Apple “Stole” My Apple Watch and Sent Me Back to Fitbit

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I have been focused on monitoring and measuring my physical activity since I gave myself a Fitbit for Christmas 2011.  I wrote about using Fitbits in this blog on three occasions.

About three years ago, I was interested in buying a smartwatch, and the Fitbit offerings were not very appealing.  Not to be snobbish, but Fitbit simply did not have a watch product that I was willing to wear every day.  So I bought first generation Apple Watches for my wife, Cathay, and me about three years ago.  Along the way, there was a celebration of something, and I bought a second generation watch for Cathay.  My watch, after a couple of fixes during warranty, performed well — until it quit performing— with a bit of help from Apple.

In the time leading to mid-April 2018, Apple kept insisting that I update the software on my Apple Watch.  It was working just fine and had been forever, but they kept on insisting with message after message.  So Cathay updated the software for me.

The Outcome

Like a good customer, I expected good or better things as a result.  To my surprise, the watch simply would not work after the so-called software upgrade.  What you see in the picture above, a black watch screen, is exactly what I got.  Cathay is much savvier at this kind of thing than I am, and she could not get the watch to work.

We called Apple service, and they said we needed to send the watch in for a fix.  Cathay said she would just take the watch to the Apple store to get it fixed.  She went and signed in.  For some reason, probably because she was not buying something new, she kept being bumped in the line.  She complained and finally met with a service person.

Unbeknownst to us, Apple started a service ticket on the watch when we previously called.  We didn’t ask for this, but that is what happened.  The service person looked at the watch, scanned something, and said there was nothing they could do since there was already a service ticket on the watch.  Cathay waited more than two hours to find this out.

From the office, I inquired about the service ticket.  They said that I had to prepay the “repair.”  The prepayment, including tax and service charges, was about $275, or about the price of a basic Apple Watch today.

Needless to say, I was incensed.  The need for the “repair” resulted from a forced upgrade to their software.  So they would “repair” the watch for about the price of a new one?  I was not happy.  I felt as if I had been robbed.

Theft of My Watch Prompts Different Buying Decision

As much as I enjoyed my Apple Watch (and the ability to automatically compare daily fitness results with Cathay), I simply refused to participate in Apple’s theft of my watch.

Prior to purchasing the Apple Watches, I had been a Fitbit nut for several years.  You can tell if you look at the posts linked above.

When I got the email from Apple Service asking me to prepay, essentially for a new watch, I went straight to Fitbit.com on my computer.  It turns out that Fitbit literally just came out with a new watch, the Versa.  It was so new that it was not immediately available.  Nevertheless, I ordered their top of the line (Special Edition) watch for about $230 (plus tax and a bit of shipping), or a good bit less than the “repair” of my Apple Watch.

Fitbit versa

A few days later, my Versa arrived.  I also ordered a gold metallic band — like the one I had on my Apple Watch.  The new Versa looks better than the Apple Watch did, at least to me.

The good news is that I have my Fitbit back.  I now get alerted when I reach 10,000 steps each day.  Apple wouldn’t do that — or couldn’t for some reason.  And I get the analysis of my sleep patterns that I missed the entire time I had the Apple Watch.

The Versa seems to match the functionality of integration with my, yes, Apple 7+ iPhone, except for being able to talk into the watch.  I can read texts and emails, get calendar notices, and lots of other information.  It works just fine from my perspective…

The Fitbit Versa doesn’t have as many apps or as many watch faces as the Apple did, but it seems that they are adding new watch faces and apps fairly regularly.  For example, the watch face I am using now is new since I bought the watch.

The real bonus?  I had to charge my Apple Watch every night that I owned it. In three years, that was more than a thousand times. The charge on my Fitbit Versa lasts three or four days!

And the Fitbit Versa looks good, as well.  I bought a gold metallic band as you can see in the picture below.Fitbit versa two

This watch face has a crisp, analog look, which I like for the time being.  Note that beginning in the upper left corner and proceeding clockwise, the watch face shows my current number of steps for the day, my continuous heart rate (so there, Apple!), the outside temperature where I happen to be, and finally, the estimated number of calories I’ve consumed since midnight.  The watch face also shows the day of the month, which I find helpful.

My guess is that, when the word gets out that Fitbit has an offering that is cheaper, better looking, and more functional in many ways, Apple will want to buy Fitbit.  That would be a sad day.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying my Fitbit Versa Sports Edition.  If you are in the market for a smartwatch, give the Fitbit Versa consideration.  I think you will be pleased.

And now, for the threshold question:

Do I miss my Apple Watch?

The answer is a resounding “No!”

Until next time, be well!

Chris

Reminder

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2 thoughts on “Apple “Stole” My Apple Watch and Sent Me Back to Fitbit

  1. Interesting…I had a similar experience, but it was with my fitbit. Product failed after 8 months…serviced it and it worked two months then stopped altogether. Fitbit replaced it. That one worked for 5 months and then stopped. When I asked for service or help, they told me that my warranty was passed (12 months) and that I must pay a service fee to get it worked on. When I noted that it was only 5 months old…they referred me back to my original contract. After about a month of “interaction,” they offered to sell me a new one at a 25% discount!

    So, today I have a Garmin which works just fine. My conclusion is that it may not be the companies as much as the bureaucratic people in charge who do not think clearly about customer service. If you want to diminish the revenues and value of any company, put the wrong people in positions to do this type of damage.

  2. Well done Chris! You did the right thing, I hope your experience gets through to Apple and they start by fixing their service procedures, and follow by fixing their faulty watches. You would think that this kind of thing could not happen in a company like Apple, but so it is! Kudos for Fitbit, they run ahead while the giant snores.