Black and Decker Codeless Lawn Mower Review

Posted on November 5, 2008  Comments (3)

photo of Black and Decker cordless lawnmower

My old version of this mower just stopped working and the repair guy said it would cost $250 for a new starter, new battery… So I bought a new one: Black & Decker 19-Inch 24-Volt Cordless Electric Mulching Lawn Mower #CMM1200. He said that the new ones were not as well manufactured. I couldn’t imagine how you could make things worse (it is a simple product and just adopting improvement over the years should be really easy).

But, the starter on this model is horrible. You have to tun this incredibly cheap key in a very poorly designed socket. Fails over 80% of the time. The old model started easily essentially every time. The design was just as you would expect, foolproof. Whatever pointy haired boss approved this design needs to go into another line of work.

The ability of the mower to cope with high grass is very poor – much worse than the previous model. I had a good test at first given the time between my mower breaking and getting the new one. Not often an issue, but still not a good thing.

They had a poor indication of the charge left in the battery previously. They now provide no indication of the charge left. It makes you realize that a poor indication was much better than none.

Battery technology has improved a great deal, and that was one of biggest the weaknesses of the last one. Well they seem to have managed to provide worse battery performance after 5 years of improvement in that technology. Pretty sad.

The bag design is much better than the previous model. You have to assemble it yourself but it is much more sturdy and much better designed – you can replace the fabric and keep the frame. The old model the entire things needed to be replaced if the fabric broke. And given the flimsy design mine broke very early on.

The old model has an extremely cheap hand hold (rubber over the medal to cushion your hands) that broke within months. This one seems to have the same very poor hand holds – that are already breaking.

The new design (again some pointy haired boss decision, I imagine, I sure hope no engineer suggested this) has a flimsy plastic handle that you most hold with 1 hand, or the mower power goes off. The old model had a solid medal bar that either hand could control. This is extremely annoying if you have to maneuver (around bushes, into tight areas…) and don’t have the flexibility to let go with your right hand ever.

The new mower starts shooting grass to the side and even turn off when the bag is less than half full. It seems that the design gets clogged when the bag is half full so that it can take in no more grass. This did not happen on the old mower. I often don’t use the bag but when you do, this is annoying.

Sadly, until some managers leave Toyota and start a company based on the management and engineering principles at Toyota I am not confident any other manufacturer will do any better. It is sad that so many obviously bad engineering decisions can be apparent so quickly and that companies making such decisions actually stay in business.

Electric lawn mowers are definitely preferable for cost, ease of maintenance and environmental reasons to gas mowers. So I will keep using this mower, but it worse than the previous model (the bag seems to be the only improvement), which I find extremely lame. Companies should improve products over time, not go backwards.

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3 Responses to “Black and Decker Codeless Lawn Mower Review”

  1. Anonymous
    November 11th, 2008 @ 1:31 am

    I am a truck dealer and deal directly with Toyota Manufacturing Prowess. They Make Hino Truck Engines. Anyway…

    It is sad that so few manufacturers take pride in producing a great product anymore. Products are being made with more efficient motors, lighter structures, and cheaper materials. These innovations lead to better efficiency, but crappier structural performance, and increased damage. The products are cheaper, but break due to wear and tear much easier. Products used to be able to operate in a blizzard, sand storm, mud, water, etc. Now they can’t even operate in “High Grass.” This is often the camparion between the AK47 and the M16.

    Luckily my personal mowers were always American. I have yet to have a problem with them. My neighbor bought a more expensive Honda mower and had numerous expensive problems with his. I suggest searching on consumer reviews, or other review websites to find a tougher model that will do the job.

  2. Anonymous
    April 17th, 2009 @ 7:24 am

    Hi curiouscat, good post. Over here in the UK the price of petrol lawn mowers is dropping quite quickly so far in 2009. The thing we’re seeing is more and more supermarkets are bring out their own cheaper brands. I’ve always stuck to the trusted brands (like black and decker) but it seems lots of people are moving towards the cheaper / lower quality alternatives.

  3. Pam
    May 2nd, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

    Interesting post. I have a Black & Decker older model that I found out had a recall from Consumer Product Safety Commission because of a fire danger. I am unable to haul a lawn mower to an outlet 20 miles away (which B&D told me to do) so I inquired about shipping. They agreed… and then did nothing. I called and called, speaking to a different person each time. Finally spoke to CPSC and they intervened. I was then promised to be mailed a box that I could use for shipment. And again I waited and waited, called and called. Had to speak to CPSC a second time, and they agreed to discuss with the president of the company! Finally they followed through. When it was returned to me there was what appeared to me styrofoam sticking out of it. I called and the company said that should not be, it must have been bounced around in the delivery, and I should “bring it in” to have it fixed! Instead I tightened the screws and hoped for the best. This experience completely soured me on Black & Decker. I liked the original lawn mower, though it did have a few quirks, like the grass height adjustment broke. I may try a Toro this year when I replace the B&D mower, though my previous experience with Toro wasn’t so good either. Sure wish these companies would get their act together.

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