HOUSTON – Whether it’s a streaming service, a food box, or a clothing service, you probably have a subscription service to something. But a lot of these businesses and subscriptions are automated and getting in touch with someone when you have a problem can be tough. One woman asked Amy Davis for help when she was stuck paying for a service and a product that didn’t work.
Customer can’t get ahold of company after purchasing subscription service
Michelle Hall ordered a tracking collar with a monthly subscription to make sure she would always be able to find her dog. The service apparently appealed to a lot of pet owners. But just like Hall, when they tried to use the collar they couldn’t get it to work and they couldn’t get help from the company.
“He is my child. My bratty child,” said Hall, introducing us to Stan.
Part Whippet bread of dog, Stan is loyal but he’s a runner.
“I literally have reoccurring nightmares that he escapes and doesn’t come back,” said Michelle Hall. “I’m not fast as a Whippet, so he’s running he chases something he’s gone.”
Worried about losing her beloved sidekick, Hall ordered this GPS-tracking Fi brand dog collar.
“So if he does escape and at least we’ll tell me where he’s at and hopefully I can go and get him and bring him home,” she said.
In December, she paid $120 for the collar and a six-month subscription. But she never could get the collar to work.
“I can’t activate a collar that I have that, I’ve purchased. I’ve already started paying for my subscription that I can’t use,” said Hall.
For weeks, Hall has tried everything to reach someone from the company.
“A lot of times, they’ll post and ‘oh, we’ll get back to you’ or ‘contact us at and they’ll give an email,’ but then it goes to nowhere. It’s just crickets.”
On social media, Hall discovered she’s not alone, other customers are having similar issues.
“Lots of issues-- lack of response, billing issues, subscription issues. I haven’t received my collar. It’s been eight weeks all sorts of crazy stuff.”
The BBB shows Fi has a B- rating, mostly with complaints from customers unable to get ahold of customer service when they have an issue.
More people having issues getting ahold of companies
Leah Napoliello with the Houston Better Business Bureau says they are seeing more complaints from people who simply can’t get in contact with companies when they have issues like these.
“Many companies are understaffed, so it is a problem we’re seeing it across the board with many different industries,” said Napoliello.
She says if you’ve messaged the company and posted on social media and still can’t get ahold of anyone, go to your bank and dispute the subscription charges.
“Also, tell them that you’re ceasing business with this company. You don’t want any future charges and hopefully, your bank will then work with you on that,” she said.
Company overwhelmed with orders
What happened with Fi is something you may see a lot of this time of year. A Fi spokesperson told us they got backlogged during the busy holiday season.
“Demand far outreached what we had expected, resulting in our customer support team receiving many more requests than expected.”
“We’ve hired a substantial class of new support agents to reinforce the existing team.”
What to know about subscription services
- Before you sign up for any subscription service you should first check ratings, reviews, and BBB complaints.
- Consider free trials to test out the company.
- But be careful, sometimes free trials come with auto-renewals.
- Make sure you know how to stop the subscription.
- You should periodically review your active subscriptions to make sure you are still using them.
Fi eventually did get Hall’s collar working. Hall did make sure they changed the start date of the subscription so she doesn’t have to pay for the weeks the collar wasn’t working. (This is a good tip if you run into a similar issue.)
Full Fi statement
“We launched the newest version of our smart dog collar, Fi Series 3, during the holiday period of 2022. Demand far outreached what we had expected, resulting in our customer support team receiving many more questions and requests than expected. This created delays for all Fi users reaching out to support for up to a few days (definitely not weeks, some customers tend to overstate delays), but we’ve been responding to tickets in the order in which they are received and the team works 7 days a week. To improve response times and prevent this from happening in the future, we’ve hired a substantial class of new support agents to reinforce the existing team, and we expect to be back to delivering same-day support as we have over the years again very soon.”