Jawbone's act of customer confidence, which gave UP bracelet owners an opportunity to receive full refunds and keep the product, has earned the company $40 million in funds from a new group of influential investors.
Jawbone's act of customer confidence, which gave UP bracelet owners an opportunity to receive full refunds and keep the product, has earned the company $40 million in funds from a new group of influential investors. Courtesy/Jawbone.com

Many owners of the new Jawbone UP fitness band, which can track exercise and sleep patterns, have grown frustrated with their new purchases, reporting issues with charging, syncing, and in some cases, complete and utter failure.

Jawbone's CEO Hosain Rahman swiftly responded in a company blog post, explaining the technical errors of the wristband but stating Jawbone would offer full refunds to purchasers of the product. What's more is that Jawbone is even letting these unhappy customers keep their wristbands, in addition to getting their money back.

We recognize that this product has not yet lived up to everyone's expectations - including our own - so we're taking action: The UP No Questions Asked Guarantee, Rahman said. This means that for whatever reason, or no reason at all, you can receive a full refund for UP. This is true even if you decide to keep your UP band. We are so committed to this product that we're offering you the option of using it for free.

The refund program begins Dec. 9, and applies to any UP band that was bought from a Jawbone retailer in 2011. The refund program will end on Dec. 31, 2012.

For most of you, this program is simply meant to offer peace of mind, Rahman said. Please continue to enjoy your UP band and keep sharing your experience with us. If you encounter any problems with your UP band, contact Jawbone directly for your choice of a replacement and/or refund under this program. It's that simple.

Jawbone's refund program is a bold move on the company's part, but Rahman would never let customers keep their products and their money unless he truly believed that he was offering a valuable service.

Jawbone remains deeply committed to addressing all issues with UP, investing in the category and giving our customers the tools to live a healthier life, Rahman wrote. We've temporarily paused production of UP bands and will begin taking new orders once these issues have been sorted out. In the meantime, we'll continue to release app updates for existing customers.

Jawbone said it will release an update for the UP wristband in the coming weeks, but Rahman explained that Jawbone has found the source of most of the wristband's failures.

With your help, we've found an issue with two specific capacitors in the power system that affects the ability to hold a charge in some of our bands, Rahman said. We're also fixing an issue with syncing related to the band hardware. Typically, these issues surface within the first seven to 10 days of use. The glitches are purely performance related and do not pose any safety risk.

When the Jawbone UP actually works, the stylish wristband can record your footsteps and provide a visual report of your activity via its iOS application. Activity reminders programmed into the band, for either waking up or any reason you could think of, gently vibrate your wrist, reminding you to get up and move around. If you wear the wristband to bed, UP can monitor your sleep schedules and give you rich graphs of light and deep sleep.

Unfortunately, most bands have been experiencing several problems, particularly with the Activity Reminders function. Users have complained that the band vibrates even when no reminders are set, but worse than that, customers have complained of the wristband's failure to hold a charge. Many bands have reportedly bricked completely, and bricked for good.

We regret any disappointment we've created for our community of users and appreciate the trust you've put in us, Rahman said. The fact that you've taken the time to walk with us and help us make a better product is simply phenomenal. Our customers have always been part of our team and we're incredibly grateful for that.

Please know that we're doing - and will continue to do - everything we can to make things right. This is just the beginning for UP and we are excited to keep improving until we realize the powerful vision of what this category can be. If there is absolutely anything else we can do for you, please let us know.

Rahman's thoughtful apology is exactly the kind of response that other companies should learn from. Jawbone, which produces several other Bluetooth-friendly devices and audio accessories, could have easily ignored the issues, released software updates and hope that the problems just go away. Any other company might have done exactly that, but not Jawbone.

Jawbone's actions speak louder than its CEO's words, but Rahman comes out of this potentially prickly problem smelling like roses. The fact that Jawbone is willing to refund the product is a nice gesture, but giving customers the option to get their money back and keep the product is brilliant.

It's not like Jawbone is recalling a Livestrong bracelet only worth a few bucks; the Jawbone UP sells for $99.99 and is a state-of-the art technology device, despite its bugs, which could transform the way we keep track of our health.

Jawbone's actions say two things about the company: That it completely trusts the vision behind its products, which puts existing customers at ease, and also that Jawbone trusts its customers completely. Rahman's response to the situation, which is apologetic and sincere, ensures a healthy new batch of Jawbone owners in early 2012.

Companies have a lot to learn about customer service, but Rahman clearly knows the golden rule, and exercised it in his No Questions Asked guarantee: The customer is always right.