Weight Watchers CEO Apologizes…But That Isn’t Enough

The Weight Watchers CEO has apologized to the Weight Watchers community for the digital experience not going smoothly over the last week or so.  His letter is posted on the Weight Watchers Facebook page.  I appreciate his apology very much and have no doubt that it is very sincere.  At the same time, though, I don’t really think it is quite enough.  Members who have online access should receive a credit or membership extension for the days that the site and mobile app have been almost unusable.  This doesn’t personally affect me, since I am free lifetime, but I think it is warranted for those who are paying customers.

It has been no secret that I didn’t much like the beta tracker and the beta dashboard, and the problems just seemed to keep coming.

WW Beta Dashboard chat

And, the mobile app was updated and had its own problems.  That was particularly bad as it happened right at Thanksgiving, just when many of us most needed to be able to easily track.  And, the problems have continued.  Sometimes you can track a food and it vanishes.  For me, I would track something and then it seemed to multiply.  There was one morning I had a 4 point breakfast.  By the end of the day, it was showing as over 20 points!  My Activity Points were way off.  Even the math didn’t work.  I would have used X amount of my Weekly Points and it would say that I had Y Weekly Points left.  And, I’ve seen so many reports from others of even more problems.

So, yes, Weight Watchers most assuredly owed its members an apology for this horrendous roll out of the new website and the mobile app.  I appreciate the fact that Mr. Chambers did forthrightly apologize.  He stresses that they are working around the clock to improve things.

He mentions that some missing functions, such as the Recipe Builder in the phone app, will be back soon.  He points out that the ability to track Healthy Checks will be less important in the near future.  I actually kind of understand that one.  Healthy Checks were a way to track adherence to the Good Health Guidelines.  On PointsPlus, those Guidelines were a way to encourage members to eat healthy foods.  We couldn’t meet the Good Health Guidelines if we spent all of our points on junk food.

The reality is that with the new program that particular nudge is less needed.  With high sugar and high saturated fat foods so heavily penalized in Weight Watchers’ new SmartPoints, we are much more strongly encouraged to eat in a healthy manner.  So, I can understand why they might feel that the Healthy Checks aren’t needed.  Although, personally, I think it would be nice to still have that as an option.

Over the past few days, I have seen some very angry comments about Weight Watchers and the rollout of the new website and mobile app features.  I understand the frustration of members (especially online only members), who aren’t able to effectively use the website or their mobile devices to access Weight Watchers.  At the same time, I am quite sure that Weight Watchers doesn’t want everyone to have these problems.  The last thing Weight Watchers needs is a website debacle just as a new program is being rolled out.  That doesn’t excuse the problems, but I think Weight Watchers truly wants to fix them.

I also don’t think that going back to the old planner and tracker is realistic.  My understanding is that part of what Weight Watchers is doing is getting rid of using Flash.  That’s seems like a good idea to me.  And, with the new program I am sure some things need to be done differently.  So, I understand the need to update the very outdated website and to improve the mobile apps.

None of that changes the fact that I think that they could have done a much better job communicating what they were doing and explaining why certain things were being removed.  I also think that some functionality that was removed (weight graphs on the website, for example) should come back and should come back sooner, rather than later.

Still, the bigger current issue is that the site and the mobile app have been frustrating to use for days.  I have been paper tracking my Weight Watchers’ points.  Trying to figure out Activity Points has been impossible.  I am not currently a paying customer since I get free eTools as a lifetime member at goal.  But, I would be livid if I was still paying for the monthly pass or was an online member.

I really think that Weight Watchers should recognize the debacle by giving financial compensation to members. For me, the big problems with the site really started right before Thanksgiving.  I would suggest giving members a prorated credit for the period of time from then until the site and app are stable.  Another option would be to give members an extension to their membership for the number of days that the site and app haven’t been working well. That seems reasonable to me.

I play the game World of Warcraft.  I remember when the last expansion came out and there were all types of problems that occurred making the game difficult to play.  It was very frustrating, although I think it was not as bad as we’ve been experiencing with the Weight Watchers site.  Blizzard (the owner of WoW) gave players an extension of time to their game subscription in recognition of the difficulties the players experienced.  By doing this, Blizzard compensated its customers appropriately, which reflected well on it.  Weight Watchers owes its members no less.

Comments

  1. Jennifer says

    I completely agree! If fact, if they don’t make some kind of a gesture and just chaulk it up to “business as usual” it will reflect poorly on them. I just don’t understand how a site migration like that can be so messed up! Don’t they have people testing this stuff thoroughly before it is released?! Sheesh…..

    • says

      I actually feel bad for Weight Watchers. I know they didn’t want to have a rollout like this. And, I’m sure the apology is sincere. But, I do think that they should compensate those who aren’t getting what they are paying for. It is shame that the problems with the website are casting a pall over what is looking like it will be a great program.

  2. Cal Hickey says

    I’ve been a lifetime WW member since late 2010 and I just quit. The proximal reason is my frustration with the new website, but the deeper reason is my longstanding frustration with WW web support. I’ve long disliked the kind of quirks you mentioned above which have plagued their website ever since I first joined WW in January 2010. I have 45 years of experience with modeling and simulation GUI design and operation involving technical subjects a thousand times more complex than WW would ever dream of tackling; in addition to the design and administration of relational databases supporting their operation. Nevertheless, every time I would try to elicit web support from WW to address my concerns was treated as if I was an octogenarian Luddite living in a cave somewhere who was deathly afraid of anything to do with a computer. For sure, the current problems with the roll-out of their new website is WW’s most current pressing problem, but the manner in which they relate to members such as I’ve experienced is indicative of a much deeper management problem. I’m convinced this is what is behind the decline in membership they’ve been experiencing and the tanking of their share price over the past four years. Especially since websites like MyFitnessPal.com are both free to use and technologically far superior.

  3. Danielle says

    While on some level, I think these are first-world problems, Weight Watchers can do right by their customers by either offering some sort of pro-weighted credit. It’s only fair.

  4. dinah says

    They can pay these movie stars millions of dollars to lose with a personal chef but they can’t compensate to us struggling monthy pass members.

    • says

      Some people on the WW message boards have reported that if you actually complain to them (not sure if by phone or by chat), they have given some people a free month. Worth a try. I do think they should offer compensation to everyone affected though.

  5. Regina says

    I think Blizzard has given me unrealistic expectations of companies. I have been in the beta tests for expansions since WotLK. With Blizzard, I know they are reading my feedback and taking it seriously. And as you said, I’ve gotten many days in compensation for downtime without even needing to ask.

    With this forced Beta test, I seriously doubt that they’re even reading my feedback, even though I am giving the same professional feedback I give to Blizzard. Our feedback on any design elements, like wanting to see how many points we’ve used in a day or the phone app banner taking up too much space so you can see very little of your day, is being passed off as our inability to adapt to change, even though it is legitimate feedback.

    I did get compensation for the days the app was down, but only because I called to cancel. I am an online tools only, so without being able to use the app, the service is useless to me.

    • says

      Good point about Blizzard. I think it is good you got compensation from WW when you called to complain. It bothers me, though, that you had to call to complain to get what should be given to paying members without them having to ask.

  6. says

    Hi! Just discovered your site and am enjoying it! 🙂

    I’m also a Lifetime member, and I’ve been an eTools subscriber since 2004. Like you, I’m not paying for the eTools now, but I have been very frustrated. One thing that has always been important to me are my past weigh-ins. I have close to 12 years worth of weigh-ins (on and off for the first 7 years, then weekly for the last four, when I finally lost the weight for good). I have been disheartened to see that MUCH of my past data has just vanished. I somehow had the notion back when they first started updating the site to go through the (painful) process of copying all my past weigh-ins. So, thankfully, I do have them, but I wasn’t able to grab my measurements before they were gone. 🙁 I also miss the chart. Seeing my progress over 11 years was always such a motivator!

    I think the new program sounds like it’s a step in the right direction, but they’d better get the website issues fixed or the quality of the program won’t matter.
    Stephanie recently posted…Calorie Counting vs Weight WatchersMy Profile

    • says

      If you have a phone with the WW app, I found that the old weigh ins are still on there (I track measurements in a spreadsheet, not online so I don’t know about those). WW has said that the weight chart (it is still available on my iPhone app) is coming back. I would like to see it back soon. I also went and made screenshots of my old weigh ins before the old tracker went away on the website, just in case they didn’t come back. I’m hoping they will though.

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