Home automation company Wink under fire for surprise subscription mandate [u]

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  • Reply 21 of 68
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,389member
    lkrupp said:

    Wink claims that the move is necessary, as the one-time cost of buying a Wink product is incapable of sustaining their business.



    Any more questions as to why Apple prices its hardware the way it does? Any more questions as to why Apple slurps up the majority of profits while others eke out an extremely low margin existence and slowly disappear?
    Very good points! Totally agree! Also, people forget that shit that used to be a cost from Apple is now completely free, including major releases. macOS, iOS, iMovie, GarageBand, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, all used to cost money and each major update was an additional cost and now they're all completely free. The exact opposite of what this company is doing.

    Maybe they should have thought out their pricing a little better. 

    You can all but guarantee there will be a lawsuit on this.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 22 of 68
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,396member
    This is a brutal wake-up call and existing customers are understandably upset. I do feel bad for everyone involved, but at some point we all need to start acting like adults and cut out all of the BS. On both sides.

    Companies that try to build market share through lowball pricing tactics need to come clean up-front and tell people that their low-cost or no-cost deals are simply bait to get you on their rolls. Companies that place themselves in an unsustainable business arrangement need to admit to their customers and investors that they are walking on thin ice and can fall through without warning, leaving their customers out of luck. Companies that sell a version of a product should state up-front what level of continued support customers are getting for the purchase price of the product. If the vendor cannot afford to provide ongoing support or upgrades, put it in the purchase agreement.   

    But this problem is not all on the vendors...

    Customers that purchase apps for what is very often equal to or less than the price of a friggen candy bar should not expect any more continued support than what they get from the maker of a candy bar. You buy it, you eat it, and that's the end of the deal. The purchase agreement for such an app should state something to this effect, that it's a one-time purchase and unless defective in some egregious way, like one too many rodent dropping or too many hair fragments in your candy bar, what you get is what you bought and if you want product support or new features, you have to pay or buy the new version. This is the candy bar model.

    Likewise, apps that are frequently updated, are launched as introductory versions with lowball prices, or require more work to be performed by the vendor that customers must pay for to sustain their business should absolutely state this in the purchase agreement. The same deal holds for hardware. If a razor needs customer-purchased replacement blades to remain useful, or if a modem needs a customer-purchased online service subscription to work, these facts should be stated in the purchase agreement. Nobody likes bad surprises. 

    This Wink deal is a disaster, so it should serve as an example of what happens when we all dance around a situation that know just ain't right. Customers do nothing about it because they're enjoying the free ride. Vendors do nothing about it because they're hoping they'll find a way to pull a rabbit out of a hat, perhaps by being acquired by Amazon or saved by a divine miracle. But when the miracles and acquisitions fall through and fail to appear, the rapidly expanding crap bomb they saw coming explodes and everyone is covered with it.

    All I'm saying is that it didn't have to be this way. A little bit of honesty and having a purchase agreement in-place to level-set expectations from the start would have solved a lot of these problems and averted what is now going to be a very ugly disaster for both Wink and its customers.



    edited May 2020
  • Reply 23 of 68
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,681member
    Count me among the people who question the legality. We just saw a lawsuit from people where mad because FaceTime required iOS 7. 

    Here we have a product being sold at a cost with a set of features. Now, after the fact the company is saying customers have to start paying to keep the functionality they were told was included in the purchase price. That seems  like fraud. 
    dysamoriaelijahgStrangeDaysGeorgeBMacwatto_cobradanh
  • Reply 24 of 68
    neilmneilm Posts: 957member
    Wink's current web site, in the "Legal" section, includes the following (emphasis mine):

    "Service Interruptions and Changes to the Services

    Wink reserves the right to interrupt the Services with or without prior notice for any reason or no reason. You agree that Wink will not be liable for any interruption of the Services, delay or failure to perform. Wink has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Services as it sees fit in its sole discretion."

    I imagine that imposing a subscription would fall under the "change [...] any aspect of the the Services" part.

    baconstangpscooter63beowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 25 of 68
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member

    larryjw said:
    Where is Wink's business plan? How could they believe one-time purchasers of their products could sustain their business? 

    Did Wink believe they could sustain the business through selling advertising?

    They probably didn't believe it. They were just pressured into doing it by the entire market which thinks everything in high quality software is supposed to be free.

    They've now found out, like the rest of the entire software industry, that software is not sustainable as a business unless it is a subscription service. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    Unfortunately this fast and desperate move by Wink will be viewed as just that, even if it is the right thing to do.
    Software was a sustainable business for decades without subscription scams being “necessary”. Subscriptions are about greed, and, in Wink’s case, apparently having no rational or long-term sustainable business plan. The obsession with “disruptive” and “brave” tech startups is an endless story of self-inflicted injury and short-sighted naivety, but most everyone is stuck in survivorship bias mode and keeps obsessing over this fad-like “business model”. 
    DAalsethpscooter63GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 26 of 68
    mystigomystigo Posts: 151member
    I can't imagine that anyone at Wink *wanted* to do this. It must have been a pretty grim series of meetings. They know they will lose many future customers -maybe most of them. They know that they will be generating enormous ill-will with their existing customers. But I suspect they looked at the numbers and saw that if they didn't do this, it would all be a moot point. They would go out of business, and no one would have any level of service. It can't have been an easy decision.
    watto_cobracrowley
  • Reply 27 of 68
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member

    rob53 said:
    What's with their website? https://www.wink.com If this is how they set up a website, no way I'd buy from them. I'll let so,eone else read their new legal information, https://www.wink.com/legal/. Would have been nice to see the original version but as they say near the top, they can do whatever they want to at any time:

    Site Changes and Interruptions

    Wink reserves the right to interrupt the Site with or without prior notice for any reason or no reason. You agree that Wink will not be liable for any interruption of the Site, delay or failure to perform. Wink has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Site as it sees fit in its sole discretion.



    Is this the first time you’ve ever read a licensing terms document from the computer industry? This is what has been in EULAs for pretty much always. There’s usually zero warranty of any kind for computer-based products, especially software and “services”. Not even “fitness for particular purpose”.

    This is just more of the same that people have been tolerating for decades. Read the rest of your EULAs and get back to me. If you think the rest of them are acceptable, then you are maybe part of the problem.

    Contact your government representatives and demand accountability in the tech/software industry. Geeks will tell you that computers can’t be expected to carry the same terms as non-software-driven products, but that’s not only indoctrination, it’s also a sign that the industry was never ready for humanity to rely on its products in the first place. No more excuses. 
  • Reply 28 of 68
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    MplsP said:
    Count me among the people who question the legality. We just saw a lawsuit from people where mad because FaceTime required iOS 7. 

    Here we have a product being sold at a cost with a set of features. Now, after the fact the company is saying customers have to start paying to keep the functionality they were told was included in the purchase price. That seems  like fraud. 
    It is. Bait and switch.

    But it’s the tech industry, and that industry has been getting away with this for decades. The power holders in the industry have lobbied governments to treat the computer/software industry as though it should be an exception to every consumer protection law ever enacted for any other industry.

    This isn’t new. It’s just an egregious example and is actually being presented as news in the media... but just the tech media, so, expect little consequence.
    DAalseth
  • Reply 29 of 68
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 376member
    davgreg said:
    The worst things that ever happened to computers were the in-app purchase and subscription software.
    Only to people like you that think everything should be free, or cost $9.99 once for unlimited lifetime usage and updates.

    For the rest of the real world, it is the best thing that has ever happened to make the 1000-fold increase in demand for software almost profitable.
    I don't think it should be free or just $9.99, but a copy of software should be available for actual puchase, not lease. And I don't think that should entitle a buyer to endless updates, just a few point-version bug fixes. Major upgrades should be priced accordingly (perhaps with some accommodation for existing customers).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 30 of 68
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,635member
    flydog said:

    elijahg said:
    There is no way this is legal
    Wrong. It may rub people the wrong way and result in losing customers, but there is nothing illegal about raising prices.

    Even if there was a contract that guaranteed the service would be free for life (there isn't), that would be breach of contract, not a crime. 

    Get a grip on reality. 
    Something being illegal doesn't necessarily make it a crime, it can be a civil offence. Breach of contract is a civil offence. Also, there's a big difference between raising prices and intentionally bricking products that working perfectly well for free, until you pay a fee, with no prior indication that might happen. You might want to read properly before jumping to incorrect conclusions.
    edited May 2020
  • Reply 31 of 68
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,216member
    They sold an item that was advertised to work.
    Later they announce that they will disable the item unless the user agrees to ongoing payments that were not laid out at the time of sale.
    Yes that is the definition of extortion, a protection racket. 
    “Would be a terrible thing if your security system stopped working. You pay us a bit every month and we will make sure that it doesn’t .”
    Put that in front of a jury and they will nail Wink to the wall. 
    At the very least what Wink is doing is clear fraud.
    There is some, or I expect several AGs that will be all over this.
    Plus if there ever WAS a clear case for a class action suit this is one. 

    Wink and wil.i.am have just kicked a hornets nest and are in for a world of hurt.
    elijahgmacxpresspscooter63watto_cobradanhronn
  • Reply 32 of 68

    “Bait and switch” Wink
    When I purchased my first Wink hub and GE air conditioner, I was so satisfied with it I bought 2 more GE air conditioners.  In the following years I added Wink security equipment and light bulbs.   The fact that it was a one-time cost is one of the reasons I selected them. 
    I just received notification that it will cost me $60/year to use the smart functions (that were included in the cost of the hardware for the lifetime of the devices).  I am going to continue to use my Wink devices, without any of the smart functions.  Over time I will most likely replace them with smart devices from other manufactures.
    When I talk with friends in the IT field, I will mention how a company I trusted became a “bait and switch” company. 


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 33 of 68
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,635member
    neilm said:
    Wink's current web site, in the "Legal" section, includes the following (emphasis mine):

    "Service Interruptions and Changes to the Services

    Wink reserves the right to interrupt the Services with or without prior notice for any reason or no reason. You agree that Wink will not be liable for any interruption of the Services, delay or failure to perform. Wink has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Services as it sees fit in its sole discretion."

    I imagine that imposing a subscription would fall under the "change [...] any aspect of the the Services" part.

    The terms of service don't override the law, no longer getting something you've paid for is fraud, pushing people to pay again is extortion. Trying to claim it's ok by using a clause in the ToS doesn't really cut it, a ToS is a contract which has to be fair to both parties otherwise a clause can be nullified in court.
  • Reply 34 of 68
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,389member
    This is why I am staying away from this new home automation market. As cool as it sounds, I'm not willing to invest 1000s in a company who is here today and gone tomorrow only to start the process over and repeat. Until the market matures and standards are created, this guy is not going to be a dollar feeder to bleeding edge unreliable tech whose sole purpose is to bleed out my wallet.
    You can do home automation without it phoning home back to the manufacturer. Just don't get devices that require this. 
    GG1callmemattigorskywatto_cobra
  • Reply 35 of 68
    edwilk55edwilk55 Posts: 2member
    Had they given a 30 day notice and made the notification sound like they gave a crap, I may have stayed.  But, bu'bye.  Moving to Hubitat.  Far superior tech anyway, instant communication and private.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 36 of 68
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,717member
  • Reply 37 of 68
    kent909kent909 Posts: 731member
    I don’t own a Wink hub. But looking at their website it appears they mostly support automating other companies hardware. Ring and Nest for examples. So if I don’t want to pay for the subscription I can still manage all my devices with the native apps provided by the hardware manufacturers. The way the story reads to me is everyone is going to have a box full unusable hardware that has the Wink name on it. Looks like a hub is all you will have wasted your money on. Since I am not a Wink customer, someone correct me if I am wrong.  This is why I never have purchased any hardware that required a hub to operate, with the exception of Homekit compatible.  I know Apple will be around for a long time and it is extremely unlikely that they will ever tell me I have to pay a subscription fee to them to use my Apple TV. I think Wink just decided to delay having to file bankruptcy.
    edited May 2020 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 38 of 68
    cg27cg27 Posts: 172member
    Still waiting for Apple to make home automation magical, as in plug and play with no third party bridges, subscriptions, apps needed, just the hardware (namely security cams).  Eve seems to be the only company that may fulfill this.  But they too could pull a bait and switch at some point.

    And yes, truly wish Apple would get back into wireless routers but have to wonder if they’re just banking on 5G instead.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 39 of 68
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,216member
    This is why I am staying away from this new home automation market. As cool as it sounds, I'm not willing to invest 1000s in a company who is here today and gone tomorrow only to start the process over and repeat. Until the market matures and standards are created, this guy is not going to be a dollar feeder to bleeding edge unreliable tech whose sole purpose is to bleed out my wallet.
    I am too. Not just for this, because I haven’t seen any systems that made me think, “yeah I really want to automate that”. I just don’t see enough value in the concept of home automation, and things like this don’t help.
    inTIMidator
  • Reply 40 of 68
    rossgggrossggg Posts: 12member
    I could be wrong, I've mostly only ever used the free Wink app to integrate various third-party services, and I have used the Wink Relay.  I believe, however, that the wink hardware all operates on the ZWave protocol, so all of the various devices purchased will still be usable if paired with any other compatible ZWave controller.  The things that are moving to a subscription are the cloud services which includes the app and, more unfortunately, the hub since it seems to have been designed to rely on the cloud and provides no local control api.

    I never invested in the Wink Hub because I didn't like that it was not an open platform that would allow you add your own integrations, and I was also weary of its complete dependency on the cloud.  The cloud services have been notoriously unreliable for many users over the past couple of years, and this latest move only further proves that it was a flawed strategy to begin with.  The writing has been on the wall for quite awhile that something was amiss.  They probably ended up in a position where they were stretched too thin and needed more money so that they could invest resources into resolving the reliability issues they have been facing.

    The right move would probably be to open the existing hubs up to work without the cloud, at the sacrifice of some convenience, but at least giving users and opportunity to extend the life of the ecosystem they have invested in.  With a little effort from the community a solution could be developed at that point to use the hub as a bridge to another ecosystem or protocol that would restore much of that functionality that was provided with their cloud service.  They could offer the subscription to users who just want things to keep working they way they are used to, and promise to use the new revenue to improve reliability and add new functionality down the road.  Unfortunately, they are probably already stretched too thin to dedicate resources to opening up the cloud-reliant parts of their hardware.

    The silver lining is that for all of the users that decide to move on from Wink, they should at least be able to migrate all of the various devices, other than the hub, over to another ZWave compatible hub and not loose all of their investment.
    pscooter63
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