Resource Pieps DSP Failed to Perform What is was Specifically Designed to do (Black Diamond) - Stay Safe

Frank V. Pearsall

Hard Yards
Jan 7, 2019
5
11
53
Ohio
snowgaper.com

Please share and stay safe everyone


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Hey friends,
While I’ve been largely off social lately, I realize the potential it has to harness change. So here I am, making an appeal.

As most of you know, my late husband, Corey Lynam died in an avalanche at Hanging Lake near Whistler in March 2017. At the time of the accident, he was using the Pieps DSP avalanche beacon - a device designed for “fast, accurate searches in the event of a slide.” But in Corey’s accident, his beacon failed.

Fellow backcountry skiers couldn’t locate him because of the fundamental design flaw which turned the beacon into the wrong mode during the avalanche. It took upwards of 40 people, rescue crews and dogs to locate him, but after 4+ hours buried, it was too late and he passed away. The Pieps DSP failed to perform what it was specifically designed to do - save Corey’s life or at least give him a fighting chance.

With the help of lawyers, I notified Black Diamond (owners of the Pieps beacon) in writing and asked for an official recall in 2017 due to the obvious design flaw. Black Diamond stated they were doing an internal investigation but never got back to me, answered my calls or recalled the beacon. It’s still out there and widely used.

I was advised at the time that posting about it or going to the media would open me up for a potential suit from Black Diamond. At the time, I was a newly single mother, trying to make ends meet and navigate how the hell I was going to move forward with my life. The thought of that scared me and I felt silenced. So instead, I went from store to store that sold the beacon trying to get it off the shelves, sharing Corey’s story, but most people I spoke to said that if there wasn’t an official recall, they wouldn’t be willing to lose the revenue from the beacon - it was a best seller... Corey’s death and my experience weren’t enough. It was gutting. So, each year, as the season changes to winter, I hold my breath and wait for the first of the avalanches, praying that the next one isn’t a skier wearing the Pieps beacon.

But last winter, it happened. A pro skier, Nick McNutt, was wearing the Pieps beacon and was caught in an avalanche. Similarly to Corey, the design flaw was clear. The beacon slide into the wrong mode and the rest of the team wasn’t able to get a signal. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was being filmed, they wouldn’t have been able to locate him with probes as quickly as they did.

Since then, he and fellow pro skiers, including Christina Lusti (who has made several recent posts in frustration), have also contacted Black Diamond about the design flaw and have been spreading the word to the backcountry community. Black Diamond claimed Nick’s accident was the first they’d heard of where the beacon switched modes. They failed to acknowledge my letter (which they legally have to keep on file) or Corey's accident. They have been dragging their heels and not responding to the call for a recall from me and from Nick and countless other members of the backcountry community. More and more people are coming forward with accounts of their beacons switching modes.

And now, another ski seasons upon us. Only this year, with Covid and resorts limiting access, the backcountry is going to be busier than ever, causing people to push further and further out. I’m scared for this season. I’m terrified of this happening to someone else. And I’m sick of being scared silent. So please, friends, spread the word to your friends who backcountry ski. Let’s get this beacon off the shelves and recalled!!!

Nick and Christina’s posts on their accident:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CGKiX6FnesY/...

Here’s a video Black Diamond made as a weak attempt to try cover themselves:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CGT6EzAlgLn/?igshid=8u4rl1ik7ux6


All the best,
Stay Safe.
Frank@snowgaper.com
 

LMB

Old but definitely not Crusty!
Moderator
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This topic has really taken off on social media this week. I have a DPS Sport.
I’ve had pros.
Was really happy with the ease of use but the warranty and longevity didn’t work for me -
Lost two. And really had zero assistance getting warranty or repairs sorted.

I can see how in the force of an avi that switch might be forced but certainly haven’t had it switch modes on me before.
I read the BD report on testing post incident and they seem to think it’s less likely to fail than other brands. Who knows. Good stuff to be aware of but I wouldn’t be ditching your beacons in the basis of this incident and the social media storm around it. I’d be conscious of ensuring the switch is locked in and the beacon in its neoprene pouch covering the switch though.
 

dawooduck

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Well yes. It will be an interesting study on social media storms and there outcomes.
 

DPS Driver

A Local
Jul 18, 2014
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It only needs one death or incidence of failure to warrant a rethink and now there are several. It's a life saving device and if it's failing in that task, then it should be recalled. The fact that BD and Pieps both were aware of a potential issue and didn't disclose it isn't a good look.

I don't have a Pieps and certainly wouldn't be buying one with this issue hanging over their head.

Avalanches are violent things and even having your transceiver in it's pouch isn't a safe bet. There's a lot of pressure and movement when being tumbled by snow which could easily find a weakness in any design.
 

piolet

Better make it three
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May 27, 2004
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I'll have to pull my DSP sport out to look again. The switch release could certainly be better designed but it's pretty snug it its harness.
I note in france that many just pop the beacon in a pocket with no case.
 
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iGlenn

Hard Yards
Jun 20, 2007
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Just noticed that Pieps are now offering an upgrade to their newer model if you have concerns with your current DSP Sports/Pro.
I wonder how this will be handled in Australia? Does anyone know the local distributor or will this all have to be done via US/Europe? I've got 2 sports that I really don't have confidence in seeing this problem firsthand.
 
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hatto

One of Us
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I have 3 so will follow but I have always put a thick strong lacky band around the switch to hold tighter in place. Whether it would work in a slide i don't know.o_O
 

hatto

One of Us
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Shiteshow going to happen with this.
A response of " send us your details to the problem with our product" is just stupid. At the moment it dosen't have a problem, but if in an avalanche it might have one and then it may be too late
 
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piolet

Better make it three
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May 27, 2004
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Shiteshow going to happen with this.
A response of " send us your details to the problem with our product" is just stupid. At the moment it dosen't have a problem, but if in an avalanche it might have one and then it may be too late
Yeah that was my impression. Not much of a plan.
They need to take point.
 
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DPS Driver

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Here is an example of how not to handle a product issue. Pieps are a good product, this is an issue with older products still in the market. Owing to the narrow market globally and the number of competitors, I would imagine making a $ would be challenging at the best of times. Taking all of this into consideration, I can understand their hesitance to recall the product. That being said surely they could have handled this far more effectively.

This smells of legal advice guiding the way, so as to try and avoid any possible legal battles regarding deaths resulting from faulty devices.
 
Last edited:

piolet

Better make it three
Ski Pass
May 27, 2004
41,806
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in the cupboard covered in dust
Here is an example of how not to handle a product issue. Pieps are a good product, this is an issue with older products still in the market. Owing to the narrow market globally and the number of competitors, I would imagine making a $ would be challenging at the bets of times. Taking all of this into consideration, I can understand their hesitance to recall the product. That being said surely they could have handled this far more effectively.

This smells of legal advice guiding the way, so as to try and avoid any possible legal battles regarding deaths resulting from faulty devices.
So late model DSPs are more secure?
 

piolet

Better make it three
Ski Pass
May 27, 2004
41,806
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1,663
in the cupboard covered in dust
Here is an example of how not to handle a product issue. Pieps are a good product, this is an issue with older products still in the market. Owing to the narrow market globally and the number of competitors, I would imagine making a $ would be challenging at the bets of times. Taking all of this into consideration, I can understand their hesitance to recall the product. That being said surely they could have handled this far more effectively.

This smells of legal advice guiding the way, so as to try and avoid any possible legal battles regarding deaths resulting from faulty devices.
What killed chouinard.....
 

DPS Driver

A Local
Jul 18, 2014
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What killed chouinard.....

Yes, Yvon Chouinard didn't like being exposed like that, so shut 'er down boys. The timing was perfect for him, he'd already realised there was far more money to be made in clothing and as we know, it worked out OK for Yvon & Patagonia didn't it.
 
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iGlenn

Hard Yards
Jun 20, 2007
341
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I sent an email to Pieps specifically asking how this would be handled in Australia as I have two I would like to have upgraded.
I got a boilerplate email back saying safety is their number one priority yada Yada, and gave me places to send them for assessment if I'm in North America or Europe. Useless!
 
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crackson

Part of the Furniture
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Oct 20, 2006
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It's called protecting past profits by working to an absolute minimum on problem resolution.
 

LMB

Old but definitely not Crusty!
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I sent an email to Pieps specifically asking how this would be handled in Australia as I have two I would like to have upgraded.
I got a boilerplate email back saying safety is their number one priority yada Yada, and gave me places to send them for assessment if I'm in North America or Europe. Useless!
Same issue we had when ours broke.
 

Slowman

One of Us
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As the owner of a 5 year old DSP pro with the suspect switch I figured I should look into the problem after reading an opinion piece on wildsnow.com https://www.wildsnow.com/28500/test-pieps-black-diamond-dsp-sport-beacon-avalanche/ I had purchased the beacon from backcountry.com and this US retailer had also recently sent me an email suggesting I contact Pieps North America about a possible replacement.

What then transpired was:
- I sent an email with a photo of the transceiver to Pieps North America.
- They replied advising they could only deal with customers in North America. They said to communicate with Pieps head office in Austria.
- I did this and was asked by Pieps Austria what the serial number was.
- I sent them a photo of it (it hides inside the battery compartment).
- They then offered to exchange it for the current DSP Pro BT (which has a different switch arrangement) and some other improvements such as better range. However to do this they proposed a fee of 280 Euros.
- I replied saying I thought this was excessive etc.
- They then responded with a revised proposal to exchange it for a fee of 100 Euros inclusive of VAT which is about $AU160.

I have agreed to this as it seems a modest enough charge to exchange to a new improved unit with better range.

The communications I received from both Pieps offices were polite and very prompt. I was also quite impressed by backcountry.com in that they contacted me direct about the device. They obviously keep good records.
 

skifree

A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
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- They then responded with a revised proposal to exchange it for a fee of 100 Euros inclusive of VAT which is about $AU160.

I have agreed to this as it seems a modest enough charge to exchange to a new improved unit with better range.
Seems fair compromise.:)
 

BrockF

Hard Yards
May 24, 2006
65
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Sydney
My experience dealing with BD for an 18month old DSP Sport has been far from pleasing. When this all broke several months back I sent email to both Pieps and BD asking who is handling claims for Australia. Was given directions to handle it all through BD USA. I lodged the warranty claim along with warranty registration etc with BD in October. First week of Nov received a generic email with a case number and the response someone will reply shortly with further details. Have followed this up with two further emails and have heard nothing. Seems interesting that the advice I was given is the opposite of what Slowman was in terms of Pieps/Austria v BD/USA. I have just sent a further email to follow up and I hope to be please you surprised and receive a response.
 

Slowman

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It took a few weeks but my new model replacement beacon has duly arrived. All I need now is a snowy place I can actually visit. That might take a bit longer......
4D3CEBED-020B-4B0C-8937-EA13CCA1C487.jpeg

My experience dealing with BD for an 18month old DSP Sport has been far from pleasing. When this all broke several months back I sent email to both Pieps and BD asking who is handling claims for Australia. Was given directions to handle it all through BD USA. I lodged the warranty claim along with warranty registration etc with BD in October. First week of Nov received a generic email with a case number and the response someone will reply shortly with further details. Have followed this up with two further emails and have heard nothing. Seems interesting that the advice I was given is the opposite of what Slowman was in terms of Pieps/Austria v BD/USA. I have just sent a further email to follow up and I hope to be please you surprised and receive a response.
 

hatto

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dawooduck

relaxed and comfortable
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I am waiting for my replacement hardcase but my Sport also has another weak point.

One battery cover pin has failed. Battery cover still stays in place.

20210309_102854.jpg
 

LMB

Old but definitely not Crusty!
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Mine are not registered (as far as I know...) and are in Japan so I can’t dig out serial numbers. But I don’t think I’ll trust them anyway.

New beacons for us this season!

Might just use the Pieps units as burial units for practice searches.
 

hatto

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hatto

One of Us
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Recd my new cases yesterday, 7 days from email to delivery in Oz - Win
 

hatto

One of Us
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Also, replaced as warranty and the invoice is 35EUR each. No charge but at least you know the cost if you don't take up the offer.
Very simple process and they have been very responsive - good work Pieps
 

piolet

Better make it three
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I recd email from Pieps so they must be contacting registered owners. I replied and explained that my Beacons are in Japan and what could happen as I don't have the serial numbers. They are now just sending them to me. Win
Did you just reply to the email or use another? I can’t see an Australian email address otherwise.
 

hatto

One of Us
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I Just replied to email, explained that my beacons are in Japan and that i wanted the new cases to use when i get back there. They replied that they would send them out, 7 days later they were here.
 
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hatto

One of Us
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Did you just reply to the email or use another? I can’t see an Australian email address otherwise.
This is email

Hi Pieps Service Team

Thankyou for this email and for the program. I would like to be part of this program however my three sport transceivers are in Japan and who knows when I will be able to return to get the serial numbers.(covid)

Is there a way that I can get things underway without this so that when I finally return to Japan I am able to use them. If I wait till I get back there and then start the process, I will not have beacons to use and who knows how long it will take to get the new cases, which would have to be sent to Australia anyway.


Cheers Craig
 

hatto

One of Us
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Original email

Dear customer,

Your safety is our highest priority and PIEPS is committed to product safety and to its users and upholds exacting product excellence across all its backcountry products.

That is why the PIEPS R&D Team has developed a new hardcase carrying system for all DSP transceivers, to replace the neoprene carrying system supplied with the DSP transceivers. The design of the new hardcase carrying system provides extra safety to ensure the transceivers are locked in the “send” position when in use and remain securely in the “send” position during use.


Tragesystem_neu_1.png


In that PIEPS announces a voluntary product correction program to better secure the lock and switch mechanism of its DSP avalanche transceivers.

The correction consists of a new hardcase carrying system to ensure that the DSP PRO, DSP PRO ICE and DSP SPORT avalanche transceivers are set to “send” mode before use and remain locked in “send” mode during use.

This new hardcase carrying system replaces the neoprene carrying system that was supplied with the DSP avalanche transceivers, which should now be discarded. The DSP products affected were manufactured between 2013 and 2020.

You should stop using the DSP transceivers immediately and contact PIEPS for the new hardcase carrying system. DSP transceivers should only be used with the new hardcase carrying system.

This Voluntary Product Correction Program only affects the PIEPS DSP PRO, DSP PRO ICE and DSP SPORT avalanche transceivers. The Voluntary Product Correction Program does not affect any other avalanche transceiver or product from the PIEPS product line.

PIEPS urges users of all PIEPS avalanche safety equipment to follow product instructions closely, including conducting a thorough safety and performance check before each use.

For further information pls.see https://pieps.com/dsp

Delivery of the new harness systems might take longer than expected due to raw material shortages and transportation delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be assured we will do our best to deal with every enquiry in a timely manner.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

Yours,
PIEPS-Team
 

Ralfy

Addicted
Mar 21, 2021
198
475
113
Got my case. It’s fine for a hack. The amount I use the thing these days, it will do.

2D2C1877-43FF-4CB3-B367-24DB6A4443C3.jpeg 95E86FCE-6E52-4A47-99D2-76FC409E4D56.jpeg
 

LMB

Old but definitely not Crusty!
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Yeah mine arrived too
Dont think it'll get used this season so havent checked it out properly yet

Was handled efficiently enough.
Mine too.
Haven’t even opened the box.
Will stick in the take to Japan box.
 
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