Cricut Hastily Walks Back Plan To Charge Cutting Machine Owners $10/Month To Fully Use Their Purchases

from the lol-check-out-these-Cricut-tools dept

Cricut -- the leading brand of home use CNC machines -- has decided to alienate the people you'd think it would most want to embrace: its paying customers. Cricut machines allow users to upload designs and put their machines to work cutting materials from paper to cloth to metal to whatever will fit into the machines, giving hobbyists and craftmakers control of a small-scale manufacturing operation. They're pretty amazing. And they're pretty expensive.

They're also subject to a whole lot of rules -- some written and some unwritten. Cricut has made efforts to lock competitors out of the market by limiting cutting tool compatibility and restricting sheet size to increase sales of its own line of Cricut raw materials. Most designer paper comes in a standard 8.5" x 11" size. Sheet size in Cricuts is limited to 6.75" x 9.25", meaning off-the-rack, non-Circut-branded papers are about 20% useless.

Things like this help Cricut make the most of its multiple revenue streams. Cricut has apparently decided it has at least one too few revenue streams. As Hackaday reports, the company is now asking customers who've purchased printers to start paying the company in exchange for the privilege of fully utilizing their purchases.

[Cricut] has dropped a bombshell in the form of an update to the web-based design software that leaves their now very annoyed users with a monthly upload limit of 20 new designs unless they sign up for a Cricut Access Plan that costs $9.99 on monthly payments. Worse still, a screenshot is circulating online purporting to be from a communication with a Cricut employee attempting to clarify matters, in which it is suggested that machines sold as second-hand will be bricked by the company.

Well, that's at least two levels of suck contained in a single announcement. First, the decision to hit people who've already shelled out hundreds or thousands to Cricut with perpetual fees is inexplicable. Cricut isn't the only cutter on the market and a move like this just talks loyal users out of their loyalty and encourages them to explore their options. In exchange for smaller fees, Cricut seems willing to watch thousands of dollars exit the market for their competitors.

Second, the bricking of secondhand devices is pure bullshit. A Cricut is a Cricut. Anyone who bought one should have the right to sell it. And anyone buying one from a former user should rightfully expect it will be fully functional, not bricked by a company willing to compound its errors.

Fortunately, the company has listened to its users. It has dropped the rent program and said that anyone who buys a cutter before the end of this year will be grandfathered into the existing unlimited free program. Buyers who purchase one after December 31, 2021 will apparently be expected to purchase a subscription, which means this mini-debacle will be revisited later this year if Cricut refuses to drop its subscription program completely.

Cricut has also clarified that it's not moving forward with a plan to brick secondhand machines. New users will need to set up their own accounts, but the machines will function as normal.

All's well that ends well, I guess. But anyone outside of Cricut could have informed Cricut how this was going to play out. Chances are, some people inside Cricut realized that as well, but were overridden by those willing to ask what the market was willing to absorb, even if it meant shedding a few more reputation points.

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Filed Under: business model, cnc, connected devices, drm, iot, subscription plan
Companies: cricut


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 6:12am

    My daughter has one of these. they really aren't that expensive, only around $200. And most people use vinyl sheets, not paper. But yeah, those were awful moves, glad the company is walking them back.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 6:19am

    Reputation points don't have value to the accountants as they don't appear on the balance sheet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 6:20am

    I didn't think that buying a Cricut meant you would have to cut a check each month.

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

  • icon
    Max (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 6:39am

    And that's why you never, ever allow yourself to get roped into using a web-based ANYTHING related to operating a physical machine. If I need an internet connection for a machine to operate then I don't want it, full stop, end of.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 7:02am

      Re:

      This.

      Also, not fitting standard-sized paper would be a dealbreaker in and of itself.

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Mar 2021 @ 4:48am

        Re: Re:

        "Also, not fitting standard-sized paper would be a dealbreaker in and of itself."

        I'm reminded of Sony's old camera - a brilliant marvel of technology, left to gather dust on the shelves since Sony in their usual boneheaded lunacy decided to ensure only Sony SD cards would be usable with that camera...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 8:08am

      Re:

      One of the complaints on this is that there was no indication that an internet connection was needed to use the design software. If there was any indication it was buried somewhere in the website or the documents that came with the device. You would only find out about the connectivity well after purchase and unpacking.

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 6:42pm

        Re: Re:

        turns and looks at the fine print on the bottom of a box just beside me

        "You must accept the enclosed License Agreement before you can use this product."

        On a computer game, where if you break the seal you can't return/refund it if you find the terms unacceptable...

        Pity no one has demanded that additional terms of "ownership" (because we never own what we purchase) be clearly disclosed on the outside of the packaging.

        Imagine a world where the people paying for things actually were treated as a customer & not just a future revenue stream to be exploited.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 19 Mar 2021 @ 7:03am

    Cricut?

    I thought they were a phone company. I'm so confused. Why isn't there a lawsuit?

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 8:27am

      Re: Cricut?

      The key question would be - over what?

      Imposing new restrictions on previously purchased machines could risk a class-action lawsuit, but for that reason that plan has been scrapped for a plan where they make a big announcement that if you buy it before the end of the year, you get unlimited free use is maintained.

      After the end of the year, buyers would theoretically be on notice that the restriction exists, and a lawsuit might be able to force a refund if that restriction is not clear, but the cost of that lawsuit would be a Pyrrhic victory. I'm not sure what other cause of action exists.

      Its anti-competitive operations might draw a suit, but again its an expensive suit that likely wont pay back its cost, particularly since they seem committed to burning the user base.

      So what did you expect a lawsuit to solve?

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

      • icon
        sumgai (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re: Cricut?

        The OP meant a lawsuit over the name - Cricut vs. Cricket.

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

        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 8:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Cricut?

          Oh so it was a stupid joke in favor of more trademark stupidity.

          In that case, the answer is that Cricket saves money by having a competent legal team which knows that lawsuit only succeeds at burning money.

          Why aren't businesses asininely stupid isn't a joke.

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

          • icon
            James Burkhardt (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 9:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Cricut?

            I'd also point out my confusion as to what the joke was might explain why the lawsuit was never filed.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 9:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cricut?

              This thread section will now be used in evidence to show that confusion over the two names was indeed possible.

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

              • icon
                James Burkhardt (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 9:26am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cricut?

                Except in that I never connected Cricut and Cricket until it was pointed out. The guy making a joke connected the two, suggesting they also knew there was no connection.

                No one here thought the 2 were connected, so much so I didn't understand the joke that required you to casually connect them.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 9:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cricut?

                  You know, it could be possible no one saw the connection until now.
                  I didn't.

                  Although if it leads to a lawsuit from Cricket, Techdirt would be on the story.

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

              • icon
                Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 11:25am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cricut?

                Which is part of the whole mess that drives me the most mad.....not the same competitive market. Cricket sells phones and access while Cricut sells cutting machines and supplies.....should NEVER be a chance of a lawsuit over that, but somebody probably will at some point.

                At least the Cricut name isn't close to anything related to the Micro-Brew industry or they'd have been hauled into court repeatedly by now I'm sure!

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

          • identicon
            Pixelation, 19 Mar 2021 @ 3:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Cricut?

            "Oh so it was a stupid joke in favor of more trademark stupidity."

            Actually, it was a stupid joke making fun of Trademark lawsuits.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 5:15pm

      Re: Cricut?

      I initially read it as "Circuit" and was thoroughly confused.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 11:27am

    Yeh right!

    ".... the company has listened to its users"

    Gonna guess it is more like "users threatened to sue and the company listened to its lawyers"

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 11:50am

    'GIve me all your money.' 'No.' 'Fine, I'll just take half.'

    Fortunately, the company has listened to its users. It has dropped the rent program and said that anyone who buys a cutter before the end of this year will be grandfathered into the existing unlimited free program. Buyers who purchase one after December 31, 2021 will apparently be expected to purchase a subscription, which means this mini-debacle will be revisited later this year if Cricut refuses to drop its subscription program completely.

    Standard sleazy company move, hint that you'll do something completely unacceptable and then should you receive pushback you reduce that to only mostly unacceptable, which despite still being bad looks much better in comparison to the previous position.

    They didn't listen to their customers, they're keeping the program they're just making the current customers exempt and punishing any new ones in a way that any objections will be dismissed with a 'You knew what you were buying, it's on you for choosing to buy from them knowing that'.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2021 @ 12:36pm

      Re: 'GIve me all your money.' 'No.' 'Fine, I'll just take half.'

      How long before a design change give a range of incomparable machines, and then a delay and the old servers switched off?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2021 @ 7:09pm

      Re: 'GIve me all your money.' 'No.' 'Fine, I'll just take half.'

      Story is a day late. They announced Thursday that the 2021 cutoff is now gone too. No required subscription period. They’ve probably tanked their ipo and reputation now though.

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

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 3:01pm

    At this point, it no longer matters; Cricut hereby joins Amazon Kindle, John Deere, etc, on my list on my list of manufacturers whose products are no longer even to be considered for "purchase" -- new or used.

    I don't do business with companies who can't (read "choose not to") remember whether the business &/or it's product serves the customer's needs, or vice versa.

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

  • icon
    crade (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 5:27pm

    ends well my end.

    its just the usual "ok you caught us turning up the heat too fast and jumped out of the pot, well slow it down" type of deal

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


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