It has been said by some recently that the window of opportunity for professional refurbishing of Dyson vacuum cleaners and other Dyson machines is coming to an end. I’ll explain why I think that too, and we’ll maybe discuss.
When James Dyson had the reigns of the company instead of Max Conze and the bean counters as we have now, they made very good products that lasted for many years.
Great for customers and folks like us who refurbish stuff, but bad for the long term growth of Dyson as a company, many say.
This isnt a new idea in business. It is often called the Volvo effect: Remember the Volvo 240, the 740 and the 940? Proper things; albeit pretty much facelifted versions of the same things. Built like tanks, cheap and easy to fix and lasted for years. Those cars were so good that Volvo went downhill, and started rebadging French cars along the way down to ownership by Ford, etc.
Repeat custom was low (or rather, too slow) as the product was too good. Remind you of anything?
Why would you sell someone a product and not see that buyer again for fifteen years, when you could sell them a product that has built in natural short term expiry, beyond which it is an uneconomical repair?
That way you see the customer again right after the guarantee runs out. You can then offer them a juicy part exchange for their old machine and send it to be destroyed to keep it out of the after-market.
The Dyson DC01 was OK, but the DC04 was really the one that made the company in my view. Many people still have one of the very first DC04’s from the late 90’s. People still refurbish them. They work.
So, what came after the DC04?
The DC07: basically a DC04 with a different cyclone. A facelift.
The DC14: a revamped DC04/7, again with a redesigned cyclone. Another facelift.
The DC27: They have a carriage design fault that nobody seems to be able to figure out how to fix. They were binned quite quickly. Probably for this reason.
The DC33: a shoddier, cheaper built, facelifted DC14. Still pretty much a DC04 under the skin.
And at the DC33, they killed the model that essentially made the company. That design is now dead. It was still too good.
Along the way we had the over-complicated and expensive to repair DC15 and DC18. The future!
What we have since is facelifts and evolution of the DC18. Each one more complicated, with more to go wrong, and inbuilt design flaws and intended short life components.
Later balls are built to blow up or fall to bits at the end of the guarantee period. Many do so well before then. Early expiry by design.
If they learn by the mistakes of making the parts and tools fit all models, which they have, they can minimise the impact of the aftermarket on parts prices by making everything that little bit different along the way so parts are not interchangeable (DC18 and DC25 cyclones are early evidence of this – same item, bar one tweak which stops one working on the other).
Fast forward to today, and we have the DC41. A machine so overly complicated to take apart, with parts so expensive, and design so awful that core units will be in no condition to refurbish in the future. Even the ducts were falling apart on the “clean ones” we got. We had to glue them up and make some pretty shoddy chemical metal repairs here and there I wasn’t really happy with. They have the inbuilt design fault that renders most in need of a new cleaner head (the wheel causing glueing to the floor and Johnson brushroll motor from the DC25).
DC41’s we here will see in two or three years will be in no condition to refurbish without practically renewing the machine. Who does hand-helds? Also of limited appeal and no small parts available for.
This means – looking forward – the window of opportunity has expired for reconditioners in Dyson world. Dyson have closed the door (as they have tried to do on Airblades – but thats another story)
This leaves the reconditioners these windows of opportunity: the DC04, DC07, DC14 and DC33. To a lesser extent we might add the DC24 and DC25 (both riddled with design faults but just doable).
We are seeing some DC04 stuff going obsolete the last few weeks, soon they will pull support as they did with the DC01. Why the DC01 is almost gone.
We will be left with the 7, 14 and 33 as easy to do machines with plentiful parts. Followed up by the 24 and 25. When they get older? Job done.
Aggressive “trade in” deals is causing oversupply in the core machine market. Many reconditioners were reaching out for machines a year ago. Many are now turning machines down.
That won’t last long, just long enough to pull a few hundred thousand more older machines out of the market to overwhelm the aftermarket and create export demand to the developing world, which is already happening – some are already exporting machines this way.
Export en masse of core units is good for a manufacturer – it empties the main marketplace (where the profit is) of old products people can recycle and it increases brand awareness in developing markets.
When did you last see a Volvo 940 or a Mercedes 307D/308D/310D T1 van?
You didn’t in recent times because they all quietly vanished on boats to Africa. Volvo and Mercedes created export demand – as Dyson are doing. Soon we will see guys buying up old units to send to Africa, India and maybe Russia in container loads (remember when all the Ladas went back to Russia in 97-98?).
I give it five years tops. After which all that will be available is smashed up DC41’s and later models like the 360 Eye robots that will be uneconomical and over-complicated to repair leaving no decent profit margin. So the refurbished machine market will die. Reconditioners will all get a good run on DC14’s (aka Volvo 940) now for a while, but when they start to look old hat, the easy days will have gone.
I believe this has all been planned by Dyson carefully. In part, to kill the refurbished machine aftermarket (an unintended consequence of a quality product), and by extension reign in the burgeoning after-market in spare parts that has always been a concern to them.
Every Dyson machine any reconditioner sells is a potential lost sale to them, is how I expect they see it.
I don’t agree with that – I think the customers are quite different. Savvy people who want to pay less than £125 for a decent reconditioned Dyson are not the same ones in John Lewis spending £325+ on a new model.
But for now, there are plenty of DC04’s, DC07’s, DC14’s and DC33’s out there (and plenty of DC24’s that need a brush roll motor), so reconditioners, keep making hay while the sun is shining!
Any thoughts or opinions out there?