How Do I Repair A Hybrid Automotive Prolong Discharger?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Phildo, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    Around 18 months ago I bought a set of Hybrid Automotive Prolong equipment - a Camry charger (CO-CR), a Camry discharger (PD-CR) and a Prius discharger (PD-PR).

    The Prius discharger stopped working some time later so I sent it back to Hybrid Automotive for repair. I had to pay the freight cost both ways (from Australia to the US).

    I finally got the discharger back, only to find that it wasn't repaired (after HA sent it to the wrong address). It stopped working as soon as I used it again.

    I'm pissed off. Sure, I could send it back... again.. but the freight costs to do so will be more than the cost of a new discharger, and I don't trust HA to actually do the job properly.

    I'm starting to hate Hybrid Automotive these days - I've paid money for something that doesn't work, and now that it doesn't work HA don't want to fix it properly.

    So, now that I'm stuck with this junk discharger and HA can't be counted on, does anyone know anything about repairing a Prolong discharger?

     
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  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    have you contacted them for help? perhaps they can diagnose the problem, based on what they saw and 'repaired'.
    or, they might pick up the freight this time.
     
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  3. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

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    Did you check the internal fuse?

    The ever friendly/helpful CS at HA explained that one could use a 2A fuse, as the 1.5A it shipped with wasn't as readily available to me here locally (US model). Best to confirm with HA before randomly popping in the wrong voltage/amperage fuse though.

    If not the internal fuse, it might be the resistor array. CS said they could replace the array, or they could just send me one for a self install. The heat dissipating resistor array won't last forever, though I bet you could build one that would last longer than OEM.

    Any symptoms that you care to share, or do you know what might be wrong with this discharger?

    (didn't watch the video)
     
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  4. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    I've found that HybridAutomotive gear may be a bit expensive, but they make up for it by being very generous when it comes to taking responsibility for problems with products and quickly shipping out replacements... Get on the phone with them and be friendly and give them all the details and I bet you they'll have ordered you a brand new discharger free of charge by the time you get off the phone.
     
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  5. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    My experience is the opposite.

    I had to pay the shipping cost both ways, and they just didn't fix it.

    I admire Jeff's passion and commitment to his company, but his staff are useless and that's who I have to deal with.

    When this discharger originally failed I asked if they could sent me suitable parts so that I could get it fixed locally, but no, I had to spend around $A170 on sending it to them.

    When I sent the discharger to HA I put a very clear return address on the box. But, Hybrid Automotive then sent it back to the US freight forwarder that I originally used (ie HA's shipping quote was much higher than a nearby freight forwarder, so I had the lot sent to the freight forwarder, and then forwarded to me in Australia). Despite the return address on the box HA sent the "repaired" discharger to the freight forwarder (which I no longer use) without checking with me first.

    I've also bought a Prius charger locally secondhand, but the on/off switch has now broken. Being secondhand, and older than two years, there's no warranty on that, but that makes it a 50% failure rate on four items. Being out of warranty it's not relevant, but it's also not doing a whole lot for my experience with HA's build quality.

    If anyone has a direct email address for Jeff then please send it to me and I'll contact him directly, but I've had enough of dealing with his staff.
     
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  6. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    It cuts out when discharging, as shown in the video.

    Press the button, and discharging starts. Shortly after (usually a few minutes) it stops discharging and goes back to standby mode.
     
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  7. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Jeff is a member here: @jeff652 ;).

    You can start a private conversation with him and see what can be worked out:).

    I've dealt with him and he does things the right way(y).
     
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  8. qmanqman

    qmanqman Junior Member

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    I had a buddy in high school named Phil and we used to call him Phildo LOL
     
  9. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Yea, I've heard that from others... Being a small business, there's basically one dude who handles this stuff and whenever I'm on the phone with him the chemistry is great and maybe because I'm super grateful for all his help he's been super generous resolving issues?

    Perhaps try again? It seems only fair that because you spent so much money on shipping already that they should fix this mess in a way that doesn't cost you any more money than you already spent.
     
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  10. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    Update: I sent Jeff an email on 4th June. It's now mid July and I haven't received a reply.

    Dismal.

    If anyone is considering buying the Hybrid Automotive Prolong equipment then be aware that there's a risk of faulty products and no effective warranty coverage.
     
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  11. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Please send me your order # in a private message. I have to get in touch with them tomorrow about some other things and will see if I can get them to help you out, or at least get clarification. As you might Imagine them being based in one of the heaviest hit Covid-19 counties in California, they're not functional in the way normal businesses function right now.
     
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  12. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    Done... I've sent you the whole email. I got a bit (ie very) carried away, but I'm pissed off that I haven't had a working discharger for over a year now.
     
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  13. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Just got off the phone with George at Hybrid Automotive (800) 589-0730. I've spoken with him many times over the years.

    Once I was done with my own business with him, I gave him your order number and he pulled up the email thread and it looks like they don't have any record of your messages after they shipped off repaired the device. But he asked you to resend your email or call and that they'd be happy to fix the device again. He also suggested that if you're comfortable with the work they could send you the replacement part(s) you need and you could repair it, which means most of the shipping for repair hassles can be avoided. Hope this helps...
     
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  14. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    George is hopeless, and is the reason that I didn't contact Hybrid Automotive immediately when the supposedly-repaired discharger failed on its first use.

    I spent roughly half the cost of the discharger on sending it back to HA the first time. If I send it back again then I will have spent the equivalent on a new discharger just on freight for the malfunctioning one.

    As I expected, George's attitude is that I should just keep wasting my money shipping the discharger back and forth until he decides that he's actually going to repair it properly.

    In the original emails I asked George if he could send me the parts but he said no, the discharger had to be returned.

    I don't have any faith in that discharger or Hybrid Automotive, so considering that I've lost the use of my discharger for over a year now it would be reasonable that HA send me a new one, and I return the old to them (at their cost for freight).

    I would also have thought that Jeff would want to inspect the faulty discharger and identify what went wrong, both with the original failure and the failure to repair it properly.

    I gave George a chance to fix it, and he failed. I hate having to waste my time and money on his incompetence.

    Considering that Hybrid Automotive now has one extremely pissed off customer who is now going to be actively discouraging other people from buying HA products, I would have thought that Jeff himself might want to step in and sort out a solution for this one (ie replace the discharger immediately).
     
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  15. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    Below is the email that I sent to Jeff on 4th June (Western Australian time, so 3rd June US time).

    Although not the friendliest thing I've ever written, it still deserved a response and raised various other issues that should be addressed (eg lack of serial numbers so ownership can't be proven).

    It's been over five weeks and I haven't heard back (it was sent to [email protected] etc...).
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hello,
    RE: RMA 12362
    Order: 213583
    Date Placed: 23rd Oct 2018

    I previously sent a failed Prius discharger to be repaired under warranty, only to find that once it returned it failed again immediately.

    I’m using the Prolong equipment to rebuild batteries - I cycle the whole pack after cycling all of the modules individually using Turnigy Reaktor QuadKore chargers (ie the older model, which displays the mAh figures for each cycle). I put all the mAh numbers into a spreadsheet, decide which modules to replace, rearrange them, etc.

    The Prolong equipment takes care of balancing, and although I cycle the modules before then I figure I’ll still regain a little bit more capacity as the Prolong dischargers discharge to a lower voltage than what the Reaktors do.

    The Prolong equipment isn’t being bombarded with excessive use - I rent cars to rideshare drivers and rebuild the hybrid batteries when I need to (eg I need to buy the cars as cheaply as possible, so if I can find a car with a dead hybrid battery and get the car cheaper than that’s a bonus for me).

    Sure, if I ever win a big lottery then I’ll buy the ProlongPro Thunderbolt stuff… but… if I win a big lottery I won’t be messing around with fixing hybrid batteries.

    1)
    When I originally bought the equipment Hybrid Automotive’s shipping quote was just way too expensive, so I had it sent to a nearby freight forwarder (Shipito) and then had it sent to me from there. I can’t remember the numbers, but I vaguely recall that Shipito’s cost was around 1/2 to 2/3 of the price direct from HA.

    When I sent the discharger back I assumed that it would be sent directly back to me, as that was the return address that I put on the box (it was a very clear label).

    But no, without even informing me first George sent it back to Shipito.

    "I am really sorry but you were advice about this, on the email from 5/10/2019. At this moment I cannot stop the shipping so it was already sent to that address. Also since you originally did not paid for shipping to Australia we cannot send it back to that address unless you paid for the shipping, if the unit gets returned back to us we can contact you to process the shipping to the address you provided, but again you will have to pay for that shipping. At this point, I think that the best might be for you to find a way to route it to Australia just like you did when you originally purchase the unit."

    I’m dumbfounded that your staff sent the discharger back to an address that was different to the one on the packing box that I used. My use of a freight forwarder originally was unfortunately necessary due to the substantial difference in freight costs, and wasn’t intended to be used for the return of the discharger.

    It cost me $A74 to send the discharger to HA, and a similar amount to retrieve it back from Shipito. Thus, in freight costs, I’ve paid more than half of the cost of the discharger.

    When it failed again on the first use I didn’t even bother to waste my time contacting your staff - I’d wasted enough money on this incompetence by now.

    I assumed that the response would have been to send it back again. If I did that then I would have spent more on freight costs than what it would have cost to just buy another new one.

    Let’s just say that I was a little bit “miffed”. I’ll withhold for now the actual words I was thinking at the time but you can safely assume that they were of an extremely harsh and critical nature. Extremely.

    2)
    When my Prius discharger originally failed I knew that sending it back and forth would be expensive and so asked if repair parts could be sent to me. But no, your staff insisted that I send the discharger to you.

    It just had to be done the most expensive way (ie me ending up paying freight both ways).

    Email on 10th May, 2019 (yes, I’ve lost a year of use):
    Me: "Although I appreciate that it's a proprietary design, is there anywhere in Australia that is able to repair the discharger? Shipping is going to be expensive for both of us."
    Hybrid Automotive: "I am really sorry to hear that, yes it does look like the resistors inside the unit went bad. We will need to have that unit send back for repair."

    And *now* you say that you can send the repair parts????

    I would have accepted that when it failed originally but my problems with this item justify it being replaced with another one (as suggested by people on https://priuschat.com/threads/how-do-i-repair-a-hybrid-automotive-prolong-discharger.215587 )
    ——————————————————————————————————————
    Some other issues and questions:

    3)
    I originally bought a Camry charger from you new, but have also since bought a secondhand Prius charger. The on/off switch doesn’t work (ie it’s permanently on). I think it was originally bought from you by (** name withheld**) and will be several years out of warranty. But, out of two chargers and two dischargers I’ve got a 50% fault rate on them.

    This is not encouraging. Plus, there is no option on your web site to buy the correct replacement parts so I’m assuming that once one of your products develops a fault out of warranty the only option you’re offering is to buy a whole new one.

    From my personal experience it is clear that there is a problem with the reliability of Hybrid Automotive Prolong products.

    4)
    There are no serial numbers on the chargers and dischargers. Why not?

    From your point of view, how do you track which items were sent on what dates, to whom, etc?

    From my point of view, how do I prove ownership? I spent around $A2,000 on this stuff so when I went to photograph it all for future proof-of-ownership I was surprised to find no serial numbers (or manufacture dates).

    If I ever get house-burgled and items are later found then I'd like to have photos to prove what was taken so that I can get them back (ie from police). But, aside from doing something myself (eg engraving my details underneath) someone could steal these things and there’s no way of tracing the actual owner, even if police contact Hybrid Automotive directly.

    5)
    Your tech support person is useless. He just doesn’t have any interest in his job (ie helping people to get the best use of their items, including repairing them if/when required).

    There are many questions that I would have liked to have asked in the past but have not done so because I know I won’t get an answer. Some of the questions that I have asked have been ignored.

    As you’ll know, marketing your products is difficult - it is useful (and necessary) stuff but the vast majority of your target market doesn’t know enough about batteries to realise this. Most are clueless (eg like me) so it’s going to be one hell of a battle to convince people that the Prolong stuff is worth buying.

    I spent several months trying to figure out if I should buy this stuff, and ended up deciding to solely because of the comments by certain very knowledge people on the PriusChat.com web site forum. Besides reading your own comments on there I figured out who the smart people are (ie people that run their own hybrid workshop for their livelihood) and searched for and read their comments. I did a hell of a lot of stalking on there (eg S Keith, strawbrad, ericbecky and a few others) and it was their comments that convinced me to spend the money.

    Being the owner and designer of this stuff you’ll have enormous enthusiasm and passion in what you do - that has always been clearly evident.

    Obviously we can’t expect paid staff to entirely duplicate this, but there needs to be at least some interest and that just isn’t there.
    My point: If you could be cloned (ie your enthusiasm duplicated) then that would be ideal. You need staff, and the people/person that you have doesn’t have any enthusiasm at all. There was nothing really from Hybrid Automotive that motivated me to spend the money - my decision to do so was almost solely because of the comments of knowledgeable individuals on PriusChat.

    There are many questions that I’ve had. Some of which I’ve since figured out the answers to, and other questions have come up as I learn more about hybrid batteries and how I can better use the Prolong equipment.

    But, I am well aware that I’m not going to get good answers from Hybrid Automotive staff (ie Jorge/George - same person?) and that is extremely frustrating.

    In the digital age/social media era one of the best forms of marketing is satisfied customers (ie they then go out of their way to tell everyone else) and I’m now the opposite of that - I haven’t been particularly harsh, but have told numerous people on Facebook about my problems with the reliability and subsequent failed warranty repair of Prolong equipment.

    6)
    I’ve referred to the installation instructions on your web site for 40-series Camry (2006-2011), 20-series Prius (2004-2009) and 30-series Prius (2009-2015) but there are no instructions for the 50-series Camry (ie 2012-2017). Why not?

    7)
    Is there a life expectancy/number of uses for the dischargers? They’re not being used regularly, but if components in the dischargers are going to wear out then I’m going to need to learn about how to repair them.

    8)
    I previously asked George if I could use the Camry discharger on a Prius battery while the Prius discharger is out of action. The answer was a definite “no”.

    This is where my lack of knowledge will become apparent - both dischargers discharge down to a certain voltage, and although the Prius discharger will discharge down to 17V and the Camry discharger to 20V why can’t the Camry discharger be used temporarily on a Prius battery? It would not be the correct 0.8V/cell, 0.5V/cell, and 0.1V/cell discharge, but it would still be close enough?

    I’ve also bought a few Prius Cs recently, and the battery in one of them has already died (330,000km). I’m assuming that I’ll need to buy a Prius C discharger (and subject myself to possibly more reliability and warranty problems). Is there any reason why the normal Prius discharger (ie 28 modules) can’t be used on a Prius C battery (ie 20 modules)?

    9)
    Suggestion: As mentioned, the cost difference for freight direct from Hybrid Automotive vs using a freight forwarder was very substantial. It might be worth your time to try some random weights and destinations with nearby freight forwarders (to different country destinations), comparing the pricing and then trying to negotiate better pricing with your regular freight provider. As well as Shipito (https://www.shipito.com/en) there is also Planet Express (https://planetexpress.com), both of which are not far from your office.
    ——————————————————————————————————————
    What it was doing when it originally failed:


    It’s doing something similar now (I haven’t filmed it). If I start a discharge then the discharger flakes out sometime later (ie the lights turn off). If I start it again it will go for a while and then stop again.

    If I persist with restarting it enough times it will usually do the full discharge but this means checking it every hour and it takes one or two days to get a full discharge.
    ——————————————————————————————————————
    I need a replacement discharger. You’ve had your chance at repairing this one, and all you did was waste my money and time (causing a lot more frustration).

    It is a reasonable expectation to be sent a new discharger without any cost to me.

    I am more than happy to package the broken discharger and send it back (at your expense). It has certainly caused damage to the Hybrid Automotive brand (ie I’m damn pissed off about it - I don’t recommend the Prolong equipment to other people anymore) and you’ll need to assess it and figure out a) why it failed originally, and b) how and why it wasn’t repaired.

    Regards,
    Phillip McGree
     
  16. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Well, seems like the hassles with shipping costs for a place so far away has turned this into a ridiculous fiasco. Seems like best fix is to have George ship you parts to do the fix where you're at... As I explained when you started this thread, they're a small business and are limited in what they can do internationally. They were also shut down in April entirely, so they have huge issues with back orders currently. Hopefully you don't give up. And hopefully @jeff652 logs in to PriusChat and notices your problem...
     
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  17. Phildo

    Phildo Member

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    Which is what should have happened the first time (and is what I asked for).

    But no, George insisted that I send the discharger to him... at my expense.

    I think it's reasonable for HA to replace it with a new one and they can have the old back back to analyse.

    I see no point in dealing with George anymore - he's been nothing but incompetent and ineffective.

    So, I moved it up the management hierarchy and explained it all to Jeff via email. Who didn't respond.

    At this point I can't see how Hybrid Automotive could have failed any more on this one.

    Their products have faults, and there is effectively no warranty.

    What a screw-up.
     
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  18. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Well, you seem so overwhelmingly convinced that you got screwed that at this point anyone who tries to help you, myself included, is not going to be able to help you because you're literally refusing to cooperate with a resolution.

    You clearly have no interest in getting this resolved... It's no longer about them helping you because that chip on your shoulder and angst towards George, who clearly told to me on the phone he wants to help you, is for some reason more important to you than letting them help you get it fixed.

    George looked at your order # and said there's no record of your messages after the replacement device was shipped. That's where the problem began and that's what needs to be addressed. Why is that so hard to understand? I did my best to help, but some people aren't worth helping, they're so disgruntled that it's a waste of time.
     
    #18 PriusCamper, Jul 15, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
  19. qmanqman

    qmanqman Junior Member

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    No record of messages LOL
     
  20. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    I sat there and listened to George skimming through the order # and messages related to the order as he figured it out... All the info was there leading up to shipping the repaired product back to Australia and I sensed no effort from him that made me think he was being dishonest or trying to hide additional info. He still genuinely wants to help resolve this, of course @Phildo says he won't talk to George anymore so that's the end of the story...

    And we've all had moments in life when we were certain we sent an email and the recipient never got it. That doesn't mean you give up, it means you try again.
     
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