Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option

from the basic-competency-is-extra dept

The never-ending quest for improved quarterly returns means that things that technically shouldn’t be luxury options, inevitably wind up being precisely that. We’ve shown how a baseline expectation of privacy is increasingly treated as a luxury option by hardware makers and telecoms alike. The same thing also sometimes happens to customer service; at least when companies think they can get away with it.

“Smart home” and home security hardware vendor Arlo, for example, has announced a number of new, not particularly impressive subscription tiers for its internet-connected video cameras. The changes effectively involve forcing users to pay more money every month if they ever want to talk to a live customer service representative. From Stacey Higginbotham:

“This week, Arlo launched what I generously think of as its pay-for-customer-service enticement for its smart home camera products. As of Oct. 4, customers without a subscription who’ve had their devices for more than 90 days no longer get phone support. And after one year, they lose access to live chat support.”

If you don’t pay Arlo more money for actual customer service, you’re relegated to cobbling together support solutions from the company’s forums, an automated website chat bot, or elsewhere. Given the cost of Arlo products, the decision to make speaking to an actual human being a $3 to $15 monthly add on is fairly ludicrous:

“Arlo’s customer support framework now requires a $2.99 to $14.99 per month Arlo subscription, a free trial plan, or the device to be within 90 days of purchase for phone support. Then you’re downgraded to chat support for the remainder of the year.

After that, absent a plan, Arlo customers with problems will only have access to a virtual assistant or the public forums. That means no phone support and no chat. This feels pretty punitive for a product that can cost between $130 and $300 depending on the device.”

Even U.S. telecom giants, the poster children for atrocious U.S. customer service, haven’t meaningfully pursued making live customer support a premium option (though they have tinkered with innately providing worse support to folks with low credit scores). Arlo’s choice comes amidst higher shipping costs and supply chain issues during COVID, but the decision to try and recover those higher costs by making basic competency a luxury tier will likely come back to bite it in an IOT space that’s only getting more competitive.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: arlo

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

Customer Service

Back when, at Rackspace, there were no voice menus. Call the support line, you got, first try, a real human being. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Those guys were pretty much limited to hearing what the issue was, and which team to route you to, and you got forwarded to … ANOTHER LIVE HUMAN BEING!
Almost invariably the phone was answered with “Hi! This is <name>, how can I help?” It wasn’t unusual to have someone break down and cry hearing that.
One support engineer was working on a multi-hour issue with a customer. It was late, and the support dude put the customer on hold, looked up the account, and sent a pizza to the customer because they were hungry. Not on a corporate card, on his own personal credit card.
That kind of person with that kind of support has a cost. That’s why Rackspace servers were expensive and still are. The problem is that the support since being taken private is not what I consider “Knock your socks off” anymore in my opinion. Price points are still there though.



MOST companies, especially ones that provide services like Uber don’t even have an easy way to email them.

How is it that ANY COMPANy these days validates accounts without an email validation? I have people signing me up for stuff all the time and the company doesn’t validate the account…then I need to navigate their annoying customer service THAT ASSUMES YOU’RE A CUSTOMER.


"If you don’t pay Arlo more money for actual customer service, you’re relegated to cobbling together support solutions…"

As a current Arlo customer (cameras and subscription), I can confidently say that paying or not, the term "actual customer service" is very generous. That said, at least as far as I know, they don’t share my video recordings with the local constabulary.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Sure hope they disclose this in the advertising and packaging.
Pretty sure there are laywers just chomping at the bit to file a class action about bait and switch tactics trying to lock customers into a monthly bill they know nothing about until they open the box.

Imma just wait till they end up hacked…
what? its a IoT company… the odds are forever in my favor.


need support? thats DLC

kinda funny because many times a customer might find bugs and/or security flaws and has no way to troubleshoot due to not having the support dlc

really hope this backfires badly on them, heh customer buy product, cant set it up, needs tech support but thats a paid dlc, customer returns it to the store and buys some other brand instead lol

i love companies that have chat, its way faster to chat with a person than call or email them

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
13:40 It's Great That Winnie The Pooh Is In The Public Domain; But He Should Have Been Free In 1982 (Or Earlier) (35)
12:06 Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process (28)
10:45 Chinese Government Dragnet Now Folding In American Social Media Platforms To Silence Dissent (14)
10:40 Daily Deal: The 2022 Ultimate Cybersecurity Analyst Preparation Bundle (0)
09:29 A Fight Between Facebook And The British Medical Journal Highlights The Difficulty Of Moderating 'Medical Misinformation' (9)
06:29 Court Ruling Paves The Way For Better, More Reliable Wi-Fi (4)
20:12 Eighth Circuit (Again) Says There's Nothing Wrong With Detaining Innocent Minors At Gunpoint (15)
15:48 China's Regulatory War On Its Gaming Industry Racks Up 14k Casualties (10)
13:31 Chinese Government Fines Local Car Dealerships For Surveilling While Not Being The Government (5)
12:08 Eric Clapton Pretends To Regret The Decision To Sue Random German Woman Who Listed A Bootleg Of One Of His CDs On Ebay (29)
10:44 ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It (29)
10:39 Daily Deal: The 2022 Complete Raspberry Pi And Arduino Developer Bundle (0)
09:31 Google Blocked An Article About Police From The Intercept... Because The Title Included A Phrase That Was Also A Movie Title (24)
06:22 Wireless Carriers Balk At FAA Demand For 5G Deployment Delays Amid Shaky Safety Concerns (16)
19:53 Tenth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity To Social Worker Who Fabricated A Mother's Confession Of Child Abuse (35)
15:39 Sci-Hub's Creator Thinks Academic Publishers, Not Her Site, Are The Real Threat To Science, And Says: 'Any Law Against Knowledge Is Fundamentally Unjust' (34)
13:32 Federal Court Tells Proud Boys Defendants That Raiding The Capitol Building Isn't Covered By The First Amendment (25)
12:14 US Courts Realizing They Have A Judge Alan Albright Sized Problem In Waco (17)
10:44 Boston Police Department Used Forfeiture Funds To Hide Purchase Of Surveillance Tech From City Reps (16)
10:39 Daily Deal: The Ultimate Microsoft Excel Training Bundle (0)
09:20 NY Senator Proposes Ridiculously Unconstitutional Social Media Law That Is The Mirror Opposite Of Equally Unconstitutional Laws In Florida & Texas (25)
06:12 Telecom Monopolies Are Exploiting Crappy U.S. Broadband Maps To Block Community Broadband Grant Requests (7)
12:00 Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2021 At Techdirt (17)
10:00 Gaming Like It's 1926: Join The Fourth Annual Public Domain Game Jam (6)
09:00 New Year's Message: The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is A Twisty Path (33)
19:39 DHS, ICE Begin Body Camera Pilot Program With Surprisingly Good Policies In Place (7)
15:29 Remembering Techdirt Contributors Sherwin And Elliot (1)
13:32 DC Metro PD's Powerful Review Panel Keeps Giving Bad Cops Their Jobs Back (6)
12:11 Missouri Governor Still Expects Journalists To Be Prosecuted For Showing How His Admin Leaked Teacher Social Security Numbers (39)
10:48 Oversight Board Overturning Instagram Takedown Of Ayahuasca Post Demonstrates The Impossibility Of Content Moderation (10)
More arrow
This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it