Comment: The Bleak Future of Refurbished & Reconditioned Dysons

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?

merc2

volvo

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?

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4 Responses to “Comment: The Bleak Future of Refurbished & Reconditioned Dysons”

  1. Hi

    Not a comment here but I can’t find a Contact Us page!

    I just used your guide to replace the motor in a DC07 and it’s all up and fine – thanks for a very clear guide with photos in all the right places.

    I would add one comment to the bit about lining up the motor top support rubber with the hole in the motor case. It’s not immediately obvious that the two lobes on the rubber are different sizes, and it can take a couple of goes to realise that’s why it won’t go in the last 2mm – and THAT’s why the cover won’t just snap back on. You might like to emphasise that. Also there are three pairs of holes in the end plate of the motor that the rubber top cover could locate into, I assume it doesn’t matter which you use?

    Cheers!!

  2. Found your commentary interesting and gave a good insight as to why Dyson vacs are no longer worth the extra outlay. When I first got my DC04 it felt like money well spent even though it cost considerably more than most on the market due to its superior performance . Whereas buying the DC08 felt like I had wasted money , particularly when I replaced it with a cheap Vax model that performed just as well and far quicker and less fiddly to empty , unblock> etc and at £50 just 50% more than a replacement filter for the DC08.

    The vacumn I was using before the DC04 was my Grandmother’s Hoover ( Electrolux??) which was more than forty years old and still going strong but lacked the add on attachments and of cousrse had messy paper bags – which just shows they don’t build them to last like they used to.

    As to why anyone would want to spend around £400 for Dyson’s newest Vacs – my Grandma would have said ‘too much money and too little common sense’!

  3. Thanks for the comment Lesley. Your comment was, in part, inspiration for this topic: Why Are The Bigger Independent Dyson Shops Now Moving Over to Sebo?

  4. Your opinion regarding Volvo and similarities to Dyson is muddled, to say the least. I have no idea what you mean by the “Volvo effect.” For a start Volvo were owned by percentage by the Swedish government and by Volvo trucks when the 240, 740 and 940 were subsequently sold alongside each other. The car company ran into financial trouble because financial backing had run out.. VCC tried to go on their own but they had little development money – a factor that Dyson has never really had an issue with.

    Im also unsure what you mean “rebadged French cars,” as Volvo has NEVER done that. Volvo and Renault however have shared engines before with the 300 and 400 series built in Holland and also the 2.3 PRV engine developed AND shared with both Peugeot and Renault and also sees service in the DeLorean car, a model that has just been put back into production – but Volvo has also shared VW’s LT diesel engine in the 200 series, 700 and 900 series. They did merge with Mitsubishi to form the basis of the S40 and V40 mk1 and Phase 2 models built on a chassis developed both by Volvo and Mitsubishi but by then the proposed merger with Renault had fallen through and Volvo were on the look out for another car brand to take over; eventually Ford took an interest to push the brand upmarket before finally landing with Chinese Geely as owners.

    As far as Im concerned I see little relation to Dyson who produce different household appliance products and continue to make money. There could be some resemblance to how Dyson started out and using Panasonic motors before the company started to design their own. Volvo were not making much money by comparison which is why they had to continue to make the 200 series and 900 series to stay afloat in the market.

    You’ll see plenty of 700 and 900 estates in Scotland; they have a massive following by owners who appreciate the widespread availability of parts, general reliability and build quality. Caravan owners also own a number of the older estates because of their towing capability and general space; an area that Volvo also went onto to develop with the XC90 and in its 12 year run has only just been replaced with a new second generation model.

    Whilst respectively you are trying to sell on the idea of a reconditioned Dyson, the brand clearly want to put a stop to that. Like so many other brands they want to push for planned obsolescence even if it means that independent repairers lose out. Ultimately Dyson may well want to stop the traditional upright and cylinder design and replace with starter hand held vacs and robotic discs. They’re changing the way people clean their homes, and lets face it – its not as if there is only one brand who offer bagless vacuums in the UK.

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