Mighty Mule Gate Openers: My Experience

 Posted by on 2 March 2013 at 10:00 am  Business, Personal
Mar 022013
 

A few months ago, I did a major update to the fencing on our five-acre property, including adding a “Mighty Mule” automatic dual-gate opener to the driveway gates. They work great, and Paul and I enjoy just pressing a button rather than manually opening and closing the gates, particularly in inclement weather.

However, we’ve also had a major problem with these gates, namely that they’ll beep very loudly every 20 seconds all night long after a cloudy day. I kid you not. The beep can be heard clearly from a few hundred feed away, inside the house, with all the doors and windows closed. Honestly, I’m surprised that my neighbors haven’t taken a baseball bat to the device. That beeping is supposed to be the low-battery warning. However, the gates have never refused to open, even after beeping all night long. So the battery doesn’t seem to be actually low.

My fencing peopleguy has done his best to fix the problem. He returned once to add a second solar panel. (We don’t have any electric lines on that side of the property, so solar is the only option.) That lessened the problem somewhat, but not enough. So he came a second time. He tested the output of the battery, which seemed to slip just slightly low when the gate was opening, but nothing that should cause such all-night beeping. He was on the phone with Mighty Mule for quite some time, and the tech support person assured him that adding a second battery to the unit would solve the problem. I was hopeful… but disappointed yet again.

After our recent foot of snow, the gate opener was beeping loudly every 20 seconds, yet again… and I was feeling very, very stabby. So I trudged down the unplowed driveway at 10:30 pm to try to plug up the speaker hole with glue. I didn’t want to just cut the speaker wire because the gate does sometimes emit useful beeps, like as a warning before it starts to close. I was so angry that I took video, just so that others could hear just how loud and annoying the beeping is. (The beep at the end, when I’m standing near the opener, is ear-piercing.)

Unfortunately, my glue job didn’t work: I could still hear the beeping from inside the house. So I trudged down again through the snow in the middle of the cold night to tie a rag to the bottom of the device, over the speaker. That made the noise tolerable, even though still audible outside.

Yesterday, I called the tech support of “Mighty Mule” yet again. The person that I spoke to was infuriatingly unhelpful. First, he lectured me about how much sun the opener needs. Well, I live in Colorado, where we get 300 days of sunshine per year, and a single cloudy day will set the device beeping all night. That’s not normal. Plus, we’ve already added the extra solar panel, and the last tech support person assured us that an extra battery would solve the problem. Then he told me that I could ship the device back to them, and they’d check it out. I wouldn’t have to pay shipping. However, as I told him, I’d have to pay my fencing peopleguy to come out twice — once to uninstall the opener and then again reinstall the opener. So that seems like a major waste to me. Plus, after being told that the second battery would definitely solve the problem, I just don’t trust this company to actually fix the problem.

At the very least, Mighty Mule should have offered to ship me a new device, and then I’d ship them back the defective model. That way, my fencing peopleguy could come out just once, and hopefully the problem would be solved. But that wasn’t ever offered. Alas, I didn’t think to ask, but I’m pretty sure that offering such solutions isn’t the job of the frustrated customer. Moreover, I should add, the beeping is a ridiculous design flaw, and it ought to be fixed.

To add insult to injury, the tech support guy never seemed to acknowledge my problem. He just kept saying “Yes, ma’am” in a monotone voice. I’m sure that he would have said the same if I’d told him that pigs were flying past my window.

So if I can’t find a better way to block the speaker, I plan to cut the speaker wire. I hate to do that, but I don’t see that I have any better options.

As I’ve done these house repairs, I’ve been really impressed by the customer service offered by the various companies I’ve worked with. These companies know that they depend on word-of-mouth recommendations, and they’ve worked hard to go the extra mile. I wish that I could say the same about Mighty Mule and its parent company GTO.

So consider this post a word of warning… If their product goes wrong, don’t expect any useful assistance. I expected better from a product that costs a few hundred dollars. I’ve been nothing but frustrated and disappointed.

  • Ha’lidryn

    You are no doubt familiar with “You Have A Very Bad Hotel”? i.askask.com/2002/08/DoubleTreeShow.ppt I do not see in this day & age how anyone can assume that a customer (especially the paid-up, under-warranty kind) will go quietly into the night of bad service. I thought the ratio of 1 Dissatisfied => 10 Satisfied was drummed into the head of every CSM since, well, a long time ago… Takeaway: Mighty Mule’s stuck in the mud.

  • Dr. Physics

    Diana, I, too, share your frustration with the ‘customer service’ provided by Mighty Mule. I had a MM FM500 gate opener installed on a ranch property. The MM stopped working overnight and I called MM for help in diagnosing the failure. I’ve never been so infuriated in my life. Although courteous, the techs responded with a uniform mantra : It’s the control board. We’ll sell you. New one for $260. As a nuclear physicist, I’ve diagnosed a failure either in the solenoid or relay circuit board components. The board doesn’t need replacing. The bad components do. MM refuses to ship me a new board while I ship the old one back; they want me to purchase brand new board. They speak to me like I’m a moron. One can tell they’ve repeated this, “It’s the control board … buy a new one from us…” so often it’s become a mantra. This is NOT customer service! I’ve been reading that hundreds of customers have had these circuit board problems. There should have been a recall program. Plus, they should send us new boards and charge us only for the components that failed not under the recall program. It makes one wonder about initiating a Class Action lawsuit. Respectfully

    • http://www.philosophyinaction.com/ Diana Hsieh

      Thanks for the report… I’m not sure whether I’m more heartened or disgusted that their problems are systemic.

    • Rich

      Sign me up for a class action suit. Its pathetic product and service support. Home depot has gotten a letter describing the crap they sale from GTO. I feel better now:-)

      • Pylot

        I’m in. I cannot figure it out. The nice thing is that it seems to stop after 5 repetitions though. It doesn’t bother me at the house; however the neighbors on the street next to the gate have to hate me. I am considering your glue solution. I’m following this in my e-mail in the hopes that one of us solves this.

        Pylot

  • John Ray

    really true fact… anyone can get irritated by the loud annoying beep sounds of the gate openers though they are helpful at times. the manufacturer must find a proper way for fixing these types of problems and solving the issues permanently.

  • Rancher

    My mighty mule has space for a second battery, maybe yours does too? An extra battery may provide enough of a charge on sunny days to carry you over overcast days. I finally bit the bullet and trenched all the way to my front gate (1,000 feet) and buried a power line to keep it charged. Annoyingly, the opener is designed so it does not work if the battery is low, even if it is powered from the mains! My battery died yesterday, and I had to drive a 24 mile round trip to pick up another, even though it is plugged in to a 110v outlet.

    If you have a model that has the “Aux” connector on the board (my FM502 does), then you could cut the speaker (or fill it with glue) and fit your own buzzer on the Aux port. The Aux connector closes a contact whenever the gate is moving. It can be used to drive a buzzer, strobe light, or whatever you like.

  • Jill-Ann

    I bought a more basic one, http://gateopenerking.com/store/accessories/other/mighty-mule-remote-controlled-cable-gate-lock-model-fm245.html. I don’t really have that annoying beeping sound but I did stock up on double A batteries thinking I would burn through them. Luckily I haven’t haha. Thank you for the warning, I think I will stick to my more basic model.

  • waldo bird

    the beep in these gates can be deactivated by clicking a switch,ii have two gates and never a problem that could not be solved with a simple call to tech support…chech them at birdenestudios.com in vieques pr sorry for your bad luck

    • discusted customer in tn

      I just bought a brand new mm 600 from tsc. I installed it and it never would work! So i called tech support n he said i need a copy of your receipt. Well my mother has it and i dont have access to it now cause she is in another state! Well i cant help you! Well i asked if he could at least help me get it working. He said sure. So he got me to get my volt meter n check after several test n found it to be the wireless remote receiver! So i ask if he could send me 1 n him pay return postage and i would send my broke new reciever n copy of receipt with it back! He said no. Well i asked if i could just pay for it n him refund my money after i get it and return tha part thats defective with a copy of the reciept then? Of course that was not gonna happen cause ill have to pay shipping both ways and b charged a 20% restocking fee as well!!! I am fighting mad about this lil deal and out good $$$ thinking pro was the best! Boy was i VERY MISSTAKEN!!! CUSTOMER SERVICE AND TECH SUPPORT FOR MIGHTY MULE GATE OPENERS or GATES THAT OPEN (GTO) I personally wanted to choke the life out of that little bastard! Iwill not give them my money again! Id spend more for a gate opener that would work from the co-op! It was $100 more!

  • Southeast Gate Works

    I know I’m a little late to jump in on this discussion. I am glad to see you have reviewed this class of gate operator. As a gate operator installation and service company, we see issues with GTO and Mighty Mule all the time. When we are called to troubleshoot one of these systems most always there are installation problems. Having said that, the components are of inferior quality, support is horrendous, and WE WOULD NEVER recommend them to anyone. Here is the common progression of events: Family wants an automated gate on their driveway, they look on the internet(where these companies spend a fortune to get in front of you), price is really appealing, family orders and installs the operator, they end up spending a fortune to have a repair company fix it, eventually the operators are thrown away in disgust or left installed but the gate is left open and not functional. My best advice is to get a quote from a reputable installer. Do not install the gate, posts, conduit, footings, etc until you get that quote and the advice of the installer. Have your operators installed in the spring. Electrical storms are more common in the spring and summer so problems with grounding and surges will emerge before the installers warranty period is over. I would be happy to answer a few questions if you need more guidance or help you find a reputable installer/ equipment. info@segateworks.com http://www.segateworks.com

  • Bob

    Question? Mine does the same after both batteries fully charged and then put on 110v. Any way to cut one of the wires to buzzer and if need it back to troubleshoot something else can always jumper the cut wire with alligator clip? Gate works perfect except for the idiot low batt buzzer when batteries are fully charged and it’s got AC power. Note: My FM402 does not beep prior to or during closing.

  • worldsgonemad

    I’d just like to add another side of the service issue. I installed, by myself no technician needed, the basic GTO Model purchased from Sportsmanship Guide when I first bought my property in 2003. I dug the trench and ran the electric to the gate, again by myself, hooked up worked like a charm. It worked perfectly without issue for 13 years. When it finally did breakdown, I called service and she walked me through the entire testing process, was exceedingly patient with my ignorance of using a volt meter for the first time but nothing we tried worked. So after 13 years I wasn’t terribly concerned that it may need to be replaced. I felt I got my money’s worth. I was offered a replacement product. Not a GTO, some other brand I think it may have been a refurbished GTO under another name. I got an incredible deal on it such that I could also get a solar panel, pole mounted remote as well as two key chain remotes. I received it in less than 5 days. Again, I installed it myself, including the pole mounted remote AND the Solar panel. It worked like a charm at the first click and has done so flawlessly ever since. I was very pleased by the support I received even offering me a personal cell phone number should I have any trouble with the install. I would not hesitate to call them again. Sorry that everyone here seems to have had bad experiences. Mine have been glowing. Oh, did I mention I’m a 62 year old woman with no experience with such things. yeah.

   
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