Important Notice: Spypoint Cellular Trail Cameras
Regular visitors to our website will quickly note there are several brands of trail cameras we do not review publically or sell online. Simply put, if we anticipate an excessive warranty rate or a high degree of customer frustration we’ll exclude products from our website. This is why recent events regarding Spypoint concerned us. In August, Trailcampro became aware of two (2) developing issues regarding Spypoint cellular models which caused us to suspend sales until both matters had been researched thoroughly and resolved.
Spypoint was apparently not responding to customer service inquiries. Numerous customers contacted us with stories of extreme hold times with calls never answered, emails never returned and unresponsive chat assistants. In reality, the sheer number of inquiries greatly exceeded the capacity of the current Spypoint support structure. Since first learning of this, we have had several conference calls with Spypoint’s upper management. In the last few years, Spypoint engineers have advanced trail camera technology exponentially and the demand for Spypoint products followed. Spypoint acknowledges they had no way of anticipating the demand and their customer support department simply wasn’t equipped to handle the volume. They have a plan in place to double and eventually quadruple their support infrastructure, but it will take weeks to properly train staff.
In the meantime I’d like to point out - Trailcampro customers never need to communicate directly with the manufacturer. We provide free, live technical support to our customers M-F, 9-5 EST and handle all warranty issues for all products we sell.
In addition to greatly expanding support staff and making substantial investments in the support infrastructure, Spypoint has presented a detailed action plan to expedite the support process for customers. Having thoroughly evaluated the above, we feel confident resuming sales of Spypoint cellular cameras. And, if we’re comfortable selling their cellular cameras, we think you should also be comfortable buying them provided you are aware and fully understand the implications of Issue #2.
At about the same time we learned of Spypoint’s customer service issues, we also discovered some of their current cellular units will no longer work when 3G networks are shut down. Specifically, nationwide versions of the Link Evo & Link Micro (GSM networks AT&T & T Mobile) utilize a Quectel UC20-G cellular modem. The UC20-G uses HSPA+ technology and operates at speeds approaching 4G, but can only operate on 3G networks. When 3G networks are terminated, so will the ability of this modem to function.
So when will 3G networks shut down? That’s a complicated question. AT&T announced the sunset of their 3G networks by no later than January of 2022. However, they have also stated they will begin phasing out some 3G towers as early as June of 2020 based on demand & usage. T Mobile has not officially announced its sunset date. What we know for sure is a small percentage of customers will begin to lose service as soon as June of next year and the number will grow until the official sunset date of both carriers. Spypoint has officially announced they will replace any units affected by 3G sunset if the issue arises during the 2-year warranty period. They have also said they will provide a discount towards the purchase of a new camera to customers whose units are affected after the 2-year warranty expires. Details & exact level of discount have not been made public as of this writing. Regardless, all Spypoint owners should be diligent regarding warranty registration.
At Trailcampro we have elected not to carry any units affected by the impending 3G shutdown. As of September 1st, 2019 any unit we sell is guaranteed to function post 3G shut down. We expect to post new Link Evo & Link Micros for sale in early November.
How do you know whether a camera is susceptible to the impending 3G shutdown? You won’t unless you crack a camera open and examine the chipset which voids the warranty. I would anticipate the market to be flooded with 3G cameras in the coming months.
What I can tell you is any camera purchased from Trailcampro is guaranteed to function post 3G shut down.
We receive hundreds of phone and email inquiries daily and recently the traffic has surged. Many of these inquiries have been related to the above issues and specifically as to why we listed Spypoint cellular products as “Out Of Stock.” In addition to testing, reviewing and selling Trail Cameras, we are also recognized as the information source for the industry. We felt it would be irresponsible on our part to continue selling the above-mentioned products until all issues were fully investigated. Likewise, we were reluctant to publish any information until we were able to research & confirm all details surrounding the topic. Everything we discovered through our research is listed above and we now feel comfortable moving forward with complete transparency.
Thank you for trusting us as your trail camera resource,
Founder & President, Trailcampro
Spypoint's Statement on this Issue is as Follows:
Recently, we have received inquiries about AT&T's 3G sunset in 2022. We are well aware of this situation. A small percentage of customers using SPYPOINT’S non-LTE Nationwide camera model from the LINK series could be affected during this sunset scheduled for 2022.
To reassure our customers, it’s important to understand SPYPOINT cameras are programmed to be able to connect with multiple cellular networks, and after the AT&T sunset, the majority of those cameras will automatically connect to other networks. Following a connection test performed by the SPYPOINT team, the few users that may be impacted by AT&T's 3G sunset, will be offered a beneficial trade-in offer for any affected SPYPOINT camera at the time of service termination.
While we were expecting this year to be one of significant growth and had a plan in place to address the new customers that would come into the cellular trail camera market, the gains seen this year have surprised all involved. This situation has put a great strain on our customer service and technical resources.
As a response, we have implemented a new plan to address the significant growth in customer communications. This plan includes the hire of new technical support agents,doubling our effectives, a new software to manage all written communication, the development of new self-support tools (available 24/7), and streamlining some retailer services to accelerate certain processes. These new plans are in full effect now, customers should notice a significant difference no later than week of October 7th.