Panasonic's Battery Charger GOTCHA'! (LONG)

In late November I posted a question re: 3 Panasonic Univeral Chargers (EY0230 7.2-15.6V) Croak. I've got three of these puppies and 6 batteries they charge, for the two Panasonic Cordless Drills I have - and need to use.
After figuring out that there was no Reset Button on the chargers and no externall access to a fuse, I hoped that there was an internal fuse that could be replaced.
The next diagnostic step would be to open up the charger and look for a fuse - or Reset Button.
The plastic case is held together with four screws - which happened to be a special "star - with nipple" type - not a more standard philips head or even a square drive head. Panasonic apparently doesn't want you getting into their charger for some reason.
But that's OK - I've got a fairly complete set of tips - including a range of "star - with hole" tips.
Clever (or devious) Panasonic seems to have foreseen this possibility - so - the they made the diameter of the hole through which the screw is placed just barely larger that the screw head that must go in it. AND - they made the hole deeper than the "star with hole" tip can fit in and have enough outside the hole to be able to turn it.
THAT meant that even though I HAVE the right "star with hole" tip - I can't use it because the "hex drive" head the tips fit into - has an outside diameter BIGGER than the diameter of the hole it, and the "star with hole" tip, must fit into.
SO - in early December I find that there is only ONE Panasonic Service Center within 50 miles of me. Fortunately, it's only a half mile from home. Things are looking up!
Unfortunately - this Authorized Service Center also is the authorized service center - for EVERY PHREAKIN' electronic device - from Braum electric razors to commercial kitchen appliances - AND - every vacuum cleaner manufacturer - on the PLANET! Did I mention that they also SELL just about every small kitchen appliance - and kitchen accessories?
Now my hope was that THEY would have a tool that would remove the "special screws" holding the case together - AND - that I could BUY one - AND replacement parts if needed and available - since I've got THREE of these chargers.
Great - they have the "special screw driver" - so THEY can get into the plastic case. BUT - they CAN'T sell ME one - because they're "not allowed to". Only Authorized Panasonic Service Centers are authorized to have the "special screw driver".
GOTCHA'!
OH JOY! Only THEY can open the plastic case - and THEY apparently have only ONE service tech - AND - THEY service EVERYTHING - EVERY small appliance maker makes - AND we're now in The Christmas Rush.
GOTCHA'!
Did I mention that their only service tech had been out for four days - with The Flu? That's right, it's also The Flu Season. So it's Ho-Ho-Ho - Sneeze -Sniffle and - Barf! And THAT means that anything that came in BEFORE I brought in my charger - and battery - are at LEAST four days ahead of me. I found this out after waiting a week before calling to see if my charger had been even looked at.
GOTCHA'!
So I wait ANOTHER WEEK - and stop in to see how things are going - they're only a half mile away - remember?
"I'm sorry - the paperwork got separated from the charger and the charger got separated from the battery - so the tech didn't know what to do with either of them - so - nothing has been done on/with them. I have put things all together and it's all back in the tech area waiting for the tech to get to them. Check back in a couple of days."
GOTCHA'!
I wait THREE days, just to cut the tech some slack, and stop in AGAIN. And now we're close to Christmas - and there's a line of Fellow Sufferers ahead of me. And this place apparently just got a delivery of small kitchen appliances AND vacuum cleaners - the NEW Dyson Ball model - along with fifteen or twenty Commercial Espresso Machines - the BIG ones. Did I mention that they don't seem to have a storage room - because all this STUFF is stacked up on just about every square foot of floor space - except for a narrow aisle from the door to the counter? That means 8 or 10 people are stacked up in a small space - and it seems everyone is holding some medium sized thing that needs repair or servicing - and when one turns - even slightly - the whole line has to shift to make some room.
GOTCHA'!
OH - and the being "served" has a Braun electric shaver - the one with the "wet self cleaning" feature and he has PLENTY of questions.
"Rather than use Braun's EXPENSIVE "head cleaner" - can I just use alcohol?" Oh - I see. Alcohol will destroy some of the parts in the "head". Well - is there another - less expensive "head cleaner solution" I CAN use? No? Well can I get a discount on the Braun "special head cleaning solution" - if I buy - TWO!? No? Well what if I buy THREE? Oh - there is NO discount - at ALL?
So you're telling me the ENTIRE "head assembly" now must be replaced - just because I used alcohol on it? And you mean to tell me that the replacement "head assembly" PLUS labor - is going to cost me almost as much as a new one? And I HAVE to use - and therefore repeatedly BUY the Expensive Head Cleaner Solution?
Hell - I'll just go a buy another electric shaver!
You got any DEALS on this model?
: : :
This guy has wasted EVERYONE's time - AND - now the person behind the counter - who this time happens to be the owner - is just a wee bit pissed.
GOTCHA'!
About 30 minutes after walking in the door to this Service Center I finally am at the counter where I'm told - by the owner - who is pissed even more because half the people who HAD been in front of me had eventually been told that "we can't get a power cord for that unit because it's been discontinued for so long" or "I wish I could help you - but that's the only manufacturer we're not authorized for" or had to listen to "You mean to tell me that it's gonna take two weeks - just to get the parts - that MIGHT fix this thing?". He's not a happy man - and is struggling to remain barely remain civil with me. Seems he's aware that I've been in several times - and am not "thrilled" with the service I've received so far - his office being close to the counter - with its door always open.
GOTCHA'!
To his credit - and much appreciated - he assured me that he'd get together with his now recovering from the flu tech and the tech would call me the next day.
Cautious Optimism.
True to his word, this morning the Tech calls me.
"I THINK the problem is a blown fuse (Inside the case that I can't get into - because it requires a "special screw driver" - that they have - but I CAN'T have) but I can't be sure until I replace the fuse - and the fuse - with labor - is $37.62 - including tax. And I'll have to order the fuse - so it'll be about a week - or more. This may not FIX the problem - but I won't know THAT 'til the fuse has been replaced." (can you say "Signed Blank Check" boys and girls?).
GOTCHA'!
I ask "You've got TWO of my chargers AND a battery pack. So is the $37.62 for TWO fuses and ALL the labor?"
(this guy DOES NOT want to tell me the price of a fuse for this thing - since I'm guessing it's maybe a buck -at the most)
GOTCHA'!
"I've got THREE of these chargers that all stopped working - so you better order THREE fuses. Oh - just tape the cases together and put the "special screws" in an envelope for me". And a copy of the schematic? Could I BUY a copy?"
With a little luck, god willin' and the crick don't rise, there's only a few more GOTCHA's to go - before I either have working chargers or know that I need to buy JUST new chargers - which I suspect will be impossible - because they're probably only available as a "set" - the "battery AND charger" set - which costs about 10% less than buying a new Drill and Batteries and Charger set.
GOTCHA'!!!!!!!!
I hope you got a Been There - Done That comiserating chuckle out of this Tale of Woe. I'm trying to see the humour in the situation - but there's a fine line between a chuckle and hysterical laughter.
Think I'll go out to the shop - and look at the parts that need some holes - that I need my cordless drillS to drill. And yes - I do have a drill press - which I can't use for this application - and yes - I do have one of those Egg Beater hand drills - a nice old Miller Falls - with a real Rosewood Handle - that the top threads off of so I can get to the full set of drill bits stored inside - which I picked up at an estate sale. And yes - that will work - sort of (I've tried).
So there you have it, a Cautionary Tale / Tale of Woe AND - a Drive By Neener.
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"charlieb" tells us a story of panasonic woes...
Well that settles it for me.
I am NOT buying a panasonic.
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Actually Panasonic makes a very good tool and especially their drills. Charlieb having problems with 3 chargers sounds like another problem altogether. I would not let his lousy experience with his lousy service center sway your decision.
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Snip of what sounded like a lovely Christmas Season!
Charlieb, Spray the screw with something like TopCote and make am impression of the screw with some Epoxy or Bondo and use that for your own special tool to remove the screw or let the epoxy stick and remove the screw, then put you own screw back in.
Merry GIFTmas and have a successful Calendar Change.
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Leon wrote:

Or use a screw extractor to remove the "special" screw and replace it with something more consumer-friendly.
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charlieb wrote: (snip)

It isn't very hard to break the nipple out of the screw. Did you try?
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Mike Paulsen wrote:

Assuming it's a standard tamperproof torx, the tool you need should be on the shelf at Sears.
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Pretty odd that you have three chargers taking a dive on you. Panasonic cordless isn't el cheapo crap, so it's doubly strange.
You can get a Torx w/hole security screwdriver for pretty cheap: (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Or you can buy a working charger on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/Panasonic-7-2V-9-6V-12V-15-6V-18V-24V-Battery-Charger_W0QQitemZ360119646504
Or, you could sell all of your existing stuff, as is, on eBay if you're looking to unload Panasonic.
R
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wrote:

Pretty odd that you have three chargers taking a dive on you. Panasonic cordless isn't el cheapo crap, so it's doubly strange.
You can get a Torx w/hole security screwdriver for pretty cheap: (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Or you can buy a working charger on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/Panasonic-7-2V-9-6V-12V-15-6V-18V-24V-Battery-Charger_W0QQitemZ360119646504
Or, you could sell all of your existing stuff, as is, on eBay if you're looking to unload Panasonic.
R
One of you kind gentlemen with tool expertise might be able to help *me*. (sorry if this is not directly woodworking connected) On my LPG bottles there is a Torx *type* screw. I say *type* because it has only 5 points instead of 6. Where might I find a "driver" for that type screw? Many, many thanks,
Max
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They're called Torx Plus 5 points.
http://www.toolwarehaus.com/STAR%20TORX.asp http://www.wihatools.com/700seri/716_ipr_serie.htm
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Thank you,
Ordered a set.
Max
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AKA Torx Security heads. Buy the tool at http://www.wihatools.com/indexes/indxSecuritytorx.htm , a couple of bucks for a single allen key type driver. While yer at it, tell those "service" center folks to go screw. That's among the worst customer treatment horror stories I've heard. (Are you by any chance Canadian?) Proper etiquette is to bring a 20 oz dead blow with you when you indignantly retrieve your chargers and batteries from their "care". (BTW, apropos a different discussion here, the Mac2 had deeply recessed T15 head screws, to force you into their service centers. I had to destroy the handle on a driver, and weld it to another driver to reach the screws to get inside the case. Some companies just aren't service oriented.)
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I've got several options for solving my problem now.
This wasn't a rant about how horrible Panasonic is. There's a reason why I have two of their cordless drills, three chargers and six battery packs. The drill is light, smaller in size than say a Dewalt, has a small comfortable grip and delivers more than adequate torque and pretty good variable speed control.
And I suspect that tool manufacturers don't go out of their way to screw with customers - so the security torx screws are probably used for another reason - customers screwing with things they shouldn't - and filing a law suit when something goes wrong.
As to the service of this particular Service Center I think this situation was The Perfect Storm kind of thing. The "holiday season" ALWAYS seems to make everything a bit crazy. Seems EVERYONE has some electronic device or small appliance that they absolutely, have to have working in order to do some "holiday season" driven thing done - BEFORE Christmas. Throw in The Flu and nothing works right or on time.
And backing up a bit - I had had a problem with the 110 VAC circuit my lathe - and two of these chargers were on. That traced back to a faulty installation of a 220 V circuit breaker - done by - wait for it - a licensed electrician - and because I'd pulled a permit to have the electrical work done - inspected by a county electrical inspector. So that may be why these Panasonic chargers went PHHHHHHT! Keep your fingers crossed for me - and maybe new fuses will make them all better.
Now I think I'll go out to the shop and make a wood offering the The Cabal. Oh what have I done? Ignore the previous sentence. Forget it - please. I MEANT to say "Make a sacrifice to the Wood Working Diety." Honest - that's what I meant to say.
I'm getting a vague sense of foreboding. Damn.
Or - THEY may actually be out to get me? Now all I need to do is figure out which THEY is conspiring against me. God I hope is not The Cabal. Hmmm - forget I said that
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charlieb wrote:

There is no ... erk...
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Very interesting, entertaining and enlightening ! !
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