Panasonic Battery Charger Update

Recapping:
On Nov. 26th 2008I took one of three Panasonic Battery Chargers in to the only "authorized" Panasonic Repair Center within 60 or so miles. A week later I took in another charger figuring whatever was wrong with the first one might be wrong with the second and third charger. A couple of weeks later I called to see if they'd even looked at the charger. Was told the repair tech would get back to me that afternoon.
Three days later he finally called and told me the internal fuse (which you need a special #10 security torx driver to get to - which they couldn't sell me, or tell me where to get one) needed to be replaced before he could check out the rest of the charger. I told him to order THREE, two for the chargers they had, and one for the one I'd kept.
The tech said he'd order the fuses that day and get back to me in three or four days.
Ten days later I stopped in to see what the delay was. THE ( as in ONE) fuse had come in - the others were on back order - but the tech hadn't gotten to my chargers yet. I was told the tech would call me in a day or two.
Not hearing from him more than "a day or two" later I stopped in today (Jan 22'nd 2009) and after ONLY a half hour wait - I got ONE working charger back and though they still had my other charger and the other two fuses hadn't come in yet - I paid in full - $38 and change.
Seven and a half weeks - to replace a buck fifty fuse. I guess they call them Authorized Repair Centers and not Service Centers for a reason.
I guess I could have bought used chargers off e-Bay for about $70 each and had at least one so I could use one of my drills while making Christmas presents. I guess it's Pay In Cash or Pay In Time.
Still don't understand why Panasonic didn't put a little breaker with an external reset button on their charger, or at least use phillips or square drive screws to hold the case together.
I like my Panasonic cordless drills. Not too impressed with this Authorized Repair Center.
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Seems like it would be a lucrative business for the battery rebuild business to also be into the battery charger repair business. Hum?
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demand for them. And the battery rebiuld places could sell them.
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charlieb wrote:

If that was a standard security torx screw you can get the drivers at Sears.
If it was a Security Torx Plus (5 point, not six) then the drivers are hard to find and big bucks.
It ought to be unlawful to sell consumer products with fasteners that cannot be removed with standard (defined as "on the shelf at Sears") tools unless the special tool is included.
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J. Clarke wrote:

would simply start welding (or melting the plastic) and declare such items as disposable/non-repairable.
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Froz...

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FrozenNorth wrote:

Which means that we just go ahead and saw them open instead of wasting a lot of time looking for special overpriced hard to get tools.
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I have no doubt you are right. This is exactly what happened when I got my first laptop around '89. The batteries were NASTY expensive, and as rapidly as the models changed, so did the battery layouts and dimensions.
Back then, I had a friend that worked at one of the big computer wholesalers here in town. He literally started his own little company in six months, one of the first to rebuild laptop batteries. He simply cut open the battery cases with a Dremel one day, only to find a hand full of "C" sized rechargeables. He built his company into one that not only did laptop batteries, but anything with rechargeable batteries inside.
I could see the same situation working out for a lot of industries as people start feeling the pinch a bit more. I think a lot of folks will be rethinking their current buying habits and strategies.
Robert
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J. Clarke wrote:

If it had the center pin in it to keep the bit from going in I drilled it out and used a standard Torx bit. If it's something weird that's what they make drill bits and easyouts for. Jim
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Not hard to find, and not big bux: I googled "Security Torx" and found this in 2 seconds: http://cvfsupplyco-store.stores.yahoo.net/9pctorwrense.html
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Larrybud wrote:

Security Torx is easy. Sears has them. Security Torx Plus is a different animal.
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Found this:
http://amermedia.amazonwebstore.com/Silverhill-5-Point-Star-Torx - Plus/M/B001HY25V0.htm? traffic_src=froogle&utm_medium=organic&utm_source=froogle
google "five star torx"
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Larrybud wrote:

Grab 'em while they last. Security Torx Plus is patented and one suspects that the owner of the patent is going to step on that real fast. One of the rules for licensing is that the licensee can sell only to the trades and one must provide documentation to prove it.
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I say, "Screw that!" <nyucknyuck> In context of the OP, bring it into the service center and insist that they take the moment to undo the screws for you, or to inform you in writing that doing so is explicitly against the manufacturer's policy. My bet is a reasonable person would take the 10 seconds to do so, or at least turn his back after placing the required tool within your reach.
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I say just take that drill and find a bit that is the same size as the screw head. Drill out the screw head and open up the charger case. Or drill the screws a little smaller than the head and use an eazy-out. The fuse is often just a buss fuse and can be found at an auto parts store. replace the fuse and then duct tape the case together.

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Is that bit in the Harbor Fright "security toolbit" package?
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber310 It's only $4.99. Might be easier. Anyone know if they have a hollow Torx plus in the set? There's a second set as well.
p.s. Don't you love it when they advertise "9 hollow tip torque" bits.
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Sorry, completely missed the difference.
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Yes you do. They don't want you working on them for a multitude of reasons, and more importantly, they would love to sell you a new charger. Think about your snail paced repair center; if they hadn't been honest, they could have told you some part inside had fried, charged you the bench fee, AND sold you the new charger.
This is why I am drifting more and more towards tools like Ridgid. I don't like them as well as some of my other tools (not really too sure why) and they don't have the right feel in my hand.
BUT... they do have that lifetime warranty. Often times they are less $$ than a competitive model from someone else, and with everything covered, you are in good shape when you turn them in for repair. I talked with the Ridgid/Milwaukee etc., rep a couple of months ago, and he told me they are now down to about two weeks on warranty repairs. You send them to a central repair center, and they repair and ship back.
Truthfully, I only have one Ridgid tool now but since it works so well and seems so solid, I think when the current crop of "professional tools" I have dies, I may be headed to the orange side for some of my purchases. I am lucky that since I do this for a living I have multiples of every tool, but just on principles I couldn't wait two months for f**cking fuse repair.
I took my last DeWalt cordless in to have a clutch installed.... crap! It was over half what I paid for the drill. The drill was 3 1/2 years old, and it had been used hard all the time I had it. It was a really reliable piece of equipment. But at $289, I thought it should have done better.
At the end of 3 1/2 years, it needed two new batteries, and a clutch. Did I get my money's worth? I dunno.
I have a Sears "professional" 14.4v drill that I have been using since the demise of the DeWalt for over 5 years now. (Ask any repair/ remodeling contractor how much they use a cordless drill!!). It is beat up pretty badly and is one ugle mutt, but it still works great. I paid $53 for that drill.
Somewhere in the middle between those two had to be a reasonable tool with reasonable support.

Since the tools we buy these days are so expensive and for the most part are made so poorly, I consider the two aspects to be one in the same. The tool is only as good as its support.
The boys at Woodcraft have some unholy stories of customer service from Fein. Oddly, we have one of the vaunted authorized repair centers, but still, the cost to repair the tools is numbing. Thankfully for Fein owners, tool failure doesn't seem to be an issue.
Check out this map:
<http://www.feinus.com/p/new-warranty/warranty.htm
How would you like to live in one of the state states that doesn't have ANY support for their tools? Talk about being at the mercy of the tool brand.
I think now with the changes we are seeing in the economy, many middle of the road users will start looking for more performance and value from their tools.
That means support as well.
Robert
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Would this help next time around? http://www.mcmaster.com/#83335a61 /tk2
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