roomba: rest in peace

iRobot sucks, and not in the good way robot vacuums should. i no longer recommend buying a Roomba.

some of you may remember my earlier glowing reviews and accounts of the robot’s hijinks. i was satisfied with his performance, although i hadn’t anticipated the work it took to clean him after he cleaned my place. still, i liked using a dinner fork to coax carpet fibers out of his brushes more than vacuuming, so i was fine with it.

i developed a routine of arriving home to find my floor crisscrossed with crooked vacuum lines, Roomba dead somewhere in the middle, (he never could find his way back to the home charging base even if i placed him in front of it). then i’d move all my furniture back, (i had to protect him from corners and rugs etc. that would end up trapping him), clean him for fifteen minutes, wash the dust and carpet out of my nose and off my clothes, and walk all over the vacuum lines so people didn’t think i had a brain damaged maid.

i didn’t use him all that much, because of it. besides, i haven’t had him long. one day he more or less quit. maybe he was on strike, or just protesting, because he’d drive around for less than a minute then stop and blink angry red.

i contacted iRobot support and they told me to do a secret trick that would slow charge him over three days. if he ran even a minute longer, i was to repeat the process until he was back to normal. well, it did help, and he improved. but, before reaching full health, he died.

they ended up offering their replacement program. $99, they said. later, they raised the price on me, and said it was only for the robot, not the base.

my most recent exchange with them, after asking three times whether their gracious offer included tax and shipping:

Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support center.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

I apologize for the inconvenience. As was sent to you last time the issue is with the Roomba, charger, and home base. All three would need to be replaced. The fact that the roomba was plugged into the charger or set onto the home base when the fault occurred to the charger or hb means that all three units have probably been damaged.

hi there–you still didn’t confirm whether tax and shipping are included so i’ll assume they aren’t. so, is this correct: $120 (roomba) + $60 (home base) + $40 (tax, shipping, handling…) = $220? to replace a $250 roomba that vaccuumed a dozen times, quit, and then irobot support instructed me to do something that burned out both the base AND the roomba?

i started with a Roomba Discovery; i ended up discovering they suck sure enough.


turns out they don’t replace the battery either (even though this was a power-related issue), so i had to keep that and cross my fingers. i sent them the robot chassis back with the money they wanted. they agreed to send me a new charging base free, but in total i’ve now spent more than the Roomba i walked past the other day at Bed Bath & Beyond was priced.

ANOTHER UPDATE (september 2007):

new robot worked a couple times, tech support wasn’t supportive. pretty much told me to take a long walk off a short robot. i reported iRobot to the Better Business Bureau. a very polite, confident, and friendly-sounding man called me and convinced me to buy a new battery. he didn’t convince me it was the right thing to do, or that their system and products aren’t woefully flawed, or that iRobot is fair-minded and eager to please, but it came down to throwing more money at the problem or finding a door in need of a comatose doorstop.

let’s hope that next week it’s not a doorstop with a brand new $55 proprietary battery.

11 Responses to “roomba: rest in peace”

  1. uncle Shelby Says:

    And I thought rumba was some kind of dance. Sorry to hear he died, it proves you should leave the sucking to a female.

  2. danamac Says:

    reminds me of Nassim’s scooter woes … “So the red wire goes on the + end and the blue to – ? … or is it the other way around?”

    My advice? … get a dog who likes the taste of toe giblets and bat’s blood — chain that sucker to the middle of your living room and give him 5 feet of slack and no food —- you’ll have the tidiest carpet of your life. 😉

  3. davidicus Says:

    no way! Nassim bought a perfectly good scooter, a perfectly good battery upgrade, tried to wire it himself, wired it wrong, melted the thing and knocked himself across the room, and never blamed the manufacturer.

  4. danamac Says:

    Ah — the curse of Nassim

  5. uncle Shelby Says:

    Roombia my love …Roombia my love … Roombia….
    Roombia is dead ..Roombia… Oh lord Roombia…

  6. uncle Shelby Says:

    Roombia my love …Roombia my love … Roombia….
    Roombia is dead ..Roombia… Oh lord Roombia…

  7. Marnie Says:

    walk all over the vacuum lines so people didn’t think i had a brain damaged maid.


    yes, the sock eater is dead. i must say i’m not all that suprised given all the trouble you’ve had with it. plz invent e-dishwasher, i’d be ever so grateful.

  8. She, who is Says:

    WOW, you really were attached to that machine! It was cute but it’s not it’s fault you got bounced around. Good time to protest ALL MACHINES or at least their creators.

  9. R. Schmidt Says:

    Very similar experience my my Roomba Red, happily bought two years ago. Worked great first three weeks. Then lost it’s mind, supposedly from “fine dust in the sensors”. Wankers at iRobot Support told me to blow its innards out with compressed air after every use. Simply easier to vacuum conventionally. Tried to revive it and even after cleaning every sensor, nook, cranny etc w/ compressed air it’s still hosed. Total waste of $150 and lots of my time. A pox on Roomba and iRobot – will never buy any of their stuff again!

  10. MinnieMe Says:

    Innndeeeed… and now I understand that Irobot the makers of Roomba are producing a robot very similar to their carpet cleaning original, except armed with a tazer to be sold into the policing and security industry. I was quaking with the thought… until I read your comments. It would be lucky if the dang thing retained enough charge to dischage its tazer!

  11. davidicus Says:

    LOL picture a cop-roomba bumping haphazardly into the edge of the carpet and tazering the sofa while the criminal makes a sandwich.

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