WakeMate Delays Initial Shipment, Makes Moves To Appease Upset Customers

Your groggy mornings aren’t over yet. A few months ago we wrote about WakeMate, a Y Combinator-funded startup that makes a small gadget designed to help you sleep better. Last time we talked to them, the WakeMate team had a planned ship date of January 25. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Yesterday, the WakeMate team sent an Email to the thousands of customers who had pre-ordered the device (which included a $5 down payment) to inform them that they wouldn’t be getting their WakeMates on schedule.  Now the first batch of orders will ship “as early as next month”.  But when I asked if the WakeMate team had an idea when the majority of customers would be receiving their devices, they said they were reluctant to give an estimate since they want to avoid disappointing people again. In other words, it may be a while.

The WakeMate device, which costs $50, consists of a small wristband that you wear during the night. It tracks your movements throughout the night, which you can analyze from your computer, and can also work in tandem with your phone alarm to wake you up in the lightest phase of sleep (which is supposed to help eliminate grogginess). There are competitors in this space, like the Zeo Sleep Coach, but WakeMake is about $200 cheaper.

Dru Wynings has posted the Email in its entirety. The reason for the delay? WakeMate says it wanted to make more improvements:

We’ve experienced numerous breakthroughs over these short months. We’ve improved our hardware by leaps and bounds, making it sleeker, smarter and more efficient by taking advantage of the latest technological developments. We’ve also researched new and better algorithms to power our sleep analytics software which will further increase the accuracy and usefulness of your WakeMate. Unfortunately, these improvements have taken time. While this means we will not be shipping the first batch of WakeMates on the 25th as planned, when we do you’ll be getting a much better product!

WakeMate’s letter stirred up quite a bit of unrest among users who had preordered, in part because WakeMate offered access to premium analytics features as compensation for the delay. That would be all well and good, but users who ordered before now were not informed that they would have to pay for premium subscriptions to unlock the full potential of the device.

WakeMate says that the premium features referred to are actually in addition to the features they had previously announced, so customers aren’t dealing with a bait and switch. But in light of the confusion caused, today they’re sending users a follow up Email to announce that all pre-order customers will have access to all premium software features free of charge.

Here’s the second Email, which will be going out this afternoon, in its entirety:

Sorry guys!

In our our previous email we warned about a delay in shipping
WakeMates to our pre-order customers. To compensate customers for
the delay we proposed to give them some future premium features for
free. Unfortunately we weren’t clear enough about this, and some
customers thought it was an attempt to charge them more.

So let’s try this again:

1. The current delay is due entirely to changes in our hardware and
software, and manufacturing issues caused by the volume of orders
we’ve received; it is in no way related to the development of premium

2. Regardless of future premium add-ons, customers who have pre-ordered
WakeMates will never have to pay to use online analytics, nor will
any customer receive an inferior product for not doing so. We
apologize for giving the impression that anyone might.

3. We hope we will be able to start shipping the first units next
month, but since we’re still learning the ropes of large-volume
manufacturing, we don’t want to make any promises we’re not sure
we can keep. We appreciate your patience and we’ll keep you updated.

4. To make up for the frustration and confusion, we’re going to
give all pre-order customers all future premium software features
free of charge.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email
preorder@wakemate.com directly.

Sincere apologies for the confusion,

The WakeMate Team

Delays are nothing new when it comes to startups that are building hardware. Fitbit, a startup that makes a exercise-tracking gadget, took a year to launch after its debut at TechCrunch50, and new customers still face lengthy waits to receive their devices.

Image by HilaryAQ.