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After a great deal of polite bitching to Iolite manufacturer Oglesby and Butler about faulty products and delays in replacing the same, they generously agreed to send me a new WISPR as a replacement for my second faulty Iolite. I did suggest this upgrade, but its still an outstanding gesture on their part . It's definitely worth pursuing assertive but courteous complaints, at least in this case. Having had two faulty Iolites in nine months, I do have concerns regarding how reliable the WISPR I received today will prove to be. I would like to give Iolite a chance to show how durable this new vape is, hopefully proving my doubts to be without foundation.
For those that aren't familiar with the Iolite and the Wispr, both are butane powered hand-held vapourisers. They use a patented flameless catalytic conversion to heat the bowl, to an operating temperature of around 190 degrees Celsius, so are well suited to vaping products such as cannabis. Here's the WISPR:
Size and weight
Herb Chamber: 500mg (although I think this will vary depending on mass and density of substances).
Butane Tank: 4g.
Operating time: 2 1/2 hours (although this is only 2 hours in my experience so far).
Operating temp: 190 degrees Celsius.
Wattage equivalent: 125W.
Typical refill time: 10 seconds.
Fuel type: butane gas, recommended brands are Vector and Newport. The Wispr has a window which shows how much butane is in the tank.
Materials Body: Ultem 1010.
Flexible Straw: Silicone 9150, folds away when not in use.
Herb chamber: stainless steel.
Heat pin chamber: aluminium.
Mesh screen: stainless steel.
Internal Plastics: Zenite.
The device is simple to use. Fill the chamber attached to the straw, invert the fuelled Wispr and slide the bowl home into the aluminium chamber. When the Wispr is turned on and ignited gas hisses, an orange light indicates the vape is heating. On reaching operating temperature, the light goes out and the hissing stops. It takes a couple of minutes or so before vapour is produced, a little faster than the Iolite. The Wispr has a bimetal thermostat that controls heating, so every couple of minutes there are a few brief seconds of hissing. The noise doesn't bother me at all, but although Iolite make a big deal about how much quieter this vape is, to be honest it's nearly as noisy as it's predecessor. However, when heating does occur, the hissing only lasts around three seconds (much shorter than the original Iolite's heating cycle).
I packed my first bowl with around half a gram of a popular resin, which had been finely grated. The unit took a few minutes to start producing tiny wisps of vapour standing on it's own. There was plenty of vapour, I found that taking small frequent hits maintained operating temp better. Initially there was a plastic-like taste, which vanished for good after a few minutes of use. The Wispr produces more vapour than the Iolite, and for comparatively longer.
According to the manual, it typically takes ten minutes to vape a bowl. It took an hour and a half to finish the bowl, although I was certainly feeling the effects after a few minutes. Admittedly I did somewhat pack the bowl with some potent resin, but vapour was produced throughout. The heating chamber is longer and has a higher volume, which may account for the increase in vapour production. The Wispr is also compatible with the Iolite Optimser, a metal ring with three spikes that help maintain higher temperatures required with some hash. This was a pleasant surprise, its a useful little gizmo.
Here's the heating chamber, bowl and straw. Apologies for the slight blurriness, this was taken with a camera phone:
I like the inconspicuous design of the Wispr. I find it very easy to fuel, load, and use. It can be placed and held at any angle, and the filling chamber with straw does not easily detach during use, as was the case with the Iolite. The fuel level window comes in handy. The Wispr makes a small amount of substance go much further, as did the original Iolite. It is a highly efficient way to get stoned, and a fairly stealthy vape. In short, there's nothing that I don't like about it. It's just that I have this nagging doubt that it will break down. I'll provide updates every month, or if something does go wrong I'll be moaning straight away.
Apart from use of the optimiser, it should be fairly easy to modify the straw. According to one site, whips for the Magic Flight Launch Box are compatible with the Wispr straw mouthpiece, for those who prefer a longer mouthpiece or whip. I'd be interested to hear any tips or modifications from Iolite or Wispr users (or anyone else with ideas).
Last edited by Mindless; 17-04-2012 at 16:53.
Roughly two weeks after receiving my new WISPR it has stopped working. I've tried the process of emptying and recharging with butane, and have only used one of the two recommended brands, in this case Newport. I can hear the gas hissing and see a spark but there is no ignition. It's been two days since I emailed Oglesby & Butler, no reply to yet. I am developing an intense dislike for this company.
This is almost unbelievable, being the third faulty product (two Iolites and this Wispr) I've had in less than a year . At least I'm familiar with the customer support returns procedure. Which involves sending the unspeakable thing back to Ireland and waiting for a replacement. I am less than happy at the prospect of another two or three weeks without my favourite vape. Think I'll try the Ariser Solo next.
Last edited by Mindless; 19-05-2012 at 20:07.
Reason: new sentence
Oglesby and Butler have had my faulty Wispr for two weeks now. I know this from the Royal Mail's Track and Trace, which lets customers track deliveries. Once again customer support are ignoring my emails. I don't have any faith in this company at all, and advise anyone unfortunately having to return products to insure the parcel. The Wispr website talks about how wonderful customer support is:
"Giving our customers and our partners the kind of support they expect and deserve is all part of the promise at Oglesby & Butler. Quality products require quality service and support. It’s as simple as that."
The support I expect from Oglesby & Butler is slow in coming. The quality of the products in my experience is rather poor, at least in terms of reliability. Perhaps it is in recognition of this evident poor quality that O&B are failing to provide 'quality service and support'. Or perhaps O&B think ignoring customer emails and taking weeks to look at faulty returned items is good quality service.
24/05/2012: I've had both an email and a phone call from O&B within the last two days. It seems that another Wispr is on it's way out to me, via quality control to make sure there are no problems. O&B apoligised for the delay, the person dealing with complaints and returns is on sick leave and had not been replaced. I'm not exactly brimming with confidence that the new Wispr will be reliable, or that I won't experience further delays should I need to return it. O&B explain that the iolite and wispr are 'new technology' and as such are subject to bugs, on this occasion a faulty piezo ignition unit. Hmmmm. It might be nice if they were to advise prospective customers of this issue before purchases are made. Anyway, hopefully Oglesby and Butler are back on top of customer support issues, the lady who telephoned me yesterday did seem aware of the issues and was dealing with them. I'll see how things go and will give periodic updates.
Last edited by Mindless; 24-05-2012 at 15:28.
Reason: new para
The bloody thing has stopped working again, around ten weeks after receiving a new Wispr for another faulty unit. I think the problem is a faulty piezo ignition system, as the gas hisses, but will not ignite. I am so sick and tired of sending back faulty vapes. So far this is two Wisprs and three Iolites in just over a year. I have spent a total of roughly five months so far without the vape I paid for.
Ho hum, off to the post office, wait 3 days for the parcel to arrive by airmail in Eire to Oglesby and Butler. Wait anywhere from a few days to a couple of months for them to check it and send a new one, then wait for the delivery. I wonder how long the next one will last? Two weeks and ten weeks so far, not promising at all. Mine must have hundreds of airmiles, a passport and a passion for Guinness by now, it's such as frequent visitor.
Here's my final conclusion: both the Iolite and the Wispr are too unreliable, and the customer service is too slow. Now not every customer will returns faulty vaporisers, many can't be bothered, and some may be put off by paraphernalia laws. I bet there are a lot of dead Wisprs and Iolites lying dead and forgotten at the backs of draws and on top of wardrobes. I'm starting to think they may have lost a lot of future sales, as customer retention does not see to be a prority. Unless you enjoy having a vaporiser that goes on jaunts back to Eire every few weeks, don't buy one.
Last edited by Mindless; 10-07-2012 at 03:36.
Oglesby and Butler (O&B) refused to refund my initial expenditure on the original Iolite I purchased. Buying from one of their authorised retailers makes no difference, according to one of their managers the purchase must be made directly from O&B. The UK 1979 Sales of Goods Act gives the retailer responsibility for one month, after which the manufacturer is liable for replacement, repairs or refunds. Since the product I bought was clearly not fit for purpose, I did ask for a full refund. So, a well known Vape manufacturer that refuses to honour it's own warranty and disregards customers' legal rights. O&B seem to regard customer retention as a low priority.
To be honest I've stopped caring. The nice young lady in customer support was sympathetic, and responds promptly to emails (unlike her predecessor). She also gave me plentiful spares and accessories. I'm told the Wispr was taken off the market for three months to be revamped, changes were made to the dodgy piezo unit and a better grade of plastic was used for the tank. I suspect that cheap grades of plastic are probably less stable next to a significant heat source. So far I've had the new Wispr a month or so with no problems. I'll report back in a few months or when (not if I think) it stops working.
I wasn't asked to return the faulty unit, so I decided to take it apart in an effort to understand how it works. The Piezo unit and butane release lever are operated by the same mechanical switch, so that gas flows from the tank to a very small nozzle. I think that this sprays a mist of butane into the catalyst chamber, where it is ignited by the piezo unit. There are two small metal rings below the nozzle, which may be a bimetal thermostat.
The inlet to the catalyst chamber looks ceramic, and at least part of it is metal, studded with air holes. The heating chamber where the contents are vapourised sits on top of the catalyst chamber. The ceramic opening of this Wispr was partly occluded with carbon deposits. On the whole the unit was fairly easy to pull into two and disassemble. With a little care and preparation it should be possible to clear blockages if and when the useless warranty expires. For some reason I am unable to add attachments, here's one picture:
More pictures of inside the Wispr can be seen here.
Last edited by Mindless; 16-12-2012 at 15:10.
Reason: typo and new comment
First of all, you're my hero for having posted pictures of the dismantled wispr! Thanks so much for that!
I've had the iolite wispr for about 4 months now, and I had a problem with my unit not igniting or not switching from the light blue flame to the orange glow of the catalytic reaction. I emailed them, and didn't hear back, but during that time I read about how you must use super refined butane, which I hadn't been using exclusively. I read something that suggested you run a few tanks of the refined butane through the unit without burning it to clean it. Did 3 tanks, didn't want to ignite. Then I literally just blew as hard as I could into the unit through the bottom little "slit" and through some black magic, it lit and went right to the orange catalytic reaction, and has been working since.
Hello Afrikaaner and thank you for your reply. I was starting to feel a bit like a madman on a soap-box. I've had my replacement Wispr for around four and a half months, it has also developed the same fault as yours, but flushing with butane and use of an air duster makes no difference. The thing lights, but the blue flame goes out and there is no orange glow or catalytic reaction.
I believe that Oglesby and Butler (O&B) are deliberately deceiving customers by withholding information on inherent flaws in this product, which is clearly not fit for purpose. I am still unable to obtain a refund, but sooner (or later!) I will be getting a replacement. It really pisses me off to hear that O&B ignored you, it has sometimes taken several emails over a fortnight or more before I receive a reply.
I have encountered two polite and helpful staff in the course of numerous returns of faulty iolites and wisprs (three iolites and three wisprs in just over a year), but generally I get the impression that this company couldn't care less about customer service. They don't appear capable of producing a viable product either. My response to the Wispr is a very loud shout, avoid this product, it is unreliable and so is the customer care.
I thought I should add that Afrikaaner's reply prompted me to consider that there may be a blockage somewhere. Blowing through the bottom slit didn't work for me, but removing the casing and cleaning the components with an air duster resulted in a working Wispr. I was careful not to take the components apart, but made sure that the metal grill and inlet of the catalyser were clear. This is how the catalyser looks, the picture is from a previous faulty Wispr:
Since the internal airdusting a few weeks ago my Wispr is fine. The catalytic reaction often fails, unless I suck on the small slit at the bottom before ignition. I'm not sure how long the thing will continue going, but for now all is well.
Last edited by Mindless; 27-01-2013 at 20:16.
Reason: new comment