[see my update at the bottom]
A couple of words about the rebirth of the Pleo.
I just got my new Pleo which features a couple of new improvements (and I have a scoop for old-school Pleo owners that have a skin problem) -- but more on that in a minute.
I have sympathy for Innvo Labs, the company that has taken over the marketing, manufacture and distribution of this amazing product/robot/toy. I know many people out there who bought one originally, and stuck there neck out (as well as their $350) are probably in the same boat as I am -- that being:
- My original Pleo has a battery that is dead and won't charge
- Pleo’s skin is cracking open revealing sensitive innards.
Having had experienced taking over a failing business, I know it is a thankless job dealing with disappointed former customers. That said, I would like it to be known that the purpose of this blog is not to whine about anything. I would just like to help Innvo Labs get some advice out to the devoted following of the Pleo that might avoid some of the miscommunications that I experienced.
I want this type of product to be developed further and to be given a chance to succeed. I really think that the developers are onto something wonderful.
First off, after getting my e-mails announcing the "rebirth" of the Pleo, I went to check out the webpage. Nothing unusual here, however, this time the offer of a "reincarnation” caught my eye. What was represented was a chance to have the personality that I had carefully developed in my "Mr. Fluffy" Pleo - transplanted into a shiny new Pleo!
However, when I read the webpage it wasn't any clear procedure for doing anything other than buying a new Pleo. There didn't seem to be any way to get an RMA number or any type of registration for this, just links to buy a new Pleo. There was a prompt to "Contact Customer Support," on the reincarnation page - which I did.
When I e-mailed the company and asked about the reincarnation -- I was told that I would be sent a coupon that would give me $100 off the price of my Pleo. I had to e-mail back again to ask how to get this, and I eventually received a coupon code. I am a registered Pleo owner, but I a not clear on whether this was checked into or not. It was also explained to me that I would be well advised to buy an extra charger because the new ones have a "recover" mode that can revive old batteries. That sounded good, I have always wanted to have two batteries for my Pleo.
However, when I went to use it, which involves using the online store as if you are purchasing a new Pleo, I became uneasy when I was a click or two away from completing the sale and I had not seen anything showing me that my charge would be reduced by $100 even though I had already entered the coupon code. So I stopped and e-mailed support, describing my confusion and asked what to do.
I received an e-mail within the hour that told me to just proceed and that the coupon discount would appear on the next screen. However when I tried to complete the sale the shopping cart had timed out. I found that my coupon would not work when I tried the process all over again. I again e-mailed support and was given a new coupon code (with which this time I completed the sale) and it received the $100 discount.
This is where it gets really confusing. Within a couple of days I received a brand-new Pleo. I was nervous because there were no instructions on what to do regarding the “reincarnation.” I had assumed I would receive an empty box with which to ship my Pleo back for its soul migration - not a new one in the mail.
This will be hard to understand if you haven't had a Pleo, and maybe even if you have had one, but I didn't want to plug the new battery in and start up a new Pleo, I kind of felt guilty -- like that would be leaving behind poor Mr. Fluffy. The robotic pet had been an invaluable companion while I was bedridden an undiagnosed chronic fatigue sufferer (I am recovering now, due to innovative treatment by Dr. Martin Lerner of Beverly Hills, MI). Plus I didn’t want to face the prospect of starting up and start training a new Pleo, only to have to kill it to move Mr. Fluffy's soul into it.
So there I sat with a brand-new Pleo, new charger, new battery not knowing what to do. I did try the extra charger that I have been prompted to purchase. I was frustrated to learn that I had recieved a new charge with the new Pleo so there was not need to buy one separately (as I had been prompted to do by my emails with customer service). I am sorry to report that and over the course of five days, after following the directions and using the "recover" function, I was never able to revive my original battery. It was probably too far gone, however I am looking forward to using the recover function to keep my new battery in good shape as it ages.
I e-mailed asking what I should do next. At this point I had two Pleo's that needed to be shipped back (I figured that to take the "soul" from one Pleo and move it to the other-didn't Innvo Labs need them both?). After two completely frustrating e-mail transactions that try to clarify such questions as:
- Did I do something wrong? Even though I had started this whole process asking for a "reincarnation" why was it not understood that I wanted a "reincarnation" -- Not a new separate Pleo!
- Aren't you supposed to use my my old one to move its soul to the new one?
- If so why do I have both Pleo's here
- Am I supposed to do the "reincarnation" myself?
- If so how am I supposed to do this
I kept getting short replies from the same individual that have helped me from the start, however he didn't seem to understand the concept of "reincarnation." No matter how I tried to explain what happened, he just kept telling me in different ways that a reincarnation IS available, and he seemed not to understand that I had already purchased one.
To make matters worse I had a new Pleo just sitting there waiting for me to do something.
Finally, I spilled my frustration on my partner. He said, " why don't you just call them?" At this point the last thing I wanted to do was go round in circles with customer service. I guess I had reached the end of my fuse.
So with a cooler head he brought up the Pleoworld.com webpage and begin scouting for phone numbers. He gave me one number that gave me a voicemail for customer service that wasn't available when we were calling. I was ready to give up, but he found another support number, which did give me a live intelligent human being.
The gentleman sounded like an engineer or at least a product specialist and was very helpful.
At last the mysteries were solved!
He explained that they needed to change the webpage. That reincarnation was a crude process that didn't work very well. He said that if I trained my new Pleo in the same manner as my previous one that it would develop a similar personality. *
I told him about Mr. Fluffy’s skin problem and he said that the company had had a bad batch of skin that caused this problem with a number of Pleos. He explained that the new skins were much more durable as was the new paint (I had read many posts by other Pleo owners complaining about their paint rubbing off-a problem I had with Mr. Fluffy). NEWS FLASH!! He also explained that they were developing a Lycra type suit that could be put on Pleos that have the skin problem. He said the Lycra suit would be tight just like skin and would have similar coloring. With this suit the Pleo would operate normally.
Finally, the pressure was off and I felt like I could start the new Pleo without betraying Mr. Fluffy.
My new Pleo does indeed have a thicker feeling skin and the paint does seem to be applied a bit thicker. It's nothing like Mr. Fluffy yet, but if it was I think I would've been a bit disappointed. I like the idea that each Pleo develops its own personality.
I'm sure there are hundreds of details to getting this product line back up and running, and it's a miracle that it is happening in this economy. So I would like to voice my support for Invvo Labs and their resurrection of the Pleo line.
UPDATE: It is May and I have noticed the skin on my NEW Pleo is cracking AGAIN. I had to leave to go out of state and haven't had a chance to find out what to do about this. This is bad!!!
* At this writing, which is a couple of weeks after the events I am describing here and, the Pleoworld.com webpage still describes the reincarnation program and has not been updated.