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My Summer Infant video monitor experience (fail)

2011-12-15

This is a tale of consumer experience and a formal venting of my frustrations with our Summer monitoring solutions.

About 18 months ago, we had a baby. Joy, frustrations, cute, poop, sleeplessness, etc. When we decided to move the baby to a location more than a few inches away from one of us, it became clear that a video monitor was a must have. The technology is there, it is not terribly expensive, and it surprasses the audio-only experience to a great degree. After cautiously reviewing Amazon ratings and the myriad baby item review sites, we came to the conclusion that Summer offers the best product for the price. They have nice features (remote camera direction/zoom capabilities, pairing multiple video cameras to a single monitor, digital transmission, and color displays), and they were constantly on sale somewhere.

We found a great deal on the BestView Handheld Color Video Monitor. Knowing that we could get another video camera later, and that the batteries are standard rechargeable batteries (that were cheap and easy to replace when they stopped holding a sufficient charge), we pulled the trigger on this purchase and didn't look back. That is, until we were 'blessed' with our second bundle of joy not long after.

In general, we were completely pleased with the BestView. The rechargeable batteries slowly diminished, but we could count on it lasting for at least the day. As I mentioned, when it came to needing a charge more than once a day (we kept it plugged in at night), we purchased new rechargeable AA-sized batteries, and the device was like new again. The batteries were around $20.00 from Summer directly, and we found them for $7 from either Amazon or all-battery.com (just be sure you get the same capacity). So, happy with our video monitor, we patted ourselves on the back and decided to purchase a second video camera for our monitor. Queue let-down music.

Summer changed their product line and no longer sold a video camera compatible with our device. Now, I could understand this occurring over the course of time, but the BestView was an multiple-award winner in 2010 (when we purchased it), and in January/February of 2011, when we were looking for a second video camera, it was not available from Summer. If you locate reviews on major retailers, the primary complaints about this monitor and its successor's cameras is the lack of compatibility. At this point, oh well. They changed their product lines, they want us to buy the new version if we need multiple video cameras at this point.

So we purchased a BabyTouch Digital Video Monitor from Summer. After all, this was brand new, Summer was obviously updating their product lines around the new monitors, so we should be safe for at least a few years. And the last video monitor from Summer was a good purchase, we were happy with the product itself. Our only frustration was that when we wanted to expand with an additional video camera, the products were no longer available. The BabyTouch: at a glance, everything seems nice. Lower profile monitor, lower profile video camera, touch screen, it even has an intercom.

After using the BabyTouch for only a short time, you realize that smartphone-syndrome affects any and all touch-screen-type devices. The bigger the monitor, the more advanced the features, the harder they are on battery life. From day 1, the BabyTouch rarely made it an entire day without requiring a charge. I'll admit we we weren't as dilligent as we could have been in turning it off when not in use, but with 2 young children on different sleep cycles, it was in use a good deal of the time (though we were attentive to turning off the screen when we weren't actually viewing it). So battery life sucks. Oh, and Summer decided it would be a good idea to use a non-standard battery pack, so no more cheap replacement batteries. The clip on the back is also far inferior to the clip on the BestView, as such, the BabyTouch finds itself in pockets a lot. What happens to a touch screen with no unlock feature when it's in your pocket? It turns on. And you pocket-manipulate the camera (which makes noise in the room where child was sleeping), and you drain the battery by having the screen on, and you change the camera that you're monitoring, and you manipulate the brightness settings. And the power button? Don't get me started on this. I can understand forcing the user to hold down the power button to turn the device off, but why do I need to hold down the power button (for a full few seconds) in order to turn my device on? One final minor nag, and I can't remember if the BestView suffered from this issue or not (I didn't think so, but I can't find details on it, and I no longer have the monitor to check), the BabyTouch doesn't persist any settings. It would be nice if when I turn it on, I didn't have to turn the volume way down, and reselect the camera I was previously monitoring.

So with my new pocket full of minor complaints and a lingering frustration with the fact that we had to purchase a new monitor and two cameras, instead of just the second camera that we had planned to purchase, I continued on my merry (sleepless) way. And then the fun started. As battery life continued to diminish (we've only had the device for two months now), we occasionally found that the monitor was simply turning off. "How often do you restart the device?" "How much battery was left?" "Blah blah blah..." I understand how electronics devices work, and it wasn't turning off because the battery was dead. The device just sporadically powered down. This is NOT what I was looking for in a baby monitor. And then the final blow - this morning the device powered down on it's own, and now it doesn't power on.

One more frustration to add to the pile. Whatever, at this point I've written Summer off of my preferred product manufacturer list anyway (even though they still offer the best features for the price in video monitors). And it does not really matter, we've only had this device for a couple months, surely they will replace it. And so it gets better (worse).

Summer will replace the monitor, but only after they receive the defective unit. Now, parents out there on these tubes that comprise the internet, let that settle. I have just realized that my already frustrating and lack-luster monitor is no longer functioning. I call the manufacturer, and they say something to the effect of, "Sure, we'll replace that. We just need to receive the defective unit first. We will overnight return packaging, and you can expect your replacement in 7-10 days." You've got to be F-ing kidding me. A baby monitor. That monitors my baby. 7-10 days? You can't overnight me the replacement and then upon receiving a mangled or functional origin device, just charge me for the device you shipped? Who designed this system, and what sort of customer service/satisfaction numbers are they targeting?

Summer, welcome to the wonderful world of epic customer service fail. At this point I would gladly pay the extra cost for a competitor's sub-par product, just to have that product: A) work. and B) receive reasonable support given the product and the services it entails. Summer, I will no longer be recommending your monitors to anyone, congratulations.

9 Responses to My Summer Infant video monitor experience (fail)

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9 Comments

  • My experience was very more UGLY. With an 0229 model, with less than a month of use, it started to fail. No video, just audio!
    Call to summer... no warranty if you bought in USA and take off the camera to outside US.
    Well... flickered video, sometimes no vieo, sometimes you press the LEDS in the fornt of te camera and start to work... but sometimes NO VIDEO is possible... afff... Summer was a very bad election for us.
    Now the camera and moinitor is in the black-forgetted room... no using it! :( Money wasted.

    #8231 | Comment by Dennis M on Mar 12, 2012 09:26am
  • I'm impressed that customer service even answered the phone or was ever able to be contacted! I bought a monitor at Target that never worked, and target said call Summer and summer never answers so I have a $139 paperweight.

    #8523 | Comment by Robin on Apr 22, 2012 01:28am
  • @Robin - Since I wrote this post, we've also had to replace an AC adapter (for the camera). When we talked to Summer, it seemed like it was a regular issue. It may be worth finding a 3rd party replacement AC adapter - if your camera is the one that doesn't seem to be working.

    That said, I'll likely be going with a Dropcam setup as soon as I encounter any other issues with my Summer products.

  • It SO amazing u pay $200 for a monitor, and not even two years later the video doesn't work! Was this made cheaply in china??? This is so ridiculous, we bought this so we could SEE our daughter! The plug in charger stopped charging after a year and have been having to use rechargeable batteries, inconvient but what else could we do. This really is unacceptable, we cant pay this kind of money for a new monitor when technology these days is outrageously overpriced for plastic crap...

    #8549 | Comment by Tina on May 13, 2012 07:57am
  • You think that's bad??? I am on my fourth monitor. We also have the Baby Touch monitor system. We got it our first one in September of 2011. After about 3 months, the screen stayed black and it just wouldn't turn on. No Lights, no sound. Dead. We returned it to Babies R Us after a fight because they only allow 45 days on electronic purchases. (I am a customer service rep and was very convincing). Got that one home....it lasted about six months...Same exact thing happened. I spoke to Summer direct this time. A girl named Kaitlynn in their CS team helped me out, sent me a prepaid UPS slip in my email to send it back and less than a week later, I was holding my THIRD unit.....Which then lasted about another 5 months. And once again....THE SAME THING happened to it. At this point, I am thinking I am the most unlucky person in the world or we are just doing something wrong. I call and talk to their CS team...AGAIN (I have everything on email back up too). They tell me we must be charging it too much. But agree to replace it again (at this point, we have no chance that we have exceeded the year warranty that accompanies every unit). Unfortunately though, effective April 1st...they no longer pay to have you ship the defective unit back, so I have to pay to ship this back via Fed Ex on my own dime. And once they receive my old unit, they will send a new one out. This all happened starting May 1st. I was told that I would get an email with a UPS confirmation when the new unit is one the way. A week later...still nothing. I call BACK to Summer Customer Service and ask for them to track the unit. They have no record of me shipping anything back to them. WHAT?!??? Are you freaking kidding me? SO I pull out the Fed Ex tracking number and tell them who signed for it at their facility. I am told, that is their receiving person, so they need to call me back after he is back from lunch. No call back. I call them again a few hours later. He can't find my monitor unit....but luckily I had my fed ex tracking info, so when they say to make sure you have proof you shipped it back...you better! On May 16th I finally received my replacement. Two full weeks with no baby monitor. Here we are now....monitor is plugged in for the night....and its not charging. It is stuck at 70% battery, where it will die slowly, and I will have to call them back on Monday and do this all over again. Which wouldn't be so bad...if it weren't for the fact that I am 36 weeks pregnant and will be having this baby any time now. Awesome....welcome new baby...I have no way to watch you because no doubt, I am looking at about 2 weeks before Summer will make this right...for the fifth time. I am so done with this.

    #8621 | Comment by Heather on Jun 8, 2012 08:54pm
  • I realized I was giving the monitor too much credit and had my dates too far apart (but still the same problem, just less time so that makes it worse), the first one lasted only 2 months, the second was 2 months, the third one from summer lasted about 4 months, and I just got my second one from Summer direct on May 14th. I went to Babies R Us this weekend and bought the AC adapter cord for the Slim and Secure because they don't carry the one for the Baby Touch...(they are the same exact thing, we checked in store)...and that was my problem this time...it had stopped charging because the cord was fried. So not only are the monitors crap, but so are all the accessories. So now my question is, do I call and let them know so I can get an adapter for my specific model or are they going to make me pay $10 in shipping to send back the faulty piece, when I fixed it with a $10 cord that doesn't really go to my model. So unbelievable.

    #8628 | Comment by Heather on Jun 10, 2012 08:22pm
  • I bought the 02290 Sleek and Slim Handheld becauseI could add up to 3 more cameras to this system as my child became more mobile and needed monitoring in any room in the house. That was April 2011 its now September 2012 and they have also discontinued my model which means I can no longer purchase additional cameras. It should state on the package along with the feature of additional cameras "if purchased within 6 months" because after that it seems like you cant get anything additional. They were however so kind to offer me a new model for $109.00 under the customer appreciation policy. NO THANKS! I wouldnt buy another Summer Infant monitor or recomend them to anyone!

    #10494 | Comment by Kelly on Sep 17, 2012 01:30pm
  • I'll add to the discussion that our second Baby Touch bit the dust a couple days ago (after about 6 months of functionality). We shipped it back to Summer so that they can send us another replacement. Of course, you have to ship it to them first, then they send a replacement.

  • Desperately hoping someone here might be able to help. We were blessed with our second child two months ago. I tried to purchase the second camera for my summer infant slim and secure. Discontinued- which now seems to be no surprise reading everyone elses comments. I bought a whole new slim and secure thinking I could connect the second camera to my first- FAIL! Nor can I use them as to seperate video monitors because they interfere. Are any of you successfully using two video monitors??? I have a 19month old and an almost 2 month old. I would like video monitors on both. Is this possible?

    #10631 | Comment by Katy on Oct 12, 2012 12:08pm

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