This is an update on my initial review of the Ryobi Zero Turn mower after less than one year of use and subsequent return. Both potential buyers and current owners should be aware of what may very well be imminent battery failure and actions they may need to take. I was genuinely excited when I took ownership of this mower, but less than a year later that quickly faded. Substantial battery degradation has happened to many other owners as well. I tried leaving reviews on both Ryobi and Home Depot’s websites, but they moderate them and chose not to publish mine, so here goes.
During this process, I came to realize how terrible Ryobi customer service is. I’ll document these experiences and having to reach to both the Attorney General’s office and Better Business Bureau. Read on…
The battery is the root of the problem. After only 3 months of ownership I already noticed I wasn’t able to mow our 1.86 acres on a single charge. Everything I’ve later researched on lead acid batteries shows that they are not designed to handle anywhere near as many “cycles” as Lithium-ion batteries. The lead acid battery used on this mower seems to be its achilles heal. Approximately 10 months into ownership, I was now charging 3-4 times just to mow our entire property. Knowing the 1-year warranty on the battery was coming up, I called Ryobi. They told me to take it to an authorized repair center that was about 45 minutes away. I called the repair center, and verified when I could drop it off.
Dropping the Mower Off at the Ryobi Authorized Repair Center
Upon dropping off the mower in May, I was informed it would take 3-4 weeks before they could even look at it. While certainly inconvenient, I realize this is likely peak season for them. In about a 3 weeks, I received a call from the service center who confirmed one of the four battery cores was bad. Worse yet, I was informed the batteries were backordered and weren’t expected for 8 weeks.
I called the service center after 8 weeks had passed for an update (July 2021). This update was not good. I was now told the batteries would not be available until October 22nd. This would now be over 5 months without the mower. That doesn’t include time for the vendor to ship the batteries, arrive at the service center. The service center would also need time to install the batteries.
Home Depot and Extended Warranty Customer Service
After hearing they didn’t expect batteries until October, I reached out to Home Depot (both a local store and their toll free number. Their customer service is pretty much useless if you haven’t experienced it yourself. They have a 90-day window on mowers so I knew I was outside of that. They advised I reach out to Asurion, who was their previous extended warranty company. I believe they now use All State. Asurion said they could not doing anything since it was still under the factory warranty and advised I reach out to Home Depot. The customer service bounce around was beginning. I’ll leave it at this, but this continued with Ryobi customer support also giving me a runaround and saying there was nothing else they could do.
Consumer Warranty Protection Act
Realizing I was getting no where with the Ryobi / Home Depot / Asurion 3-ring circus, I started researching other alternatives. For anyone else experiencing similar situations with warranty work not being completed in a timely manner, research the Consumer Warranty Protection Act. When the manufacturer doesn’t meet the Consumer Warrant Act, your next step is likely the Attorney General…
Filing a Complaint Against Ryobi with the Attorney General
This is what finally got me past some of the unknowledgeable customer service reps that kept giving me the run-around to contact one of the other companies. Ryobi seemingly trains their phone reps to say “I don’t know” or “you should try calling Home Depot” and “there’s nothing else I can do”. Reaching out to the Attorney General’s office (if in the United States, search the Attorney General for your specific state) and you should be able to fill out an inquiry online. At least, that’s what I did for Washington state. After filing a complaint with the Attorney General, I started getting calls from not only Ryobi, but also Asurion and Home Depot.
The person from Home Depot who contacted me was part of their Executive Escalations Team. The initial conversations started out well, but then I started receiving several bits of contradiction. She would say one thing, then a week or two later I was told something completely different. The level of customer service was frustrating. It got to the point where I had to only use email to make sure I had everything in writing to send back over to show her “no, this is not what you said last time”.
By filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s office the company(s) are given so many days to respond. This likely varies state to state.
Home Depot Buy Back
After several weeks and months, Home Depot agreed to buy the mower back. They had offered to replace the mower, but there was no way I wanted to deal with anything Ryobi again. During several weeks of conversations, the Home Depot rep tried placing the long delay on the service center. They can’t replace the batteries if Ryobi says they’re backordered and doesn’t send them any.
The Executive Escalations rep at first tried telling me I could use my extended warranty from Asurion to have them transport the mower back to Home Depot. If I did this, I would not be eligible for a refund. The closest Home Depot to the authorized service center was only 1.5 miles away. Essentially having to pay $300 (voiding my warranty refund) sounded absolutely absurd. I also had to get my trailer from our cabin if I was going to pick up the mower and drop it off myself. This was going to cause me to miss a full day of work. Long story short, I picked up the mower and dropped it off at Home Depot. They gave me a refund via two separate gift cards since it was well past their 90 day warranty. Still not sure why they couldn’t have issued just one.
Was This Just My Mower?
Certainly parts can be defective and go bad sooner than expected, but the battery is an ongoing problem with Ryobi. When I picked up the mower from the authorized service center there was another Ryobi Zero Turn in their main area when you walk-in. It didn’t look like mine, and wasn’t. When I got a chance to talk to the guy at the counter, he informed me mine was in the back with yet another. This is a relatively small repair shop and they happened to have 3 of the Ryobi Zero Turn mowers in for repair. I asked if they were all for battery degradation issues, and he said yes. He even said he’s had other owners call in, but because of the battery backorder situation he was suggesting they wait to bring them in.
How many other owners had called in? I didn’t get that number, but this is should definitely be a red flag for potential buyers as well as current owners. If you own a Ryobi Zero Turn and are coming up on the 1-year battery warranty be careful. Should you suspect any battery degradation, it’s probably worth having the mower checked.
Reviews on Home Depot’s Website
For anyone thinking this still might be an isolated situation, filter the reviews on Home Depot’s website for the 1 and 2 star reviews. You’ll come across quite a few battery issues. Ryobi seems to give a fairly generic copy and paste response to all the 1 and 2 star reviews. The email address they provide I’ve reached out to three separate times, zero response. That’s when I started calling.
At the time of this article, the Consumer Reports overall rating for the Ryobi Zero Turn mower was a mere 72 out of 100. I can only imagine this rating will decrease as people own this mower for a couple years or more. Compare this to the EGO Zero Turn which currently has an overall Consumer Reports score of 87.
Summary on the Ryobi Zero Turn Mower
There was no chance I wanted to have deal with Ryobi customer service again. A mere one-year battery warranty doesn’t show a lot of confidence. 5 months without a mower you expect to use to mow 2 acres of lawn from May to October is not acceptable. Ryobi can continue to blame it on supply chain, but when Home Depot’s website shows I could order 130 mowers…it’s not a supply chain issue, but a supply chain management issue. They clearly put priority on trying to sell more of this sub-par mowers rather than help those who unfortunately bought their product get back to being able to use them.
There should be far better products on the horizon, if not already available. I was hesitant of their lead-acid batteries, and sure enough they failed. I’m almost tempted to get rid of my Ryobi router bit set at this point because of the terrible customer service. In my experience, cellular phone companies have provided some of the worst customer service. Ryobi is probably a bit worse than some of those experiences I’ve had.
Anyone with more than an acre of lawn should certainly look elsewhere.
I’ve pre-ordered a EGO 52″ Zero Turn Mower. It is currently expected to arrive in late May 2022. Stay tuned for that. Fingers cross that will be a much better ownership experience. Unlike Ryobi, EGO has a 5-year warranty on EVERYTHING – the mower, batteries, and charger. They also claim mower power then any Zero Turn Rider (ZTR) out there, gas or cordless. I should know first hand soon.
Previous Review (The Tides Have Turned)
For anyone interested, I’ll leave my initial review in it’s original form below including the 3 month update. The 3 month update mentioned possible battery degradation concerns. When you end up with a product that substantially degrades below manufacturer specifications in less than a year, your opinion quickly changes. There can be headaches being an early adopter, but combined with the absolutely terrible customer service of Ryobi this is unacceptable.
Initial Review (for Reference Only)
Here it is, the Ryobi Electric Zero Turn mower. I’ve been keeping an eye on this one for over a year now, waiting to see how much it might go on sale for while trying to keep our old zero turn going. I’ve seen this on sale for anywhere between $400-600 of the retail price, but also seen the MSRP go up by $100.
Ryobi is a Home Depot exclusive. Their lineup of lawnmowers is no different. Currently, you can find their traditional electric riding mower in certain stores, but the zero turn is an online-only order. Both are available with 2 battery options, a 75Ah version and a 100Ah.
Both the Ryobi electric zero turn mower and traditional riding mowers can be purchased as a “bundle” with a bagger kit. If you need a bagger, you’ll save some money buying it in the bundle. With current pricing, you’ll pay an extra $200 for the bundle, or if you buy the bagger kit separately it will set up back $349.
Damage During Shipping
The corner post of the metal shipping frame is bent in, that’s my mower on the top. There’s also a plastic corrugate trim at the bottom, that should be flat going across. More on shipping damage in sections below.
Assembly is pretty straight forward. Before you assemble however, you’ll have to remove the mower from the metal shipping frame/crate.
Once the mower is off the shipping crate, you’ll need a 12mm, 13mm, and 14mm sockets and/or wrenches. The only parts you need to install are the driver levers (handle bars), tow hitch (if desired), and the seat. You’ll also connect a wiring harness located in a panel below the seat mounting area.
Be sure to checkout Ryobi’s step-by-step video for details:
The Ryobi manual didn’t provide much in terms of battery care, read what you can from the manual including making sure you leave it charge overnight before you first use. This article seems to have additional information that can help prolong your battery life:
Directly from the manual: Do not spray with a garden hose to clean, as it may damage the battery and/or electronic components and result in a short circuit or fire. Use an air moving device, such as a compressor or leaf blower to clean the mower.
Quality and Performance
You’ll notice if you’re trying to mow taller grass too short that one or both of the blades will cut off. I have some taller grass in the back that will take at least 2-3 cuts to get manageable, but it should get there. I’m just now starting my second cut in that section while still trying to “break in the battery” and not let it go below 70% for the first 10 mows. I’ll add some video of it in action later.
No Belts, Spark Plugs, Air Filters, Mufflers, Pulleys…
I replaced several deck belts and spindles on our previous zero turn. Cleaned and changed spark plugs and replaced an air filter. I managed to rip the muffler off a few times when taking a certain slope toward the back of our property at the wrong angle. I definitely won’t miss these parts that aren’t even on our new Ryobi electric zero turn mower!
And of Course, No More Gas!
This was the only thing I was having to get gas for on a regular basis. We still have a few dirt bikes and an ATV that aren’t used very often. Over the years I’ve added Kobalt lawn care tools to our “shed”. I’ll add reviews on these in a separate article.
3 Month Update
So far I’ve been happy with the Ryobi Zero Turn mower. There are a couple of things in particular I’m going to keep an eye on though.
- Range: For the 100aH version which I purchased, Ryobi claims up to 3 acres of mowing. I’m unable to mow our 1.86 acres on a single charge. A good portion of our property has a slight slope, however the backend of the property is quite flat. At least in my opinion, it seems I should be getting quite a bit more out of the battery than I am. I’ll continue to do some testing and may need to have the cells tested. I’ve read where some owners have had one of the four cells test out as bad.
- Mulching: The mulching has left large clippings, especially with slightly taller grass. Our previous Troy-Bilt zero turn mower was far better with mulching. I may need to rake up some of these clippings and see how it does when the entire lawn is already cut shorter to see if it can keep up.