Is the third time a charm for this Jawbone warranty?

I have never been a big believer in warranties, and I’ve never bought an extended warranty. But when a product dies within six months of purchase, you’d better believe I’m calling foul on a junk product.

Last Christmas season, my husband expressed interest in a fitness activity tracker. I did some research on the costs and features, and while they mainly seemed to be expensive pedometers, I bought him a Jawbone UP24. He opened it on Christmas morning and wore it all the time. He really liked it, too. He would even ridiculously walk around the house at night if he hadn’t walked 10,000 steps in a day, so as not to break his streak of continuous days of hitting his activity goal.

So far, so good.

In June 2015, a mere six months into its lifespan, the product basically died. It could no longer communicate with my husband’s iPhone, which is the only way for the user to see the activity tracking information.

To its credit, Jawbone customer service walked us through troubleshooting and confirmed we had the latest firmware, but ultimately agreed there was no fix. They offered to replace the UP24 with a UP2, which is a newer product. In July the replacement product arrived. My husband again loved it, and his activities and sleep habits were once again successfully tracked.

Five months later, the UP2 died. This time it was not a technological death, but a physical one. The bracelet no longer clasped, so it fell off, making it completely unwearable — and as wearable technology goes, useless.

Perhaps I was naive, but I contacted Jawbone customer support again. I believed that because they provided a brand new replacement product in July, that surely my warranty clock had reset in July, and I would easily receive another replacement.

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Well, my warranty fantasy was shattered when Jawbone informed me on Dec. 10, 2015, that my one-year warranty is only valid from the initial purchase date, which in my case happened to be November 2014.

But what about that brand spanking new UP2, that wasn’t even on the market a year ago? Surely it should last beyond five months? And don’t these companies want us to keep wearing their product, so we don’t, say, go buy from their competitors?

With some persistent phone calls to regular customer service representatives, following
the golden rules of self-advocacy, I managed to persuade the folks at Jawbone to replace the product a second time.

The Jawbone representatives initially rejected the validity of the one-year warranty based on my initial purchase of the UP24, which was in late November 2014. Politely, patiently, and providing evidence of my purchase date, I explained that the item was a Christmas gift, first opened and used on Dec. 25, 2014, and argued the warranty clock should not begin until that date.

While this argument is a departure from the strict language of the warranty, many companies make allowances for extended return periods and warranties in consideration of the holiday gift giving season.

Most standard product warranties work just like that of Jawbone, which states: In the event there is a warranty claim and a subsequent product replacement, the warranty is extended to the replacement product. If at the time of replacement there is less than 90 days left on the original warranty, Jawbone extends the warranty by 90 days.

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So we’ve made it to 2016 with our third product. Can this latest replacement UP2 outlast the 90-day warranty extension we have just entered? I’m not holding my breath.

Jessica Monsell

A writer and natural advocate, Jessica joined our consumer advocacy effort following a decade of work on behalf of air crash victims at one of the nation's largest plaintiffs' law firms. She has lived in Europe and Asia, but now calls Charleston, S.C. home.

  • kimber

    My experience with Jawbone UP (multiple models) is that they all last just a few months before they start malfunctioning. In fact, I am calling them today as the latest replacement has now stopped tracking sleep and the battery only lasts 3-4 days. I think that I’ve had it for a couple of months? This is the third or fourth replacement since I bought this model last summer. The single redeeming quality thus far has been Jawbone’s willingness to send a replacement. If they are now making that more difficult, I’ll be done with them. I won’t spend another penny for what is clearly a shoddy product (looks nice, nice UI on the iPhone, but the product itself is terrible.

  • kimber

    Also – you might want to change the picture. That’a s Fitbit.

  • fairmont1955

    And I got my Fitbit on Jan 17, 2014 and it’s still going strong. I love it! Doesn’t hold a charge as long as it once did but I can deal with that.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    “I have never been a big believer in warranties, and I’ve never bought an extended warranty. ”

    What a strange opening sentence to an article on a consumer-help site. She doesn’t believe there should be warranties on products? And what does an extended warranty have to do with this case? The first fix was in the original warranty period and I’d argue the second fix should have been, as well, given it was a different problem on what was a brand new unit when it was received. In fact, I have never before heard of a warranty being shortened in a case where a replacement was done. It’s a new unit so why wouldn’t it still have the original warranty in place?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’ve also had good luck with my FitBit but I also have battery issues. I’ve got the little clip kind that uses a replaceable battery. I think the life is still about as good as when it was new but it will start giving the low battery warning sometimes within a few days of replacement. It will come and go with the warning be on a few days, then going away, then coming back. I just ignore it until the battery actually dies for real.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I agree with her premise. Warranties are only as good as the company backing them. I had a lifetime warranty on a sofa from Rowe where the frame actually broke within a couple of years. However, the company was going through a chapter 11 bankrupcy and would not honor the “lifetime” warranty. While I obviously would never buy a Rowe sofa again, given their poor quality product and poor quality service, the experience has soured me on warranties in general.

  • kimber

    That’s actually very common. The plumber just asked me last week if I realized that the replacement hot water heater is not on year 4 after it was installed, but on year 11 from my original purchase date and, thus, out of luck if it goes again. My personal thought is that they know that they could be stuck replacing shoddy products in perpetuity, so they limit you to to the one… you know… instead of making a quality product.

  • LFH0

    The purpose of a warranty is that an individual item will work for at least a certain amount of time of use, to ensure that there were no defects in the item’s manufacture. In contrast, what I’m reading here is that companies are effectively stating that they are providing a service contract for the duration of the “warranty” period rather than the purchase of well-made tangible goods.

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