My GoPro Hero 5 Purchase Experience
This relationship with my GoPro Hero 5 is not off to a good start.
It started with the website experience. The videos on the site are highly sexy. Everyone is young and beautiful and fit, but the site’s checkout was clunky. The purchase process for a major company like GoPro should be very clean. It wasn’t.
The camera arrived as promised in the specified period (2 days). I was psyched. I wanted to give it a go this weekend. Unfortunately, unboxing the camera was, for me (I am not very mechanical!) a nightmare. It is attached to a fixed base attached to a box with no instructions. So I turned to YouTube for a tutorial. Where I found that thousands (tens of thousands) of people had similar issues with the packaging.
With some instruction, disassembling the package finally makes sense and I slide the camera off the base. Now what? There are no instructions so it’s back to YouTube.
Next, apparently, I need to remove the camera from the frame.
The dozens of web tutorials explaining how to unpack your GoPro vary in quality. All show men with big hands covering the camera and voila! the frame is off. I have small hands, manicured nails and I can’t see what they are doing; they don’t explain it; and the camera has no directions. There are no company videos on the GoPro website dealing with either of these issues. I wonder if I should try to pry the latch open but don’t want to break it, so I call customer service.
After waiting 22+ minutes listening to blaring, unpleasant music, a young man answers the queue. I explain the problem. I ask if I need to pry it off with a screw driver. He doesn’t seem to care but he does point out that that will scratch the camera case. I tell him I understand that, which is why I’m calling for help. I apologize, indicating that he must hear this many times a day!
He says no. No one else has issues with this.
I ask about the number of YouTube videos that deal with my issue. He reaffirms that no one else has problems, but he’ll send me a link to a YouTube video.
I give him my email three times. (Spelling “Pat” seems to be an issue). No email arrives.
He tells me to go to YouTube (I’m already there!) and type in my questions. Dozens of tutorials (with a total of hundreds of thousands of views) pop up.
Which one, I ask?
He suggests a video that he watched this morning.
Why is he watching these videos if I am the sole customer with problems????
I thank him and hang up.
After finally getting the camera out of the packaging, you need to put in the SanDisc (which does not come with the camera), the battery, and charge it. Open the hatch, install the battery and disc, close the hatch. Now I need to charge the battery.
The door to the USB port won’t open. I use plastic pens for leverage to depress the button; I push and shove. Nothing. Do I have a faulty camera?
After nearly an hour of this, I finally get the door to open so that I can insert the USB charger. Now I wait.
I am admittedly not very mechanical. I generally don’t buy anything unless it comes with an 800 number or can be fixed with duct tape. But this shouldn’t be this difficult and my newbie enthusiasm in waning in the early hours of this tech partnership with my new GoPro.
Go Pro Set Up: Day 2
The battery has charged to 96% overnight. I remove the cable and close the hard-to-open hatch to the USB port, hoping that with a few uses it will function more easily. According to the YouTube tutorial by some “Dude” (the only guidance I have!), it is time to update the software. This is another user experience nightmare.
First I have to open the USB compartment that doesn’t open. Pressure plus screwdriver and a lot of persistence eventually gets this open again. It still does not function smoothly. I think I will need to get this camera replaced.
I have an option to update the camera from my phone or computer. Let’s try the phone app.
Here are the instructions:
- Open the utility drawer, select CONNECT.
- Select CONNECT NEW DEVICE
- Select CAPTURE APP to see your camera ID and Password..
Ok. Where is this utility drawer???? I have no idea. There is NO instruction. I go to the next page.
CONNECTING YOUR CAMERA
- Go to Settings>WiFi on your iPhone (Ok I can do that!)
- Enter the password displayed on your camera.
- Once connected return to the Capture App
I presume when I go to the wifi settings I should see my camera listed? It’s not, and there is no password on my camera.
I’ll try the desktop app.
Back to the GoPro site. There is no place to download the app. Is it cloud based? There is a page that asks me to agree to the terms but the box to click “agree” is inactive. I search the questions. I leave a scathing review. Even the review submit button doesn’t work.
Digging around the website, I finally find a product guide. Surely this will help. It gives me a URL for the desktop app. I enter the URL:
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Speaking of Epic Fail:
(Fast forward to watch this entire glacial bridge totally collapse!)
Customer support isn’t available until 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I make a matcha latte and wait.
Perhaps GoPro is some sort of cult following and I haven’t drunk the KoolAid. Do I need to be 30 years old to use this product? Male, with big strong hands? I’m hardly technologically inept. I actually fall on the “ept” side of this spectrum. I can even be extremely “engineery” (when needed). I didn’t make it through Wharton Business School by being inept. I didn’t learn to fly an ASW20-a (very well) by being inept or technologically illiterate.
Tick, tock, tick tock.
This time I get to tech support quickly, but there is a bit of a language barrier. Everything needs to be repeated two or three times. I am beginning to feel as if I’m in an alternate-universe, endless-loop comedy skit. Doesn’t anyone servicing the U.S. market speak english anymore?
After 46 minutes of working with the tech rep and repeatedly trying to get the camera to pair with my phone (an iPhone7 that is up to date), we have another epic fail. Even the rep gave up.
I am still willing to try the product, but it’s become apparent that a replacement is needed. The door to the USB port does not function properly and it would appear that there may be software issues as well.
Now this gets even better.
It takes 15 days to process a return. If they (reluctantly) process the return, send me a replacement camera and it doesn’t work, the 30 day window for returning the camera + the Karma grip that I ordered will have expired. My house closes in 23 days. So I need to return both the camera and grip because my confidence in GoPro isn’t very high at the moment.
The tech rep indicated he needed to send me 3 emails. I insisted on waiting until they arrived in my inbox (since the emails from the tech yesterday never arrived!) He sent the incorrect email saying I wanted a camera repair. He resent the information (correctly this time) and I will return this via Fed Ex today.
And later today the GoPro accessories I ordered from Amazon will arrive. They will need to be returned and I will be charged shipping. And then there is the SanDisk that I bought at BestBuy ($40) that has been opened and is undoubtedly un-returnable.
Plus a bit of inconvenience, compounded by my the approaching close of my house. I wanted to start using the GoPro so that I could develop some degree of competence (I know, an outdated concept!) En route to Vachon, I’d planned on filming parts of Napa, Healdsburg and the California-Oregon coast. I can go and just buy another camera, but it irks me to have $1500 (GoPro: $399 + Karma Grip: $299 + Tax times 2) tied up in GoPros while I wait two weeks for a refund.
I once met one of the key execs from GoPro at a charity event. He brushed me off and was very arrogant. At the time, I wrote it off as a Silicon Valley thing. Maybe it’s a corporate culture issue as well. It certainly is a stock issue:
Which makes me wonder if the company will be around in a few years. My experience isn’t unique. And yet the camera gets very good reviews in its niche.
If there is a takeaway from this it would be that the company needs to see the product experience from the perspective of the consumer, not the engineer. And remember that half of your potential customers may be female!
I may make another run at a purchase because I do need a video camera, and the camera does get consistently good reviews. It may be interesting to see if Round #2 is a repeat or if this was just a fluke.
I package up the camera and drop it off at a local post office service store. The young man behind the desk and I get talking and he tells me about how many GoPros he sees being returned for one reason or another.
Guess I’m not the only one.
Go Pro Set Up: Round 2 ?
I am seriously reassessing the GoPro purchase, at least at this time. Yesterday, after dropping the GoPro package off for a return, I attended a class at the Apple store for my new watch (see upcoming separate post on that experience!).
The experience was 180 degrees from my GoPro experience. If I had to set up my watch myself, I suspect I would have had some frustration. But I didn’t have to. The Apple rep oversaw half a dozen different customer setups across various products, as we all sat and chatted at a community table. I signed up for a class the next day.
In class, I had a sense of being part of a learning, helping community. No one suggested that I was stupid because the product was perfect, so any issues naturally had to be user oriented issues. On the contrary, I was congratulated for asking great questions! And the Apple rep spoke excellent English. I could follow, understand and interact with my instructor and my watch.
I am not going to be jumping off cliffs or riding outrageous biking trails anytime soon and, for now, my time may be better spent working on producing quality film footage with the equipment I already have, i.e. my iPhone7. Adding some video stabilization may be all the tech help I need. After that, it’s up to me to visualize, capture, and produce good footage for my blog and followers.
So, for now, GoPro NO.
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