Lindsay Bell

Brick Walls and Bad Social Media: Lessons from Jawbone

By: Lindsay Bell | August 6, 2014 | 
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Brick Walls and Bad Social Media: Lessons from JawboneBy Lindsay Bell

Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a tad OCD.

What does my OCD have to do with brick walls and bad social media?

Read on my friends, read on.

My OCD doesn’t fall under a neat little spectrum.

I’m not “can’t leave the house without washing my hands” OCD. And I’m not “have to check the stove 10 times” OCD. Oh no.

My OCD is far more random than that:

  • Things can’t be crooked. If I walked into your house, and a painting was askew, I would have to straighten it. Have a pile of books on your shelf that weren’t stacked from largest to smallest? I would fix that. Just met you? Wouldn’t matter.
  • Stacks of newspapers and magazines freak me out. I can’t bear the thought that someone might have touched that top newspaper, or WORSE – already thumbed through that magazine. I’m getting shivers just writing this. I never EVER take the top magazine or newspaper. I dig down at least five deep, and take that one. Only a couple left? I don’t buy.
  • I also can’t stand having water on my face. I’m a barrel of laughs in a rainstorm. I shower with a towel on standby, no more than a foot away from me. I dry my face at least 10 times during a shower. And I never dunk when in a pool.

When I was a kid, sprinklers were my nemesis.

Social Media, Sprinklers, and Brick Walls

Rewind to a lovely summer day, 40 odd years ago (holy CRAP I’m old!). I was gamely trying to play along with my pals, running back and forth through the sprinkler.

However, I was the only child closing their eyes and turning their head away right at that crucial jump-through moment.

All was going well, until that one jump. I closed my eyes a smidge too soon. And I didn’t notice the neighborhood boy barreling at the sprinkler from the other side, heading right for me.

He most likely noticed me, and went in for the kill anyhow.

I flew about five feet, my eyes definitely open by this point, until I was stopped—face first—by the rather unforgiving brick walled side of the house.

Just like the brick wall I’m hitting at the moment with Jawbone.

Jawbone: UP Yours?

If you don’t know them, Jawbone is a cool San Francisco company that develops and sells insanely good portable audio devices, speakers and such, as well as the Jawbone UP and UP24 wearable fitness tracking bands.

Our fearless leader, being a bit of a fitness FREAK, purchased UP bands for all of us, and instituted a contest to get us all off our rumps and moving during the day.

I may be a tad obsessed with the contest, and am currently *this* close to beating Laura Petrolino.

But I digress.

These UP bands, while really good at tracking steps and sleep, are notorious for breakdowns.

But, up until now, Jawbone has owned these glitches, with excellent customer service and a super fast exchange policy—within days.

I was always extremely impressed by their attitude: Own the problem, and make sure your customers are happy and not inconvenienced (much).

Until now.

I’m on my third UP band, in just a little more than a year, and it is now dead.

When I approached customer service via email, the standard course, I received this response: Sorry, your year warranty expired in May. Tough luck, suckah! (paraphrased).

Wait a second. Shouldn’t your “year warranty” roll over with each new replacement band, considering the issues were product defects?

When I expressed my dissatisfaction at this response, the rep emailed me back to say she was closing my ticket. I was stunned. Then I got cranky.

Trying to calm down, I said to myself, “Self, you probably got a summer student, someone not fully schooled in the AMAZINGNESS that is the Jawbone corporate policies!! Someone not aware of their MAGNIFICENT track record of customer service.”

So, I took to social media.

Brick. Wall.

Knock Knock! Anybody Home?

About a week ago, I added a very nice and polite inquiry to their Facebook wall. Crickets.

Then, when I went back to check my post, I saw they had responded to other people above my comment. So, I added another comment, reminding them about my original complaint.

Today? Still crickets.

So then I took to Twitter. Asked for feedback on the warranty issue. Again, not ranting. And again. Crickets.

Jawbone is no fly-by-night organization. They’ve been around since 1999. Have nearly 500 employees. And nearly $400 million in funding.

But they’re suddenly making rookie mistakes.

  • After three failed UP bands, the fact that I want yet another replacement shows I’m a dedicated, loyal customer. I love their product, and I’m sticking around. I even went so far as to email them a picture of my poor, dead UP band! Instead of treating me like a valued member of the UP community, they stuck to the script, and talked to me in ‘customer care’ jargon-speak.
  • I very clearly indicated my disappointment with their “your warranty is UP” email response, and was rebuffed. Not even an exploratory “What else can we do for you?” or “Would you like to speak to my manager?” Ticket. Closed. Wow.
  • And they appear to be ignoring me on social media. The fact that they’ve responded to people on Facebook who posted after I did, and have yet to respond to my tweet illustrates this quite clearly to me.

Are they getting too big for their britches? They shouldn’t be. They have A LOT of competition.

Are they hiring incorrectly when it comes to customer service and social media? Maybe. Sure feels like they have interns running those ships.

Whatever the issue, learn from their mistakes. Remember that the customer is what makes YOUR world go ‘round. And most importantly, never forget there are always alternatives.

Said fearless leader was an early investor in Moov. Perhaps I’ll convince her to buy me one of those. ‘Cause this brick wall is getting really uncomfortable.

About Lindsay Bell


Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

  • Unfortunately Jawbone’s not alone in ignoring you on social media or in having “tight” customer service policies that don’t really help the customer.

    Also unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to slow them down.

  • You’re weird…and old…and I can top you on both…in spades:). 

    Just like responding to someone’s blog and they answer everybody but your response, huh? 

    That sounds like a pretty crappy experience and obviously they don’t know who they are dealing with; especially since you ‘know’ people too. The sad thing is, they had built up enough credit in the bank to keep you around even through this rough patch, but at this point I would probably drop kick them…or break out the Kung Fu grip. 

    That’s why it doesn’t take much to create a WOW in customer service because so many just drop the ball or your point of contact just doesn’t care, right AdamToporek?

  • Kate Nolan

    /puts water balloon down
    Now what am I going to do today?

  • bobledrew

    #1: Obviously, you’d be way AHEAD of Petrolino if you weren’t having these mysterious failures. By the way, when you get the replacement bands, they don’t get shipped via Maine, do they? 

    #2: This isn’t even a warranty issue anymore. When you get to 3 devices in a year, they ought to be doing everything they can to ensure you have a more satisfactory experience. 

    #3: If you ever come to my house and rearrange my bookshelves we are going to THROW DOWN. Size?! SIZE?!?! Fiction: alphabetical by author surname; non-fiction: by subject, then by surname within subject. Any other way is madness and eviltry.

  • Don’t know if this is OCD, but speaking of newspapers, I always wonder about people who pick up a used newspaper on the bus or subway and read it. Yuck. (Of course, that’s also why I won’t touch used books or library books …)

  • EmilyNKantner

    I just looked at their Twitter “support” account, and it looks like they’re only responding to positive feedback. Hmmm…

    The worst part is you were still such a great advocate for them even after 3 failed bands, and they completely destroyed that. 

    My OCD rears its head when people take their food out of the microwave, but don’t clear the time. *twitch*

  • Orange Crush Diva?

    These companies really need to watch out in the rear view. I love Skull Candy. They warranty their headphones for life. I was always replacing mine and it was simple. They had taken the headphone world by storm investing in extreme sports and content media……

    That was before Beats by Dre. I am still a Skull Candy customer but I see so much more competition from deep pockets and name recognition invading their space.

  • EmilyNKantner it isn’t called customer service if you only respond to compliments.

  • Howie Goldfarb EmilyNKantner RIGHT!

  • Wow I can sense your frustration in every word, understandably. Gotta run for now but definitely have more thoughts on this (and if I fail to come up with thoughts, you’ll get empathy). Yikes.

  • Suze Carragher

    She’d never survive at our barn.

  • biggreenpen I’ll take empathy!!! LOL

  • Howie Goldfarb I have no clue what an Orange Crush Diva is? But I probably am one. 😉 I agree. Especially when the product you are selling (defects aside) is for sports usage – I mean, come on – they’re going to die at some point!

  • EmilyNKantner OH MY GOD I HATE THAT TOO!!!! No one in my house EVER clears the time but me. HAHAHAHAHA!

  • RobBiesenbach Right??? Ewwwww!!! And the weird thing is, I’m not a germaphobe. My kid ate dirt as a baby. I don’t use those hand sanitizers (except maybe in flu season). I just can’t stand the thought of someone else’s grimy paws all over MY magazine! LOL

  • bdorman264 AdamToporek? Exactly, Bill. I was super impressed with how they were handling their ‘tech’ issues, and how they reacted so proactively towards making sure their ‘valued’ customers were happy. I love, love, LOVE, my UP band, but I might consider another product now. The fun part of it is we all chat online as a group about our progress, achievements, etc. (on the Iphone app), something I won’t be able to be a part of if I choose another type of fitness band. That makes me sad.   🙁

  • ClayMorgan True, Clay, but one thing I discovered by venturing onto their social media platforms is that A LOT of people are complaining about their lapsed customer service. That’s what prompted me to write this piece – I thought “Ok, this isn’t *just* a random bad experience, they really are dropping the ball all over the place lately!” It is sad, because as I mentioned in my comment to bdorman264 above, I really enjoy the group aspect to us all having the same workout trackers. But, I dunno. I might want to give someone else a shot this time.

  • bdorman264 I don’t know anything about the company, but what I liked about belllindsay ‘s approach is that she handled it respectfully — allowing for private resolution multiple times before going to social media, and then being “polite” once on social. Orgs have to deal with so many customers who do not take accountability or who do not approach situations rationally that they should certainly do their best to work with customers when they find a brand fan who is being calm and open-minded. I’m not saying they should replace the band, though they should certainly take into account the customer’s hassle factor after having to replace 3 bands in under a year. Regardless, they should certainly have continued the dialogue and looked for a way to work with the customer.

  • belllindsay Me, too! Or neither? I care not a wit about germs. But I have an extraordinarily high “ick factor.” Even as a grade school kid I would never, ever, take a bite of someone’s sandwich or ice cream when offered. Totally gross.
    And, yes, when I consider where people take their books and magazines??? No thank you …

  • For the record, belllindsay did beat me last month! 

    (insert big sad face)

    She was crazy tough competition. I sort of wish I had never taught her how to make a treadmill desk!

  • EmilyNKantner Oh that’s interesting on their twitter account!

  • RobBiesenbach belllindsay Oh, I’m so right there with you both when it comes to books, magazines, etc.. I HATE libraries. Totally give me the creeps

  • bobledrew Bob…ssshhhh! We were going to keep the ” belllindsay UP band destruction strategy” our little secret!

  • bobledrew

    LauraPetrolino bobledrew belllindsay Eep.

  • LauraPetrolino Mwahhhhahahahaha! I think bobledrew is right – YOU are somehow behind all my dead UP bands. Must investigate.

  • belllindsay LauraPetrolino bobledrew I think this is a lesson to us all….. don’t mess with THE PetroPower!

  • Adam | Customer Experience bdorman264 YEAH! What Adam said!! Thanks, Adam, I really was VERY civil and didn’t curse or “yell” in any of my interactions. Interesting that it seems like their cutomer service as a whole seems to be sliding down the slippery slope…

  • Great post Ell Bee. You dry your face in the shower? Amazing! I’ve seen this happen with other companies, too. They seem to grow and forget what got them there in the first place. Really, the first step in any interaction with an upset customer should be…ok- first should be listen. But the second should be empathize! Even a simple “wow yes, that must be frustrating!” goes a long way.

  • LauraPetrolino RobBiesenbach belllindsay YOU HATE LIBRARIES? I’m not sure if we can be friends anymore, Laura.

  • RebeccaTodd Omg, HAVE to dry my face in the shower. Can’t stand it. I can’t stand being outside in the rain either. And yes, I agree, even a *response* to my query would have been nice! 😉

  • Eleanor Pierce LauraPetrolino RobBiesenbach Libraries are filthy.

  • JoshuaJLight

    I doubt it’s a hiring issue.  Back in the day I used to do customer service quality control for ZAGG.  They had some innovative headphones.  They allowed you to answer your phone, switch songs, and had special cords that wouldn’t tangle (gasp).  At the time they were pretty cutting edge.  HOWEVER…they broke like crazy.  

    Doing quality control I had to listen to samples of customer service agents dealing with customers, and take corrective actions when calls were taken inappropriately.  One of the biggest calls we got was asking for a replacement of these headphones.  Company policy dictated how to handle everything, and when new issues came up we reported them to the executives.

    Every headphone that broke was replaced despite the warranty…but that call wasn’t coming from the people on the ground.

    If Jawbone is like ZAGG then they probably follow a similar structure.  The people to blame for this are at the top of the food chain.

  • belllindsay That’s so funny. I, of course, love catching rain on my tongue, but I’m a water baby. I realized just now that this also touches on another of my…pain points? Sure. You took the time to write to them, personally, explaining your situation. They gave you a standard, auto-reply. Now, I NEVER use auto-reply for this exact reason- somehow, they have valued your time and attention as being worth LESS than that of theirs- to whit, you give of YOUR time (which is worth $$$), and they do not return in kind with an equal investment of THEIRS. Regardless of the outcome, they should have shown that they respect that your time has value and given you the personal response required, even if it did not change the outcome. So often, marketers and my own ilk, the sales person, place more value on their own investment in terms of money and time, and completely disregard the investment of the customer. The greatest gifts your customer can give you is their time and attention. To demonstrate that you do not value this is to demonstrate that you do not care for your customer at all. There is this phenomenal CMR article on Customer Rage- it is EXACTLY what happened here. They ignore you, talk down or not reply, and each step escalates your own upset.

  • belllindsay Eleanor Pierce LauraPetrolino RobBiesenbach I’m crying.

  • JoshuaJLight

    Would love to see a followup on this too.  They have certainly messed with the wrong customer 😉

  • LauraPetrolino belllindsay Yeah, libraries leave a bad taste in my mouth. Got shushed a thousand times as a kid. They beat the extrovert right out of me …

  • JoshuaJLight LOL I actually really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt here, Joshua. As someone who has worked their fair share of lower level gigs, I get it that those on the front lines don’t have the power to do much. But, things are changing today – customer service people have to be schooled in retention and PR – the basics at least. Also, that’s why I reached out to their social properties. I thought Hey, someone might take notice here, at the very least point me in the right direction. So, when I saw them responding only to the ‘Atta Boy!’ posts and ignoring customer complaints and/or product queries, well, that bothered me. I’m just one person. I hope they start picking up their socks. I do love their product.

  • RebeccaTodd Dear Jawbone: Please read Rebecca’s comment. Problems SOLVED! 😉

  • RobBiesenbach LauraPetrolino belllindsay Oh I hear ya! I’ve been shushed in some of the finest libraries in the country!

  • AnneReuss

    RebeccaTodd belllindsay That was beautiful.

  • JoshuaJLight

    belllindsay JoshuaJLight that’s frustrating…haha.  I think you’ve taken the right course of action here.  A friend of mine has a prominent following on YouTube (she’s politically active).  She had a beef with a company’s customer service.  Took the same actions as you did.  No response…so she made a video about it.  Guess what…she got a letter from the CEO shortly after because of the following she exposed her problem to.  

    My guess is you’ll have a similar story considering that you’ve published an article about it here.

  • The thing that bothers me most about this is the technology sucks. There is no reason on earth you should be on your fourth band in a year (or maybe more?) and I’m on my seventh. It’s like they’re made for people who walk 10,000 steps and that’s it. Once you do more, you’re wearing out the bands.

    What’s worse, though, is they aren’t fair in their customer service. I bought all of our bands in April of last year. That means my warranty on the original purchase is also expired. But I just got another one sent to me. Which makes me very happy, but doesn’t make sense for the experience you’ve had.

    I’m excited to get these new Moov bands. If they’re better, I’ll get one for everyone on the team and we’ll just switch our loyalties.

  • ginidietrich I’m thinking maybe it’s because belllindsay is working out way too hard and it can’t keep up with her…

  • This really sucks (sorry Gini for the bad word): you fell in love with a product, buy it and then the problems start. And because it´s not enough that the product is not necessarily the best, the customer service sucks too!
    In your place Lindsay, I would be very very pissed. I mean, the time you lost talking to them, even if it´s by email or FB or whatever, it was your time! Then the disappointment of not solving the problem.

    Maybe, as Gini says, it´s time to switch loyalties. There are plenty of brands out there.

    As a brand, no matter how good or bad your products are, you have to have an stellar customer care service. We are not in the golden era of “sell and run”, now everybody talks to everybody. I live in Spain and I found out about Jawbone thanks to you, now I´ll share the post and they will hear about it even in Romania. I am just one and there are a lot of Spin Sucks crazies here who will do about the same.
    Hello…Jawbone! Anybody there there there????

  • LauraPetrolino RobBiesenbach belllindsay Why do you hate libraries? I don´t like libraries with people in them, I want all the book for myself. 🙂

  • LauraPetrolino RobBiesenbach belllindsay You´re in the wrong country for libraries. 🙂

  • corinamanea I really want to try another brand, Corina, but all my ‘team members’ use Jawbone – so we all chat, and tease, and applaud one another via the corresponding app for the device. It will suck to lose that comradery with my peeps!! 🙂

  • ginidietrich See, that’s CRAZY! I can’t believe they sent you another one. Oh, and Drew’s UP band – only a month old – just died yesterday. 🙁

  • JoshuaJLight Are you suggesting I’m stirring a hornets nest here, Joshua? Poking the bear, even? 😉

  • LauraPetrolino RobBiesenbach Laura Petrolino – queen of stating the obvious.

  • JoshuaJLight

    belllindsay JoshuaJLight heck yeah!  Stir that nest.

  • JoshuaJLight LOL!! 😀

  • JoshuaJLight

    ginidietrich yeah but they’re probably targeting the U.S. audience, and their market research indicates that 10,000 steps is the most they’ll ever take 😉   Just trying to maximize revenue…. 🙂

  • belllindsay JoshuaJLight I vote for a video with that “10,000 miles” song and a blank screen on your Jawbone tracker (or however it shows results). I am not clear on why video succeeds where other methods don’t sometimes but there’s some truth to that! Or you could splice together videos of your team members racking up their great scores from their working Jawbone bands while you sit, despairing, looking at your big fat zero   <—- only a Jawbone zero / you’re not a zero of course.

  • biggreenpen JoshuaJLight GINI!!!! Paula called me a big fat zero!!!! cc ginidietrich

  • belllindsay I agree, but this is a team effort. So, make some inside lobby and get the whole team to another device. It will take some time to get used to the new device, app, etc, but it´s the team that matters! “All for one and one for all” 🙂

  • JoshuaJLight Then there needs to be a band for those of us who take 30K+!

  • belllindsay biggreenpen JoshuaJLight ginidietrich If the shoe fits…

  • belllindsay biggreenpen JoshuaJLight ginidietrich You did notice last night when you were called a “hero” by several of us on twitter, right? How quickly things change. 😉

  • Fitbit Force FTW!! Yes, I still have the recalled model they no longer offer. There were claims the nickel back was burning wrists of customers. I’ve had the same one since my wife bought it for me back in February and it’s great. ginidietrich your team might consider defecting to Fitbit  if Jawbone continues to fail miserably on the product and support side.

  • @jason_ ginidietrich BOOM!

  • corinamanea Hey, ginidietrich! Corina is buying all of us brand new fitness bands!!! LOL!!

  • belllindsay ginidietrich LOL!

  • ginidietrich JoshuaJLight There is – it’s called FitBit. 😉 But seriously, I do have friends who walk 30K+ a day and have yet to hear about their FitBits dying. Generally, they do have good customer service via email and the website, but they’re pretty bad on social. I always get crickets when I tweet or post on their Facebook page. I am stunned that companies with the kind of resources that these have still don’t have social customer service nailed.

  • JoshuaJLight I have been SUPER impressed with Zagg’s customer service online. I got a case/keyboard for my iPad a couple years ago and my son managed to break off a couple of the keys. Zagg issue? Nope – totally my fault. I contacted them through the FB page and asked if I could order replacement keys. They said they were going to put in the order for me – no charge. (DELIGHTED!!!) Nothing came for a few weeks so I contacted them again to ask what timeline I should expect them. They checked and something went wrong with the order AND the model had changed, so they couldn’t get me the right keys anymore. So, they were sending me a brand new case – the new model. 

    They did that for me over something that was absolutely not their fault in any way. I was blown away and they solidified my loyalty.

  • JoshuaJLight

    Karen_C_Wilson JoshuaJLight I’m glad they treated you right.  It’s been a lonnnnng time since I’ve worked there.  It’s good to see that they’re still killing it in customer service 🙂

  • belllindsay @jason_ It’s not an inexpensive thing to do!

  • KevinJuliano

    This sounds *exactly* like the issues I’ve been having with Jawbone as well. On band number 3 right now. And it’s intermittently works. Gah!

  • I’m still waiting for my Amiigo that I preordered a LONG time ago…and definitely frustrated with the continued delays even if it IS a startup company. And their engagement has been spotty at best, and now the preorders folks are demanding refunds.

    But, oooh, the technology is SO cool. Blows the Jawbone (and other current wearable tech for fitness) out of the water. Umm, when it works and actually gets delivered.

    Yes, I straighten pictures. It’s like “could I get a glass of water, please” – then straighten while they are gone. Oh, and I do check my garage door when I leave the house…and if I’m convinced I didn’t check it, even after only driving a block, I’ll go back and check again.

    But flying into brick walls with my eyes closed – that’s too much, sorry.

  • KevinJuliano I really love their product Kevin, I just wish it wouldn’t DIE all the time. LOL

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  • dbvickery In my defence, I was a rather clumsy child. 😉

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