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I’m Watch? Try I’m “Ripping You Off” Watch

Getting ripped off on the internet is nothing new, people have it happening to them every day on eBay and the likes however when it happens to you it makes you stand up and pay attention.

On this occasion it hasn’t happened to me, thankfully, however it has happened to a very good friend of mine and that along with some terribly poor communications from myself to Italian newcomer I’m Watch has prompted me to highlight the issues customers are facing.

It’s worth noting that I am not angry that we didn’t get a review unit like promised by I’m Watch, at Land of Droid we often don’t get review units, this is the nature of the review industry. This is more to raise awareness of a company with very unethical practices.

Lets start off at the beginning then, the new comer burst onto the scent with an amazing looking product and ahead of Sony and Motorola in the smartwatch field too. Not only was this watch innovative, it actually looked good too.

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When they first announced the watch I personally was very excited and contacted their PR team for a review unit, infact this was in July of 2011 (yep that long ago) to which I was advised that there would be review stock available after they attended an Expo however after no review unit appeared I contacted them to ask if all was OK and express that I felt they could communicate with people a little better. It’s worth noting at this point (November) that pre-orders were live.

The response from their Press team came back:

Dear John,

I’m really disappointed in reading your email, cause we get in touch many times by email. I’m forwarding you below some of our correspondence dated 24.10.11 (this is the last one)

The reason why i havn’t replied to your email of November is because I’ve never received it. I’ve searched on the mail and I’ havn’t found. Probably it has been detected by the antispam.

As per our correspondence,  I’m used to reply to all the email I read and receive. And i’m connected real time to the emails also at 2.30 am, as today. and for me it’s a pleasure to send all the infos to the press.

That been said, the reason why the company didn’t decide to send out the units in November, right after the Arm conference, is because they realized that i’mWatch should be improved in terms of technology and apps.

They prefer to postpone the testing in January right after the CEs event, the official launch.

Now all the team is in Las Vegas (presentation was yeaterday) and the samples collection is there.

Next week they will be back and I will have a meeting to understand the delivery procedures they want to adopt.

Hope to have clarified.

Jump a few months forward to January 20th and I’m Watch is officially unveiled at CES where it wins the Innovations Award and again heightens its pre-orders and hype.

Still no review unit.

Fast-forward a little to the 7th of February, my friend orders one via the pre-order system on the I’m Watch website and is charged immediately:

Dear [Name Ommited], we are pleased to inform you that your order is being processed. In order to receive your i’m Watch, please perform the next steps to complete the payment by clicking on the link below: http://www.imshop.it/payoff.php?[url ommited] For further information and/or receive assistance during the transaction feel free to contact us at assistance@imwatch.it or by phone +39 02 92958778. We will be at your disposal. Thank you and best regards,

Fast-forward again to 16th of May, by this time I had given up hope if ever receiving a review unit and forgot all about them whereas my friend got another email from the team:

Dear Customer, we appreciate the patience you’ve shown so far regarding the delivery of i’m Watch. We are aware that you have encountered some inconveniences and that, above all, you were not able to use a device that grows every day further interest around the world.

Unfortunately we have verified once more the validity of that saying: "The best is the enemy of the good!"
What do we mean?

We want to tell you today with great transparency and humbleness that, not only have we met all the difficulties of an extremely innovative and ambitious project (and the unforeseen events that have surpassed any logical expectation), but we have especially given into the temptation of implementing some modifications in order to increase and improve the adaptability of i’m Watch towards the future development of technology (for example, enabling it to handle a larger number of apps than initially expected). All of these factors brought us to lose precious time and, particularly, has prevented us from providing you some certain dates for the delivery.

But we are now able to define them as follows, taking into account that we intend to conduct a last serious testing program with our customers:

1) By June 15th we will provide i’m Watch to a group of 300 customers, who will cooperate with us for a final and ultimate check, to be completed by July 15th. We will ask them to give regular feedback on their experience, which will be reported in a public blog on the website www.imwatch.it in order to allow you to follow its evolution as well.

2) Starting July 15th we will begin to ship the product to all those who have an unsent order. We expect to fulfill the delivery for all current orders within and no later than September 15th.

Given that we understand that you might have lost interest in the purchase, we decided to offer you the following possibilities:

• Giving up the purchase and requesting an immediate refund of the paid amount, providing by July 15th an e-mail to the following address, if you are residing in Italy: assistenza.italia@imwatch.it, or to the following: assistance.world@imwatch.it if you are residing abroad.
• If instead you are willing to wait until the expected date of delivery, you will receive at the delivery a 15% discount on the price paid.

We thank you for your cooperation, very confident that i’m Watch will fully meet your expectations.
Best regards.

Manuel Zanella and Massimiliano Bertolini President and CEO of i’m Spa

Now let’s not forget this is 4 month since my friend placed his order and maybe even 6 for others who ordered in November 2011 when pre-orders when live.

The use of words like “extremely innovative and ambitious project” make it sound like they didn’t even have a product to sell but more of a concept of a project and a few prototypes yet here they were selling them to costumers… and not for low prices either, the cheapest I’m Watch is the I’m Colour variant which is 299 Euros.

Of course even with me saying they had a prototype they were now saying they were going to ship out 300 I’m Watch’s to customers “who will cooperate with us for a final and ultimate check, to be completed by July 15th. We will ask them to give regular feedback on their experience, which will be reported in a public blog on the website www.imwatch.it in order to allow you to follow its evolution as well.”

whoa! wait up! So you are shipping devices which people have paid the full retail value of only for them to be testers? Should this not have been done pre-go-live or even earlier?

So what where I’m Watch telling these customers?

Dear Customer,

we would like to inform you that we started shipment of the first 300 i’m Watch today, 15th June 2012. These 300 units will allow 300 customers (selected by earliest reservation dates) to take part to the smartwatch final test.

In the following days, you may visit support.imwatch.it where you can find all comments and queries concerning the features and operation of the i’m Watch. So, you will become part of the validation process, keeping track of all comments and news released by our staff.

On this occasion we would also like to inform you that regular shipments of all other orders will start from 12th July 2012, as planned. Finally then, you are about to receive your i’m Watch and, as we promised, 15% bonus on your purchase order.

Thank you again for choosing i’m Watch and for your trust and support in this project.

Manuel Zanella and Massimiliano Bertolini

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of i’m S.p.A.

Yep, customers who paid the full money were now part of a feedback project and despite getting 15% off their order (44.85 euros) they still didn’t have a finished product.

Now at June 18th and I’m Watch post a new item on their support site:

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The 300 testers now had a place to file bug reports and read the latest news or download updates to the device (again, is this really after sales stuff?).

It’s worth noting that the device still couldn’t access a market or handle SMS notifications at this point (eh, the point of the watch no?) 

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Move forward 7 days now to the 25th of June and I’m watch release their first software update focussing on”better in call audio quality” and “reducing resume from sleep delay” but still no sign of a market or SMS notifications.

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So how were they progressing with the other bugs on this retail watch?

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Seems like there are quite a few though to be honest and in their defence, being a software tester myself, there are always a lot of bugs post go live with any new software.

I decided to contact I’m Watch PR again to see what was happening and express again my disappointment in communications

Dear John, 

where did you read that we started shipping the watches?

We published an official communications that states exactly the "art of work" . Only 300 selected customers (that pre-ordered the product) received the watch for testing. Below you can find the official press release written by the 2 founders.

ANY samples has been sent to press yet, as we don’t want to influence customers while testing the product. Customers, that has waited long time to receive the watch and it’s reasonable to have doubts or concerns. But we are totally so sure about the product realized that we decided to create a public forum where people and real customers can say if the product is worth or not. I think you can imagine the risk for a company to activate this strategy completely uncommon.

So to sum up, selected customers who pre-ordered this smart watch were now part of a QA team who processed bug reports for the company, the remainder who pre-ordered have to wait until maybe September before getting their devices even though the company have had their money for almost a year by that point.

If you want my advice, and please remember that it is my advice then you will stay well clear of this company who have obviously went down the same route as Pebble by getting money first and shipping later with the major difference being that at least Pebble done it the right way through Kickstarter.

Shame on you I’m Watch, just glad I’m Not A Customer

About John McKenzie

John is the Editor-in-Chief here and considers himself a connoisseur of all chocolate deep fried (such as the Mars Bar) and Irn Bru. Based just outside of Glasgow in Scotland he is married with 3 young daughters and has always carried a passion for writing technology news since his early days writing as a reviewer and news writer on tracyandmatt.co.uk. You can get in touch with John by emailing john@landoftechnology.com
  • Charles Coughlan

    Will be interesting to see their response to this thread 
    https://www.facebook.com/imwatch?ref=ts

    Seems like your friend is not alone

  • Reptar

    It’s a good thing you’re doing, warning people who might be interested in preordering this product. There is the potential that nothing is being done by the company; maybe not even those 300 devices have been shipped out. Maybe there aren’t any physical devices ready yet.

    Honestly it’s my first time hearing about this company and this product, so forgive me if I’m completely off-base here, but maybe they’re being truthful. If you give them the benefit of the doubt, their announcements and schedule all fit. They may have given out test samples to the 300 people, and they may ship out the final products to them along with the rest of the people who preordered starting mid-July.

    To say it’s a rip-off at this point in time seems to be jumping the gun. Of course, they may drag this on for quite a while (not saying it hasn’t been a while already), saying they found unexpected problems during this final test, more testing, more problems and so on… However, they did provide an avenue for those who feel they can’t wait, or trust, anymore. They’ve provided a process to get a refund.

    Now, that in itself might get you going through hoops but I think, at the least, that avenue needs to be explored before you can call this whole thing a ripoff.

    Of course you have the right to feel that their process is wrong. You can think that they should have a competent quality assurance team; they shouldn’t use their customers as a free qa team. You can think that they shouldn’t take the money first… But I think these two points brings out the explanations themselves. This company probably just didn’t have the resources. To think that a qa team of a smaller size will be able to do as good a job in the same amount of time as 300 real-life users is preposterous… Especially if they don’t have the money to hire a bunch of competent testers.

    The preorder money that they received could have been used In the same way as they are used in kick starter projects — to kickstart the project.

    As for the review devices, I don’t think that really comes into play here. They may feel there’s still work to be done and they may feel their current 300 testers shouldn’t be influenced in any way. It’s really up to them.

    But really, to me, reading only what’s been written here, it does seem fishy. If I had been thinking of preordering one, I’d probably have decided to wait for further positive action from this company. But I wouldn’t write this off as a ripoff — not yet.

  • Bilal Arif Bawany

    hi…i have been been part of this process since June of last year and seems like you just summed up one year of my life…:-)

    anyway, i happen to be one of the 300 testers and received my i’m Color little over a week ago…

    i must say there are a lot of bugs in the software and some issues in the hardware itself…i am constantly submitting bugs, feature requests and general inquiries…

    reading this i might write a review for the watch myself…

    • Nitrowing

      I pre-ordered this device as soon as it went ‘live’ but have had nothing but the odd nonsense email.
      They even closed my ticket as their site changed….
      …but what is really getting me angry is their emails offering me a discount on the purchase of more devices!!
      They haven’t even sent me 1 yet and they think I’m stupid enough to buy more??

  • Bilal Arif Bawany

    @e44d24f79abb4c87ef55b75c1bbdecb1:disqus …
    I am note sure if I will be receiving a final product on top of the one i have…they haven’t made any such commitment…

    i originally assumed that if it’s software testing only then the first batch of watches would be identical to the production batch…but considering the issues i am having with mine, i i think i’m stuck now…

    however, i am going to bring this up with them…

    thanks

  • Pincopallino

    I wish I could have read your article way before today. I fully prepaid one of those watches. They never supply a Real status of shipping dates. Also, they are keep repeating that will ship: first on July, then on Septembre, and…at the present, still no answer. I think customer should treat this guys like a scammer company… everybody should organize and, togheter, request full refounds of all the money invested of these imaginary product.

    I am extremely disappointed on how they managed all this new project release; what I’ve learned of all is : NEVER BE THE FIRST TO INVEST…

  • moe22

    I have recieved my i’m watch on September 14 after a long and hard wait. Continuous emails with no reply and calls being answered by people who are almost unaware of what i’m calling about, they only have one product lol. this article very much relates to me. i ordered october 2011 so it was a painful wait for me! but i love my watch never the less ! its a great watch lacking many feature but great potential in acquiring!

  • Rgfly

    I have received my watch today, I waited so long for the device that I actually forgot I had ordered it until DHL delivered today.

    I work with some of the larger Chinese manufacturers of devices and can say that this interface reminds me of the low quality (sub 50usd) android 2.2 devices I have seen sold in India/China.

    Lack of App support is going to be its biggest problem, I do not know anyone who uses Voice/SMS nowadays so unless they get some whatsapp (or LINE in Asia) support I think its a pretty useless tool for communication. It needs more effort spent on selling the idea to developers and less time on changing colours and designs.

  • Doni Isnawan

    your case is same my case, i have order it from feb until today I don’t get my watch, when I try to confirm by tiket they just answer me “you should wait 15 day’s again” and in october I ask they again and not get answer and my tiket has been closed
    as a company they don’t have responbility with they statement
    Anyone contact FBI or CIA?

  • dmh

    I got my i’m watch come. Its a great idea with better things to come for it. So far I’m happy and I’m thinking of buying another one.

  • Guest

    I’m still waiting for any response from I’m Watch. I shelled out almost $600 USD back in December of 2011… I get no answers and no response to my attempts to get a full refund… next it to my friend the lawyer that will file a suit.

  • Argyle

    Don’t deal with these people. They are scam artists who take your money and send you nothing and don’t respond to any emails. The most incompetent and disgraceful company I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. I would rather have given my hard earned money to a worthy charity, but it looks like these crooks have scammed me out of 300 euros! Not happy!

  • Monica

    I Ordered the watch on 31st of July. I was so excited to buy this watch.

    Their Shipping time is 8 to 10 weeks. They finally shipped it on 12th of October. Now it is lying in the same city in Italy with DHL as imwatch people are not providing the necessary documents for it to be shipped to the next destination (which is my country, India).
    I have been doing the follow up with DHL and imstaff via email as I cant call them.. But imstaff refuse to respond.
    I am so frustrated. I bought this watch to gift it to my Husband on his B’day. But it never came. Then I thought that it will reach by our wedding anniversary But that also didnt happen.
    On the other side DHL guys are asking me again and again to ask my shipper to provide the documents. And i cant do anything about it but write an email to them to which they don’t reply.
    Its such a waste of money and energy.
    Would’nt recommend anyone to buy it.
    Don’t know if they would even refund the amount. Not that I wanted the refund.. I wanted the watch.. but it has been a huge disappointment.

    If anyone has their contact no pls inform. I will try to call.. as the last resort.

  • Barry

    Unfortunately with my experience with this company I would advise everyone to steer well clear. It looks good but … the company overcharged me for the product, it has been delayed a couple of times already and I’m still waiting for a refund. You have been warned.

  • Cedric

    I am very sorry you had such a bad experience. I got it 1 month ago after placing it early September. I have been using it and in my opinion it’s pretty good item. It’s great doing other tasks like jogging/working-out.