Thursday, May 29, 2008
Rescued from the Heap: Princeton Tec Switchback
Gear failure is miserable. Bringing back good gear from the trash heap is bliss.
Recently, my Princeton Tec Switchback 3 stopped working. This was a huge disappointment because it was a terrific headlight. It's one on the nicest brightest bike headlights around, and it has very long battery life compared to similarly bright lights. These qualities are perfectly suited to my regular night-time commutes and plans to ride a couple of around-the-clock brevets this year. When the light went out, I was not looking forward to finding a new light or shelling out hundreds to buy one either. It felt like a hangover from a fleeting moment of gear euphoria.
After realizing the high cost of getting a comparable new light, I resolved to fix the one I had. My local EMS store helped to figure out that the headlight was still working and the battery pack was to blame. The battery pack is expensive to replace, so I emailed the manufacturer to see if the battery could be fixed. Robert at Princeton Tec was really helpful, and he understood the urgency of getting this thing running because I depend on it regularly. He asked me to mail the battery and light to him - that was a Tuesday. Two days later he called to say that a new battery would arrive in the mail in a two or three days; it came the next day. Quick fix. What was the problem that they fixed? The old version of the Switchback battery had female pin plugs for the power cord that were not durable and prone to failure. The new and improved version of the battery pack fixes this design problem with recessed pin plugs. Instead of hacking my old battery, Princeton Tec just sent me an entirely new battery. They also included some new straps and accessories for my troubles. The light is as good as new, better than new in fact.
My outlook on lighting and gear at large is optimistic now. I've got my favorite light working again and have no worries about replacing it. PrincetonTec was really helpful. It's good to know that they fixed the design issue instead of just sending another old battery with the same problem. They also did it for free. I don't really know if I'm still under warranty or not, but it's great that it didn't cost me anything. They could not have been more friendly, helpful and timely. Thank you Princeton Tec.