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.
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.