Pilotfly Stabilizer, A Cautionary Tale

David Salahi Gear 2 Comments

I’ve had some bad experiences with buying stabilizers directly from manufacturers in China. In a previous post (see sidebar) I commented on the problems I had trying to order a stabilizer from CAME. I eventually canceled that order and purchased a Pilotfly H1+. After receiving that unit I posted about the vagaries of balancing it and in another post I discussed the problems I had when the unit’s parameters got scrambled.

Now, after just eight months of very light use my H1+ has failed completely—it won’t power on. I chatted with Pilotfly on their Facebook page and they recommended that I return it for repair. To Taiwan. And, of course, there’s no warranty.


So, I tried to find out how much it was going to cost me to ship the unit across the Pacific Ocean. The first problem was figuring out where to ship it. The copter-rc (Pilotfly) website lists their address as being in "Jhubei City, Hsinchu County." When I was unable to find that city on the Federal Express website I emailed them. They replied with the screen shot at the right, showing the spelling as Zhubei City and Hsinchu County as the city. With that info I went back to the FedEx site but still couldn’t find an exact match. I took my best guess at a match and got a quote on a rate of $107 (for a 3-lb. package via FedEx International Economy®).

So, if I’ve got the right address I’m looking at $214 for round-trip shipping plus an unknown cost of repair. Plus possible extra charges:

"Certain countries have duty and tax exemptions that may apply based on the declared customs value. Your duty and tax estimate does not take these exemptions into consideration."

I previously had to pay a customs fee that had not been disclosed at the time of ordering. Now, it seems, there may again be hidden charges. And I’m not even sure if the device will end up at the right factory in Taiwan.

So, to get the unit repaired I’m guessing the cost would be around $300, maybe more. This is for a stabilizer that originally cost about $800. I’m thinking it’s not worth it to sink that much money into a stabilizer I wasn’t very happy with anyway. In the future, I’ll stick to more well-known brands with a warranty and a U.S. service facility.

Comments 2

  1. Ugh. I’m having the same issue with a gimbal I purchased just 2 days ago. I am worried that I can’t return the item at all. Not sure how it cost them 24 dollars to ship the gimbal to the U.S.? I have a feeling I’m going to have a 500 dollar paper weight. Lesson learned. Buy from B&H directly.

    1. Post

      Sean, I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems, too. I know that sinking feeling that comes with buying a $500 paperweight.

      In other news, I recently bought the new Panasonic GH5 which has 5-axis in-body stabilization. And, if you have Panasonic lenses with stabilization like I do you get double the stabilization. I did a short test and the results are impressive. Admittedly, not as good as a dedicated gimbal but good enough for most of my purposes.

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