Cricut Hastily Walks Back Plan To Charge Cutting Machine Owners $10/Month To Fully Use Their Purchases
from the lol-check-out-these-Cricut-tools dept
Cricut — the leading brand of home use CNC machines — has decided to alienate the people you’d think it would most want to embrace: its paying customers. Cricut machines allow users to upload designs and put their machines to work cutting materials from paper to cloth to metal to whatever will fit into the machines, giving hobbyists and craftmakers control of a small-scale manufacturing operation. They’re pretty amazing. And they’re pretty expensive.
They’re also subject to a whole lot of rules — some written and some unwritten. Cricut has made efforts to lock competitors out of the market by limiting cutting tool compatibility and restricting sheet size to increase sales of its own line of Cricut raw materials. Most designer paper comes in a standard 8.5″ x 11″ size. Sheet size in Cricuts is limited to 6.75″ x 9.25″, meaning off-the-rack, non-Circut-branded papers are about 20% useless.
Things like this help Cricut make the most of its multiple revenue streams. Cricut has apparently decided it has at least one too few revenue streams. As Hackaday reports, the company is now asking customers who’ve purchased printers to start paying the company in exchange for the privilege of fully utilizing their purchases.
[Cricut] has dropped a bombshell in the form of an update to the web-based design software that leaves their now very annoyed users with a monthly upload limit of 20 new designs unless they sign up for a Cricut Access Plan that costs $9.99 on monthly payments. Worse still, a screenshot is circulating online purporting to be from a communication with a Cricut employee attempting to clarify matters, in which it is suggested that machines sold as second-hand will be bricked by the company.
Well, that’s at least two levels of suck contained in a single announcement. First, the decision to hit people who’ve already shelled out hundreds or thousands to Cricut with perpetual fees is inexplicable. Cricut isn’t the only cutter on the market and a move like this just talks loyal users out of their loyalty and encourages them to explore their options. In exchange for smaller fees, Cricut seems willing to watch thousands of dollars exit the market for their competitors.
Second, the bricking of secondhand devices is pure bullshit. A Cricut is a Cricut. Anyone who bought one should have the right to sell it. And anyone buying one from a former user should rightfully expect it will be fully functional, not bricked by a company willing to compound its errors.
Fortunately, the company has listened to its users. It has dropped the rent program and said that anyone who buys a cutter before the end of this year will be grandfathered into the existing unlimited free program. Buyers who purchase one after December 31, 2021 will apparently be expected to purchase a subscription, which means this mini-debacle will be revisited later this year if Cricut refuses to drop its subscription program completely.
Cricut has also clarified that it’s not moving forward with a plan to brick secondhand machines. New users will need to set up their own accounts, but the machines will function as normal.
All’s well that ends well, I guess. But anyone outside of Cricut could have informed Cricut how this was going to play out. Chances are, some people inside Cricut realized that as well, but were overridden by those willing to ask what the market was willing to absorb, even if it meant shedding a few more reputation points.