Spectrum Customers Stuck With Thousands In Home Security Gear They Can't Use
from the walled-gardens dept
For the better part of the decade, ISPs like Comcast and Spectrum have been desperately trying to carve out a niche in the home security and automation space. But despite their best efforts those projects haven’t gone particularly well, to the point where big ISPs try to hide how many subscribers have signed up for such service in earnings reports. Historically, users already feel they pay their cable TV and broadband provider too much money, and only a few folks feel it’s worth paying them even more for home security and automation products they can find elsewhere, usually for less.
Customers received a good reminder last week of why it’s not worth buying home security and automation services and products from their ISP. Charter Spectrum, the nation’s second biggest cable provider, has announced it’s shuttering its home security services as of February:
“At Spectrum, we continually evaluate our products to ensure we are bringing you superior, consistent and reliable service. We perform regular reviews of our services and as a result, effective February 5, 2020, we will no longer be providing or supporting Spectrum Home Security service.”
The problem: customers spent thousands of dollars on much of this Spectrum-branded gear, and while the hardware they received supports smart home standards like Zigbee, they’re built in such a way as to be locked to Charter’s (soon to be nonexistent) systems, rendering them useless. Needless to say users aren’t thrilled to learn they now own thousands of dollars in useless hardware, something that wouldn’t have happened had they bought off the shelf gear:
“All these devices are Zigbee based, made by a major player in the Zigbee devices game. Under normal circumstances, you would be able to take all your stuff and move it over to your own home automation solution (Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Hubitat to name a few). But nope, not Spectrum?s devices. Early on they were firmware coded to prevent them from being seen and usable within the normal universe of Zigbee devices. With a couple of exceptions Spectrum?s Zigbee devices will only see the Spectrum Zigbee universe. So essentially after Feb. 5, 2020 your house full of Zigbee devices will be useless.”
Spectrum users are quick to point out this could have all been avoided with a little elbow grease by Spectrum, but the company couldn’t be bothered:
“The criminal part in this is that with literally a 10 minute fix and firmware to those devices BEFORE they shutter their service would open them to the universe of compatible Zigbee devices but you can take to the bank that Spectrum isn?t going to do it, otherwise they would have mentioned it with the announcement. All those hundreds of dollars (thousands in some cases) down the drain? how does that make you feel?”
The cable industry’s relentless desire to keep you locked in their proprietary walled gardens are also on full display when it comes to their cable box monopoly, and it’s one of countless reasons why these companies enjoy some of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings in America. And while Spectrum has struck a deal with Abode to give these customers a discount on new security systems, that’s cold comfort for those who shelled out thousands of dollars for hardware they can no longer use.