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Doorbell Ding Dong

Tech News : 21st February 2024

Doorbell Ding Dong


After the Amazon-owned ‘Ring’ video doorbell company’s recent major subscription price hike across its range caused anger and made the news, we look at what customers have said and if there’s a way to beat the price hike.

 

Ouch! 

Ring has angered customers and received some negative publicity after announcing that starting on 11 March this year, its subscription price for its basic plan customers will rise by an eye-watering 43 per cent, from £34.99 to £49.99 per device, per year. 

This will mean that the basic plan price has doubled since 2022 when it was priced at £24.99 per year for each device.

 

Also, those who pay monthly will see a price increase from £3.49 to £4.99 a month. 

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Angry 

The announcement of the price increase prompted angry reactions from customers including many taking to Reddit to complain, saying they’d already cancelled their subscription, and suggesting ways to object and force a U-turn. For example, one very popular threat in the Ring sub-Reddit is called “Cancel your Ring subscription.” At the head of the thread in Reddit, for example, the ‘Discussion’ summary reads: “Even if you plan on paying for it with the new price, just cancel it now and select price as the reason why” and “it just increased not long ago and now they are trying to introduce an even bigger increase. If everyone cancelled, the increase would be called back immediately.”

 

Other points that angry customers have made include: 

– They’ve just bought a Ring doorbell or been given one for Christmas but won’t use it because the subscription price is now too high. 

– Not wanting to invest heavily in hardware for a company that has gained a reputation for subscription price hikes. 

– Highlighting how the company’s increase in per-device price for a capability that may not be used anyway (the ability to save, review and share video recordings) amounts to Ring damaging its reputation unnecessarily. 

Others, however, who can accept the price rise, are not willing to cancel or switch (they still perceive value outweighing the price). For example, one Reddit user wrote: “It sucks, but who’s going to switch over 10 dollars a year? I’m not going to uninstall it and change to another one. I live in a neighbourhood with a lot of people and the past recordings are insurance in case anything happens.” 

What Does Ring Say? 

As yet no specific statement in answer to the threat of mass subscription cancellations has been released by Ring and there’s only a price update page on the website explaining what happens if customers cancel their subscriptions.

 

Suggestion About How To Freeze Price – Martin Lewis 

Consumer financial champion and broadcaster Martin Lewis, however, took to the ‘X’ platform to suggest a way that users can beat the 43 per cent price hike. Mr Lewis suggested: “Cancel now and get a pro-rata refund (you may lose saved files though) – Sign up again at the current price which then locks it in for the next year.” 

Mr Lewis also said he will be sending out a “Full checked out update to come via MSE News” i.e., Money Saving Expert news. 

Alternatives 

In what is a growing video doorbell market, there are alternative/competing products, although Ring is the market leader in the UK (up until now), and competitors are unlikely to have the backing of a company with the market power and wealth of Amazon.

 

Some examples of competing products include Nest Hello, Arlo Video Doorbell, August View, Eufy, and Tapo. Nest Hello, for example, is known for its high video and audio quality, sleek design, and advanced features like activity zones and familiar face alerts. Arlo Video Doorbell is reported to offer excellent video quality, a wide field of view, two-way talk functionality, and smart notifications that can differentiate between people, vehicles, and animals. August View is known for characteristics like its user-friendliness and day-to-day use.  

Other Concerns 

Beyond price issues, there are other concerns around the use of video doorbells not least of which is privacy. For example, back in October 2021 in the UK, a judge ruled that video images and audio files that a Ring doorbell and cameras captured of the neighbour of an Oxfordshire plumber were her personal data and that the video doorbell and the use of the doorbell of this case was a kind of harassment and had been in breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR. Consequently, the owner of the Ring doorbell (the plumber) was fined a substantial sum. Following this Fairhurst v Woodard case, Amazon, the parent company of Ring LLC, issued a warning to its Ring Doorbell owners saying, “We strongly encourage our customers to respect their neighbours’ privacy and comply with any applicable laws when using their Ring product.”

The case doesn’t mean that any usage of Ring doorbells is illegal as the prosecution mainly centred around the doorbell’s audio recording capabilities (the range at which it was capturing audio) being too much for crime prevention and home protection purposes. Also, it was found that the doorbell’s owner hadn’t been transparent about how and when his camera was operating. That said, it does highlight how there is a real risk if video doorbell owners don’t adhere to data privacy and other relevant laws. 

In addition to privacy concerns, other risks that owners of video doorbells may need to consider include: 

– Security risks (i.e. a risk of hacking) where unauthorised individuals could gain access to your video feed or personal data. 

– Not understanding where and how video data is stored, who has access to it, and how long it is retained (and the potential legal implications thereof). 

– Network requirements. This is because video doorbells require a stable and strong Wi-Fi connection. Weak signals can affect performance. 

– As illustrated by this Ring price hike, beyond the initial purchase, buyers need to carefully consider subscription fees for additional features, like cloud storage or enhanced security measures.

 

– For wireless video doorbell models, battery life can vary, and replacing or charging batteries can be a hassle. 

– It’s possible, depending on the sensitivity and technology used, owners may receive false alerts from passing cars, animals, or other non-human movements, which can be annoying and disruptive. 

– Whether or not the doorbell can operate well in the weather conditions common to your area. 

– Compatibility with existing smart home devices and ecosystems can vary, impacting your overall smart home experience.

 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Even though Amazon’s Ring doorbell company announced a couple of years ago that there would be a price increase, the sheer scale of it has been met with anger as well as many threats and claims of cancellations. The fact that customers appear not to be able to see any additional value or extra benefit to justify such a large price increase (and perhaps a lack of further communication about it) alongside the availability of some quality alternatives appears to have considerably lowered the barrier to exit and created a PR disaster for Ring.

Having Amazon as a very powerful and wealthy owner may have been a key reason why Ring has become the market leader, but this makes it all the more surprising that a price rise has been handled in this way. For Ring customers who’ve only recently purchased or been gifted the hardware, this is a blow that may cause them to cut their losses and try a competitor. For video doorbell competitors, therefore, it’s the best opportunity they’ve had in years to gain share and chip away at Ring’s market position.

For Ring, however, if the ‘customer rebellion’ continues, it could put pressure on them to go for a climbdown or to announce some kind of additional benefit(s) to pacify and retain customers. Price sensitivity and changing market conditions, particularly in a cost-of-living crisis, are something that all B2C companies (especially) need to take seriously in their pricing strategies. 

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