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Flowtron FC-8800 Diplomat Fly Control Device, 120-Watt, Indoor/Outdoor
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- Control night flying insect up to 2 acres
- 120 watts UV lure power covers 1,200 sqft indoors
- Mounts vertical or horizontally
- For outdoor & commercial indoor application at dumpsters & trash recepticals; ideal for barns
- Removable collection tray
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That is, if the device is run constantly. Received the following from Flowtron Customer Support today, in response to my inquiry about one of the 3 bulbs for the device failing after only 6 months (device has a 1 year warranty), despite the fact that I left it on constantly -- as the manual recommends in bold letters -- and despite the fact that the manual states that the bulbs should need replacement only once per year:
"The owners manual states "For best results your fly control should
operate 24 Hours a day,7 Days a week", however you should also take into account your personal needs, such as whether the unit is used outside or inside and if used outside whether or not you decide to run it when there is no human activity present. Is it practical or necessary to run it 24/7 to meet your needs? The manual says "Bulbs should be replaced every 12 months of operation to ensure maximum output of the invisible ultraviolet frequency range". This is because there is a special coating inside the fluorescent bulb glass that can deteriorate over time and not allow for maximum U.V. output. We have found that any of our units that run on a 24/7 mode will have a bulb life expectancy of approximately 6 months. Based on this my recommendation would be that the bulb needs replacement due to normal wear.
If you have any other questions please let me know.
Since the bulbs cost at least $35 each, this means that if you run the device constantly, it will cost some $210 to maintain annually. If you add in the $28 or so that it takes to replace the bulb starters (which also need periodic replacement, according to Flowtron, and seem to be only available at Flowtron's website) about once per year, the annual maintenance for the device is at least equal to the purchase price ($240, in my case) -- which is really too bad, since the device most certainly gets the job done, for as long as the bulbs last.
Buyer should beware that this is an industrial-strength device, intended for commercial use, as there is very likely no (non-farming) household that is willing to spend in excess of $100 per year on bug control (that is, assuming the device is used throughout the year, but only at night). If you live someplace besides the Deep South, you can perhaps get several Summers worth of usage out of the bulbs by using the device only at night. But if the price of the Diplomat does not make it clear that it is intended for commercial use, the size of it most certainly should. It is about twice the size I expected it to be and I thought about rejecting it on that basis when it was delivered, but decided to accept it as a courtesy to the UPS Driver (it was the dead of the Summer in Florida -- where bug control is needed throughout the year -- and I live in a third floor apartment with no elevator).
In any event, I pointed out to Flowtron that it needs to do a better job of making it clear that the Diplomat is not intended for household use, and they agreed (in response to a BBB complaint for false advertising) to replace the bulbs for the device as a "goodwill" gesture. The price of both the device itself and its replacement bulbs, along with its weight & dimensions as listed in the product description, are very strong clues that the Diplomat is not intended for household use. The only thing missing, really, is for Flowtron to be a little more upfront about its maintenance cost. At the very least, consumers would be alerted to the need to use the Diplomat sparingly in order to keep its maintenance cost down.
Note: Upgraded the Diplomat to 3 stars instead of 2 for Flowtron's "goodwill" gesture.
Yet another flaw in the marketing for the Diplomat, as it turns out that the bulb starters have no more longevity than the bulbs themselves. This is a very serious problem, since a burnt out starter will cause a new bulb to become compromised immediately, and there is no way to tell if a starter is burnt out unless a new bulb won't work with it. Given the price of the bulbs, the failure of Flowtron to alert consumers of the need to replace the starters at the same time as the bulbs is a serious oversight and yet another indication that this device is not for (non-farming) household use, as the need to buy the bulbs and starters as a package is probably obvious to those using the Diplomat in connection with a business.
The very best indicator that the Diplomat is an outdoor zapper is, of course, the grid type (not actually visible in the online images). Outdoor zappers have the vertical rods that function as the electronic zapping grid (like the Diplomat), whereas the indoor zappers use the horizontal wiring for the grid. The only folk who are going to use an outdoor zapper indoors is those who are using it in a large business establishment. By the way, another trick for prolonging the lifespan of the bulbs is to use only one bulb at a time -- especially if you are using the Diplomat indoors in any type of residential environment.
Note: Had to downgrade the Diplomat to 2 stars again for persistent poor marketing. I have seen Flowtron list other bug zappers of this same caliber -- such as the Flowtron FC7800 Diplomat Commercial Fly Control -- as being for commercial use, so it is difficult to understand why the same is not being done with this version of the Diplomat.
Not sure if this is good news or bad news, but it turns out that the bulb starters for the Diplomat are covered by the one-year warranty. This would suggest that the device is not as well made as it should be, based on my experience, as 2 of the 3 starters had failed when I went to replace the 3 bulbs that had failed after 6 months.
Sadly, Flowtron is trying to convince me that a failed (or failing) starter has no effect on a new bulb, even though the 2 bulbs I tried with the failed starters immediately became darkened at the top (the other is completely clear). Even worse, they are trying to tell me that the 8800 Diplomat is not intended for commercial use. As already mentioned, the 7800 version of the Diplomat (same wattage & bulb type: Flowtron BF-130 40 Watt U-Shape Replacement Bulb for FC7800 & FC8800 models) is listed at Amazon.com as being for commercial use, as is the Flowtron FC-7600 Indoor Commercial Fly Control Unit version. Also, all 3 versions of the Diplomat are listed at Flowtron's website as being "Economical, Effective Workplace Fly Control".
At this point, I am prepared to believe that Flowtron deliberately uses substandard starters specifically in order to increase the maintenance cost of the Diplomat and that the failure to indicate that the 8800 version of the Diplomat is for commercial use serves much the same purpose. Very disappointing to encounter this kind of conduct with the premiere name in the industry.
Note: Forced to deduct a star for suspected fraudulence.
It seems these Flowtron devices that use multiple bulbs have a built-in defect, in that once a bulb fails, it will cause the bulb socket's starter to begin failing if the bulb is not removed right away. Aside from adding the price of the starters to the price of the bulbs, this will also have the effect of shortening the lifespan of a new bulb right off the bat, as the new bulb will immediately become compromised (going dark towards the top) when used with a failed (or failing) starter. Apparently, Flowtron chooses to keep this info from consumers for PR purposes -- with the added benefit, no doubt, that it serves to artificially inflate the maintenance cost of the devices.
For those of you who did not major in electrical engineering like I did, I suppose I should clarify what I mean when I say that Flowtron insect control devices that use multiple bulbs and starters have an inherent defect, since Flowtron is absolutely determined to obscure and evade this issue in every way that it possibly can. When a bulb that requires a starter to operate begins to fail, it will repeatedly attempt to start unsuccessfully (i.e., blinking) until it has failed completely (stops blinking). If the bulb is not removed from its socket before it fails completely, the starter will also have become compromised (through the bulb's repeated unsuccessful efforts to start) by the time the bulb fails completely -- ultimately causing the starter to fail completely in its own right, if the failed bulb remains attached to the starter for a number of days after the bulb fails. In much the same way, since the damaged starter can no longer draw enough power to start a bulb, any new bulb placed in the socket attached to the damaged starter will immediately become compromised through its own failed efforts to draw sufficient power to start through the now defective starter.
I could easily be very disturbed by Flowtron's relentless efforts to evade and obscure this issue at the expense of consumers, if not for the fact that I am realizing more and more that its true customers are businesses, so that Flowtron sees consumers primarily as a means to derive occasional additional revenue by exploiting their inability to understand Flowtron's industrial equipment. With this particular consumer, however, they miscalculated badly.
It stands to reason that the only time I have ever purchased a commercial device it would turn out to be a situation where a merchant is marketing commercial equipment to consumers in order to make up for revenue lost due to shoddy workmanship (in this case, the failure to utilize starters with built-in timers), since there are most likely no businesses shopping for commercial equipment at Amazon.com. So consumers should be mindful that this is probably the case in general anytime they come across a commercial device at Amazon.com.
A very important lesson to be learned here for all consumers, as Flowtron represents a very new kind of merchant in the e-consumer industry: one who is willing to rely heavily on consumer feedback forums to artificially inflate the value if its products. For as long as I have been dealing with this issue regarding the Diplomat, it has troubled me that no other reviewers were willing to warn other consumers about the high maintenance cost of this device. At first I took it to be consumer apathy and/or an unwillingness on the part of consumers to stand up to a merchant that is the top brand in its industry (however small that industry might be). Now I realize that the absence of any such warning is more or less the flip side of the personal attacks I have been subjected to here by Flowtron for pointing out that it has no business foisting its defective commercial junk on consumers.
This is a trend that has been the norm for many years now at apartment review sites, where landlords habitually pay tenants to artificially inflate the value of their properties, but now we are seeing it expand to other aspects of e-consumerism. It is important that consumers learn to recognize this trend as it becomes increasingly prevalent with e-retailers that allow consumers to offer product feedback.
I have been forced to file a complaint with the BBB against Amazon.com for its failure to intervene with Flowtron on behalf of consumers, given that logically there can be no reason to sell commercial equipment at Amazon.com unless it is defective, that logically only the manufacturer would ever have reason to subject a consumer submitting objective product feedback to violent personal attacks for doing so and that these Diplomats are powerful, high-maintenance commercial devices which cannot be used by unskilled consumers in a residential environment without jeopardizing their safety.
Now that merchants are recognizing the potential for aggressive false advertising -- both by misrepresenting their products and subjecting any dissenters to violent personal attacks -- represented by product reviews with e-retailers, we see that a specialized class of advertising company has emerged to help them make the most of these oppotunities. I've been hoping these past few months that Amazon.com, the world's largest e-retailer, would have enough regard for consumers to prevent consumer product feedback from becoming obsolete by similarly bringing about the existence of a specialized class of security company or service to monitor and combat the tactics used by this new class of advertiser.
But with Amazon.com having failed to even list this device -- the biggest and most powerful made by Flowtron -- as commercial in response to my complaint with the BBB, I am forced now to ask the the company's local State Attorney's Office to investigate the possibility that the opportunity to engage in aggressive false advertising is more or less a perk (and a fairly lucrative one, judging by the willingness of Amazon.com to stick its neck out for a small-time merchant like Flowtron) that Amazon.com provides to its true customers: the merchants who sell their products here. But most likely, the only protection consumers will ever have against merchants using the product reviews to engage in aggressive false advertising is to learn to look out for each other by using Amazon.com's "Report Abuse" links anytime they see a consumer being personally attacked for submitting objective product feedback, understanding that logically only the manufacturer ever has a motive for doing so.
As a consumer who has always believed it's best to steer clear of big companies at all costs because they are simply not capable of having any regard for consumers, I had always hoped that the world's biggest e-retailer would have to be an automatic exception to this rule. But Flowtron has forced me to take a hard look at Amazon.com and confront the fact that they have every bit of the lack of regard for consumers that is to be expected of any big company. Best of luck to those who choose to continue their patronage.
P.S.: According to the label for the FC-8800, it operates at 2.4 amps, so it uses a great deal more than 120 watts worth of power (2.4 amps X 120 volts = 288 watts); the 3 bulbs alone amount to 120 watts, at 40 watts each.
My complaints with the BBB and Washington State Attorney General have been administratively closed based on Amazon.com's false claims that it has no means to verify the information contained in its product listings (despite the "update product info" links it provides here expressly for that purpose) and that it needs the manufacturer's permission to modify its listings (which is not true of any retailer anywhere), so I have forwarded the matter to the FTC, which most likely will simply file the matter away. So consumers are on their own here, as Amazon.com continues to use this incident to advertise the lengths it will go to in order to protect those merchants who choose to take advantage of the opportunities Amazon.com provides them with to engage in aggressive false advertising.
Such is the reality of being a huge and therefore inevitably publicly-traded company in this nation. No matter how thoroughly a merchant's success is built on its relationship with consumers, a publicly-traded company simply cannot prioritize its relationship with consumers, and is required to regard them merely as statistics.
For the record, consumers should be advised that Amazon.com -- the world's largest e-retailer -- has the full resources to both monitor and screen its product reviews to prevent manufacturers from attacking consumers for submitting objective product feedback in the name of aggressive false advertising. So if Amazon.com is not going to either monitor the postings to its website after the fact or screen them beforehand (as the nation's other top e-retailers customarily do), then Amazon.com is deliberately creating a work environment conducive to criminal harassment -- which it can be held civilly liable for and should also be held criminally liable for.
Just received an email from the Amazon.com Executive Staff wherein Amazon.com essentially flaunted the fact that Amazon.com itself was the advertising company engaging in aggressive false advertising on behalf of Flowtron, in an effort to provoke an emotional response from me that could be used as a pretext for deleting my account, in exactly the same manner as Flowtron (or so I assumed) had been doing for the past 6 months straight. I immediately forwarded the email and the conclusions I drew from it to the BBB, CPSC and Washington State Attorney General, while also making it clear to them that I understood fully well that the nation (and world as a whole) has a vested interest in the authorities making certain that any decision rendered by them is conducive to the financial well-being of Amazon.com -- and that this is perfectly fine by me, so long as I have fulfilled my duties as a consumer as thoroughly as I possibly could.
For the record, this is all part of the corporate sharkery that takes place behind the scenes constantly with publicly traded companies. Once the suits at Amazon.com make the decision that it is profitable to allow merchants to engage in aggressive false advertising, the logical thing to do is to take over the process completely -- if only to minimize the potential for discovery, civil suits and/or charges of criminal harassment -- so that instead of just providing merchants with the opportunity to engage in aggressive false advertising, Amazon.com itself becomes an aggressive false advertising service for other merchants. The lengths that Amazon.com goes to on behalf of a merchant in an effort to provide this service varies according to the merchant being serviced and its particular circumstances at the time.
I might add that Amazon.com is far from alone in its approach to consumer product reviews, as I have come across at least a couple of other top e-retailers who will flatly refuse to post a review that points out a glaring defect or inaccuracy in a device or its listing that no one else has mentioned. But Amazon.com is the only e-retailer I know of that allows other consumers to provide a direct rebuttal to a consumer's product feedback -- which, of course, is what creates the opportunities for merchants to impersonate consumers in the name of aggressive false advertising. The obvious solution is for the authorities to make it illegal for consumers to directly respond to consumer product feedback in general, while at the same time allowing merchants to officially do so (as with other e-retailers, such as NewEgg.com and also Apartmentratings.com, the e-merchant from whom Amazon.com apparently learned everything it knows about aggressive false advertising).
Hopefully, this will all have turned out to be worth the hassle and result in new legislation that will make aggressive false advertising impossible in the future, as this has all become pretty depressing and ultimately ugly towards the end. It is one thing to know that corporate folk are thugs in general, but something else altogether to suddenly have to confront the fact that the world's biggest e-retailer owes its success to being able to portray itself as the most consumer-friendly merchant around, while at the same time being the merchant most apt to regard consumers strictly as prey. Once again, the very best of luck to those who choose to continue their patronage.
Final Thoughts (9/6/2013):
From the perspective of Amazon.com, having it out in the open like this that Amazon.com's preeminence allows it to be the only e-retailer with an aggressive false advertising service (or that Amazon.com may indeed owe its preeminence to its aggressive false advertising service) actually represents the best-case scenario, since Amazon.com knows that no one is in a position to do anything about it, given the current state of the national/global economy and the prominence of Amazon.com in it as the world's largest e-retailer. Now those merchants who are struggling and need to can take full advantage of Amazon.com's aggressive false advertising service, like Flowtron has, with full confidence that no one is going to make a big deal about it for as long as the economic recovery remains as fragile as it is. I am guessing that it will be at least another 5 years or so down the road before the issue of aggressive false advertising with e-retailers garners enough attention that there is even any discussion of passing legislation to make it impossible -- by which time Amazon.com will have had plenty of time to make the adjustment to foregoing its aggressive false advertising service, no matter how indebted Amazon.com is to that service for its success.
As the world becomes increasingly dependent on the greed-driven corporate mentality to sustain it, consumers have to learn to be realistic about what it means to be a consumer relative to a corporate entity. From the perspective of a corporation, consumers merely represent prey to be duped and retailers exist solely to provide merchants with opportunities to do so, which is why Amazon.com's aggressive false advertising service (AFAS) has so much appeal to merchants -- which in turn is what allows Amazon.com to provide the many seemingly consumer-friendly services that make it the world's largest e-retailer, enhancing the appeal of Amazon.com to merchants all the more. The bottom line is that although the free-market system is fatally flawed -- representing the fate of the world's economy being inextricably tied to the greed of a few individuals -- it happens to be the world's best effort, so there is no recourse but to put various checks in place to prevent the greed of corporate entities from getting out of hand, which will inevitably take place with the issue of e-retailers and AFAS after Amazon.com has its hand at making AFAS the future of e-consumerism.
After a fresh round of complaints in the absence of any meaningful response from Amazon.com to the issue of AFAS (which may as well be short for A Fat A---d S---k, which is what Amazon.com has shown itself to be here), I begin to get the sense now that the issue of e-merchants allowing consumers to rebut each other's product feedback in the name of aggressive false advertising has been around long enough -- without the authorities so much as warning consumers about the potential for fraud that it represents -- that the authorities simply can't afford to have any attention drawn to it at all now, and that this is the primary reason that Flowtron has been so silent since I went to the Washington State Office of Attorney General with this issue last Summer. If I am right, then all that can be hoped for now is that this review will remain up long enough that any consumers who experience AFAS with Amazon.com -- or with other e-retailers elsewhere -- may stumble across it by chance and follow the simple blueprint I have laid out for dealing with merchants who engage in cyber-bullying (or rather, the appearance of it) in the name of false advertising:
Anytime a consumer feels personally attacked for submitting product feedback, simply recognize that only the merchant has a motive for doing so and make certain that they have every possible opportunity to do so, as this will inevitably create a situation where the e-retailer who is making it possible will have to be held accountable for it. The underlying premise for the effectiveness of this approach is based on a twofold principle: Firstly, that there can never be such a thing as a retailer so big that it can afford to have merchants advertising on its behalf the fact that the merchants are always a retailer's true customers; secondly, that if the issue of AFAS persists, it will serve to underscore the fact that AFAS has been around long enough without the authorities doing anything about it that they can no longer afford to have anyone doing anything at all to call attention to it.
If I am right, then the issue of AFAS will never extend any further than this review and become a part of the Nation's collective "dirty laundry", falling into the same category as the fact that HUD was created alongside the Civil Rights Act specifically in order to ensure that the Civil Rights movement would serve to reinforce rather than rectify the fact that citizenship is strictly a function of income for those of non-European-descent in any nation created and maintained by folk of European-descent.
It is bright, I'd say 3-6 times brighter than any I've had in the past. It lights up the entire area in front of my garage, but with a soft light rather than a normal spotlight. Even though I had purchased a light for the outside of the garage, I never bothered putting it in.
It works. It is powerful, it draws in bugs for (literally) a mile or so, and it slowly clears your entire area of bugs. Keep in mind that, with any bug light, it isn't there to kill the bugs near you (nor instantly). You should put it a ways away from where you hang out, and it takes a few weeks to start reducing the bug population. It draws in more flies than anything, but then I put the Flowtron mosquito attractant on it to draw those in as well. Unfortunately a walking stick sometimes hangs out near it to get bugs, then will get electrocuted (it takes around 30 seconds for something that big) when it tries to catch one. You definitely hear it getting all of the bugs, and I want to cheer each time. :)
I removed the bottom altogether, so bugs just fall out into the grass under where I have it mounted. The ants take care of them anyway and I don't have to climb a ladder to empty it each time.
I presume that it takes quite a bit of electricity, especially since it needs to be on 24/7. However, if you want one this powerful . . . you have to pay the price. This isn't a design flaw, just a fact of life.
The bulbs don't last terribly long. The first bulb went out after about 8 months, and the rest followed shortly after. The biggest bummer (mainly because it meant bringing out a long ladder and taking it down/taking it apart twice) was that all of the ballasts failed at the same time. They are wicked cheap (less than $8 and free shipping for 25 of them: Sunlite 37140-SU E740, FC8, Lamp FS22 Fluorescent Lamp Starter, 25 Pack(Pack of 25)), but it meant waiting a few more days and then going through the same process a second time. My recommendation would be to buy the box of 25, and just plan to replace one each time you replace a bulb.
The transformers get *really* hot, too hot to touch. I think that this is part of what lead to the downfall of the ballasts, and also meant that the plastic on the ballasts got brittle and they wanted to come apart when trying to remove them . . . another reason for replacing them each time.
So to conclude, plan to replace ballasts with lights, plan to replace the bulbs at least once per year . . . and plan to have all of your bugs annihilated in a satisfying way.