So the bulk of my hobby room was done by the end of June. But putting that room together isn’t the only thing I did before summer went into overdrive and drove me out of my hobby room for a good two months. I also bought hardware! This article doubles as a review of Lidl’s rotational multi-tool and their service. Spoiler: it’s not great…
Between the start of February and the end of June, I actually bought four major pieces of hardware that I figured I was going to want to have. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I had to choose carefully what I would need the most, and what I could do without (for a while). I eventually settled on a rotational multi-tool, a heat gun, a scroll saw, and a band sander. I made my choices based on watching a massive number of Youtube videos (200+) from various people, watching many of “Evil” Ted Smith’s streams on Twitch, and reading a bunch of cosplay books I’d bought, especially the Foamsmith books from Punished Props Academy. (If you don’t have a lot of money, I strongly recommend their free e-book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Mind Blowing Props“, which has everything you need to know before you get started!).
Of course, this is me we’re talking about, so naturally, everything went horribly wrong.
For today, let’s stick with the rotational multi-tool. Plenty of things wrent wrong there to fill an entire article.
Some people call these “a dremel”, but I don’t like – for two reasons. First, it’s a brand name, and not very descriptive. And second, as an extension of the first argument – Dremel is a brand that makes a lot of different tools, not just rotational multi-tools. Granted, “dremel” is a lot faster to say, but I’ll stick with my more neutral choice. Speaking of, I didn’t actually buy a Dremel. I didn’t have that much money to spend on tools… and that’s not even true. I had reserved about €250 for tools. That’s a lot of money for someone like me. But I do recognize that in terms of tools, it will only go so far. So instead of going with the more premium brands, I went with the Lidl house brand, where €35 got me a rotational multi-tool and a large collection of additional bits for it.
It certainly looks the part. I tried it, and it worked beautifully. Until it didn’t! Which was the second time I used it. Yeah, you read that right. It broke after the first time using it. And that was less than a minute of use. After the first time using the multi-tool for even that brief period of time, and going downstairs to eat lunch, and then coming back, I noticed that main brick had gotten quite toasty. And with the tool part itself resting on top of the main brick, that had gotten quite warm as well. I was already dubious at that stage. Electronics that get really hot just from being plugged in and not being used is generally a Bad Sign™. And sure enough, it only took me toggling the off switch to turn the tool on for the magic blue smoke that makes electronics work to be released. And as Adam Savage once said, once you release that blue smoke, electronics stop working. And sure enough, the multi-tool stopped working immediately.
I had to contact Lidl about this, and their service was genuinely the worst I’ve ever received. It started pretty upbeat, as I was received a full response two days after I filled out their contact form. So far so good. They apologized for the article and promised to send a replacement unit immediately at no cost to me. Even better! So I waited for the shipping notice. And I waited… and when a full work week had past, and I still hadn’t received anything, I decided to contact them myself. It took another two days for them to get back to me and tell me that, oops, they were mistaken, and I wasn’t getting any replacement unit. Lidl doesn’t do their own returns – they have that subcontracted out. I started getting a sinking feeling, and I hadn’t even finished reading the e-mail. They promised they’d send me a store coupon for my troubles, and that they’d send forward the issue to their subcontractor so that I could have my replacement sent to me.
So I waited. And I waited… and then, finally, I… waited some more. Another week passed without any contact from Lidl or their subcontractor. I hadn’t received any phone-call, e-mail, packages, or mailed coupons. Nothing. So I got in touch with them again. Finally, the next day, I got a €5 coupon in the mail. But still no word from their subcontractor or what was happening, if anything was happening at all, for my replacement.
So I waited. And I waited… and then, finally, I… waited some more, again. Two weeks with no communication passed before their subcontractor finally, finally sent me… an e-mail message. And that was it. No replacement tool. Not even an apology. All it was, was a request for information. Before they could send out a replacement unit, they had to confirm the serial number of my defective device, and a description of the problem. The same description I’d already given several times before and was clearly not communicated to their subcontractor as it should’ve been. Sigh. So I gathered all of the information, wrote out yet another e-mail, included all of the requested information along with picture proof just to be sure I wasn’t accidentally omitting anything and further extending my customer service hell story. They received my reply within three hours.
It then took ANOTHER DAMNED WEEK before I finally got my shipping notification. They’d finally shipped out a replacement unit, and I finally received it shortly thereafter, just about a FULL TWO MONTHS after I initially contacted Lidl about my product that had died after one use.
Once the worst of this summer’s record-breaking searing heats had passed, and I was able to walk to my dad’s to get to my hobby room without the street melting my feet, I was finally able to get rid of my broken unit, and replace it with the new one. I plugged that in and tested to make sure it worked. Then I left it for a minute, held my breath, and tested it for a second time…. luckily, it still worked the second time as well. Satisfied that I had a good unit, I went downstairs to have lunch with my dad. After lunch I went back upstairs to my hobby room and remembering what had happened previously, I touched the main brick to make sure my replacement unit wasn’t getting hot by itself without being used.
It was hot.
It was very hot.
So after all of that, even my replacement unit had the same problem. At least it it continues to work, so far. But it’s not going to last. I make sure to unplug it completely every time I’m done sing it. I only plug the thing in when I use it, and unplug it again immediately after. I’m not even going to bother contacting Lidl again to get a replacement for something that’s clearly a systemic design problem with the hardware. I’m going to have to save up and get a replacement eventually and I’ll probably spend a little extra to get something more premium, instead.
I try to keep my blog up-beat and positive, but sometimes there’s no way around being negative. Based on my experience, I can’t recommend this rotational multi-tool from Lidl. Getting one faulty unit doesn’t mean much, but having my faulty unit be replaced with another faulty unit indicates to me that it’s entirely too likely that something is simply wrong with the product’s design or the hardware that goes into it. I also can’t recommend buying from Lidl in general, given the lack of clear communication, and the insane length of time (two months) I had to wait for my replacement.
It just isn’t worth the risk. Save yourself the grief!
My tool troubles didn’t end with this, though. I’ll detail the rest of my troubles in the next article.