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Re: Arlo support model for 'Ultra 4K' camera system

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Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Good morning all, I’ve also tweeted to the Arlo CEO and Arlo support in the past.  The Arlo CEO has responded to me as well (multiple times).  What I’ve learned, be professional and courteous even though we are all angry.  Then they respond when your calm.

 

This month will mark one year I’ve owned two Ultra cameras, audio doorbell, and Arlo plugin door chime.  What Ive consistently seen is there support department are horrible, there technical department is horrible.

 

The support department reads from an instruction manual/book. Did you reboot?  Did you check your router? What’s your internet speeds?  Let’s factory reset your system!  Even though the issues didn’t happen until the moment you got the new firmware on the devices or new mobile app update.  They don’t care and force you to go through with the factory resets.  Or they ‘escalate’ your case which is fancy words of sending it to a black hole.  And then when they can’t resolve (which is almost always) they send you reminder emails to update the case even though the work to fix is all on them.  Finally, when you don’t respond to those car updates emails from them then they close your case because they say you don’t respond.  I’ve also seen in the past (hand to heart) where I’ve experienced this firsthand, I try to respond to the case update emails because there is a link in the email but when you click on it, it’s broken and will open a dead broken page so it’s impossible to respond.

 

We are basically set up for failure at every avenue.

 

Also, while JamesCm the Arlo employee on these forums is very nice and usually responsive.  He also follows a script and says open a 'support ticket' or he is ‘escalating’ your ticket or He will ‘follow up with the engineers’.  But in the end, it helps 15% (at best) most of time.  Because the people he has to follow up really don't provide us enough helpful support.  There is a few more Arlo employees on here as well, one of them had successfully helped me with an Arlo billing issue in the past.  In general, I understand the employees are limited to the company's support.

 

What I’ve also come to realize about Arlo is they do not care enough about their customer base unfortunately.  Like LandJS and many others have said they keep adjusting the paid plans in their favor.  I mean, why offer customers a camera called ‘Ultra 4k’ when it cannot perform any of those features without paying after the trial runs out. When you do go the free route it’s not Ultra because there are no smart notifications and the resolution is downgraded to 2K.  The camera should be called ‘make sure you pay every month to get Ultra whistles and 4k resolution’ even though they are already charging a large investment price to own them.

 

Not sure if Arlo will ever realize or change their business model at some point (I am not too sure), because at this point many of their close competitors are offering ‘smart notifications’ and ‘activity zones’  and easily access their SD card recordings remotely/mobile that even have thumb nails for free and their cameras don’t even need to be connected to AC power for all these features to work.  Some competitors have 1 year or close to it of battery life with the above features included too.

 

What Arlo as a company does not understand is when their customers contacts Arlo support it is A LOT to ask them to factory reset their camera system because A) some customers have their cameras outside high up which require ladders and B) their system may have been professionally installed by a contractor because they didn’t have the needed skills to install it hence they are not savvy enough to take it all apart and rebuild it again by themselves which would require the contractor to return which is a very expensive option to them and not really realistic.camera system because a some customers have their cameras outside Highup which require ladders and be their system may have been professionally installed by a contractor because they didn’t have the needed skills to install it hence they are not savvy enough to take it all apart and rebuild it again by themselves which would require the contractor to return which is a very expensive option to them and not really realistic.

 

I’ve dealt with Arlo customer support many times in the beginning of my ownership and even though I explain to them until I was blue in the face that issue did not start occurring until the moment the firmware was updated or the app had an updated issue would be good but regardless they would force me and tell me they could not proceed helping me without factory resetting or are making a PlayStation or camera and would not acknowledge that the firmware or app update caused the issue.  I’ve dealt with Arlo customer support many times in the beginning of my ownership and even though I explain to them until I was blue in the face that the issue did not start occurring until the moment the firmware was updated or the app had an update did the issue begin but regardless they would force me and tell me they could not proceed helping me without factory resetting the base station or cameras and would not acknowledge that the firmware or app update caused the issues.  I’ve read on the forums many people have followed Arlo customer support directions and are made the base station or cameras only for the same problem to return once they install the new base station or camera because it is not a hardware related problem is a firmware or software related problem that Arlo won’t acknowledge from their customer support team.

 

Additionally, to be completely transparent with the forum members here, one of my first dealings with Arlo support took close to two months to resolve but the issue did turn out to be on my end, and it was a setting on my router that caused the issue.  Although, what I was frustrated the most with is during that two months of troubleshooting with Arlo support never could they find the issue to tell me what the problem, after numerous numerous chats, calls, escalation to Level 3 support, sending them many support log captures etc.  In the end it took me working with my home internet provider to find the issue.  

 

I’ve read on the forums many people have followed Arlo customer support directions and are made the base station or cameras only for the same problem to return once they install the new base station or camera because it is not a hardware related problem is a firmware or software related problem that Arlo won’t acknowledge from their customer support team

 

Myself and many many others on this forum have worked or have been in the IT or technical fields for many years so we do understand there could be bugs here in there sometimes but A) it happens far too often and B) Arlo never handles the incident properly to satisfy the customers.

 

Some of these issues cause customers week or weeks+ long outages but none of us are offered refunds for those times.  Why?

 

Also, during these pandemic times, why isn't the firmware and app updates tested more than normal or postponed because it would less risk to the customers during this time when people are all stuck at home and want to ensure they are safe.  Arlo themselves, have been advertising like crazy during this pandemic that their systems offer the perfect solution to touchless deliveries and having remote and safe conversations with contractors using their camera system.  So why advertise all this and then deploy device firmware updates and app updates that have not been tested so they everyone can have better assurance there system will be reliable.  Why not offer a toggle to prevent auto-updating base station, cameras, doorbells, etc firmware until a customer can feel confident it is safe then update their hardware since the track record is unfortunately so low.

 

While, I know I have stated many negative facts in this post I hope one on the Arlo employees do not delete.  I am still a paying Arlo customer today, and will continue to be, but I just want the experience to be better for me and everyone else here.  I am only trying to offer constructive feedback to help myself, everyone here, and Arlo.

 

My last note, there is currently an ongoing three page discussion about our Ultra base stations/cameras going offline that I have not seen any replies from Arlo employees.  Could someone please help the customers.

 

Thank you to everyone and for listening to my long post!

Jonathan Katz

@JamesC 

@mattmcrae 

 

Model: VMB5000 | Arlo Ultra SmartHub, VMC5040 | Arlo Ultra Wire-Free Camera, AAD1001 | Arlo Audio Doorbell

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Community Manager
Community Manager

n1976jmk,

 

I'd like to start by thanking you for your rational, thorough and candid assessment. I do not have a clear answer for everything you've posted above, but i'll do my best to acknowledge your points of emphasis:

 

1.) Support

 

The questions asked by support are necessary to isolating any given issue. As a user that is more familiar with Arlo, I understand that many of these questions seem unnecessary but they are the foundation for understanding the root of any issue and are often details the development team needs before we can proceed further down the troubleshooting path. I certainly understand that in many cases the troubleshooting can be a cumbersome process. As you mention, often times a factory reset can be a pretty big headache for someone with a lot of cameras mounted in different, hard to reach locations. Typically, a factory reset is the last thing suggested in troubleshooting, but again, it's often necessary to fully understand the issue. After these troubleshooting steps are completed, if an issue still exists, then it becomes an escalation. This isn't just a fancy word that sends your ticket to a black hole (though I can understand why you might describe it that way). This means the information we've gathered from all of that troubleshooting, log collection, screen shots, etc. is now being analyzed by the development team. These escalated issues often aren't easy to solve and take time for a resolution. The symptoms and user descriptions are often varied even for the same issue, taking more time to consolidate the escalations, which is why it can sometimes feel like your ticket went to a "black hole". But all justifications aside, to your point, we can certainly do better when communicating the status of issues like these, this is absolutely noted, communicated to the team above, and something we'll strive to do better in the future.

 

2.) Subscriptions

 

Arlo Ultra was the first camera we released that required a subscription plan for cloud recordings. The included trial subscription that came with Arlo Ultra kits allowed up to 1080p recordings to be saved to the cloud. With an additional PVR addon plan, 4K recordings could be saved to the cloud. We've since restructured our plans to Premier (up to 2K) and Elite (up to 4K) to simplify the subscription process (no addon plans required for 4K). We made these changes to make it easier for new customers to identify the subscription plan that includes the features that best fit their needs.

 

Without a plan, Arlo Ultra still has access to 4K local live streaming, standard push notifications and optional access to local storage through the Direct Storage Access feature.

 

3.) Ultra SmartHubs/cameras going offline

 

We've communicated with several users about this issue. We've collected a lot of data from these reports and it's now in the escalation phase as i've described above. Once we have more information, we'll provide an update in the relevant thread concerning this issue.

 

I realize this doesn't cover everything but I wanted to assure you that your concerns have been heard and your feedback is appreciated.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding,

JamesC

 

 

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Virtuoso
Virtuoso

I have also just tweeted to the Arlo CEO and Arlo support on Twitter in an attempt to help everyone with the Arlo Ultra cameras!  FYI, I have had the most success in the past with using Twitter when major problems occur.

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Star
Star

Thank you, I appreciate your efforts!

 

 

If their “Support Team” is reading from Scripts it’s safe to say Arlo Outsources their IT Work.  The people that actually know how this product works, the coding, the layers, the backdoors have all been let go or wised up and jumped ship.  We’re left with a “Support Team” that doesn’t know the Product so when “Updates” go in they’re hosed and they can’t fix it.

 

I’m roughly 3 months away from my 1 yr. Warranty ending.  What’s to prevent Arlo from not fixing anything until my year is up.  Open a Case Number, don’t do anything and then tell your Customer..  “Sorry your system hasn’t worked for the past 4 months, but there’s nothing we can do.  You’re past your 1 year Warranty.  We suggest you buy another Base Station and Cameras.”   

 

It’s obvious their “Support Team” is not only lacking Knowledge but basic Customer Service.  How do you change that…. You can’t.  That’s up to Arlo.  But what you can do is use Social Media (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to let people know how crappy their product is and that it’s accompanied by just as crappy support.  I’m in the process of filling a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  I’m also going to be reaching out to CNET, DigitalTrends as well as other companies that have done Reviews on Arlo to let them know there’s a completely different side of the story once you’re a Arlo Customer.  I highly doubt they know or spent anytime in this Sub-Forum otherwise they’d see Arlo has been having issues for a while now.  Look at the other Threads for the different cameras, not just the Ultra.  You see the error messages, the cameras/systems not working, the no response from the “Support Team” and then the transition to another Manufacture.  

 

I looked on Glassdoor and found some not so flattering but expected comments:

 

“Too many meetings and presentations/reports which occupies more than 50% of the time and left not enough time to do the real work”

 

“It's all about CEO and his favorite people, mostly VIZO fired people, with no subject knowledge. Matt is first time CEO, and at VIZEO, he sold the users data (google it)”

 

“Arlo is claiming to be lean and agile - what a joke! 

Why? This is hell wrapped up in shiny cellophane. The working environment is just pathetic, with no collaboration between teams, no visibility what-so-ever of what's going on, daily production escalations, bureaucracy, and bad management practices. 

 

For example, the backend QA team will never provide the correct API for the client QA team.  They just get around it or even worse. They provide the FAKE one to wasting your time. Do you think it's personal behavior? NO, it's approved by their manager. 

 

And they never treat you as you deserved. You will see the 5+ years developer is doing the manual test. but the new-grade monkey is doing the framework.  You can not complain about anything because every manager has their own political consideration but never for quality. They even break the deployment just in order to make the other team embarrassed.

 

The offshore team is lazy and without any discipline. The local manager just sits on his throne and keep abusing the noob. He even asks members cannot go to lunch before he moves. What a pathetic people.

 

Bad for software career. You will only learn how to be a scum here.

Advice to Management

Nothing to say.

Those people graduated from Ivy League or came from FAANG are all left.  The rest of them are just dogs of a tether walk together.

 

The stock CLIMB from $22 to $3. 

Any suggestion is useless.”

 

 

“Being short-staffed is status quo and many people are burnt out. 

CEO may have the right attitude and vision but the leftover bad practices and attitudes of management pre-split from NETGEAR make it hard to tell if culture will ever change here.

Management likes to draw things out into long projects, or just talk about changes, but not actually implement them. 

 

People who think outside the box are not treated well here, but if you say yes all the time, you'll fit in great.  Upper management doesn't understand what is going on down below them and they are being shown smoke and mirrors. Things can't be improved if no one admits the problems exist.

 

You find out if you did something wrong when it comes time for your bonus/annual review, but no one mentions it before then. You can't change something you don't know about.

Mentorship doesn't exist here, and you might have an in-depth conversation with your supervisor every couple of months in some cases. There are pros and cons to that!

 

Advice to Management

Get down in the trenches and talk to the every day employees to get a sense of what is going on. Many of the employees with good work ethic and amazing talent are being underappreciated, overworked, and will eventually leave (some have already). More MANDATORY training for managers on how to effectively manage people. Start a mentorship program. 

 

Most of all, work harder to ensure your managers are living what your vision of culture is. Having it posted on a sign or internal site means nothing if your managers aren't practicing it.”

 

 

Model: VMB5000 | Arlo Ultra SmartHub
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Community Manager
Community Manager

n1976jmk,

 

I'd like to start by thanking you for your rational, thorough and candid assessment. I do not have a clear answer for everything you've posted above, but i'll do my best to acknowledge your points of emphasis:

 

1.) Support

 

The questions asked by support are necessary to isolating any given issue. As a user that is more familiar with Arlo, I understand that many of these questions seem unnecessary but they are the foundation for understanding the root of any issue and are often details the development team needs before we can proceed further down the troubleshooting path. I certainly understand that in many cases the troubleshooting can be a cumbersome process. As you mention, often times a factory reset can be a pretty big headache for someone with a lot of cameras mounted in different, hard to reach locations. Typically, a factory reset is the last thing suggested in troubleshooting, but again, it's often necessary to fully understand the issue. After these troubleshooting steps are completed, if an issue still exists, then it becomes an escalation. This isn't just a fancy word that sends your ticket to a black hole (though I can understand why you might describe it that way). This means the information we've gathered from all of that troubleshooting, log collection, screen shots, etc. is now being analyzed by the development team. These escalated issues often aren't easy to solve and take time for a resolution. The symptoms and user descriptions are often varied even for the same issue, taking more time to consolidate the escalations, which is why it can sometimes feel like your ticket went to a "black hole". But all justifications aside, to your point, we can certainly do better when communicating the status of issues like these, this is absolutely noted, communicated to the team above, and something we'll strive to do better in the future.

 

2.) Subscriptions

 

Arlo Ultra was the first camera we released that required a subscription plan for cloud recordings. The included trial subscription that came with Arlo Ultra kits allowed up to 1080p recordings to be saved to the cloud. With an additional PVR addon plan, 4K recordings could be saved to the cloud. We've since restructured our plans to Premier (up to 2K) and Elite (up to 4K) to simplify the subscription process (no addon plans required for 4K). We made these changes to make it easier for new customers to identify the subscription plan that includes the features that best fit their needs.

 

Without a plan, Arlo Ultra still has access to 4K local live streaming, standard push notifications and optional access to local storage through the Direct Storage Access feature.

 

3.) Ultra SmartHubs/cameras going offline

 

We've communicated with several users about this issue. We've collected a lot of data from these reports and it's now in the escalation phase as i've described above. Once we have more information, we'll provide an update in the relevant thread concerning this issue.

 

I realize this doesn't cover everything but I wanted to assure you that your concerns have been heard and your feedback is appreciated.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding,

JamesC

 

 

View solution in original post

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Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Thanks @JamesC, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to provide such a long and substantial response.

I just have one more small reply in regards to #1 support. I own many smart home devices over the last 4.5 years. Ecobee smart thermostat, two August smart locks, Apple TV’s, smart light bulbs, water leak sensors, and door sensors. None of them require (note even close) as much of my attention. And none of them have never required factory resets after firmware updates. Quite honestly, I don’t even almost know when they receive firmware updates because they don’t even require a reboot to fix anything.

I do think I’m that far off base requesting something similar from Arlo given the price point and subscription requirements to obtain their full potential.

Given all that above, I will continue to be an Arlo customer and maintain my Ultra 4K cameras. Maybe things will change in the future with the support model.

Thank you James!

R/
Jonathan Katz

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Aspirant
Aspirant

I'm going on a month with a support ticket for an issue that can be triaged in 2 minutes with any Ultra camera. There's another thread about my issue so I won't go into detail here. In summary, if the microphone is set to off in the app, triggering night-vision to turn on or off while the camera is plugged in will make the camera start capturing sound. Unwanted sound capture can only be reset by toggling the microphone on, then off.

 

It doesn't appear that the support tech has access to the equipment. They've had me do the takedown/battery removal/reinstall on all of my cameras and do a factory reset on my base station, even though all the cameras and both base stations (I bought a system for a relative too) have the problem.

 

I've gone through hours of work to triage my problem for the support team, but the support team won't or can't spend a couple of minutes to verify my issue. Each update from support is a few days apart too, drawing out the whole process. They told me they would replace a camera and send me something regarding that, but a few days later I got an email requesting "feedback updates regarding my case". I have a feeling that their support script has entered some kind of cul-de-sac, and that their support team is not set up to handle firmware bugs and or escalate things to development.

 

I'm happy to triage any new camera they send me but I'll send it right back if it has the same issue. I can't help but feel that they'll want to keep doing this even though it wastes everyone's time and money. Something feels broken in this support model.

Model: VMC5040 | Arlo Ultra Wire-Free Camera
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Aspirant
Aspirant

Oh boy, they finally sent me the RMA info.

 

Looks like I'll need to pay $17.00 for shipping so that I can verify that their camera has a firmware issue. They told me they wanted to send me a replacement for diagnostic purposes. Why should I have to pay for it? Why can't they just do what I did, verify the issue on their end, and patch the firmware?

 

I'm livid at this point. This is no way to run a business.

Model: VMC5040 | Arlo Ultra Wire-Free Camera
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Star
Star

If you're still under Warranty that's a Load of BS, that shouldn't be your Dime.  it should be Shipped Expedited at Arlo's Expense.  There's a reason people pay good money for Security Cameras so the Urgency and Respect needs to be there.  If you're outside the Warranty Window then yes, they're going to ask you to cover the Shipping. 

Model: VMB5000 | Arlo Ultra SmartHub
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Aspirant
Aspirant
The issue has been present since the I bought the cameras new 2 months ago. It was discovered and reported over a month ago.

It is likely a firmware issue but I can't get a single piece of info on why they feel a new camera won't have the issue. All the cameras from 2 different kits have the issue.
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