The new Furby (Dis)Connect: customers complain about “glitches”
New owners of the furry robotic toy say they have trouble connecting, updating & more.
Elizabeth has a problem with the latest version of the insanely popular 90’s talking toy.
“Is anyone else absolutely terrified of the new Furbies?” she writes on Furby’s Facebook page. “The old ones were amazing, but these look like they want to eat my soul.”
For a number of customers, however, the new Furbies are causing real-life problems–eating their time and patience as they try, unsuccessfully, to connect and use the pink or teal fuzzy creature designed to chat, move and respond to your touch.
“My Furby doesn’t connect!!! What should I do?” asked one customer on Amazon’s Furby Connect page.
“The app is buggy unfortunately,” wrote another.
“Furby not only disconnects during gameplay, he shuts off completely,” lamented a third.
“As soon as I put the batteries in, the Furby came on and before I could even ‘connect’ it to the app, it glitches and turns off,” said another customer. “I’m very unhappy I bought this for my 6-year-old’s birthday and she is now in tears…What a mess.”
For the first time, the Furby Connect uses Bluetooth to connect to an app that provides you changing content—songs, music videos, games and more. It’s already been named one of the top 12 hottest Christmas toys for 2016. One of its popular features—not making this up—is making your fluffy robot defecate in a virtual toilet.
But in the last two weeks, more than two dozen reviewers and commenters have listed problems with crashing Furbies, crashing apps, long waits for updates that never happen, and other problems. The “cute”/“creepy” device gets just three out of five stars—in almost every case, the lower scores are a result of tech troubles.
“If I can’t get it to stay on and connected to the app it completely defeats the purpose of the toy,” concluded a frustrated customer.
“He is fun without the iPhone capabilities, but to justify spending $100 on a product and not be able to fully play with it is kind of ridiculous,” agreed another.
What is going on?
Furby maker Hasbro has responded to some of the complaints online.
A customer named Lorri said on the Furby Facebook page that she loves her Furby, but the app is “glitchy.”
“Lorri, even though Furby always want to have fun, sometimes there are just some things Furby can’t control,” the company posted in reply. “Please feel free to reach out to our Customer Care friends. They would be more than glad to help you! Get in touch with them here: http://hasb.ro/1HCVcJN.”
Archer News checked in with Hasbro to find out what is out of Furby’s control.
“We are constantly working to provide an amazing Furby Connect play experience,” a company representative said in an e-mail.
The statement indicated that the problem is not with the Furby toy, but with the customer’s tech.
“We’ve reached out to our consumers to recommend confirming both their device and their Furby Connect are updated before they play,” the statement said. “To do so, consumers should first check the Amazon App Store, Google Play, or Apple App Store to make sure their device is on the supported device list, and confirm their operating system meets the minimum specifications for the Furby Connect app.”
Hasbro said new Furby owners should take an extra step to prep their fluffy companion’s internal workings before starting to play.
“Then, we recommend consumers ‘hard reset’ their Furby Connect before trying to connect with the app,” the company said. “Once reset, pair Furby with your device to update Furby Connect via Bluetooth (a one-time update that may take some time) – you’ll know the update is complete when Furby re-boots and says to you, ‘CONNECTED!’”
Customer tech may not be completely to blame, some say. Some companies send out products before they are fully ready to launch, and experience hiccups and glitches during roll-out.
That could turn out to be the case here, said Younis Dar, a software engineer with HealthSparq.
“In my opinion it’s probably a combination of ‘cheap’ Bluetooth hardware/design and buggy software,” he said. “Generally, Bluetooth doesn’t have a reliable reputation, add in brittle software and you’re asking for failure.”
“Wouldn’t a large company test its tech before launching a worldwide marketing campaign?” you might ask.
Not always, Dar said.
“The quality of testing is relative to a company’s standards. I’m sure it was QA [quality assurance] ‘tested,’ and met the minimum requirement,” he explained. “But for most companies, R&D [research and development] and testing costs money, which will impact expense and revenue. Anything to get to the market quicker will be favorable to business decision makers.”
For now, the reason behind the new Furby’s penchant for disconnection may remain unclear.
But there are some secrets that new owners may want to learn, to keep their chatty friend alert and talking.
Several customers who complained about connection problems said they got relief when they tried this unusual reset technique, apparently suggested by a customer support representative—turn the Furby upside down, push down on its tongue, pull its tail for ten seconds and uninstall/reinstall the app.
Hasbro offers other troubleshooting techniques online.
“Does your Furby Connect seem sleepier than usual? If you haven’t connected to the app yet, please connect for an update. If you’ve already done that, try giving your Furby Connect fresh batteries!” says one tip.
“If Furby Connect has trouble pairing with your device, first make sure the icon in the top left corner of the app is yellow,” another says. “If it isn’t, click the purple icon to connect.”
Some customers continue to use their Furbies, despite tech issues.
“The app quits for us when she tries to go to the bathroom, but otherwise it’s fine,” a customer said.
Others contacted customer support for help, or returned their “glitchy” Furbies for new ones. But some customers say they may wait to try again.
“These Furbies seem to have a defect/glitch that Hasbro needs to work on,” said a Furby owner. “Amazon told me that they will start an investigation into this problem.”
“Overall it’s a neat concept, but I hope some improvements are coming,” added another.
It may take some time for once-excited owners to get over the disappointment about their interactive connected Furby, formerly a talkative, automated pal, now a source of frustration.
“Will not complete update,” a cranky owner wrote. “Now it just sits there blinking and I have to listen to the little jerk.”
Editor’s note: The “cranky owner” was able to get his problems resolved with the “tongue-and-tail” reset, according to an update to his post.