Initial interest in Pivotal Living’s fitness tracker has exceeded expectations by a great deal — but that’s not all good news for the new Seattle startup.
Pivotal Living, which this month began shipping its free wearable fitness tracker, is dealing with several customers who are fed up with faulty devices and a lack of communication.
The company’s support forums reveal issues mainly for Android users, who are noting incorrect date stamps, app sync issues, and other problems. It’s more of the same on the Amazon, where more than half of Pivotal Living’s 288 product reviews are 1-star.
@PivotalLiving Can I return my tracker for a replacement? I'm having daily static electricity shutdowns. Thanks. Stuart
— Stuart M. Allison (@stuart_andover) December 30, 2014
@PivotalLiving emailed twice about a missing button but no response. how can I get this replaced?
— Kristi Waite (@kristiwaite) December 30, 2014
@PivotalLiving love my new tracker and the update today but my tracker keeps resetting and my data seems lost. Do you know what's going on?
— J Riegert (@MsRiegertHist) December 30, 2014
Some say they’ve received no response from the company in regard to their frustrations. However, Pivotal Living has been active on Facebook and Twitter, and is asking users to uninstall old versions of the app and install an updated one that was released Monday morning. There is also another update coming later this week.
In an interview with GeekWire, Pivotal Living CEO and co-founder David Donovick said that his company is dealing with significant scaling issues related to server and bandwidth problems during a launch that has clearly exceeded expectations — at least for the amount of trackers shipped.
Donovick noted that this is a “growing pain experience we didn’t foresee.”
“We’re just as frustrated as our users,” he added. “We’re fixing a lot of stuff behind-the-scenes and are trying to address the problems.”
Donovick said that he’s adding customer service and engineering employees to the five-person company next month.
“At the heart of hearts, we are a small startup and going through growing pains,” Donovick explained. “The difference for us and what I think is important is that we are not turning a blind eye to people. We are doing something about it. We are excited about the prospect of making this right for people and showing them who we are, and how we respond to these scenarios. That’s what we hope to do in the next week.”
We wrote about Pivotal Living last month, when Donovick explained his company’s unique business model. In an attempt to position itself in a crowded wearable fitness space, Pivotal Living is giving away its wristbands for free and charging a yearly $12 subscription plan for full access to its mobile app, which shows data from the tracker like calories burned, steps, distance, percentage of step goals, and the time.
“This is technically the first free tracker in the world,” said Donovick, who previously spent 10 years at Microsoft.
Donovick said in November that customers can replace faulty wristbands at no cost with each yearly subscription payment. In response to the recent complaints, the company is directing customers to this form for those who want to replace or return their tracker.
However, Pivotal Living’s one-year warranty agreement “does not cover software embedded in the Product and the services provided by Pivotal Living to owners of the Product.”
Donovick also made it clear last month that his company’s business model — giving away the actual product for free and charging a subscription fee — was all about monetizing over the lifetime of its customers.
“It’s kind of like the Google model — we’re making a bet for the long haul,” he said. “We’re not some startup that is going to pump and dump our product and be gone.”