Oct 132013
 

There is always a proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back; This straw is named Ida.

 iquit

In 2008 when I first started reviewing sex toys, I got to review a couple of Lelo toys pretty early on in my career. Back then, “luxury” vibes were not as prevalent and seemed so….posh. So fancy. So very, very different from the garish, neon dreams of CalExotics and Doc Johnson, at 5-10 times the price. And with a price tag like that, surely they’re better, right?? So I felt let down when I didn’t love my first Lelo toys. They weren’t quite powerful enough for me. But I thought it was my fault. I was the problem, not Lelo. They were trying so hard, you see.  And so, I kept making excuses–trying to be objective, and state that just because it wasn’t perfect for me, Ms. Picky Clit-o-Steel, didn’t mean they weren’t great sex toys. After all, I was reading so many other glowing reviews.

I’ve become more jaded as the years pass, this is true. I’ve seen a lot of luxury sex toys come and go. And the opinions I tried to mold into objective statements years ago have lost their luster; they have chipped away like the metallic paint on their Insignia line.  I am left with nothing but unapologetic (harsh?) truths. I have replaced my old “trying to hard to be objective” with a tempered balance of honesty and realism. 

Let’s run this down, shall we? Abridged version, go:

  • Elise – Great size, and a promising two motors that sorta work for me, but the placement of that second motor was a bit odd.
  • Mia - Geek-appeal, the first USB rechargeable vibe I’d ever seen, but the vibrations were poor and buzzy. I was bummed.
  • Bo cock ring – Neat; for 2008, it was inventive – rechargeable, posh, etc. Vibrations were meh. It wasn’t silicone.
  • Gigi – Better than the bird-beak tips most toy makers thought felt nice on a g-spot, but unfortunate button placement combined with a too-short length and mediocre vibrations made for sad bedfellows
  • Luna Beads – They actually worked, and remain to be the most intelligent kegel ball system out there
  • Isla – They decided to put design over function. The metallic paint on the plastic portion chips off terribly after 6 months to a year of use. At first, Lelo wouldn’t replace them under warranty. Paint chipping off inside my vag seems to be a defect, you know?? Piss poor vibrations and a worthless shape.
  • Mona – Good shape, good length, vibrations seemed to be an improvement from all other models but could be more.
  • Tor II cock ring – No longer “inventive”, they now make it out of silicone but it’s less stretchy. Too tight for above-average. Better vibrations, though.
  • Tiani – Tiani 1st Ed was shit. Sense Motion failed, but then they fixed it. Vibrations were so weak it was pathetic. Internal arm offered nothing.
  • Tiani 2nd Ed – Internal arm slightly better, still meh. Vibrations improved, but not Wow. Better for couple’s play (but not sex) than the We-Vibe 3.
  • Luna Beads Noir – Total WTF. Better colors,  but the whole reason I liked the Luna Beads is negated. There’s no going up in weights gradually, since you only get 2 beads of the higher weight.
  • Luna Beads Mini – Also, total WTF fail. The ball is same size as regular Luna Beads, so it doesn’t provide as much sensation in use. They didn’t work at all.
  • Smart Wand  Medium – Again, the technology failed. SenseTouch was a bomb. Medium was a nice size but the vibrations were infuriatingly bland.
  • Smart Wand Large – Technology still shit, but vibrations knocked my socks off. Caveat: Works best with an attachment meant for the Hitachi Magic Wand. Doesn’t hold a charge in between uses very well; others have reported quality issues w the motor
  • Ina 2 – Better than the Original Ina in design and vibrations,  but somehow still not quite enough to be great for me.
  • Mia 2 - Still has design issues, unfortunate button placement/difficult to clean, but vibrations greatly improved. I still prefer my We-Vibe Tango, though.
  • Mona 2 -  Improved vibrations, still not enough for power queens like me and not on par with Smart Wand Large, but great shape and size.
  • Gigi 2 - Better vibrations (still less than Mona 1), but it’s not enough for me.
  • Ida - Saw Piph’s review, said NOPE. I’m done. A rotating internal arm, a flat disc that vibrates. My husband’s penis is thicker than average, and my body type won’t work at all with a flat disc. Did they even test this with human genitals? 

 

Decline in Quality

I’ve heard rumors from trusted industry people that the quality of Lelo sex toys has drastically dropped over the years. More and more people are returning under warranty.  If you were around in ’08, you’d have seen the gradual, subtle decline in packaging to cut back on costs. They cut back on costs of packaging and clearly cut back on costs for materials and workmanship, yet their sex toys keep the ridiculously high price tags. And then, this summer, they raise their wholesale prices. What does that mean for the consumer? Not a lot. You’ll probably not really see much change. The stores won’t want to raise prices, because they need to stay competitive, both with each other and the Lelo direct sale site. It just means that the retailers now make a good bit less from a Lelo toy.

Inconsistent Customer Service

A lot of readers come to me with problems with their Lelo toys, and tell me that they tried to contact Lelo for a warranty exchange, but were ignored or told they couldn’t be helped. I would, each time, take it to social media and get their issues fixed that way. But I shouldn’t have to do that.  In my post about Lelo’s metallic paint flaking off, I had readers contacting me who were reading the warranty info and thinking their issues were not covered under warranty. Lelo said that they would honor a warranty replacement; however I did have to mediate between customers and Lelo a few times, when Lelo would just flat-out ignore customer service emails and warranty repair requests.

Since I’ve been working with Lelo, I’ve gone through more “handlers” than I can count. Turnover is normal in these businesses, but this is excessive. In the beginning, the info they would provide to me would be correct and helpful. In the past year, it’s been frustrating and wrong, often.  The saga of the Luna Beads cleaning method was the worst of them all. I looked like an ass, but at least I was able to get Lelo to send them new Luna Beads.

Anti-Plus-Size

In addition to their overpriced vibrators, Lelo also has a small line of way overpriced lingerie. A $400 robe, anyone? They won’t make plus-size options. They just won’t. Their XL is a US 12.  If you really want a pair of their overpriced PJ pants, you’ll have to pick the “Men’s” version, because the men can have pants that fit up to a 46″ waist.  The men’s robes also go up to XXL. In the land of Lelo, it’s ok to be a husky man, but they only want to cater to thinner femmes.  This trend is not unique to Lelo. Not at all. It’s just simply another nail in the coffin.

Wherein I am an Island

You’ll continue to see amazingly positive reviews everywhere about Lelo, but mixed in with a healthy amount of negative reviews. I’m not saying they’re wrong, those positive reviews. The vibrations are strong enough for some women. But these days, there are other options for sex toys made from safe materials that come with a warranty. Options with better workmanship and better vibration, or a lower price point.  Nobody is perfect and no one sex toy/sex toy manufacturer will be perfect for every person. I’m just saying that I personally am done. I can’t fully support Lelo anymore. I can’t keep agreeing to try more and more Lelo toys, only to be let down time and again. I can’t get more and more jaded, as I read their copy (which frankly feels like outright lies many times) that promises “intense” vibration or “intense” g-spot stimulation, when it’s truly mediocre at best. Intense. Lelo, you keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means. I KNOW INTENSE. You have missed that mark by a lot, in all cases but one or two.

I’ve been brewing with these thoughts now for months. However I’d managed to still hang on to a little shred of hope…..a hope that was flat out obliterated when I finally heard the full dirt on the Lelo Ida. And for the first time ever, I “reviewed” a sex toy without owning it (perhaps it should be called a commentary OpEd post instead of review) because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I retracted my agreement to review it for Lelo and suddenly in a matter of minutes, a decision I’d been wibbling and wobbling on for ages was made in a snap.  Why couldn’t I just keep on reviewing for them, and take the “free” toys? Because I die a little each time, lately. Writing that review for the Gigi 2 was not easy, because I was so fucking over it already. Usually I relish the opportunity to go all OH HELL NO in a review against a bad toy, and I would have with Ida, but frankly the thought just fucking exhausted me. Ain’t nobody, especially me, got time for that shit. I’ve cut back; I want to still largely enjoy what I do, not have the life sucked out of me.

Bottom line: Lelo isn’t worth the price.  They’re not worth the hassle of dealing with their promised warranty that they try to wiggle out of. They’re not retailer-friendly. They’re extraordinarily hetero-centric (and they do such a bad job at it, too).    If you own a Lelo toy, and you are having problems, of ANY kind, contact them for a warranty replacement. If they ignore your email, take it public– to Facebook and Twitter. They don’t like the bad press, so they’ll help you. I’ll still recommend the Luna Beads, the Mona 2, and maybe even the Mia 2 but with warnings, caveats and presenting other options.

 

  • Sassycat

    I had always wondered about those sex toys. They never really spoke to me, curiosity yes. But never strong enough to spend the money. I remember seeing Lelonas the “new thing” and now it’s just there. Too overpriced for me.
    I now see reviewing sex toys as a overdone niche. Every where I turn on, blogs there are affiliate banners & review pages. There has got to be something else out there. Thanks for sharing your opinion because it kind of sealed the coffin of curiosity on that style & company of sex toys.

  • Heaven

    I quit before I even began. I was seeing lot’s of stuff going out and contacted them about reviewing for them and the response they sent me pissed me off. Then I had trouble even when I started their affiliate program. I only own one thing from them and that is because I won it on a giveaway. From the sounds of everything you posted I am kind of glad. They can go fly a kite somewhere. I was going to send them a rude email too.

  • http://secretlysensuousstuff.blogspot.com/ Secretly Sensuous

    I’ve yet to try anything from Lelo, but based on the vast number of reviews out there – of which you’ve contributed in no small part – I feel like I have a good sense of which of their products might work for me personally. So thank you for your efforts, and also thank you for taking care of yourself by saying “no” to something that makes you die a little bit each time. If all bloggers did that the community would be much improved.

  • Susi

    Thx for that article… it’s awesome and VERY helpfully.

    I can understand your feeling of trying to extenuate the disappointment with Lelo, because they invest so much effort in advertising that you can’t imagine that they save money on the product development. That’s the only explanation I can find. There are so many better products on the market that are much better but less popular/known.

    On the other hand I have to give Lelo some credits to enhance that bad image that sex toys have, by promoting them as lifestyle products. Of course the main reason is money making and not some (high) feminist values… but at least they help women to stand behind their sexual needs because they aren’t that “dirty” any more. Their vibrators are luxury products and not some shitty jelly stuff that has nude women on its package.

    Greetings from Vienna (Austria)
    Susi

  • Guest

    Had terrible experience with them. Placed order in Jan. and got nothing in March. Customer service sounds extremely rude that I don’t even want to read their emails. No refund, nothing they can do, suck it up yourself. The fact that it will be shipped from Shanghai is not listed on the website. Neither is fact that they had terrible customer service. Clearly their products are overpriced becaues they knew you will only do business with them once. I wonder if there is a way to share my experience with someone else, to bring more people’s attention to this so-called “luxury” vibe?

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    Well, you can try taking it to social media, like their Facebook page. I realize not everyone has a Facebook account where they feel comfortable sharing such things, but many people have two accounts for reasons such as this.
    Share your story with other reviewers.

    You are absolutely right, it SHOULD be made clear on the Lelo site that it ships from China. Then again….I can’t really say I’d support shopping on their site, for this and other reasons. When it ships from outside the country you’re in, there is a customs form. This removes any discretion.

    Did they provide you with a tracking number, as proof of delivery? Not that the tracking number really does much. I’ve had a few items stolen after delivery.

  • InquisitiveClam

    I recently felt a little miffed after contacting LELO. I won LELO’s HULA Beads in a giveaway hosted by Cara Sutra, and she lives in the UK. She sent me the prizes from her giveaway, and the HULA Beads came with the UK power cord (naturally and understandably), but I can’t use it because I live in the U.S., so I contacted LELO. I asked about sending them the power cord I can’t use in exchange for the U.S. power cord, which I thought was perfectly reasonable. Like I said, I had even offered to send the UK cord back. When LELO responded to my inquiry, they said that “it will be impossible to return the European plug in exchange for the U.S. plug” and suggested I buy a converter. While an adapter for the UK plug isn’t expensive, the point of winning a toy in a giveaway is getting the toy for free. Fortunately, Cara Sutra was more than willing to send me an adapter she had, and – being the great hostess she is – even threw in a special gift of bondage tape from her new toy line, which she didn’t have to do to make me happy, but it was a wonderfully thoughtful gesture. Plus, I recently received the ORA from LELO’s Insignia line, which uses the same power cord as the HULA Beads and came with the U.S. cord, so I can now charge and use my HULA Beads. I just don’t see what the big deal is about LELO working with me to exchange the plugs.

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    Goodness that’s crappy of them!!! Wow. Really shitty.

  • Janis Bouchard

    On the 17/04/2014 i brought the large smart wand , and yesterday after maybe 3 used it stop, like that and no possibility to charge it, nothing happening, no light even after 4 hours plugged! Contact them and they contact me back whit questions like : did you used it in water like bath or shower? **** don’t get it, why it’s suppose to not be a treat to it, in the instructions it said waterproof to 1 meter!!! So what the point??? Do they trying to un valid my warranty whit that! When they sell it as waterproof??? I’m confused, i didn’t have the time to but, what the point in this question! Please if someone already had those kind of problem with them let me know! Thank

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    I don’t know why they ask that. They’re not the most people-friendly bunch, sadly. There is one person that I’ve met from Lelo recently who is pretty wonderful, and maybe she can get you some help. I’ll check with her.

  • Janis Bouchard

    I think it will be ok, they send me the rma number already, if they give me problem I’ll come back, thank a lot!