Brighton i360 does a 180 on launch day refunds

Update July 2017: happy to report the i360 now has a new CEO and it appears to be running in much better order.

Brighton i360 Queues

Last week I booked a flight on Brighton’s new i360 observation tower. It was the second ever public flight, so as expected had some teething issues.

Our flight due to leave at 14:20 was running over an hour behind, although that wasn’t communicated at all in the queue. We were then left standing in a holding pen for 45 minutes whilst waiting to board – here there were a handful of deck chairs but no adequate seating for the elderly or those with children and no refreshments (the ticket states food or drink are not allowed through security). Once in the pod we waited a little longer to take off – a chance to buy a drink from the onboard bar. Whilst ordering their till system broke which led them to finally offer a complimentary drink for those waiting; much-needed hydration.

All in the experience took over 2 hours, but the i360 tweeted offering refunds or rebooking for everyone there on launch day:Brighton i360 deleted refund tweetGreat – there’s always some issues on launch day so we were tolerant of the delays and this makes up for trouble. I went into the ticket office on Saturday to get our refund so we could rebook an evening flight (which last 10 minutes longer than a day flight) later in the summer. I then waited for a manager to confirm and authorise the refund.

Eleanor Harris, CEO of Brighton I-360 Limited, came over to tell me they weren’t offering refunds, and after discussing the day she told me:

I think you’re just trying your luck.

Eleanor explained to me that the tweet meant for those who couldn’t make the flight because of delays (which weren’t communicated), then said it was tweeted by a junior member of her team without authorisation. Which is it? Why was it still online three days after it was originally posted? The now-deleted tweet is in The Argus article about launch day.

They told me they lost a lot of money that day and no refunds will be offered.

I also raised my concern that the flight lasted under 14 minutes instead of the advertised 20; apparently the experience lasts 20 minutes, from when you enter the pod to when you leave. We’d been in the pod for about 15 minutes before take off due to a technical issue, to which Eleanor responded “there you go”, implying I was lucky enough to enjoy a 35 minute flight…

After speaking for 5 minutes, Eleanor, the CEO, walked away from me saying: “I’m leaving now”.

Promised refunds or rebookings were not offered.

I wanted to like the i360, hence my eagerness for a launch day flight, but the customer experience has been terrible. Whilst in the ticket office there were others complaining that a private party skipped the queue whilst flights were already heavily delayed – turns out they were the architects.

The promising side, the ride itself has great views and the bar stocks with drinks from local producers. With some management changes, better customer experience and scheduling the i360 will be the experience the West Pier deserves.

The trouble with streaks and the Apple Watch repair process

Apple Watch Goes Pop

Recently the back of my Apple Watch popped off. I removed it from the magnetic charger and part of the watch decided it wanted to stay attached.

These things happen, but getting it repaired is a nightmare – losing the watch is losing these bloody rings:

Apple Watch Activity Rings

I’d been enjoying a 90 day or so streak, making sure I got all my activity rings filled. Fighting through a horrible cold and motivating me to get out on a few rainy Sundays.

Without the watch you can’t fill those rings, miss a day and you lose the streak. That’s when the repair process falls apart.

The wait for an appointment; seven days. The stretched Apple Store only lets you book a week in advance, to get an appointment you have to check first thing in the morning otherwise you’re greeted with a No Appointments Available message. That can push it to over a week before you are seen.

I was fortunate that my watch still worked if I was careful removing it from the charger. I could still wear it, avoiding any water contact until my appointment.

Once at the store the Genius said that no repairs take place on site and that replacement devices cannot be issued without the review of the repair centre. This means all repairs are sent away taking up to another seven days. Even with AppleCare+ you still have to wait for a roundtrip to Apple’s repair centre.

That could mean two weeks without your watch, without Apple’s most personal device and ruining well-earned streaks.

What could be done better?

The simplest way; offer in-store replacements where possible. Due to the Apple Watch being a mostly sealed device, the only repair that’s commonly performed is a screen replacement. In most other cases they have to offer a replacement.

My friend James Hartt suggests that the Activity app should focus on the quantitive achievements, like hitting 100 move goals, instead of consecutive streaks.

The workaround

Apple have a 14 day open box no-quibble return policy; you can buy a replacement and return it when you’re replacement is available. You’ll need to shell out temporarily and make sure you return it in the window.

Just make sure you’ve got a backup – unpairing your watch automatically triggers a full backup. You can repeat this when you get your replacement watch back.

Time to change

Fitness and health are the two standout features of the Apple Watch, it’s a shame to see the already frustrating process of having a broken device ruin the health behaviours that Apple promote.

How Apple fixed the iOS 9 broken Universal Links

iOS 9.3 had a big problem with processing universal inks which caused any links in apps to break. If you’re hit with the problem do a software update now.

Now iOS 9.3.1 is out it gives the shared web credentials daemon (swcd) enough memory to process large association files, and recover from previously large files that had previously pushed swcd over the limit.

Expect to see a future update to iOS limit the maximum size of an apple-app-site-association file to be something more sensible than unlimited, like 128 Kb.