Qualcast GDB30B Strimmer/Brush Cutter Review
I needed a strimmer, but I wanted it to have the ability to cut brush as well. Look; let’s be honest here, my gardening approach does result in some dense weed banks forming, so I wanted something that would breeze through the undergrowth.
I looked at the options. There were many. Unfortunately, my time was running short and I wanted something I could just pop around the corner, buy and use. I opted, albeit with little research, for a Qualcast. How could I go wrong? A good British brand, I thought, forged from the sweat of honest gardeners, I guessed, made to last a lifetime (or at least a few years) I suspected.
Wrong, wrong and wrong again!
First off, the Qualcast brand is a part of the Bosch Group, and the brand is licensed to Home Retail Group for sale via the Argos and Homebase outlets. Now, I’m not privy to the license agreement, but whether it be that the product design is licensed and the Home Retail Group has it manufactured by an independent, or whether Bosch has it manufactured under an OEM agreement for Home Retail Group, in my mind – and the minds of many consumers – that makes the Home Retail Group the manufacturer, in terms of liability, doesn’t it?
The products are made in China. When I say they’re made in China, I mean they’re badly made in China. Didn’t know Bosch/Home Retail Group made cheap crap products in China? Well, they do and they’re branded Qualcast!
The GDB30B is a two-stroke machine. Now, some folks may dislike two-stroke engines, but having come from an age where kids spent their formative years tear-arsing around on two-stroke motorcycles, constantly rebuilding and tuning the living shit out of the machines, it held no fear for me. However, the GDB30B has an engine that has been specifically designed to not be adjustable.
That’s right; if it goes wrong you’re screwed. You either have to suffer the torment of dealing with a non-existent manufacturer (it’s just a Bosch brand licensed to Home Retail Group), or you chuck it in the bin and buy again. I think they like the latter approach as it earns them more sales revenue! Sod the customer; think of the earnings!
Here’s the thing; the GDB30B has a well documented fault. It’s totally unreliable. Because the engine is built as cheaply as possible (for example, the rear of the cylinder is made of plastic and the carb is sealed and cannot be adjusted, none of the housings fit together well and handle vibrates loose if you even look at it) it simply gives up and stops working. This is because two-stroke engines need servicing. Qualcast (that’s Bosch licensed to the Home Retail Group really) have made it unserviceable, so you need to pay them to do it. More income from the long-suffering customer.
Foolishly, they’ve also given it a two-year warranty. I think that’s a red herring. You’ll spot it when you buy, but soon forget about it. After 12 months most people will assume they’re out of warranty and skip the bloody useless things. Not me.
In truth, I discovered it had a two-year warranty while trying to buy a replacement carb on t’internet! I contacted Argos (one part of the Home Retail Group who have licensed the Qualcast brand). They agreed with me that the products were known for various problems, but passed me on to the ‘manufacturer’. This isn’t the real manufacturer, because Argos/Homebase have licensed it, so I suppose they’re really the manufacturers. No; they passed me on to a very poor ‘helpline’.
After a 30 minute wait on the ‘helpline’ (the recorded voice telling you to wait is extremely irritating and sounds like she hates you for daring to call) I was given a wide range of advice on things to try (all of which were obvious) before they finally agreed to collect it and do a warranty repair. In truth they seemed pissed off that I had the gall to know what I was talking about!
So, what has owning the GDB30B been like? Well, when I wanted to strim, it would for a few minutes, then it would stop and refuse to start again. If I wanted to cut brush, it would for a few minutes, before cutting out. Sometimes it just wouldn’t start at all. Each time it did start, I was one step closer to the thing being unusable. Two-stroke engines need adjustment, and without the ability to do that the end was inevitably nigh.
Was I unlucky? No, apparently not. The fact that the Qualcast GDB30B is a badly engineered and unreliable piece of junk is well documented. Even the customer services person at Argos told me they had records of numerous reports of similar issues. The only people not to be aware of it are Bosch – well, those Bosch people who have a badge reading Qualcast. If you buy a GDB30B, you’ll soon also be aware of how badly made they are.
I need to strim and cut brush at present. I can’t, because the chunk of shit is awaiting collection. I don’t know when – if ever – they’ll come and get it. It’ll probably still end up in a skip, because I suspect the customer service will be atrocious.
It does make you question whether the product and service would be as shit if more people knew that Qualcast was a Bosch brand. That’s right, Bosch, the same Bosch that makes much of its reputation for quality. That very same Bosch is selling cheap Chinese shit to the masses by hiding behind the Qualcast name. Bosch, peddlers of cheap unreliable crap if they can put another brand on it. Think about that when you pay over the odds for a Bosch product. It’s just a Qualcast bit of kit really, isn’t it, but with a different name on it. Would you pay a premium for a Qualcast fridge of dishwasher? You probably already have…
I give the Qualcast (from Bosch) GDB30B a rather generous 0 out of 10.
0 out of 10 for a Bosch product, albeit one hidden behind a different name and built in China for the DIY market in the UK. It is made by Bosch. Like those allegedly good quality power tools … and fridges, washing machines, automotive parts, industrial solutions, AV ranges, etc..
UPDATE: The GDB30B was collected, and then 10 days later, with no communication, it was returned without any of the accessories, and with the safety cut-out wires torn out. I contacted the laughable helpline again, and was told the unit had been repaired with replacement parts, but they didn’t know which ones. I asked whether the helpline was part of the Home Retail Group, and whether they were the manufacturer. They put the phone down on me!
I then contacted the retailer and asked if they were the manufacturer. They said they weren’t; Qualcast was. I pointed out that Qualcast was a brand licensed by Home Retail Group, and therefore surely they were the manufacturer. They put the phone down on me.
I’ve contacted the CEO of Home Retail Group (John Walden) by email, so he can’t put the phone down on me. I doubt very much I’ll hear from him. After all, I’ve had nothing but terrible service and a refusal to discuss who is liable as a manufacturer from them so far. Why would the man at the top care about customers? He can’t if he allows us to be treated so poorly.
So all I can say is this: don’t buy Qualcast unless you want to chuck away your money and hit a blank wall with regard to anyone shouldering their legal responsibility. I’d avoid Homebase, Argos and any other Home Retail Group business to until they give some indication that they take customers seriously.
ANOTHER UPDATE: It seems that the Home Retail Group (Argos and Homebase) is indeed the manufacturer, according to Bosch who have licensed the brand to them, and therefore the Home Retail Group is legally liable for issues with Qualcast products. This means that the manufacturer of the product deliberately lied to me (and anyone else who was told to go to ‘Qualcast’) in order to mislead and avoid liability.
Their actions can only be considered to have been taken deliberately to evade their legal responsibilities under warranty. This could turn out to be a very interesting case…