Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option
from the basic-competency-is-extra dept
The never-ending quest for improved quarterly returns means that things that technically shouldn’t be luxury options, inevitably wind up being precisely that. We’ve shown how a baseline expectation of privacy is increasingly treated as a luxury option by hardware makers and telecoms alike. The same thing also sometimes happens to customer service; at least when companies think they can get away with it.
“Smart home” and home security hardware vendor Arlo, for example, has announced a number of new, not particularly impressive subscription tiers for its internet-connected video cameras. The changes effectively involve forcing users to pay more money every month if they ever want to talk to a live customer service representative. From Stacey Higginbotham:
“This week, Arlo launched what I generously think of as its pay-for-customer-service enticement for its smart home camera products. As of Oct. 4, customers without a subscription who?ve had their devices for more than 90 days no longer get phone support. And after one year, they lose access to live chat support.”
If you don’t pay Arlo more money for actual customer service, you’re relegated to cobbling together support solutions from the company’s forums, an automated website chat bot, or elsewhere. Given the cost of Arlo products, the decision to make speaking to an actual human being a $3 to $15 monthly add on is fairly ludicrous:
“Arlo?s customer support framework now requires a $2.99 to $14.99 per month Arlo subscription, a free trial plan, or the device to be within 90 days of purchase for phone support. Then you?re downgraded to chat support for the remainder of the year.
After that, absent a plan, Arlo customers with problems will only have access to a virtual assistant or the public forums. That means no phone support and no chat. This feels pretty punitive for a product that can cost between $130 and $300 depending on the device.”
Even U.S. telecom giants, the poster children for atrocious U.S. customer service, haven’t meaningfully pursued making live customer support a premium option (though they have tinkered with innately providing worse support to folks with low credit scores). Arlo’s choice comes amidst higher shipping costs and supply chain issues during COVID, but the decision to try and recover those higher costs by making basic competency a luxury tier will likely come back to bite it in an IOT space that’s only getting more competitive.