So we pre-ordered the FitBit Flex when it was announced at CES back in January. All of this time they kept saying that it would be released in “spring”, but they never committed to an actual date. Months and months of waiting and several hundred questions on blogs and sites everywhere asking “fitbit flex release date” where never answered. The refrain was “spring”, over and over. Now you have to tell me that they really had no idea when, in a 90 days period, that they would be able to release this? Please. That just speaks to poor planning. But that’s not the really annoying part: here we are, thousands of hungry customers waiting for this device, radio silence on the arrival date, and we get this on the blog:
Hack Night At FitBit: The developers take a time out to run a hack night. For sure, this is great, but when you have a ton of prospective customers just waiting for you to ship something, giving out the impression that you are spending time NOT SHIPPING is a tad annoying. What kind of impression are you trying to give: that you are all really innovative? Great, but your timing stinks: we all want to hear an update on when we are getting our product, not how much fun you are all having while we cool our heels waiting.
If thats not annoying enough, and many, many startups tend to do this, when they finally launched this week, they started shipping to pre-orders like us, but they also announced that they would be available at some retails locations TODAY! So some lucky stiff who just happened to walk into Best Buy at the right moment now has a FitBit Flex, when the rest of us who pre-ordered MONTHS ago are, in the immortals words of David Byrne “Still Waiting”
What would it take, people, to just wait a week or so, so that the pre-orders start actually getting to people, before dropping them at retail. Pre-orders should get the love first, then retail. You really want to not annoy your customers? Then don’t follow FitBit’s example.
This slim, stylish device is with you all the time. During the day, it tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night, it tracks your sleep cycle and wakes you silently in the morning. Just check out the lights to see how you stack up against your personal goal. It’s the motivation you need to get out and be more active.
Having a hack night is in now way affecting shipping. Do you really think that the people involved in hack night would alternately be involved in manufacturing, packaging, or shipping the product?
How to really annoy customers: Hit them with a splash to subscribe to your blog and shill your book! There’s no way the developers having a hack night is going to have anything to do with shipping dates.
As for it arriving in retail the same day they send the pre-orders out? It’s a completely common practice. You’re guaranteed to get your pre-order when it comes in. Others have to take a chance to get theirs by running into a shop. Is that ideal? No. But it’s a reality.
I’m just trying to say its all perception: of course you and I know that the hack night doesn’t affect the ship dates. What I’m saying is that your typical customer won’t know that. Its all about communications and perception. Pre-order customers should be treated better – they believed in you enough to pre-order, thus allowing you to say “we had a million pre-orders”.
I worked at a startup once which got hit hard by the downturn in 2000. The management team, which consisted of the president and his wife, called us into an all-hands and told everyone that everyone was getting a 20% across the board pay cut. The very next day, they rolled in with their brand new $50,000 fully decked out minivan and showed it off to people. See what I mean?
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