April 25, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
The home control and automation market can breathe a little easier because it looks like Verizon won’t be taking over that business.
Over the past several months Verizon has been rolling out its basic home control and monitoring service to FiOS users across the country (not available in all locations yet). When Verizon announced the service as an affordable, DIY, alternative to professionally-installed control and security systems, some people the in the control and installation business were concerned. Well, we’ve seen these off-the-shelf systems come and go over the years and for the most part they remained a small niche for people who knew what they were doing and were willing to live with a few glitches. However, when you buy a system and a service plan from a huge company like Verizon you expect it to work, right?
More on Verizon’s home control offerings.
Apparently things aren’t quite rosy with the new rollout. I stumbled upon Verizon’s customer forums via a Google News alert and found a pattern of problems and consumer complaints, exacerbated by Verizon’s customer service technicians’ inability to correct the issues.
According to the customer comments, the problems vary from network issues to incorrect device alerts. In one instance the system kept changing the user’s temperature without being authorized to do so and also kept sending alerts that a closed and locked door was open.
Was some of this user error? Very probably. DIY systems are usually more complicated that the end users anticipates, but when something goes wrong they blame the manufacturer (or service provider). Still, this highlights the reason that companies like Control4, Elan, URC and Savant spend so much time developing their professional systems and why they insist that professional integrators install them.
Electronic House would love to review the system, but Verizon has declined all our requests. As the only consumer magazine that specializes in control and automation systems, you’d think they’d appreciate our feedback.
Here are just a few of the customer comments on one thread titled “Sorry-but good-bye home control.” Note that I fixed some of the spelling errors to make reading of the posts easier.
I liked the idea of monitoring. I got the camera, two locks, and the dimmer. I was able to use it for a few days via iPhone. Then there was an update to the app. Then I could never sign in again. Tech help told me there are a number of people with either Apple or app problems. VZ does not seem to know where the problem is. They were suggesting I take my phone to an Apple store and ask them to roll back the OS. Apple does not allow that. I waited a few days and go fed up. Why should I pay a subscription for something that does not work with no fix in sight? I called billing and a very helpful guy canceled my subscription and got me a return label (e-mailed) from the Home Control division. It was fast. Now I hope they credit me the first payment on the equipment,
I am about to return my equipment as well. No sense paying for something that doesn’t work and verizon seems to have no interest in fixing. I cannot view the recordings from my cameras on the home control website. I reported this issue on Dec 12th and it was escalated. It is now Jan 19 and verizon still hasn’t looked at the issue. I have been told no less than 4-5 times someone would contact me within 48 hours and no one would. Most companies someone would be fired for treating a customer like this and ignoring them for 5-6 weeks.
Ya i am about to return it as well.. I get Activity logs that say the cam’s are recording but you can not view them. Did some rebooting.. now the indoor camera will not record unless I manually run the mode… The dimmer option is cool… but i can do that with timers from Home Depot..
Same boat here…real close to cancelling home monitoring. Heather_vz was messaging me via pm trying to help but when it turned out that home monitoring devices don’t work as well as advertised and/or their techs cannot diagnose problems as they are unfamiliar with z-wave and i asked to return the equipment all of a sudden she stopped pm’ing me. Amazing.
I am having the same issues to include the email alerts that I get have the correct DTG (Date Time Group) however, when you go and look for the time of the event it is an hour behind EST. How can I fix this. Also I would like to have the ability to add to this system an alarm alert to let me know when a mode is triggered rather than just an email or txt as that won’t wake me up.
In addition, when I get an alert that an event has been triggered and I go to view it the system is down more times than it is up and I can’t view what the event is. I was just recently on a trip out of state and I could not view from my mobile app on my iPhone as well as on my Mac the event or recording of it.
I just recently hooked up the system in my house and it was great until this weekend. The website on the computer and phone have been down this whole weekend. The weekend is when I would like to use it as we may be out of town or just out and about. Last night the system kept turning my heat, through the thermostat, on and off without reaching the set temp of 69 degrees. I kept getting text messages telling me my front door was opening and closing while I was sitting in front of a dead bolted door. I have tried to log in to the website via computer about every two hours this whole weekend and it keeps telling me that information is not available, try back later. I was so excited about getting it and have used it a lot prior to now but I can’t see paying anything for a system that I can’t access when I want. I called about another small issue the other day and it took 20 minutes for Verizon to find someone who knows the system; the rep that answered the phone didn’t even know what I was talking about and asked me if I was talking about some type of alarm system. I can see if I called the wrong number but I called the number that the home monitoring website told me to call for tech support. When I called they didn’t even give an option on the automated phone system for the home monitoring tech support. Looks as though I too will have to go through the trouble of repacking everything back up and sending it back before I hit the 30 day limit for not being satisfied. Too bad..
This one thread isn’t unique. Below is a screen shot of complaint threads from only the past few weeks.
If you’re using Verizon’s new automation and monitoring system, please let us know what your experience has been like.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.