Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 28, 2014
I’ve been home for the past few days, taking time off for the holiday before heading back out of town. Before I came home, my wife called and asked if we should purchase one of those systems where you can turn your lights on and off no matter where you are in the country. Seems you buy those things from your cellphone carrier, and ours is Verizon. It sounded good to me, so she bought it before I came home.
As I talked about when I wrote about my Franklin Planner, I do well with lists. When I got home I put together a list of all the things I had to get done before I left town. This item wasn’t on my list, but luckily my wife had put it on her list. So, Monday night her alarm went off and it was time to load this sucker.
The first step involved deciding which 3 rooms we’d hook this thing up in. In 3 boxes were these big plug things (aren’t I descriptive?) that you put into the socket and then plugged a light into it. We decided to try 2 rooms first, since the other lamp she wanted to use needed a new bulb. That part went pretty smooth and the lights were turned on.
The next part involved downloading some software to our phones called WeMo by Belkin. The instructions in the box said to download the software, or app, and just follow the instructions.
The instructions were pretty simple. I downloaded the app, then went to my settings to see if each unit was showing under the WiFi area, and they were. All you do after that is open the app, put in your router password, and it would do the rest.
Unfortunately, the rest never came. My phone kept trying to find the server… actually that’s not quite accurate. It kept trying to load one of the things we’d plugged into the wall as the server. And it was failing miserably. I tried it on my wife’s phone; nothing doing. I thought maybe if I did one plug at a time that maybe it would work better, but not only didn’t that work, it still saw both units even after unplugging one.
And that’s not all. After trying to get this thing working for maybe 30 minutes I decided to take a break from it and, noticing that someone had sent me a message on Instagram, wanted to check that out. However, the phone was telling me I had no internet connection. When I went into my settings I saw that this WeMo thing had overridden my settings and made itself the primary router over my real primary router. When I tried to change it… I thought I heard an evil laugh as it refused to acquiesce to my demands.
Eventually I remembered how to get into all apps, find that bad boy, and disable it so it wouldn’t bother me the rest of the night. Tuesday afternoon my wife and I trouped up to the Verizon store to see if we did anything wrong. The guy we got said that it can be tricky and that it had taken him almost an hour to figure out how to get it working; really? He said he couldn’t do anything in the store because it had to be activated where the lights were, and to try it one more time. We left unsatisfied, but what can you do?
We got back home and I decided to start from scratch and uninstalled the program. Before reloading it however, I finally looked at the ratings, only to see that it averaged less than 2 1/2 stars; that’s not good. After reading a few of the reviews I called my wife into my office and read many of them to her. We both decided it wasn’t worth the grief, I uninstalled it from her phone, and we took those plugs back Tuesday late afternoon for a full refund; just to let you know, the plugs were $50 each.
Of course the recommendation is to always look at the stars and read through reviews of things before you download them to your smartphone, just like you should before you download programs to your computer. In this case, since it went through Verizon, my wife and I thought it had to be legitimate because, after all, they’re a large company.
As we left the store last evening I remembered that probably half the apps in both the Google Play store and Apple’s store are bad and haven’t been checked by anyone because of the volume. Had I been with my wife when she bought the thing I’d have hoped I would have asked questions beforehand and checked it out online so we could have made a better decision earlier; it certainly would have saved a lot of time.
How many of you have made purchases of things that you should have checked out before you did so? What about bad apps on your phones that gave you grief? I know I’m not alone; go ahead, admit it. 😉