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.

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Filed Under: customer support, home security, iot, subscription fees
Companies: arlo


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2021 @ 2:21pm

    If the chat bot can't Fix it, RMA it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2021 @ 2:46pm

    Customer Service

    Back when, at Rackspace, there were no voice menus. Call the support line, you got, first try, a real human being. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Those guys were pretty much limited to hearing what the issue was, and which team to route you to, and you got forwarded to ... ANOTHER LIVE HUMAN BEING! Almost invariably the phone was answered with "Hi! This is <name>, how can I help?" It wasn't unusual to have someone break down and cry hearing that. One support engineer was working on a multi-hour issue with a customer. It was late, and the support dude put the customer on hold, looked up the account, and sent a pizza to the customer because they were hungry. Not on a corporate card, on his own personal credit card. That kind of person with that kind of support has a cost. That's why Rackspace servers were expensive and still are. The problem is that the support since being taken private is not what I consider "Knock your socks off" anymore in my opinion. Price points are still there though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan, 20 Oct 2021 @ 3:26pm

    unreal

    MOST companies, especially ones that provide services like Uber don't even have an easy way to email them.

    How is it that ANY COMPANy these days validates accounts without an email validation? I have people signing me up for stuff all the time and the company doesn't validate the account...then I need to navigate their annoying customer service THAT ASSUMES YOU'RE A CUSTOMER.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Kent (profile), 20 Oct 2021 @ 3:39pm

    "If you don't pay Arlo more money for actual customer service, you're relegated to cobbling together support solutions..."

    As a current Arlo customer (cameras and subscription), I can confidently say that paying or not, the term "actual customer service" is very generous. That said, at least as far as I know, they don't share my video recordings with the local constabulary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Oct 2021 @ 9:46pm

    Sure hope they disclose this in the advertising and packaging.
    Pretty sure there are laywers just chomping at the bit to file a class action about bait and switch tactics trying to lock customers into a monthly bill they know nothing about until they open the box.

    Imma just wait till they end up hacked...
    what? its a IoT company... the odds are forever in my favor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nwgat (profile), 21 Oct 2021 @ 6:14pm

    need support? thats DLC

    kinda funny because many times a customer might find bugs and/or security flaws and has no way to troubleshoot due to not having the support dlc

    really hope this backfires badly on them, heh customer buy product, cant set it up, needs tech support but thats a paid dlc, customer returns it to the store and buys some other brand instead lol

    i love companies that have chat, its way faster to chat with a person than call or email them

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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