Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Everything is Terrible: BlueMaestro edition

(See update at bottom for better news.) After the temperature in the office started fluctuating mysteriously, I impulsively bought the Blue Maestro Tempo Bluetooth thermometer.  The other wireless thermometers were either for grilling, or cost $200.  This one was "only" £29.00 plus international shipping.

Since placing the order, there have been a sequence of completely unnecessary problems that take this purchase from a silly indulgence to a serious waste of time.
  1. They were out of green, so they emailed and I agreed to take a blue one.  Whatever.
  2. While it was still in shipping, I got a marketing email that there is a new model that, in addition to temperature, does humidity and air pressure.
  3. The Tempo that arrived was completely DOA.  I eventually took it apart and replaced the batteries and it "worked".
  4. Installing the Android app was a pain in the ass because the included instructions, one faded, mimeographed page, directed me to [insert App address here].  (for the sake of thoroughness, I should point out that the instructions also say "Item Code: xxx".  If they don't improve product quality, I'm pretty sure that three digits should be plenty for the history of the company.) The company web site has App Store buttons on the front page, albeit below the fold, and clicking them sends you to ... a different page on the company web site, which I'm pretty sure is not the UI guideline provided by either Apple or Android.
  5. I emailed about the last three problems and got back an email that
    1. Offered me the same 20% discount on the new product that the marketing email did.  Adding insult to insult.  If you sell me something that you make obsolete literally while the thing is still in the mail, even though you are selling me exactly what I was willing to buy at that price last week, you change the transaction from an exciting one to a disheartening one.  Here's what it looks like to happily surprise your customers.
    2. Ignored the battery thing, not even an apology.
    3. Gave me instructions to get to the iOS app that were no better than what was already on the confusing website, even though I asked about the Android app.
  6. Now that I have the thing, I'm having connectivity problems left and right.  
    1. It took three tries to rename it from "Tempo" to "Blue Probe", and now my phone sees two different Bluetooth devices named "Blue Probe".  I may well have renamed a neighbor's Samsung 45" LED TV or something.
    2. By default, the device collects data once an hour.  I tried to change that to the most frequent possible collection, every 5 minutes, but somehow instead changed it to "never".
    3. So now the buttons in the app that show charts and graphs, which is the main point of having a remote, wireless thermometer instead of just a thermometer that you walk up to and look at, say "no data".
And my fun impulse buy is a frustrating waste of a few hours.  Basic economics suggests I should recycle the thing right now but it's going to trigger my stubborn-bone and I'm going to screw with it on and off for hours over the next few weeks and it probably won't ever work right, or at all, and I'll just make myself angry.  They almost made a cute and useful little product but have screwed up almost all of the quality and customer support details badly enough to waste all of that hard and seemingly competent effort of conception, design, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, and programming.

Also, the Dodgers managed to lose a baseball game three times in five hours.




Update 4 Sep 2014: I connected using an Android Tablet instead of my Android phone, and it worked on the first try, it's already set to 5 minutes, it's been collecting temperature since yesterday.  And the neighbor's Samsung LED TV still self-identifies as a TV.  Great.  Maybe it will magically start collecting humidity data as well.

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