Friday, June 10, 2016

Pebble - Another Epic Fail

I had previously blogged about my issues with Pebble's health data infrastructure. Danielle had an issue this week that has caused us to give up on the company entirely. Unlike me, she didn't use the watch for tracking steps, except casually; she has worn a Fitbit One for several years as her activity tracker and continued to do so while wearing the Pebble. The Pebble Time Round was more useful as a watch and for notifications, which it did fairly well.

Danielle charged her Pebble Time Round every morning on the nightstand next to the bed, a table which stands slightly over two feet high. While disconnecting her watch from the charger on Thursday, the watch slipped from her grasp and fell on the floor. When she picked it up, she discovered that the crystal was shattered. This was very surprising as it was supposed to be Gorilla Glass.

Danielle contacted Pebble Support to find out what her options were. She was hopeful that they would replace the watch, which she was happy with overall.

Pebble's response was not encouraging:
While we can't replace your Pebble under warranty in this circumstance, we would like to offer you a discount on one of our new watches. If you are interested, we will provide you with a limited time link that you can use to receive 15% off. 
Danielle wrote back the following letter:
I do not consider this to be acceptable.  
The Pebble warranty specifically excludes "normal wear and tear and cosmetic damage, including, but not limited to, scratches, dents and broken plastic." I do not consider shattered Gorilla Glass to be "normal wear and tear," nor is it excluded in the list above.  
The warranty also specifically excludes "defects or damage caused by misuse, accident (including, without limitation, collision, fire and the spillage of food or liquid), neglect, abuse, alteration, unusual stress, modification, improper or unauthorized repair, installation, wiring, or testing, improper storage." If Pebble is arguing that no such accident is covered under warranty, then please explain to me the situation described in where the writer states "This is what happened to me at work: I knocked my Pebble Time Round on a corner desk and cracked the screen. The impact was big. It would have shattered to pieces a normal watch, but, in this case, it only cracked the screen. The watch was still fully functional. I rung Pebble, explained that I am retarded, and they kindly offered to send me a new one. For free. How nice is that?" 
I will contrast your refusal to replace my Pebble under warranty with the behavior of two other fitness tracker companies with which I have experience, Fitbit and Garmin. Fitbit replaced one of my devices three times when it was damaged by sweat on three separate occasions, despite the fact that the unit was not advertised as waterproof. Garmin replaced another device due to screen failure with no questions asked. 
The Pebble Time Round is advertised as having a "2.5D gorilla glass display" and "Marine Grade Stainless Steel chassis and bezel." This implied, to my mind, that the unit was fairly rugged. Having owned devices with Gorilla Glass before, I know that it can be scratched and I have even chipped an exposed edge before. For that reason, I purchased a screen protector (that and to conceal the hideous bezel). The people I know who have shattered their displays have generally done something like slam a car door on their phone or drop the phone onto pavement from 5 feet or more. My minor drop onto the floor of my home from a height of 3 feet does not begin to compare. 
Presumably you offered me a 15% discount in an attempt to cultivate customer loyalty. I am not at all sorry to tell you that it has exactly the reverse effect. I see no reason to waste any of my money on a company that will not stand behind its products. If you offer me a replacement under warranty, as you offered the reviewer I quoted above, I will be happy to continue using your product. If I have to spend my own money to replace a unit that is close to being obsolete technologically, I will go elsewhere.  
Danielle Cunniff Plumer
Pebble's response was a classic blow-off:
Thank you for reaching back out to Pebble. 
I spoke with management on your behalf, they stated that accidental damage is not covered under warranty, as such no replacement will be issued. Sorry for any inconvenience, if you would like the 15% off discount offered to you in my last email please let me know.
So I am done with Pebble. For the price of a new Pebble Time Round, even with the miserly 15% off, Danielle was able to purchase a new Fitbit Alta. It doesn't offer the quality of notifications that the Pebble Time Round did, but its features as an activity tracker are far superior. The movement reminder is far superior than anything we were ever able to jury-rig on Pebble. Battery life and sleep tracking are almost infinitely better. Most importantly, the fitness data ecosystem integration that Fitbit provides is second to none. Finally, Danielle feels confident that if the display does shatter, Fitbit will replace the unit.

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