In the middle of my summer vacation in Portugal, I lost my drone in the ocean.
My kids named my Mavic Pro “Duck”. Yes, that was his official name. Here’s his flight record:
“Duck” had 437 flights in total. Well, maybe a couple hundred more than that, as this record only includes flights taken using the DJI Go4 App. Sometimes I fly with the Litchi app instead.
As you can see from the bottom of the screenshot, the last flight was on July 25, 2018 in Praia de Mira, Portugal. The flight lasted 10 minutes, and the maximum height was 54 metres.
That flight was a standard type of flight for me — a long slow flight over the ocean near Praia de Mira, usually to observe a fishing boat, or a sailboat, or to just capture some scenery. Here’s an example of one of those flights:
“Duck” was a few kilometres offshore on July 25th, when it fell from the sky. The fall took a few seconds and I watched it live on the video link to my phone. Soon “Duck” was underwater.
Apparently, "Duck" can't float. In hindsight, not a great name for a drone.
If you're interested in the technical details of the crash, you can check the Airdata flight. Apparently the crash was caused by an "ESC Error" – which is the Electronic Speed Controller.
Unfortunately, since the drone fell in the ocean … I wasn’t able to recover it.
I contacted DJI to inquire about the loss. At first, I knew they wouldn’t replace the drone, as DJI’s Refresh + only covers damaged drones if you send them back to them.
But I wanted “data analysis” performed so that I could at least determine the reason for the failure.
I first sent in a request on July 25th, right after the failure. Their response was essentially “sorry you lost you drone, nothing we can do.”
The second request I sent in, a few days later, was met with “sorry you lost your drone, we can’t really analyze the data you have, because you’re not covered under the warranty — it’s expired.”
Of course, I bough the *extended* warranty called “DJI Refresh+” which should, you know, *extend* the warranty. Apparently, after a few days of arguing, DJI’s representative decided that the extended warranty was still in effect, but didn’t extend my warranty, so the request was close. “Sorry you lost your drone. We can’t analyze your data.”
Not to give up easily, I tried again a few days later. I sent in a request, asking to have the data analyzed. Their response was “sorry, looks like your warranty’s expired.”
I wrote back “yes, but I bought DJI Care, the extended warranty.”
They replied “well, yeah, but see, only DJI Care + (note the plus symbol) actually extends your warranty. You bought DJI Care, not DJI Care +”
My reply was something like “What? Are you kidding me? I actually have DJI Care Refresh + … here’s the warranty number, here’s the PDF of the coverage you sent me when I bought it, and here’s the e-mail acknowledging that I have extended warranty until May 2019.”
They replied, paraphrasing: “Oh, our mistake. Looks like you do indeed have an extended warranty. But whatever, we can’t analyze your data, sorry that you lost your drone. We can only analyze data in the first year of a drone’s purchase.”
I’m paraphrasing, of course, but it really was back and forth like that… for more than a month. “I have an extended warranty. I don’t want a new drone, I just want to know what happened to mine!” “No, sorry.”
Finally, I decided to start with the end in mind :-) and try to convince them that I had a warranty *first* and that the warranty covered data analysis, *before* I told them I had lost the drone in the ocean.
So I posted on the DJI forums, asking if DJI Care Refresh + (the extended warranty) covered data analysis. Of course it did, was their response.
I put in yet another ticket, requesting analysis of my flight. I made it clear in the ticket that I was simply looking for data analysis, and that I was referred by a DJI rep on the forum. I included all the relevant data from the flight.
A week later, I received another request for more data. I sent them everything I had, in a shared dropbox folder. I crossed my fingers.
A day after providing the further data, I received the following:
Wow! Much better result than I expected! DJI determined that not only is my warranty still active, but that the crash into the ocean was covered by that warranty.
They quickly sent a replacement drone!