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Bernina problem

IzzyBizzy | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

In January of 2008 I purchased a Bernina 640 from a local dealer. I live in a rural area and the dealer didn’t even know how to use the machine. She also doesn’t offer classes to learn how to operate the machines she sells. She said her daughter planned to learn and teach, but that hasn’t happened. There is no support here for the Berninas they sell. Having said that, I just want to say that this purchase was a mistake. As I’ve learned to operate this machine on my own, I’ve grown very frustrated with the way the machine shuts down when lint gathers in the bobbin case area. After cleaning and oiling, it often continues to shut down after only a few stitches. The mechanics have already used magic marker to reduce the reflections that can cause the machine to think there’s lint present. I use a brush and canned air to clean the area and I also clean the electronic eye. Had I known in advance that this could be an issue, I never would have purchased this or any other electronic Bernina. I’m not new to Bernina, by the way. I’ve had them for forty years without complaint, and this is the first model that I’ve been unhappy with. This is my first post (on any site–ever) and I just wanted others to be aware of this problem because the dealers won’t tell you about it in advance. I’m not the only one who has experienced this problem.


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    How frustrating for you! There has been quite a bit of talk on the various forums I belong to about the lack of service today--too many dealers, but not enough people who really know how the machines work and almost no follow-up if there is a problem. I don't have a solution to your problem, unfortunately it seems to be a built-in design flaw. Is there a way to disengage the sensor that would still allow the machine to operate?

    1. IzzyBizzy | | #4

      I'll have to ask about disengaging the sensor, but I'm not hopeful. And I have to drive two hundred miles for service. I'll see if I can get a response by phone, since it cost me $76 last time to be told there was nothing wrong.

  2. starzoe | | #2

    Have you tried to get the dealer to take back the machine? Have you been in touch with Bernina? I know that they take away their custom from "dealers" who do not come up to their expectations. Surely something is wrong with the machine and if I were you I would bug the death out of the dealer and the company itself.

    1. IzzyBizzy | | #3

      I've contacted Bernina USA about both problems and got no reply whatsoever. I need to try that again. Since the mechanics see no problem with the machine, it could be a real battle to get them to replace it. They always insist it's owner error. But I've tried everything they've suggested. And thanks for that suggestion. I'll pursue that next.

      1. starzoe | | #5

        Become a thorn in their side. I have found it usually pays off if I am persistent, may take a while but after all they have your money and you have a lemon, apparently. At least they should be able to direct you to a dealer who can analyze the problem.

  3. Pattiann42 | | #6

    So, sorry for your problems.  Your profile is not complete, so I can't tell where in the world you are located.

    I am in the US and in the "country", so I'll give you my US version.  My vernacular may not jive (now there's one) with that of other countries.

    I do have to drive 60-90 minutes to a dealer.

    Scour the area for another dealer, then make the trip (take a friend or spouse and make it a road trip).  Take the Bernina and all that goes with it, including paperwork with you.  Talk to the dealer and either have them service the machine or consider trading it in.

    Computerized sewing machine mfg generally do not want the owners to do any lubricating and are especially against using canned air.

    Tell the service person what maintenance you have already done and what (if you know) the other service person did to the machine.

    Not saying that what you have done has caused a problem, but canned air could have lodged lint into an area that is causing a sensor to malfunction and oil could have gotten into an area that is causing the problem. 

    It is so sad when years of sewing experience is humbled by a computer.  

    I have learned to base my purchase on the dealer and not the machine.

    The last time I went Bernina shopping, the dealer's lack of knowledge convinced me to go to a dealer that I had known and trusted for over 20 years.  I had moved many miles away and was going to "support my local businesses".  Instead I made the road trip and bought a Babylock.  That was 2 yrs ago and I know that I did the right thing.

    Best wishes for getting this resolved. 

    1. IzzyBizzy | | #8

      I'm located in Wyoming and must drive to Salt Lake for service. I think I've also been the victim of mis-information, because we were told to use canned air on our machines. I wouldn't have tried it otherwise, because I hate to spend that kind of money for a can of air. I agree that a good dealer is an important factor in any sewing machine purchase, but our other local dealer (Pfaff) doesn't offer machine support either. Their support is in Provo, Utah. I made the conscious decision to support our local businesses and it's been a very expensive and frustrating lesson in what not to do. It won't happen again. Thanks so much for your response. I may consider trading it in in spite of losing money on it. That may be the only way I'll ever get any satisfaction. It does have some nice features, but I'd rather have something more reliable that isn't so high maintenance.

      1. Pattiann42 | | #10

        Please check your instruction manual before using any lubricant.

        Maintenance on computerized a SM is much different than on a mechanical SW.

  4. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #7

    I have lost 2 good Bernina dealers over the lifetime of my Bernina.  The remaining dealers in my area I do not trust.  I am now driving over 4 hours to a new one, down in the states to look them over to see how they are for service.  We shall see....

    I wish I knew where you were posting from....

    I agree with the other poster.  Please do not use canned air to clean the machine.  Use a vaccume instead.  It pulls the dirt and whatknot out of the machine instead of pushing it further in.  I use air to blow away external dirt and such on the OUTSIDE of my machine, where I cannot reach.  I use the air to clean my bobbin casing, but I blow it away from my machine, and never into it.  I keep my machines very clean, and oil the track (bobbin race) frequently, but not so much that the oil will build up.  It is possible that oil has covered the sensor and is tripping it.  It only takes a little....

    The other possibility is how linty is the thread that you have been using?  If it is shedding a lot, and is binding with an excess of oil, it could also clog your machine as well.  The sensors may be very touchy.  It may not take much for them to register as being dirty.  When oiling the thread race, you actually only need barely a drop.   Cathy

    Edited 11/17/2008 1:32 pm ET by ThreadKoe

    1. IzzyBizzy | | #9

      Thanks for that great advice. I've been oiling my machine in just the way you suggested with only one drop of oil, but it may still be part of the problem. And I'll certainly change my ways when it comes to canned air. I wish I could remember who told me to use it, but it was also mentioned at a class I took in Utah. For over fourteen years I had a Bernina 1630, the very first computer machine, and never had any trouble with it. Too bad I wore it out. They've tried to fix it without much success. It's possible that some of my problems are owner error, but I've tried to do everything I've been told by the dealers and mechanics. The free classes offered by most dealers are extremely valuable and I don't think a dealer should be allowed to sell these machines without being able to demonstrate them or provide support. It's my own fault for not being more cautious in my purchase. (I'm located in Wyoming.)

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #11

        I am sorry if you felt I was pointing the finger of fault your way.  I definitely was not.  I was merely trying to point out some areas that could cause problems.  The more information you have, the better you can discuss what you have tried yourself and failed at, to determine that the problem is a lemon machine.  Then you can get the machine fixed under warranty.  Hopefully the machine will be replaced with another more suitable to your needs.  A well written letter of complaint about the problems you are having,with copies of repair receipts, sent to head office, cc to the company who sold you the machine BY MAIL often will get results faster with a reply if you state in your letter that you expect a reply by a certain date.  You also need to state clearly and politely the problems encountered and the results you expect.  Send the letter by registerd mail if you want to know when it was received.  Cathy 

        1. IzzyBizzy | | #12

          Thank you so much for your response to my previous message. I appreciate everything you had to offer and took offense at none of it. I'm happy to have any input I can get. There's always somebody out there who's had a similar experience or has a better idea. Thanks for taking the time to respond, and I will most likely be taking your suggestion to contact the company again---and again if necessary.

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #13

            And they wonder why sewing seems to be decreasing in some areas.  With service problems like this, and fabric stores disappearing, no wonder.  Yet there are a lot of people out there crying for good products.  Squeaky wheels get the grease Honey, do not give up until you are satisfied.  Good Luck.  Cathy

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