Mar 232013
 

A few years ago, Lelo decided to cash in on the wave of “luxury” sex toys and kick things up a notch. A fancy new name for a fancier-looking line: Insignia. These first three new uber-luxury sex toys – the Isla, Alia and Soraya – certainly looked posh. Lelo’s previous line had been a signature look at the time: a white, shiny plastic handle with 4 buttons set in a unique configuration and standard colors. The Insignia line completely changed the look. No more white plastic! No obvious handle or buttons! HOW FANCY! Well, in theory. They were certainly pretty to look at, but I found with the Isla that the inner core of metallic-painted plastic caused major headaches when it came tine for clean-up. And even though that metallic-painted plastic inset looked like metal, it was not. Yet, we didn’t question it at first.

Recently, a reader emailed me:

Just wondering if you know anything about the gold foil flaking off the pointy end of the Soraya? I love my black friend but I’m a bit wary of using it when I can’t find the paint flakes after toy time. I haven’t had it all that long either. I’m not rough cleaning it, no scrubbing or harsh chemicals.

This gave me pause. Yes, I too would be a bit concerned if I knew that there were flakes of paint hanging out in my vagina. Since the onus is on the manufacturer to be truthful (and thus far, Lelo always has told the truth when they’ve described their materials) about the product, what with there being no regulations on sex toys, we must assume that the metallic paint is body safe should it flake off. Nothing about the composition of the paint is ever mentioned on the site.

But even beyond just the safety concern is suddenly the fact that your once-posh-looking nearly-$200 vibrator suddenly looks like the sex toy equivalent of a New Years Day hangover – still wearing last night’s fancy dress and makeup, but everything is faded and a bit scuffed from the enthusiastic partying, with missing spangles and sequins and shiny skin. Seriously. I expect a lot from a company who charges almost $200 for a dual-stimulator vibrator that has no bells and whistles like rotating shafts and independently controlled internal and external portions. I expect a lot from Lelo, period. I started looking into things more online, specifically the EdenFantasys forums. I tend to avoid them with a 10-foot-pole, but they do sometimes have their uses.

I found a lengthy post from a Soraya owner who still views the Soraya as her all-time favorite vibrator, despite all of the issues. And the issues don’t stop at cosmetic. At 6 months in, paint flaked off for her. After about 12-15 charges, the unique charging port changed from a pinpoint hole to a larger hole with tiny bits of silicone breaking off. When we first received the Insignia line, reviewers were baffled as to where to put the charging pin – the silicone skin was completely healed, there was no port cap! We were told that it wasn’t necessary, that it would break through and be so tiny that water wouldn’t get in during use. And it didn’t. But if that pinpoint hole should enlarge? I don’t know. After 8 months of use, the owner had a motor malfunction. What I find important to note is that she said that if the motor had not malfunctioned at 8 months in, she would not have been able to get a warranty replacement. I was shocked. Paint is flaking off, yet that is considered a cosmetic issue and is not covered under their 1 year warranty?!? And, good thing the malfunction happened at 8 months in. Past the year mark, one would only get a 50% off credit towards a new Lelo.  Now, this doesn’t mean that you would have these issues with the motor. You may never. But chances of the paint flaking off? I’m saying it’s pretty likely:

leloflake1

leloflake2

Despite the reader who emailed me saying that she treats her toy well, it seems that even those who are careful can suffer a surface scratch to the painted plastic portion and not even realize it – until it later starts flaking. Since the painted portion is concave, it’s less likely that it is a rubbing-off issue. When I used to use silver-toned corded bullet vibrators, after a few months of heavy use the paint would start wearing. I didn’t use them internally so I wasn’t as concerned. But these were cheap, $10 bullets. Not $200 rabbits or $150 lackluster straight vibes or $115 clitoral vibes.

I contacted Lelo to ask if my reader’s Soraya is covered under warranty, just in case. In reading the warranty terms on the Lelo site, it says:

This pleasure object is intended for adults only. LELO warrants this pleasure object for a period of ONE (1) YEAR, after the date of original purchase, against defects due to faulty workmanship or materials. If you discover a defect and notify LELO during the warranty period, LELO will, at its discretion, replace the pleasure object free of charge.

The warranty covers working parts that affect the function of the pleasure object. It does NOT cover cosmetic deterioration caused by fair wear and tear or damage caused by accident, misuse or neglect. Any attempt to open or take apart the pleasure object (or its accessories) will void the warranty.

Now….I take issue with this. I feel that the paint flaking off of a portion you use internally is a result of faulty workmanship or materials. I don’t view that as a mere cosmetic issue.

I can see the paint flaking off of the battery covers to the Insignia SenseMotion remotes, as well, in fact much more easily. I’ve already scratched the surface of mine just by trying to get the damn battery cover off, even using their plastic key. A lot of handling of that remote would cause paint to flake off. Now that I would not take as big of an issue with since it would not be on the internally used portion, but again for the price of these toys…..I would feel cheated to have to look at an ugly, expensive toy.

Thankfully, Lelo responded the way I had hoped they would:

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So it seems that the problematic owner from the forums took the warranty to heart and never asked. She didn’t outright say that she tried to return it under warranty and was denied. She assumed she was, and her assumptions made it sound like fact in her reporting.

Always ask. Especially when it comes to higher end companies like Lelo.

  • http://incendiaire-reviews.blogspot.com Incendiaire

    I really love the sculptural design of the whole Insignia range; I think they look exceptionally beautiful for sex toys, possibly even unrivalled in this regard.

    I feel that Lelo have let themselves down a bit by going the metallic paint route, because it’s a cheap technique not befitting such a high-end product.

    One of my pet peeves is things which try to pretend to be something they’re not. If you want a shiny metal part on a toy then make it from metal. If you start coating plastic in metal foil then it seems a little dishonest to me, even if you don’t try to hide that fact.

    I can understand it with cheaper toys. If you’re paying $10 for a vibe then you can’t expect to actually be getting metal. In that circumstance it really is more about form over function, and companies are purposely trying to dress up inexpensive products as much as possible, in order to shift large quantities quickly and make a decent profit.

    With an expensive product I just expect more. I want to see quality through and through, not corners cut. Design it to be the best that it can be, and manufacture it to live up to that.

    I still admire Lelo though, especially how they’re handling the warranty situation. If they didn’t foresee this issue and are willing to remedy it when it occurs, then that’s the right sort of reaction to have.

  • http://www.Septimusreviews.blogspot.com Septimus

    I’m glad that her toy was covered under the warranty. I’ve got a few LELO products myself and love them to death.
    It’s good to know that even though the luxury line has its issues, LELO is being fair and responsible about it. I have a lot of respect for them as a company and I would hate to be disappointed.

  • ursula

    The gold paint on my lelo Soraya started flaking, I did a google search and I found your investigation

    My product is over two years old, so according to their warranty system that means its covered by the 10 year warranty: “receive a 50% discount on your next purchase of a LELO product”

    I contacted customer care – I thought you might be interested in their response: free replacement! – see their email below

    Thanks for sleuthing!

    Disappointed that Lelo put out something with faulty materials and haven’t done a product recall on it—I paid a lot, but happy with customer service.

    cheers
    /ursula

    ////////
    LELO reply to your inquiry:

    Thank you for your email.

    I am sorry hear that.

    We would like to offer you a free replacement, would you pase provide us with following information ?

    1, Full Name:
    2, Full Address:
    3, Phone number:
    4, Color of replacement:
    5, serial number (to be found the back of the warranty booklet):
    6, Picture of the problem :

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best Regards

    Hiba Khatbane
    Customer Care Supervisor

    LELO

    We hope this response has sufficiently answered your questions. If not, please reply directly to this email or login to your account for a complete archive of all your inquiries and responses.

  • emanuelle

    my Alia has started flaking, really glad to read this and find I am not alone with this problem. I suppose it is less of a safety concern/more cosmetic than with a Soraya but I am still pretty disappointed. I’ve been really careful with it but perhaps this is the inevitable result of having to clean the awkward edges of the gold bit? My Alia is about 1 1/2. The other Lelo products I was interested in buying seem to have these gold bits too, but I feel pretty disillusioned about them now. I have written to Lelo however and am waiting for a response.

  • emanuelle

    Received the same response as Ursula, hooray! Still, I do wonder if the same thing is going to happen again, and also if the handle of the Smart Wand (which I’m presently daydreaming about)could potentially suffer the same fate…although those seem to look silver.

    ~ Yay, glad to hear it! Smart Wand handle to me is a lot less worrisome since it’s only the handle. Unlike the insignia line. I’ve not yet had a problem, but we’ll see. Paint is paint, though, and it’s still a metallic painted plastic.