It all began in January.
We became Vivint customers in 2015 and loved the app, the automated doors, the alarm, the cameras–like, it was new and all, but we were fans.
And then Houston got some bad weather. I don’t know if you reading this are familiar with Houston, but it often has bad weather. Like, big huge thunderstorms that cause flooding, some of which will close roads and disrupt traffic for a day or so. Others of which are part of big storm systems that cause far more serious flooding and that can shut down whole parts of the city for days at a time. When this happens, we get notices on our iPhones and our facebook pages about “severe weather” and “flash flooding” and, occasionally “tornado watch”.
I am not from any places with severe weather warnings, but I have always found the phone warnings and social media sharing to be quite sufficient.
Vivint does not.
In what seems like a cool feature but is actually truly wretched, Vivint has incorporated into its system alerts issued by the National Weather Services so that should an alert be issued, you will not miss it.
Say, for instance, that you are sleeping and there’s a storm going on outside and then the NWS issues an alert for flash flooding in Southeast Houston. Vivint will beam this alert to your system so that you don’t wake up to a flooded home! So nice, right?
Well, Houston is ENORMOUS and we don’t experience flash flooding my area. But, let’s say we did, okay? It’s worth it to be woken up, just in case. Except. Have you ever watched the news? Then you know that it’s not exactly a simple formula and so what may have been predicted to be an hour window of potential flash flooding can extend a little longer, and a little longer, and just a little bit longer. And every time the NWS updates its timeframe, Vivint notifies you.
Not with a message on your phone. No. Because a message on your phone could be ignored, swatted away by a still-sleeping being, or–God forbid–never even heard because you sleep with your plane in airplane mode.
No. Vivint is determined that you receive these alerts and so they send them TO YOUR PANEL and ensure that they are broadcast loudly. It’s just a chime–the same little chime, in fact, that I’ve heard on my Mother In Law’s phone when she gets a new whatsapp message.
But before sunrise? But before sunrise when it wakes you up? But before sunrise when you awake to a sound that persists at such jarring intervals that you can’t stay asleep and must instead drag your tired self out of bed and down the stairs to turn off the notification manually, only to return to bed and be just in that delightful state of dozing–when it goes off again? And you are pulled from sleep again. And must go downstairs again. To turn it off again. To have it return AGAIN.
No, friends. No I cannot in good conscience recommend Vivint to you. Be you warned.
This is my story:
I am not a morning person, you see, and I do not live in a flood plain (on a flood plain?) and, perhaps naively, I am not all that concerned about storms that occur while I am sleeping unless the government has said, Evacuate your homes.
So when I was awoken, quite early and obnoxiously, by one of those awful Vivint alerts, I turned it off and immediately called Vivint. But–even that early in the morning (!)–there was a line and so I took my complaint to the internet. I wrote this email:
You have to disable these alerts. Talk to your manager. Talk to your manager’s manager. Talk to IT or the freaking coder himself but these alerts can NOT continue.
Or maybe they will and I won’t continue. Houston is enormous and stormy! It just is! So It isn’t helpful to get the alerts–I just dismiss them without reading–but more than that it’s like right now, I have to be at work early and work an 11 hour day. 11hours. I know some people have it harder but damn. Do not wake me up in the middle of the night for nonsense!
I’m so fed up with this.
And then I tweeted this tweet:
— AnnaRay (@Rayzzle) January 16, 2017
To their credit, they did ask me to DM them and then suspended my notifications. They were prompt and kind about it. But, and this is important: THEY WERE PAID TO BE AWAKE. I was rudely awoken and forced out of bed, and DEEPLY UNHAPPY about it. Guys. Let me just risk my life, okay? Really. Worry about yourselves. I got this.
I was irritated at having been woken up this way, and supremely bothered to have NO RECOURSE. Like, how was my only option to go downstairs to dismiss the alert on my panel? What if I were bedridden? How is this not part of the app? How is there not a remote dismissal? How does not got away ever?? The whole thing was so unjust!
I did the only thing I could: I wrote them another email. I sent the following right after the one above. I really wanted them to understand:
Is it clear why I’m upset? Let me explain:
I live in a two story home. The panel hangs by the front door, which is at the bottoms of the staircase. My bedroom is at the top. I sleep with my door closed.
So imagine now that you are sleeping in your bedroom with your door closed. And then you wake up. At first you’re not sure why but then you hear it: a sound………and then again……and then again–you know that you need to address the sound because it’s woken you up and it plays at just the right intervals that your mind can’t tune it out. It’s like it was designed to keep you awake. It’s like you inadvertently signed up for a small torture device. You are now part of a psychological experiment perpetrated by some company in Utah that does not offer 24/7 support and so you must choose:
Lie there, as the water drips
Onto your forehead, preventing you from sleeping. And not only preventing you from sleeping, but actually causing you to be afraid to fall back to sleep. Your body tenses in anticipation of the next sound. Time passes.
Is it done? Has the alert passed?
You begin to allow yourself to relax and consider drifting off back to sleep and—WOM.
It does not let you sleep.
It is designed to keep you awake.
So you must choose the only thing you can, because it is 4AM and you are a working adult with responsibilities and soon–too soon–it will be time to fulfill those obligations. Reluctantly–oh how reluctantly!–you get out of bed. It’s cold and also you’re in your underwear and because you don’t want the vivint cam next to your alarm panel to catch you in your drawers, you out on your bathrobe and slippers and, with rising annoyance, descend the stairs.
It sounds again.
You look for a sledgehammer.
You decide not to detour to the garage.
You see the alert. It was issued four minutes ago for the next 45 minutes.
You clear it and head back upstairs (!) to bed. You can squeeze in another few hours before work.
Once snug under your covers, you can see the lightning flash behind the curtains. It must be far though, for you hear no thunder, and no rain pounds the windows.
Too bad. It would have been a nice lullaby.
Not that you need it. It is, after all, only 4 AM. You’re plenty tired and once back under that pile of covers, you’re ready to doze off once again. You feel your breathing slow, and your mind begin to wander, and your muscles heave a sigh of relief.
Breath in…..breath out….
It hasn’t even been five minutes but that damn alert is back to tell you that the tornado alert has been updated and is now in effect 5 minutes longer than the previous alert and it absolutely will not stop alerting you to this and not even the good Lord himself knows how that is helpful, let alone valuable enough to pay for. Especially in a place like Houston which is HUGE and gets tons of storms, many of which do not affect your home, much like the case is at this very moment.
The craziest thing to me is not that y’all still have this feature (but don’t misunderstand me: It is indisputably crazy. My MIL has complained of exactly the same thing. How have you not fixed this?) but that it is so persistent. Every few minutes it has an update. A loud update that will not rest until it is certain that it has disrupted your night’s rest.
I’m so tired, Vivint. I’m so tired and upset that I set off my own damn alarm because I tried to rip the panel off the wall. That’s how fed up I am.
Sleep deprivation makes you do crazy things.
Don’t make your customers crazy.
It’s the truest thing I’ve ever written, but evidently not the most effective for just TWO DAYS LATER I was awoken AGAIN by that 8&#*$(%(*# WOM sound and this time I was so fed up I tried to rip the panel off the wall.
Do you know what happens when you try to rip panels from the wall?
The ALARM sounds. (Sorry, husband!)
More twitter DMs. More promises to disable alerts. More seething rage. And then, suddenly as it began, it stopped.
For two full months, I did not get a single alert. (Perhaps, perhaps, it is because we did not have any severe storms. Perhaps.)
And then, Sunday April 2, 2017, it happened again. I heard that damn sound and instead of finding our sledgehammer, I went back to sleep. I dozed off. I dreamed about the alert waking me from sleep. Then I woke up. To the WOM.
I took to the Twitter
— AnnaRay (@Rayzzle) April 2, 2017
And we resolved it with this sad baby gif that is the best gif ever made
— Benjamin Hernandez (@ibenjaminhdz) April 2, 2017
So in summary:
Vivint will make you crazy. It will disrupt your sleep and send you into rages in the wee morning hours. Also, the app is only 3 stars in my opinion, and the panel has a way delayed response, and sometimes when I get a notification that our doorbell was rung, the footage only captures the person LEAVING. Like, what is even the point?!
But. Having said all of that?
It will give grant you some excellent Twitter fodder