Giving up on SmartThings

Thanks Aaron. I have tried to send you a 1:1. Hope you received it
David.

The Philips Hue Hub v2 also now has voice support via Siri and Apple Homekit compliance which is now inbuilt. However it’s limited to the Apple / Hue range of products.

Philips is also showing that they appreciate you as a customer by offering the new v2 hub at a 33% discount to all existing users.

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Aaron was kind enough to update me a little more on a 1:1, and its 100% clear that there will be no discounts or compensation offered to those who paid retail prices to unwittingly act as testers on a product that is not properly working yet.

Also the proposal of getting the returns department to speed up the faulty product replacement cycle by sending replacements out quickly whilst waiting for the faulty return (amazon-style) is apparently just that…a proposal…and has no realistic prospect of happening in the near future.

So, my kit is now back in its box and waiting for a return shipping label…hopefully that wont take too long to generate.

Good luck to those of you whose patience is stronger than mine.

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wow that is very disappointing to hear @djtucker but also your timing and transparency of communication (unlike SmartThings) is commendable. I had just about convinced myself (and more importantly the wife) that should this Oauth issue get fixed we would pull the trigger pretty aggressively on the whole house (multiple room sensors, bulbs, nest, protect… even sleep sense when released) especially with the recent announcement of integration with BMW connected drive. It all sounds so perfect to fit in with my needs & existing environment / cars etc.

I think instead i will mull this over at the weekend with a view to returning the kit as it stands (leaving me with some dumb lightify bulbs that i cant return as they actually do everything they claim too). The product, product support & management of this product does not seem capable of driving a product that knows so much about our lives.

Its pretty disgusting to see how lackadaisical in every sense a company can be especially given the potential impact this could have to peoples lives / homes.

As i am hoping to attend the IoT conference next month it will be interesting to see & speak to people in positions of influence and get their thoughts on the maturity of residential based systems like SmartThings.

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Keep us posted, please?

I organize the Home Automation Meetup in San Francisco, and despite our proximity to Silicon Valley, we’re disappointed with the pace of integrated product development.

Follow me on Twitter: @CosmicPuppySF … My focus is #SmartHome.

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Hi @tgauchat, I haven’t been able to look into your event yet but wondered if you have any large ‘local’ companies attend in either an official context or otherwise? I work for one of them and can certainly try and see if any of my colleagues attend or would like to if its an open forum?

I feel your pain.

I am quadriparetic, use a wheelchair and have limited hand function. So I pay a lot of attention to various automation solutions. They make a very significant difference to people in my situation.

I live in the United States, here neither insurance nor government support pay for most home modifications. They will cover the wheelchair, but not the wheelchair ramp to get in and out of one’s house. Nor do they cover a bed hoist. And they definitely don’t cover any home automation technology that would also be of benefit to able-bodied persons.

There are many solutions available at different price points. And that have been available for about 25 years. There’s actually nothing New or dramatically different from an engineering standpoint about what SmartThings provides.

Home automation that works – – if one is willing to pay for it

The one thing that was revolutionary about SmartThings was the price. For at least 15 years in the US one had been able to purchase a full-blown, very reliable, very stable, full featured home automation system that would control window coverings, home entertainment devices, the thermostat, the lighting, etc. But the price would typically start at around €40,000 and go up from there. The systems would be installed and maintained by professionals for significant annual fee.

Less Expensive Alternatives: the Security System and the Medical Support System

Then there were two less expensive tiers. One was sold by home security companies, which added on some light control, and a monthly fee of around €75 and different initial set up fees. Usually no integration with window coverings or Home entertainment devices or even the thermostat. But cameras, sensors, door locks, garage door controllers. Many people felt that these worked, they were certainly stable and reliable, but the contracts and fees seemed too expensive for the delivered value.

“Environmental Control Systems” for People who use Wheelchairs

The other tier was aimed at people in situations like myself, and has generally been marketed under the name of “environmental control systems.” Something to give more independence to a person with limited hand function. These almost always did control home entertainment devices, frequently allowed for telephone dialing, sometimes included thermostats, almost always included lights and window coverings. Typically used motion sensors only for switch replacement, not for burglar detection. Usually included automatic doors. The systems were often limited to a single room in the home, the person’s bedroom, and had a cost of anywhere from €8000 to 15,000. Very very stable, that was always an essential for any system of this type. Professionally installed. Didn’t always require maintenance contract. Limited ability to customize. But what was delivered worked extremely well.

The New Frontier: Inexpensive DIY Systems

Then along comes SmartThings, and some of their competitors in the US like wink, Iris, and staples connect. They said, we can deliver a home automation controller that can handle almost anything that uses two standardized network protocols (zwave and zigbee). And we’ll sell the controller for less than €250. A revolution in pricing. No contracts, and people will buy exactly the pieces they want. All DIY installation and maintenance.

The different competitors chose different differentiators. Staples connect, a business supply house, aimed its product primarily at small businesses who are its chief customers anyway. Their number one goal from the beginning was reliability. And they delivered it. But they did so by severely restricting the choice of devices that could be connected, and by eliminating anything that might cause instability, including Geopresence detection, custom coding, and most outside Service connections including IFTTT. And the devices that they did choose tended to be among the most expensive in their device classes (whilst still less expensive than the professionally-installed systems). Very high-quality, very reliable, but expensive. It does not require an Internet connection to run. So one can run the lights and the window coverings and the doorlock and the motion sensors in the Office or a small shop, day after day, no problems. Most of the complaints in the Staples customer forums are about not having enough choices. Not about things that worked on Monday failing to work on Tuesday.

The Reliability Question

What does all this mean? Well, clearly it’s possible to create a home automation system that is very reliable, and that delivers what it promises, and that covers a wide variety of device classes. But it may not be possible to do that for under €300 in a DIY set up. That’s really the big question. How much does it have to cost to make a system that will be stable and full featured? What’s the real minimum price?

And from the consumer side, the question is how much should one expect from a €200 controller with no contract? Setting aside the question of features promised that aren’t delivered, which is a whole different issue, if everything that was promised worked perfectly, what would “perfectly” mean in this price range?

How does one compare a Skoda and a Range Rover? The first step is probably just to know that the different categories exist. Which is really why I’m writing this post.

When you go to the conference, I think there will be many people who will confirm the possibility of a reliable IOT system. Even one with a large cloud component. But are they thinking about the kind of system bought by the homeowner who is willing to pay €6000 for a refrigerator? Or are they thinking about the DIY system where all of the component parts together cost less than €1500?

I do like SmartThings, and I do use it, but I only use it for convenience use cases where I have a Plan B immediately available. It gave me voice control of lights and door locks and the television when nothing else under €5000 would have. I set my initial budget of about €1500, and I’ve stuck to that. And that included harmony and a smart watch. But it still infuriates me several times a month, when something which was working fine stopped working. Eventually it starts again but the maintenance is tedious. I accept it, because I don’t want to pay the €15,000 it would cost me to replace equivalent functionality with something that does work reliably every day. (Staples connect as yet does not have any good voice options.)

That doesn’t mean I think it would be a good solution for everyone. It all comes down to what you need and what you’re willing to pay to get it. I just think the question of “Can an IOT home automation system be reliable?” Is certainly yes. The open question is how much it costs to get that reliability.

Submitted with respect.

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A post was split to a new topic: Home Automation San Francisco Meetup

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse … how not to run a customer focused online shop.

After getting though on online chat to SmartThings support (with a chat system that doesn’t deliver all the messages, as the Customer Support Rep claims not to have seen some of my messages, and explaining all my issues, I am now told that support cannot liaise directly with shop returns so I have to phone a separate shop support number.

Now I phone the number and (after getting through without too much queuing delay, to be fair) am told that because my order was placed before 7th October (yes, yesterday), they cannot deal with any order enquiries, and instead have to take my email address and order number, pass it on to yet another department, who will get back to me by email sometime between now and Monday.

As of now, I am waiting for a Customer Support manager to call me back and explain why the process is so convoluted and difficult for customers to get a simple product return handled, and to make sure this gets handled with a bit more, no a LOT more, haste than waiting for Monday just to get a message by email. @Aaron please take note.

And to think, I used to be a loyal Samsung customer (two LED TVs, 2 tablets, one phone, bluray player, and of course, but for not much longer, SmartThings)

Apologies, to those who are persevering with this product, for the rant, but for those who are thinking about buying and looking through the community forums you need to be aware of how you could be treated before you make your purchase decisions.

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Well, then in the fairness of balanced ‘reviews’, the sales/support team were significantly MORE than awesome for me. After issues with my card when I pre-ordered (entirely my fault) ST sent me a message letting me know what the problem was and said they’ll give me a call the next day (it was already very late) to chat about it, the next day all was resolved very quickly, they even threw in a little something extra for the trouble (which I gave them) and were very responsive to messages after I received my order.

Could not be happier. Contrast to Wink who basically screwed up all our hubs (fair enough, things happen) but then I had to wait for them to send me a box, so I could then package up my hub and send it back and then to wait for them to then send back the ‘repaired’ hub to me. Bare in mind they frequently gave these things out for basically free or around $20…

The turn around time being around 3 weeks for a hub that was supposed to be exactly the same before it was fixed… Except it wasn’t, I had to re-pair everything back to it… They gave us $50 credit in their store buuuuuuuuuuuuuut there was a $15 flat rate shipping fee regardless of how much you spent, so it was more like $35.

But you know what, as much as I wanted to be angry at Wink for that fiasco I did take a second to reflect and realise that I was about to get angry because for three weeks I had to get off my lazy arse and go back to the old fashioned way of switching on/off the lights… 1st world problems indeed, after that I just laughed and got on with life.

Perspective is a wonderful thing.

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Benji, I like your post.

I think your experiences in the US probably reflect a better organised outfit over there. Here in the UK it can be very different with Samsung/ST. There is also 0% chance of anything extra being thrown in to placate customers here in UK for the trouble they are experiencing.

Being in the UK my own Wink hub just became a brick when they broke it and there was not even an option to return it (I didn’t expect one, as the product was not officially launched here, but I also didn’t expect a product with OTA updates to have to be sent back to base for its update!). And look where they are now - filing for bankruptcy protection. It does show how important customer service is when there is a competitive marketplace. Fortunately my GE Link bulbs work with the Hue hub.

And I should also add, that some of us are using HA not because of laziness, but because it provides some significant boost to quality of life when impacted by medical issues. I’m happy for you, that you were able to laugh and get on with life. Long may that continue.

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And that right there is a little bit of perspective for myself! I appreciate it, I genuinely do and I hope my post didn’t come across as putting anyone down, just wanted to provide another experience.

Sounds like ST has some extra work to do over in the UK and I must admit there are lots of things I find easier dealing with tech companies since I moved from the UK to the US so can definitely empathise with your situation. It makes me sad you aren’t having the same revelation I had moving from Wink to ST but with that being said, if I can do anything to perhaps help make your experience with ST better, please let me know, alternatively I’ll be happy to donate to you my Wink hub (which is at least working) if I am back in the UK?

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I done been waiting ten weeks on my rhinestone studded denim carry case, and i ain’t heard one darned word from the Samsung!

@Aaron i’ll say Freaks & Geeks … and then instantly confess its only because the ‘search Google for this image’ option also works for gifs. Could you please donate and share my meaningless bonus point around between the dev team as motivation please? thanks in advance

I agree; I’m giving up on this unreliable piece of junk. I’m so sick of "Smart"Things telling me lights are on when they’re off, off when they’re on, turning on only one light in a group. It always seems to start working again at some point but with about 50% of the time where SOMETHING isn’t working properly and about 25% of the time when NOTHING is working properly, this product just isn’t ready for prime-time. Absolute JUNK.

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cheater… but ill accept. For the record - @slagle pinged me 1:1 almost immediately to gloat that he knew the answer. I dont have a PC gif to show how we are working them over, but I promise they are motivated.

Super flexible scene-style control wasn’t really available in version one or two, but yes - better control of light groups is a top request. There are some options with scenes or custom SmartApps. Can you provide me a bit more about the use case and devices you are using and we can point you in the right direction? If you shoot an email to support@smartthings.co.uk with your account email, we can check out your Hub and walk through the other issues you are experiencing.

Not sure if ilittlewood is referring to the problem I had this morning.

The ‘Good Morning’ routine (which is fired from a motion sensor) only turned on 3 out of the 4 Hues I’d asked it to. It’s worked every time until this morning. Rerunning the routine triggered the 4th light. Peculiar. (The light that triggered is about 5ft from the Hue hub).

Will keep an eye on it.

HomeSeer & Wink have IFTTT channels.

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You’ve been a member since May 2014 and made 5 posts… all negative.

What took you so long to “give up”? (NB: This is a real question, even though it sounds facetious…).

Actually, with so few posts, relatively speaking it appears you didn’t spend that much effort asking questions to resolve or isolate problems.

Again, I’m not meaning to be inflammatory, I’m just trying to get a glimpse into the 90% of Customers who never use the Forum at all. I’m insanely curious how many of them give up and how soon…

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I think that’s easily understood. Most expect a product to work and then some. The masses don’t consider having to frequent forums the mark of a good product. Really, most people just don’t have the time/patience for this.

Not bashing ST. I ordered V2 after saying I wouldn’t, but I don’t represent the average consumer. As I have said previously, when this hits Best Buy people are just going to return it without ever coming here.