Sayonara Sonos

September 9, 2020

This isn’t the blog I intended to write this week - the first post after an Extended Summer Blog Break - but it’s a topic closely related to work: technology, electronic waste and appalling customer / after-sales service.  And I need to vent.

Got home from a meeting Monday afternoon: the vacuum cleaner had died. A mildly annoying, unexpected and unglamorous £200 outlay for a new one BUT the old one was 13 years old and held together with parcel tape. I really can’t complain. Thank you Miele, for making electronics that last. And to Amazon Prime, for your vast choice and excellent deal on the one I’ve bought.

Then, yesterday morning, my laptop shut down and restarted itself twice during a Zoom call. Annoying but only a Pilates class: not a client; no major embarrassment. And, to be fair, it’s five years’ old and I’m ham-fisted, it’s been used every day and dragged all over the world and has needed refurbishing for over a year. Problem readily solved: new MacBook Pro on its way. Slight dilemma and needless procrastination over Air v. Pro and Space Grey v. Silver but all very straightforward. Thank you, Apple, for helping me choose, and John Lewis for the excellent price, 0% finance and fast delivery.

‘Good things come in threes,’ I thought. ‘Let’s sort out Sonos!’

I was an early Sonos adopter and, like many others, I’ve added to my system over the years. Occasional connectivity issues aside, the experience has – on the whole – been good. Then the S1 Controller was launched, presumably with a bucketload of bugs, and components were continuously dropping - like apples in late summer. Then I received an in-app message to download the S2 Controller: everything disappeared and, despite much perseverance, only the living room would reconnect. Eventually checked online: need both S1 and S2 controllers due to components spanning the Sonos-created, 2015 New v. Old divide. Will no longer to be able to Group all rooms unless I downgrade the living room, which is NOT! advised, and which sort of undermines a principal reason for having Sonos in every room. Spoke to the most fractious woman at customer support, who put the phone down on me. Turned to Twitter for help: no response.  

We know, from their announcement earlier this year, that Sonos wants to end updates and support for older products, forcing people to ‘upgrade’. But I don’t want to upgrade, and shouldn’t have to: what I have works perfectly well and I don’t like creating unnecessary waste (see above). Twisting my arm through shitty customer service, half-baked app updates and paltry trade-in offers will not make me buy more Sonos. It will make me shop around for the latest Audio kid on the block. (And that’s precisely what I’m going to do because I need a new TV for my bedroom, and want a soundbar to go with it).  

#SonosIs2020Epitomised

#SayonaraSonos

But, again to be fair, this not solely a Sonos thing. Gone are the days one could expect a product to last 12 or 13 years: these are the days in which revenue and profit are driven by below par components forcing replacement after replacement after replacement in two-to-three year product cycles. Ridiculous. Causing unnecessary waste. Creating a huge burden on people and the planet.

Smart brands and entrepreneurs, nudged by legislation, are waking up to this. New trade-in markets are opening up. Refurbishment and refurbished products are gaining more traction.  

I’m kind of repeating what Nick wrote before, in relation to our client Remade and the circular economy, but progressively-minded people increasingly choose to make sustainable choices. Commercial strategies like Sonos’s will only alienate this growing demographic. And that can only be bad for business and reputation.  

#Innovate #TrulyInnovate #TriggerTechFOMOToDriveRevenue

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