On March 3, 2021, PIEPS Technology announced a Voluntary Product Correction Program in Europe, APAC, and Latin America related to the DSP Pro, DSP Pro Ice, and DSP Sport avalanche transceivers. This will soon be followed up with an announcement in the US in coordination with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Black Diamond Equipment, which distributes PIEPS avalanche transceivers in the US, and has several identical models branded under the Black Diamond name. The correction consists of a new hardcase carrying system that prevents these units from being accidentally switched out of “SEND” mode. This new hardcase carrying system replaces the neoprene carrying system that was supplied with the DSP avalanche transceivers manufactured between 2013 and 2020. According to the PIEPS announcement:
Pieps has received inquiries relating to the DSP PRO, DSP PRO ICE and DSP SPORT avalanche transceivers. These models all use an identical mechanical lock-and-switch mechanism to set the product to “send” mode. We believe these inquiries were prompted by two avalanche accidents: one in 2017 and one in spring 2020. Following these accidents, there were allegations that the security lock/switch mechanism of the DSP PRO/SPORT had malfunctioned during the avalanches. However, tests have shown that the lock/switch mechanism on the DSP PRO, DSP PRO ICE and DSP SPORT meets all relevant safety standards.
This Voluntary Product Correction Program only affects the PIEPS DSP PRO, DSP PRO ICE, and DSP SPORT avalanche transceivers pictured below.
Social media discussion of this issue has been heated. This was prompted by the story of professional skier Nick McNutt, who was involved in an avalanche incident last winter while using a PIEPS transceiver that was found to not be in “SEND” mode after he was dug out by his companions. Nick demonstrated his concerns in a recent video posted on SnowBrains. Nick said:
None of us involved that day wish to slander or damage the reputation of Pieps or Black Diamond. Both brands produce many good products, and our goal was to come to an agreeable solution so this couldn’t happen to anyone else.I feel the bar is way too low surrounding switch design. It’s up to each brand to decide how to make their device change modes, and although none are perfect, this one failed in the single instance I needed it to work. There’s many varied examples of the DSP switches being easily moved while “locked”, including when stowed in the provided harness… It can apply a small amount of pressure on the “lock” tab, which often needs terrifyingly little pressure to disengage.–Nick McNutt
My personal experience with this issue goes back to June 2019, when I discovered after a backcountry ski tour that the switch on my DSP Pro was broken. I promptly contacted Black Diamond Equipment’s Warranty Department and received a new, updated unit from them within a few days. Consumers who have recently tried to go through this warranty process have not had the same experience. Due to a large number of warranty claims and COVID-related slowdowns, customers have been very frustrated by what they perceive as PIEPS and Black Diamond’s slow response and turnaround time.
For more information, please visit the PIEPS DSP page.
I will update this post with information for North American customers of PIEPS and Black Diamond as soon as it is available.
UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, Black Diamond has put out an announcement regarding this issue. Black Diamond’s statement reads:
To our backcountry community:You may have seen the announcement this morning from PIEPS on the PIEPS DSP avalanche transceivers – announcing the voluntary product correction program in Europe. As the North American distributor for PIEPS, we have also started the process for a voluntary product recall for PIEPS DSP avalanche transceivers (this specifically pertains to the PIEPS DSP Pro, DSP Pro Ice, and DSP Sport avalanche transceivers) in the U.S. and Canada. We are in the process of finalizing approval and details with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, and will update our community with next steps as soon as we can.We are committed to building and distributing the highest quality gear to help climbers, runners, skiers and riders perform at their best and to keep them safe in the mountains. When we fall short on that promise, we hold ourselves accountable to taking the steps to make it right. We sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding as we work toward a solution.