My home’s smart devices have been managed with a Wink 2 Hub since December 2017. Prior to that, they were connected to a Nexia hub. While all the devices that came with the house worked perfectly with the Nexia hub and the one-year complimentary subscription was a great way to get used to the functionality, the $9 monthly subscription was excessive.
After my complimentary subscription expired, I researched smart home hubs and settled on the Wink 2. While it didn’t work as seamlessly as the Nexia hub, it had broader and more powerful capabilities. Most importantly, it didn’t charge a monthly subscription fee…until now.
Wink Gives Users One-Week Notice on Subscription Fee
On May 6, 2020, Wink announced that it will be charging a $5 monthly subscription fee. The company’s blog post noted:
In order to provide for development and continued growth, we are transitioning to a $4.99 monthly subscription, starting on May 13, 2020.
Should you choose not to sign up for a subscription you will no longer be able to access your Wink devices from the app, with voice control or through the API, and your automations will be disabled on May 13. Your device connections, settings and automations can be reactivated if you decide to subscribe at a later date.
The company chose to start charging its customers with short notice during a global pandemic. If customers don’t want to pay then they lose their smart home functionality in a week. Classy.
Service Outage Follows the Subscription Fee Announcement
Last night I tried to turn up my thermostats using the Wink app. The app said that my thermostats were offline. Oddly, my hub was listed as offline too, though I could still control my home’s Z-Wave and Zigbee lights.
A quick visit to Wink’s status page showed that there was a service outage. The timing was excellent. The company’s service fee announcement — during COVID-19! — coincided with the service failing. Karma can be funny like that.
Goodbye Wink, Hello HomeKit
Although Wink’s service certainly has value and I appreciate how competitive the smart home market is, the company could’ve integrated a monthly fee in a much friendlier way. One week of notice — during the coronavirus pandemic! — is not enough. When you top off the announcement with a service outage, the company looks bad and it’s hard to have faith in its future.
As life settles into the post-COVID-19 “new normal,” I’ll be changing smart home devices to those compatible with Apple HomeKit. While the device choices aren’t as broad, Apple’s software is great and it takes security more seriously than most consumer electronics companies.
Would I have stayed with Wink if it handled its subscription announcement better? Maybe. But it bungled things and made me want to leave. I’m positive that many of its customers feel the same way.