Saturday, February 11, 2006

My new light switch

I wrote a complaint letter today. I'll let you know if I hear anything back from them.
11 February 2006

Intermatic, Inc.
Intermatic Plaza
Spring Grove, IL 60081

To Whom It May Concern:

I just purchased and installed a new timer for the lights outside my garage (2 fixtures, each with a 60 watt Halogen bulb). The problem is, I did this just a few months ago and today I had to do it again.

I had an automatic timer for the lights and it worked for three or four years. The brand was not yours, but it worked just fine. Sometime last summer it bit the dust. I went to Home Depot, again, and bought a new automatic timer for my lights. I bought your timer, the SS8 model and I’m guessing this was in the early fall. I do recall remember it was a pain to install because of the space the timer took in my electrical box.

About a month ago, it broke. I tried replacing the battery, but that didn’t help it either. So I am once again trudging to the store (Lowe’s this time) to pick up a new timer. I would have gone back to Home Depot, but I don’t want to go digging for the receipt; without which it would take them a couple hours to figure out how to give me a partial refund should they even be able to find the item in their system.

If I had been sure the last model was from you I really doubt I would have purchased the new model, EJ500CL. I will say the install on this, the digital model, was easier than last time. I also thought the controls were easy to understand.

My problem is why did the first one break? Why did I have to go through all this hassle and spend another $24.98 plus tax? Even if I have the whole timing screwed up and it lasted a year, who cares? This is a product I expect should last at least 5-10 years without maintenance, repair, or replacement.

It seems to me this should really be your problem, not mine. I’m almost afraid because I ended up buying another of your products. You can trust me when I say that if this one goes bad I’ll be passing the word about this to everyone I can get to listen. In the meantime, while I wait to pass judgement on the new timer, is there anything you will do to alleviate my frustration?


On the plus side of today's experience, the reason I went out of my way to Lowe's in the first place is because I had received a $10 coupon in the mail.

So, I walking through the store, getting the new light and a couple keys made when I realize the coupon must have been that thing I thought dropped out of my pocket in the car. So I leave the stuff at a checkout stand, go digging under the seat to find the coupon, and discover it was $10 off of a purchase of $50 or more. *sigh*

Now I'm looking for grass seed, but I have to call Steve because I think I've got Bermuda grass instead of Kentucky, but I wasn't sure. Anyway, after upping my purchase to $50+ bucks I go back to the check out line to discover the coupon expired on February 5! Before I can say anything, another checker walks over starts punching buttons, calls a manager, and gets me my $10 discount.

Which all means I'm going back to Lowe's next time, because they know how to take care of their customers.


Glenn said...

Welcome back! You have been missed.

Mark said...

I found your post and I wanted to share my pain I experienced with Intermatic timers, too.

I has the SS8 in my old house and HATED them. They were not very reliable at all and I would often find my lights off ... or on ... at all of the wrong times. Often, they'd get stuck in one position or the other.

I found the problem to be the mechanical motor inside. It quickly lost the strength to turn a full cycle and engage the gears that activated the switch. Even fresh batteries failed to revive it.

Once, I took it apart (it easily popped open) and I found there was little I could do to improve it. However, after reassembling it, and reinstalling it, it worked flawlessly for about a year up until we sold the house.

As you know, the depth of the unit made it near impossible to install in a gang box if (heaven forbid) any wires are actually present. I believe the force required to install it may have torqued the casing in such a way that it became more difficult for the gears to complete a cycle without binding. After my last install, I left it a little more loose and the problem seemed to improve.

So now we're in a new house. I had banished Intermatic timers from my search. I was looking at this timer ( and was prepared to buy it, but before I did, I found myself in Lowe's and was attracted to packaging for a light timer I had never seen before. Rats, it was another Intermatic model ... but this one LOOKED different. Hoping they had made improvements (like changing to solid state switching instead of mechanical switching), I took a gamble and picked up three (this time, I'm saving the packaging and receipts).

I'm happy to say installation at least seemed easier. Either the housing is smaller or my gang boxes had more room. Also, switching seems to be solid state, now. There are no motorized sounds when the switch engages. Operation is entirely silent.

Unfortunately, I have only had them installed for a few days ... so I can't comment on their reliability, yet ... but if my memory serves, I'm sure I had problems with the old SS8 style from the day they were installed. I'm sure I had a hiccup on that first day that took a month or two to become frequent enough to notice as a real problem.

Let's hope for good luck.