This review has two parts: 1. Product Review 2. Snow Joe Customer Service
Product Review ----------------------- Let's start with the challenge I had to solve for. I have an lawn that spans 2000 sq. ft. that has never been dethached in the last 7 years. The lawn health has been steadily decreasing and no amount of chemical fertilizers or weed control have been able to restore the lawn to its early glory. After giving up on the chemical treatment path, I tried aeration. Presumably it helped, but I saw no real improvement in the health of my lawn. Finally, I hit upon dethaching. My lawn has become a patchwork of living and dead grass.
I picked up the Sun Joe AJ801E for three reasons: 1. It had the highest powered motor (amp consumption) on Amazon for dethaching 2. It had a scraper / scarifier, which presumably will allow me to more easily reseed targeted areas of my lawn. 3. My "Mow, Blow, & Go" gardener claimed that all the dethacthers for a lawn my size were rented out to golf courses.
Assembly is super easy, but I had some issues with one of the metal arms not fitting correctly into the main dethatcher. More on that later....
Product performance: I ran the Sun Joe at 0" across a small section of my lawn. In one pass across 10ft of lawn, the catch bag was full of thatch! I was shocked. Looking at the lawn, I could barely tell that the Sun Joe had actually lifted anything out, but the full bag told me otherwise. I ended up covering 200 sq. ft of my lawn, having to run multiple passes to get all the thatch. This little machine is super efficient, but I found the catch bag filling up way faster than expected. I've got another 1600 sq ft of lawn to cover, but will have to attack it one week at a time. Just covering 200 sq ft filled my yard waste bin.
Pros: - Easy to assemble. - Efficient in picking up thatch. May need multiple passes if your lawn has been neglected. - Safety switch makes it impossible for my young children to accidentally turn this on. - Dethacther and Scarifier rollers are easy to swap
Cons: - Small catch bag - Safety switch is a bit of a bear when you need to stop and empty the catch bag often. - Assembly requires some force to get the bent metal arm into the main dethatcher or the screw holes will not line up. - Changing the Dethatcher roller for the Scarifier requires a 10mm wrench. Not a big deal if you have a crescent wrench or socket set. It just took me by surprise since I thought they would use sizes a little more common for the American do-it-yourselfer that has minimal tools.
Time will tell if this holds up over the 2-year warranty, but so far I am really happy with the performance.
Customer Support --------------------------- All too often we hear about poor customer support. I am here to tell you that Sun Joe has top-notch customer support.
When assembling the Sun Joe, you must insert the metal poles / arms into the main unit. If you look at the product picture, I'm referring to the black metal arms that support the power switch and push point. The portion that connects to the actual unit is bent at approximately 135 degrees. You must use a bit of force to get the arms into the main unit or the screw holes will not line up. On the unit I purchased, I was not able to push in the metal rod far enough to line up the screw holes, even after putting my weight into it. I was reluctant to use a rubber mallet for fear of bending the actual metal rod.
When I called Sun Joe, the gentleman listened to my concern. He immediately said they would ship a new one out.
Here is what totally blew me away.... Sun Joe support never questioned my ability to follow instructions, troubleshoot, or even verify that I followed the instructions correctly. I was preparing myself to verbally defend myself, which is exactly what you need to do when calling for support from nearly any other manufacturer. Nope. Not here. Sun Joe sent a brand new unit and provided a pre-paid slip to send the old one back. They didn't even ask for any credit card information to secure a deposit!
Sure, I could have gone through Amazon to do the return process, but I wanted to give the manufacturer a chance to own the problem. No question about it, Sun Joe actually made it easier than Amazon.