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USA TODAY

 

Tech products have gone out of business before, but they usually tell their valued customers what to do next.

Fitness tracker and Bluetooth speaker company Jawbone, which is in the process of liquidating, instead has left a trail of irate customers with little recourse but to vent online.

Visitors to its website see a company that looks like all is well, and is promoting products -- except that there are no links to buy them. Jawbone's Amazon, Facebook and Twitter pages appear as though the company still has its doors open.

Yet a company headquarters phone number directs callers to another number that has apparently been disconnected. Customers complain in online review forums of leaving many messages in email and phone form that haven't been answered.

The Better Business Bureau just awarded Jawbone an "F" for "unanswered complaints." The BBB notes there are 521 complaints filed against Jawbone and 190 that haven't been responded to.

How Jawbone is handling its exit "isn't responsible," Gartner analyst Angela McIntyre says.

A Jawbone spokesperson had no comment.

"I hate Jawbone," says Melissa Camman, 48, who works at a garden center in Utica, N.Y. "I am so mad at them."

She has three dead Jawbone fitness trackers and has been trying to get a response from customer service since November, via phone, email and Twitter. She finally heard from the company Monday with an automated email.

"Over the past few months, we've been transitioning to a simpler care experience," the email, shown to USA TODAY, said. "These changes took longer than expected, but we're excited to share they're now complete and we are ready to address your request. Our records show you contacted us with a support request between November 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017. If you still need assistance, please click the button below to submit your updated request."

Camman did just that but has yet to hear back.

Last week, tech industry website The Information reported on the liquidation proceedings, saying co-founder and CEO Hosain Rahman is starting a new company to make health-related hardware and software services. The Information says the new firm will take care of customer service. Jawbone has just yet to show any sign of that yet.

The demise followed years of reports the San Francisco start-up, once valued at $3 billion and the beneficiary of $950 million in venture capital funding, according to Pitchbook, was on shaky ground. Jawbone had been locked in a heated battle with Fitbit for the wearables market, with products that help you count daily steps and track sleep.

But Fitbit has been way ahead. In 2016, Fitbit shipped 22.3 million devices, and McIntyre guesses Jawbone saw "less than 20% of that." Gartner estimates 34.7 million fitness trackers were sold last year, including from companies such as Garmin and Samsung.

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July 11, 2017
 
 
 

 

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