A video doorbell has the potential to serve as an important part of home security — something that’s always a concern when business travelers and others are away. From your smart phone and an app, you’re notified when someone approaches your home and rings the doorbell. You can see who’s there. You can speak remotely with them through the doorbell. You can even monitor what’s in view at anytime. These are just a few of their features.
Sounds good, right? Well, you decide.
I purchased a Ring Pro on December 24, 2017. It took more than three months, four Ring doorbell devices, two Pro v2 Power Kits, a Ring Chime, dozens of hours on the phone, more than 70 emails, more than two months without any working doorbell, intimidation tactics by a few Ring employees, supportive apologies from a few others and frustration levels that I have rarely felt. On March 30, 2018, I figured out how to get it to work using my own smarts. Do you think I kept it?
Here are the highlights of what happened:
- After installing the first Ring Pro device, my upstairs home doorbell chime shorted out (which I immediately replaced).
- My contractor spent about four hours over two days trying to get the Ring Pro to work.
- The Ring Video Doorbell Pro stopped working on the first day.
- I called the Ring customer support for installation advice.
- A Ring customer support rep offered to resolve the doorbell issue by sending a Ring Chime (free of charge) that plugs into the wall along with a Pro v2 power kit that is needed to make it work. The rep offered to send and pay for their Hello Tech partner if more support would be needed.
- The Ring Chime and its power kit was never shipped, so I followed up three weeks later — they apologized and agreed to ship the items.
- After receiving them, I called the Ring help desk and a rep walked me through the installation; it was not successful.
- A Ring customer support rep suggested that I disable the wiring to my downstairs chime system, which I followed.
- Several calls later with the help desk, a supervisor agreed to send Hello Tech — reluctantly.
- A Ring support supervisor blamed the issues on my wiring and said I needed a Video Doorbell 2.
- The supervisor compared the Video Doorbell 2 as apples to apples with the Video Doorbell Pro in my case and sent it to me.
- After it arrived, Hello Tech was scheduled for a visit to my home to help with the wiring and install (this timeline took about three weeks).
- Hello Tech confirmed that the original Video Doorbell Pro was defective — it wasn’t taking a charge (which made sense to me because the device caused a power surge in my home after the Pro was first connected).
- The Hello Tech rep confirmed my outside doorbell wiring was fine, but he couldn’t configure my downstairs chime back to its original state (I’m thinking it’s possible the defective first Pro device may have impacted my downstairs chime system).
- Hello Tech installed the Video Doorbell 2 — it’s wider, bulkier and requires more screws to mount.
- My limited experience with the Ring Video Doorbell 2 was that the motion detection randomly went off, including in the middle of the night, because it is heat sensitive (a little wind and change in outdoor temperature can set it off).
- I spoke with a couple Ring support supervisors and a manager (it took several requests before he spoke with me); after I spoke with the manager, he agreed to send a new Ring Video Pro as a replacement for my original device and told me to keep or discard the Doorbell 2 (the company didn’t need it returned).
- I asked for the company to send Hello Tech again at their cost for the inconvenience and to ensure the device was properly installed, but a Ring supervisor declined the request and said that I should cover the cost, if interested.
- A Ring support manager scheduled an installation support call with one of his reps to walk me through the process.
- On the day scheduled and after more than 90 minutes, the support rep was not successful at troubleshooting.
- She realized that she did not follow the proper steps and said she would send a replacement Pro device in case her support resulted in shorting out the device.
- I decided to cap off my wires and not use their Doorbell 2 device until the new Pro device would arrive (I then purchased an old fashioned doorbell as an interim solution that used my upstairs chime).
- I asked for Ring support to send Hello Tech after that next device was shipped so that it could be properly installed, but Ring reps refused again. (From my perspective, if they would have sent me a replacement Pro device in the first place, it would have been resolved the first time by the Hello Tech rep.)
- Ring support felt they did all they could. I was reminded that if I did not return the initial device — the one I purchased from a retailer — within 30 days of receiving the first replacement Pro device that they would charge my credit card on file for the full price of the Pro replacement device (it was already on its way). Their support supervisors also reminded me that the company would charge me the full price for each of the replacement Pro devices if those were not returned as well.
- I reached out to Ring’s social media team through my business travel twitter account for help at that point (after all, I am a blogger) and I contacted media relations.
- Media relations chose to ignore me.
- A social media rep corresponded only by email with me and immediately misrepresented the company’s actions and his own efforts; he indirectly blamed me for the issues.
- The social media rep offered to reimburse me for the initial device if I provided him with a copy of its receipt, which I did.
- The social media rep then demanded that I return all three devices (the two Pros and the Doorbell 2) or the company would not reimburse me for the Pro device that was already in their possession.
- I explained to the social media rep (email) and to help desk reps that I would first attempt to get the new devices to work without their help, but that I needed to find time in my schedule over a week or two to do that.
- Social media refused to be supportive. So, as a professional courtesy, I stopped communicating with the social media rep so he (and his leaders) would not continue to hurt the company’s reputation (or mine); I asked for a support supervisor and one quickly resolved the return timeline and gave me an additional 30+ days to allow enough time for me to try to install the device on my own.
- The support supervisor said he would reach out to social media management to resolve the miscommunications they were creating; however, it seems he didn’t or wasn’t successful, and the social media rep continued to refuse to be reasonable.
- Finally, I just took time away from other obligations and attempted to install the Pro power kit using the wires leading to my upstairs doorbell and that worked.
- After I established that my install worked, a social media team lead contacted me by email to see if she could help; she clearly did not familiarize herself with my history, so I suggested she review the case’s background before contacting me further (she still did not think that was necessary). I asked her by email to look into why the media relations person did not contact me (after three requests, she indicated that media relations perceived my situation as a consumer complaint — even though they knew I was a blogger).
- Standing in line at the post office to ship everything back, the customer behind me noticed my printed label included a reference to Ring. And she proceeded to tell me that she bought an inexpensive model… it was ineffective for her situation and she was planning to return and replace it with a different device from another company.
- It took a couple emails and follow up calls to ensure my return was documented. One week after my tracking showed Ring received the package, I called for a status. It took my prompting to get them to find it during the call and receive it.
- Then I was told that I could only be reimbursed by check. I said that wasn’t acceptable and I wanted a credit applied to the credit card associated with my account. Then, they said that I had a choice of a check, wire transfer or PayPal credit. I asked again that they reimburse me based on the credit card that was associated with my account — the one they were ready to charge for the two Pro devices if they weren’t returned. After going back and forth, the Ring support rep said his contacts agreed and that I should see a credit on my credit card three business days later.
- Ring never honored that credit. Instead, a social media manager who I never encountered prior to this time, sent me an email a week later and said that the company decided to mail a check. In my final conversation with a support rep from the company, I asked for tracking information to confirm where the check may be in the mailing process. He couldn’t provide that. I asked to speak with anyone in a management role in support, communications or social media, but none would take my call.
- 113 days after my initial encounter with support, I had to file a dispute with my credit card company to recover the funds. They immediately provided the credit and told me that no customer should be charged for a product or service that didn’t deliver as promised. The dispute process takes 30 days and they will let me know if additional documentation will be needed. They said that I was under no obligation to cash a check if one ever arrives and that it was my option to consider returning it if it does.
I’m just one guy who bought one product and has one unpleasant story. But I can’t believe I’m alone. And the real measure of a company isn’t based on how they respond when things go right; it’s based on how they respond when things go wrong.
To be sure, Ring — as a company — has the kind of story that would entice business travelers to want to support and buy their products: Ring CEO Jamie Simonoff created a video doorbell to serve as a convenient and cost-effective security device. The concept caught the attention and investment of travel guru and billionaire Richard Branson in 2015. Other investors quickly followed and this has turned Ring into the company it is today. Ring is available and now sells to customers in the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. And Amazon announced its plans to acquire Ring in February 2018.
After the above experience, there’s no way I could allow a Ring device and the people behind the company to help with the security of my home when I am traveling or away. That’s a position of trust.
Through this process, I realized that Ring may have many cultural challenges, and the staff may lack the proper skills needed to do their jobs in this fast growing technology company and security industry disruptor. The Ring support desk reps, supervisors and manager did not properly document my experiences during phone calls; they seem to have avoided noting anything related to their commitments and errors. That partially started to change when they realized I was serious. Their troubleshooting was ineffective.
The support desk assumed the cause of my issues were based on the wiring of my home and not their products or support (which I proved was not true).
Social media — which is rarely part of a product story or review — was more ineffective.
I asked several times for someone in a leadership role to call me back at the director level or above. Management never responded (and that probably explains why my case was treated the way it was — leadership has set a tone of being absent when they’re needed).
Last, I had to educate Ring staff that its customers — they like to call us their “neighbors” — do have choices when it comes to recovering monies owed.
In hindsight, in early March, when they wouldn’t return my money after I provided my initial receipt as requested, I should have turned to the big retailer where I originally purchased my Ring device with my case and paper trail. I’m sure they would have provided an immediate refund. Or I should have turned to my credit card company that I used on the initial purchase and filed a dispute at that time rather than let Ring’s social media team continue to hold my money without cause.
In the U.S., it’s also possible to consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, among other consumer protection agencies. And if you’re in Europe, the European Commission Online Dispute Resolution exists for those who live within its member states.
Companies like Ring need to realize that its customers have other options when they are not honest, fair or cooperative. As consumers, we can tell our stories.
And, as consumers, we can always choose a competitor’s product. That’s what I did.
A word of caution to anyone considering a Ring device or any other technical product and reading online reviews: Keep in mind that you often find reviews and comments on retailer sites and even some technology publications where the website has a financial interest in selling the product (I don’t).
For anyone who read my reviews regularly, you probably recognize that I will not review a destination, product, service or idea that is not worthy. I simply don’t have time for that and won’t provide commentary. I have been criticized for this approach (though I do sometimes try to address process improvements behind the scenes on behalf of my audience). I never intended to review Ring or its products. But I believe people need to feel their homes are safe so they may travel with confidence. This time I felt an obligation to my readers.