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Sky Ninja
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Abe,
I'm sorry to hear about your experience(s). Trust me, I am feeling much the same as you concerning all that you mentioned. CS simply put, BITES! My experience is much like yours at the moment...I'll post soon. Again, sorry to read such a well written thought, on such a bad situation.
-S.N.
2015-5-19
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Abe
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Sky Ninja Posted at 2015-5-20 07:52
Abe,
I'm sorry to hear about your experience(s). Trust me, I am feeling much the same as you concer ...

I called a couple of dealers today because I thought I had read that a few provide warranty service on Phantoms, and I wanted to avoid the 20+ person queue on the DJI Repair Center line.

What I learned from the conversations is that dealers are very frustrated because they used to be able to provide warranty service — and they are very capable of providing it — but DJI decided to bring all warranty service in-house to their single North American repair center in LA. Apparently it was a decision based on controlling cost. They feel they can do it themselves more cost effectively than having dealers do it.

This of course creates a single point of failure for the entire operation and needless to say overwhelms their one location. It also limits access to qualified technicians around the country by focusing talent recruitment to one geography.

So that explains the longer and longer wait times on the telephone, the lengthening check in times, and 6-8 week repair cycles.
2015-5-19
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PeteGould
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Abe Posted at 2015-5-20 13:19
DJI decided to bring all warranty service in-house to their single North American repair center in LA. Apparently it was a decision based on controlling cost.

What the management of DJI are leaving out of their calculations are the costs of lost sales due to customer dissatisfaction and reputational damage.  Although I have had no issues so far, I could not in good conscience recommend DJI products to anyone as long as these issues remain unresolved.  How many others like me are there?  How many potential DJI customers visit this and other forums, read about a 6-8 week repair cycle with no local or regional repair facilities, and look elsewhere?  How many Inspire owners who have had a bad experience would buy another DJI product if an alternative was available?  DJI needs to factor these costs into the equation.  If they did, they would realize that there is a STAGGERING cost - to the point of potentially bankrupting the company - connected to operating this way.
2015-5-20
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jones5r
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second your thoughts
2015-5-20
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Dangair
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I totally get it. I have not lost my Inspire one yet to a failure but I know that when companies are in a rush to make billions off a hot tomato quality is not as important as quantity. But Dji will have some stiff competition and soon! There are some very exciting consumer targeted products that will likely appeal to a much larger audience than the Inspire or the Phantom.
If you haven't yet seen the promo for LILY the waterproof throw able follow cam, you might want to check that one out. I believe this type of aircraft will eclipse Dji's offerings because its targeting the average everyday sports minded person and professional looking footage is not on the radar for most people.   
2015-5-21
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Dangair
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PeteGould Posted at 2015-5-20 19:27
What the management of DJI are leaving out of their calculations are the costs of lost sales due to ...

Agreed , but bankrupting a multi billion dollar company will only result in lost jobs. The upper level will walk away with huge bonuses and very heavy bank accounts. So really it's no loss to the now extremely rich founders.
2015-5-21
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PeteGould
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Dangair Posted at 2015-5-22 06:27
Agreed , but bankrupting a multi billion dollar company will only result in lost jobs. The upper l ...

That is, absolutely, a legitimate concern.
2015-5-21
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mtnred
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Dangair Posted at 2015-5-22 06:25
I totally get it. I have not lost my Inspire one yet to a failure but I know that when companies are ...

I like Lily but if it flies over crowds or people, is it FAA legal? .So if they use it in a race ?? I notice all around me and on this board most FAA laws are being broken .Flying over City's,Weddings ,Games etc .Am I reading the rules wrong ? or is it the wild west . I love the wild west but worry that they will shut us all down some how . Also I have posted many times how frustrated I am with support .I am waiting to see how Solo does,maybe my next one .Support looks good and Dslrpros seem to have the contract and I enjoy dealing with them .
2015-5-21
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houston
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If any companies like Hexo+, Hubsan, 3DR's Solo, and many others take a look at the current industry leader in this market (DJI) they wil see a tender underside that is currently exposed and if they play their cards right and provide better customer service, as long as they can provide as good or better technology, guess who's market share will start to disapear faster then a Inspire on its way to a mystery home point? Dont get me wrong, I love my inspire as I am sure we all do, its the experince that we have with the makers of the product that we invested so heavily in that PISS us off. It is a hopless feeling and definitely the worst I have ever experienced and I am on the phone with customer support and tech support all the time as both a techie and a developer. I agree with all the things the OP said and I feel his pain and I have not invested but a 3rd of what he has. But I will say this, if I do crash my Inspire again and I can not reapir it myself, it will sell for parts and I will move on to some other company. I will not roll the dice again with DJI and no way in hell will I EVER send it back to California for repair to have to wait 8 weeks and if it keeps getting worse, who knows how long by then. DJI is making a HUGE mistake by not getting their distributors involved in repairs. Bringing it inhouse is simply not scalable at the rate they are receving them. That is clear as a bell to us all except for DJI corporate.  It kills me to read posts in here of peole who have just sent theirs in, it is a gruling wait. At least it was for me.

My the remainder of all your flights end happily.
Houston
2015-5-21
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Abe
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houston Posted at 2015-5-22 11:30
If any companies like Hexo+, Hubsan, 3DR's Solo, and many others take a look at the current industry ...

Unfortunately I've come to a similar conclusion, Houston. I also love flying it, but when I finally get my Inspire back, if it has another problem I doubt I will send it in again and instead just sell it off for what I can. Today, 5/21, my Inspire was finally checked into their Zendesk system. It arrived at DJI on 5/5. So after more than two weeks, the 4-6 week repair wait begins.
2015-5-21
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houston
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Abe, I hate to tell you this, but I would prepare for 8 week wait. That is Door to door. So i would expect it back on my front door by 7/5.
2015-5-22
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jfro
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Abe, I'm afraid your story is becoming too common.  Amazing that DJI can continue to grow with so many product failures and having pretty close to the slowest customer service on earth.  Pretty sad for an 8-10 billion dollar valued company according to Forbes magazine.  

Question is why do people keep buying their products.  Guessing that right now it's because they are ahead of the curve on tech.  Be interesting  to see how long they can continue.

2015-5-22
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Abe
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jfro Posted at 2015-5-23 09:44
Abe, I'm afraid your story is becoming too common.  Amazing that DJI can continue to grow with so ma ...

People like me that have experienced the pain of sending off their aircraft multiple times and seeing that experience get worse each time will not continue to buy their products. Their technology is better at the moment, but on balance, it's not all about that. Great tech is of little value if the repair shop has it more often than you do.
2015-5-22
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Dangair
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houston Posted at 2015-5-22 11:30
If any companies like Hexo+, Hubsan, 3DR's Solo, and many others take a look at the current industry ...

Houston, We have a problem! I totally agree. Yes when the customers US are saying we love the product but the aftermarket service sucks like a shop vac, as a company you should listen. We are your money and we will turn our backs on you if someone else can deliver a similar product with a better all round package.
2015-5-22
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Dangair
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But here is the problem... As was mentioned before, they are now worth billions! What do they care if we leave at this point... They have made more money than they will ever need. So the incentive to appease the customer is not as urgent. If they were a start up company that would be entirely different.
2015-5-22
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