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February 9, 2024 5:24 AM   Subscribe

BBC: Users of Ring video doorbells have reacted angrily to a huge price hike being introduced in March. "That subscription is going up 43%, from £34.99 to £49.99 per device, per year, for basic plan customers. The firm, which is owned by Amazon, insisted it still provided 'some of the best value in the industry.' Its customers appear not to agree." Related user discussion on the Ring Community board. posted by Cardinal Fang (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is why a local first architecture is so important. If your device relies on services outside of your control, is it really your device?
posted by bouvin at 5:39 AM on February 9 [17 favorites]


If your device relies on services outside of your control, is it really your device?

In that case, I have bad news if you’re a home “owner” that isn’t off the grid.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:42 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, the price rises are pretty execrable.

On the other hand, the price of the Plus plan, which covers all devices in a single household, is staying at £8/month and I was always a little baffled why anyone would bother with the Basic plan, unless all they had was one or two devices.
posted by sailoreagle at 5:44 AM on February 9


In that case, I have bad news if you’re a home “owner” that isn’t off the grid.

Public utilities aren't dependencies in the sense intended here, at least not in functioning civil democracies.
posted by mhoye at 5:50 AM on February 9 [29 favorites]


I woke up one day and someone said they need a subscription for their doorbell.

The infinite possibilities of modern technology, and this is where we are.
posted by howbigisthistextfield at 6:07 AM on February 9 [30 favorites]


It's not really a subscription for the doorbell, it's a subscription for CCTV - or more specifically, for cloud storage for video footage. The doorbell and camera work without a subscription, it's just the video can only be seen live and won't be stored.
posted by greycap at 6:15 AM on February 9 [11 favorites]


Betcha they're preparing a "Roll" device that will manage your TP, giving you the right number of squares for your personal preference and type of waste, and will automatically order new shit tickets when you're running low. Catch is, if your subscription lapses, or there's an outage, the dispenser stops working.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:16 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Here in the US, we got an email saying it's going from $39.99 to $49.99, so a 20% increase. I think we only paid $35 for the camera when it was on sale after Christmas last year.

(ours doesn't guard our house; it's in our antique mall booth, with a big waving hand on a spring above it to make sure you see it. There's a sign under it, identifying it as a 'confessional' if you ring the doorbell. I think it has only happened a couple times.)
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:28 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Are there any comparable alternatives to Ring that aren't tied to a cloud ecosystem (i.e. that could save video over the local network)? I've done some research in the past but could never find anything that looked like it wouldn't be a nightmare to set up or maintain that didn't involve a subscription service and cloud storage or didn't make substantial sacrifices in functionality and convenience.
posted by rudism at 6:44 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Are there any comparable alternatives to Ring that aren't tied to a cloud ecosystem (i.e. that could save video over the local network)?

Your average every-day security system which has its own DVR does this; the 'cloud' ones just mean you're using somebody else's DVR. Of course, this is more expensive, because you have to own your own DVR. If you're handy with how to set up port forwarding on your home router, you can usually watch the videos from your phone or computer when you're away.

I have seen/heard of the cheap wifi cameras that have a camera card slot, but they have not been well-rated and getting the video is awkward.

I have 2 Arlo cameras and a doorbell monitoring a vacation property which is $13 a month total and videos are stored 30 days but you can download them through the phone app.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:54 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


at least not in functioning civil democracies

I thought we were talking about the UK? The same place that put coin-op utility meters in houses?
posted by aramaic at 6:55 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Why do people feel the need to record their door bell feeds in the first place?
posted by signal at 6:57 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Why do people feel the need to record their door bell feeds in the first place?

I like to see the wildlife that walks through my yard in the middle of the night. Mostly deer and cats, but I think we saw a fox one time.
posted by dforemsky at 6:59 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Why do people feel the need to record their door bell feeds in the first place?

So that they can post it on Nextdoor if someone walks past their house who is of an ethnicity that offends them.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 7:20 AM on February 9 [27 favorites]


ours doesn't guard our house; it's in our antique mall booth, with a big waving hand on a spring above it to make sure you see it. There's a sign under it, identifying it as a 'confessional' if you ring the doorbell. I think it has only happened a couple times.

This is brilliant, and exactly the way these things should be used.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 7:24 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


I thought we were talking about the UK? The same place that put coin-op utility meters in houses?

In my twenties I stayed in a place in the UK that had the coin-op gas meter. It was both a huge pain in the neck, and also shockingly expensive if you did the math for the cost over time. Comparatively, a monthly doorbell camera subscription seems pretty mild.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:24 AM on February 9


On one hand these things create a paranoid surveillance hellscape. On the other hand, it led to the greatest mroww of all
posted by credulous at 7:38 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]


I was always a little baffled why anyone would bother with the Basic plan, unless all they had was one or two devices.

That's exactly why. They may have their other devices on other systems, or on no systems at all. For example, a lot of people choose to run landline-wired alarms. And as for smart switches or lightbulbs, you can run those for example off Hive, which requires no subscription whatsoever. At least not currently; British Gas seem content to just slurp up the data from the Hive heating controller, which incidentally works without a 'smart' meter, and they don't yet force you to purchase a subscription to their 'premium' 'Smart Heating' product which as far as I can see doesn't seem to do much apart from turning that data into PowerPoint presentations from Hell and recommending you to bathe your kids in cold water because you're using X percent more gas than similar families in your neighbourhood - yes, those people you just posted the Ring doorbell video of on Nextdoor...
posted by Cardinal Fang at 7:39 AM on February 9


I used to mock these: why the fuck would anyone want a doorbell camera? And then a friend of my wife's found a spy camera inside her house, and used the doorbell camera to sort out that her landlord had made an unannounced (and illegal) entry into her house, while carrying a box clearly labelled as the brand of spy cameras. Turns out the landlord owns like six or seven other houses, rents to female tenants, and has them all wired up with spy cameras, and is now about to lose all the houses to pay his criminal defense lawyers and the civil suits against him. Still not getting one, but I'm not a single woman, either.
posted by outgrown_hobnail at 7:40 AM on February 9 [29 favorites]


In my twenties I stayed in a place in the UK that had the coin-op gas meter.

In the 90's I lived briefly in a flat with one of these. If you're going away for a few weeks, turn the fridge off and leave its door open. I learned that the hard way.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 7:44 AM on February 9


Mod note: Quick note: Post deleted earlier and now restored, with a bit of an edit to make it clear the info is quoted from the article.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:05 AM on February 10


Why do people feel the need to record their door bell feeds in the first place?

So that they can post it on Nextdoor if someone walks past their house who is of an ethnicity that offends them.

posted by Cardinal Fang at 9:20 AM on February 9 [13 favorites +] [⚑]

I can tell you that criminal defense attorneys aren't fans of Ring cameras or the liberality with which Amazon dispenses footage to the police.
posted by TheProfessor at 9:13 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


These cameras are both helpful for women who are the target of harassment and stalking and also as noted the bane of defense attorneys lives.
posted by corb at 9:21 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I have two reolink cameras which were around $65 each and an old Dell optiplex 7050 ($160) running agent DVR on it. I put a 5tb hard drive in it and it saves the videos for as long as I want them. The software was fairly intuitive and is free for personal use. Although the reolinks have wifi, they work much better if you use Ethernet cable. Once I got this setup working, it meant that we could shame the neighbors who failed to pick up their dog poop. Yay.
posted by Thrakburzug at 10:16 AM on February 10


Recording one's neighbors without consent, creating mass dragnets for cops, and feeding in to a culture of fear and racism is all fine. But an extra fifteen bucks per year - intolerable!
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:16 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


outgrown_hobnail: I like the outcome of your story (women deserve to be safe, glad the scumbag landlord got caught) but the story's also interesting in another way: doesn't it seem weird to use a camera to fight a camera? Is it just an arms race of cameras from now on?
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:21 AM on February 11


Once again reality is proving we are living in Cory Doctorow's world.
posted by zardoz at 1:49 PM on February 11


I ended up having to get cameras when the new tenants in the triplex turned out to be low level fences and possibly minor drug dealers. It turns out that people who steal things and come to fence them will also view neighbors' packages as a free shopping opportunity, and given I had just gotten out of hospital for a leg infection and couldn't walk very far, I had to have nearly everything delivered. So I needed to be able to see when things arrived to get them before they were stolen. Also if there was anyone creepy lurking in the shared foyer before I went out, since some people liked to smoke their crack there.
posted by tavella at 9:18 PM on February 11


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