Weiser SmartScans: Pre-Owned and Faulty at Home Depot

During a trip to the local Home Depot this past Saturday to replace some deadbolt locks at my house, I was intrigued by the product you see on the right: The Weiser Lock SmartScan, a deadbolt that uses your fingerprint for entry. From the Weiser website:
SmartScan utilizes biometrics to scan the subdermal part of your finger (more precise than a fingerprint scan) to unlock your deadbolt, eliminating the need for keys.
My excitement of solving a problem with technology soon waned after realizing Weiser has manufactured a seriously flawed product. Fuel was added to the fire when I purchased several previously owned products being sold as new by Home Depot. After installing and using the Weiser SmartScan product for more than a week, I have lots to say about it:
  1. Loose ribbon cable fitting, preventing the sensor from making secure contact with the circuit board. I resolved this problem by cutting stiff plastic and fitting it into the ribbon cable connector.
  2. Fragile ribbon cable. Many do it yourselfers are not careful when performing their weekend projects. In 3 of the packages, I found the ribbon cable had been pinched, sliced, or both. This probaby happened during the fitting to the door.
  3. Very stiff deadbolt turn. This makes the 4 AA batteries drain faster and the motor work harder than necessary to close and open the door.
Home Depot's returns process is severely flawed as they're putting failed, previously owned and configured devices back on their shelves for unsuspecting customers to re-purchase. The many SmartScan locks I purchased had been used by somebody else. There were missing keys inside, unprotected/unwrapped parts rolling around and scratches marring the product. I made 6 visits to 4 different Toronto Home Depots, traveling a total of 67KM (nearly two hours of drive time alone). I went through 7 Weiser SmartScan deadbolts. Of the 7 locks, at least 4 were previously owned and 6 were non-functioning out of the box. I began the project at 12PM, and completed at 7PM later than evening, an investment of 7 hours... a full working day? To keep my facts straight, I put together a chart of of my visits that also takes into account the kilometres I drove and the time I spent going from various Home Depot locations trying to solve my problem:

Visit #1: Home Depot (Curity Store)
  • Purchased SmartScan #1
  • After installation and much troubleshooting "sensor error timeout messages, I realize the ribbon cable connecting the fingerprint scanner to the circuit board was sliced
Visit #2: Home Depot (Curity Store)
  • Back to Home Depot to return Smartscan #1.
  • Purchase Smartscan #2.
  • Noticed something odd and after opening the box, I could see why: unwrapped parts were rolling around, probably because it was returned from a previous customer and Home Depot staff just through it back on the shelf.
  • I installed the lock anyway, but couldn't get it to work because the admin user was already setup by the previous lock owner. The system requires an admin fingerprint to operate.
  • Assuming there's a way to reset the admin fingerprint, I called Weiser, but they're closed on weekends. Their website also did not have any information on how to reset the device.
  • I was going to keep the lock for the weekend (using the keys as backup), but the previous owner of the of the lock didn't put the keys in the box, leaving me with no way to lock my front door.
  • Knowing that Home Depot's Curity store was out of Satin Nickel SmartScans, I decided to head to their Wicksteed location to exchange the product.
Visit #3: Home Depot (Wicksteed Store)
  • I explained situation to a young woman at the returns counter. She apologized and asked me to get another one from the shelves.
  • After grabbing SmartScan #3 from the shelf, I headed home.
  • Smartscan #3 was also previously owned and locked with the admin fingerprint of the previous owner. Kicking myself for not testing the lock at the store before I left, I grabbed my 4 AA batteries and headed back to the Wicksteed location.
Visit #4: Home Depot (Wicksteed Store)
  • Once again, I explained configuration problem to the young man behind the counter and he said he recognized me from before. He said to grab a new one and offered to speak with his manager to give me a discount. I told him that wasn't necessary and I just wanted a product that worked.
  • He told me to grab another product from the shelf, which I did (SmartScan #4).
  • I told the clerk I'd like to test it before I left the store and he obliged. After opening the box however, I noticed it wasn't Satin Nickel, but Polished Brass. I didn't bother testing it.
  • Having no more Satin Nickel product, I decided to head to the next Home Depot (in Scarborough).
Visit #5: Home Depot (Ellesmere Store)
  • This location had one Satin Nickel deadbolt lock (Smartscan #5).
  • Batteries in hand, I opened the packaging. Loose parts everywhere. Product was scratched all over. This is a $200 product?? I connected my batteries and confirmed my suspicion: The lock had also been configured and returned by a previous Home Depot customer.
  • Having no more Satin Nickel, and running low on patience, I took a Venetian Bronze lock (Smartscan #6) to the customer service desk and asked for the store manager.
  • I summarized the events of my day to Lisa and showed her the condition of Smartscan #5, a product I had pulled from their shelves 5 minutes earlier that they were selling as new.
  • I then offered to show Lisa and her hardware manager Sallal how the deadbolts work. After opening Smartscan #6 and connecting my batteries, the product failed. Again, the ribbon cable connector was too loose to fit in the circuit board. I did find that if I squeezed the connector with index finger and thumb, sensor would be recognized, but I doubt an average Home Depot customer would figure that out.
  • With no Satin Nickel product available, I asked for a refund on the product. My last stop of the day would be Home Depot at Gerrard Square.
Visit #6: Home Depot (Gerrard Square)
  • After spending more than 6.5 hours on this project and almost 2 hours of driving around Toronto, I found a brand new Satin Nickel (SmartScan #7) lock fresh in box at the Gerrard Square Home Depot.
  • With a hardware staff member on hand, I opened the box, connected my batteries and tested the device.
  • Sensor timeout error. This SmartScan also suffers from a loose connector problem, causing the sensor to timeout. I told the staff member I was going to buy it anyway and see if I could fix it. I had modified my door to accept the product and it would look silly if I used something else.
  • Home Depot Staff member advised against buying the product, telling me that "everybody brings these back to the store."
  • I thanked her for the advice, but purchased the device anyway, confident that i could "pad" the connector to get a better, more secure fit.
Summary I was able to eventually get the SmartScan product to work. It's not perfect and I'm not sure if I'll keep it installed. When you consider the trouble I've experienced and the $209 price point, it's unacceptable that Home Depot continues to carry this product, especially given the feedback I was given by Home Depot staff themselves. Add to that the reckless return process, evident at each store I visited has me considering taking my business to another store altogether. As for Weiser, how can you not know about this problem? What are you doing about it? The loose ribbon cable is a serious manufacturing defect that, based on my findings affects at least 30% of your product. Is it such a small percentage of your business that you can afford to anger consumers with such a poorly manufactured product? Update: 1/SEP/2008: E-mailed response from Sara Molinari:
I’m very sorry to read about your experience. You should never have been misled about the new v used status of the product you bought – so I need to check with some people on why the vendor would have placed product in such a condition in our stores. I will speak to someone in Toronto tomorrow to get more details. Again, I apologize and am eager to get clarification on what happened here. Sarah Molinari Corporate Communications Manager The Home Depot office (770) 384-XXXX
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This, my friend, is why I hate shopping at big-box retail.

Stores that are designed around selling product at cost, with no true customer service (tho H.Depot staff are better than say F.Shop) and surviving by making all their money off of end-caps and high-markup "attachment items" at cost.

Example: When I worked at Staples/B.Depot - we told to never sell a printer (generally priced $5-35 below store cost) without also selling a $20 data cable ($0.30 A->B USB cable), some replacement ink or a few reams of paper.

Now think about that for a sec when you realize you buy paper and ink frequently, and a printer rarely - yet you spent your whole day shopping around and pricing out the printer... and never think twice when you buy ink or paper.

While you don't think that lock doesn't have any obvious attachment items, it does: the AA batteries, specialized drill bits and ANYTHING else in the store you buy when you're there for the lock. And even the lock itself is also an attachment item for doors.
Furthermore - as you've seen, the product quality/design standard is low, the user-experience is pathetic and H.Depot is putting the RETURNED item back on the shelves - so is it really worth $209 when you pick it up... new or not?

This "retail frustration" of mine applies in so many other places, but I've learned from it. I have my own company, Server North Inc. (ServerNorth.net <-- Shameless plug :) where we pride ourselves on delivering a high-quality product at a /reasonable/ price... but with a lot of attention paid to keeping the customer happy and trying to help with everything else.
Much like Bestbuy/Geeksquad, we've learned that there's a lot of ancillary things our customers need help with, and we'll do our best to solve those problems - even if that means we have to resell a competitor's product.
(McDonalds accepts other company's coupons - but will they get you a Mug rootbeer (Pepsi product) if you decide you don't like their Barqs? (because they're a Coke shop))
Our philosophy of charging fair prices for providing high-quality product and service has worked out very well for us: Our churn is low, our customer satisfaction is high, and when someone does leave us, it's usually not because they want to.

So sure - while H.Depot exchanged your items for you, did they ever verify what they were putting back on the shelf? Did they ever offer you free delivery of a guarantee new product? Will they remember you next week?
Maybe it's time to call the local locksmith, who may or may not have a better price on a similar product, but definitely will appreciate your business a lot more, and most certainly be able to assist you with some real experience.

Wow, that's brutal.

Funny that you bring up that particular lock though because when I was getting the new steel door installed at the Wishingline office, the staff at the Curity Home Depot were really trying to push that mechanism on me. I toyed with the idea briefly but decided against it for something that I knew was reliable -- good, old-fashioned keyed locks.

Wow, you got to experience HD like I have.

Mine however was on a fencing project last year. They pushed and pushed that it has a lifetime warranty on the wood, 1 year on labour.

Well not even a year later, it looks like it is going to fall down. I call HD, they send 3 different managers out here to look at everything.

They fix nothing, will cover nothing, because their supplier won't cover anything.

$3000 on a fence, and they will fix parts, IF I hire them to finish the rest of it. Thanks but no thanks. Did it myself last week, and saved over 50% off what they would have cost me.

Hmmm .. not good. Wonder if Weiser SmartScan's PR reps are monitoring what is being said online about their product. Or Home Depot about their service, for that matter.

While Weiser seems to have escaped Twitter rage (other than your two posts about your experience), Home Depot isn't so lucky :

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=home+depot+service

This one is particularly poetic:

tshults: Ah, the Hixon Home Depot. Where Customer Service goes to die.

I was at Home Depot myself yesterday. I go on occasion and have noticed a decline in the quality of customer service. They used to be much more proactive and amenable. Staff cuts, maybe?

Mind you, when I did approach an employee after circling the aisles for about 20 minutes looking for my plumbing accessory, he was efficient (though not warm and fuzzy).

Frankly, for a product that is meant to inspire confidence, it sounds like your Weiser (and Home Depot) fail the test.

Thanks for your feedback everybody.
@michelle: Home Depot does monitor Twitter (and the web) and I received an email from Sara Molinari (Corporate Communications at HD in Atlanta) less than 3 hours after the my post. I wanted to wait to hear what the resolution was, but I'm losing hope, so I posted an update with her email to me. Haven't heard a peep from Weiser, but I plan to get a statement from them soon.
Good story Ben. I especially like your Travel Time & Mileage chart! With regards to the Weiser lock; I have a friend who has had virtually the same experience with his. To this day, everytime we visit him I slip in a little “jab” with a “nice lock” comment. His lockset has never worked from day 1 and, like you, can’t go to another product due to the customization done to his front door.

I seriously doubt that either of you will get the satisfaction of even a “call” from Weiser however. Weiser is but one of the many companies owned by a conglomerate called Black and Decker.

According to the website of Weiser's former owner, the mantra of Alex Manoogian, the founder of Masco, is “Do not be satisfied with average performance, strive for excellence. If you cannot give your customers a better value and a better product, do not sell the product.”

Well Masco did indeed stop selling the product...Instead they sold the manufacturer, Weiser to Black and Decker in 2004 for over $200 million. It is now B&D who churns out substandard products at inflated prices to the throngs of eager do-it-yourselfers!

At some point in time the only choices left to the Canadian consumer will be BIG BOX STORES who have out priced mom and pop shops run by people who live and breathe the hardware they sell. The box stores will continue to be staffed by cretins who not only don’t know what a “3/4 inch one-way check valve” is but more annoyingly…don’t give a crap that they don’t know!

That’s all…..

Dear Ben,

I am truly sorry to hear about the less than perfect experience you had with our company. The Home Depot values all customers who walk in our orange boxes (stores). Please call 1-800-654-0688 and tell us about your issue. We will do our best to make it right.

PS: Please don't hesitate to email me if you want to be contacted by phone.

Thanks
Christian Sagna
1-800-654-0688
christian_sagna@homedepot.com

Christian,

What would you like me to say? What is your proposed solution? Has anybody discussed this with Weiser? Has action been taken with the General Managers at the Home Depot stores to ensure used product is not sold as new? What is Home Depot willing to do to resolve this issue? Refund my money for a $209 piece of junk? What about the $1,000 door I had to modify in order to install the thing?

You tell me what Home Depot is willing to do to restore my confidence in your organization.

...and you can be darn sure I'm will not call your 800 number to recant what will end of being a 30 minute explanation to some customer service rep who probably couldn't care less about my "adventure" with your company.

Exactly the same thing happened to me in Toronto. The "new" Weiser SmartScan I bought had been returned. It has no user manual and you are "locked out" of the system because you are not the "admin". The fact that there is no "reset" procedure and 1000s of purchasers are locked out is shocking. And it's out and out FRAUD on the part of Home Depot Canada.

But the lock itself is actually VERY solid. The fingerprint scan is a moronic gimmick. I'll just use the keys and have a great lock.

Just to follow-up... for those "locked out" by a previous owner/admin.... because people Googling this problem end up on this blog.

I called the Weiser Canada assistance line at 1-800-501-9471... asked for "technical assistance" for the "SmartScan lock"... and within 90 seconds was given instructions to "reset" the lock.

Thanks for the comment QuantPlus. I tried the 800 number as well, but Weiser (who has not returned my calls by the way) does not answer the phone on weekends. I was going to use it as a lock until Monday too... but the previous owner of the lock put the wrong keys back in the box!
Ben,
Just installed this same lock. The issue you discribed on the ribbon connection is easily resolved by first lifting up on the plastic connection on the lock, once the ribbon is in place, press down on the plastic connector to lock the ribbon in place. It doesn't really explain this very well in the instructions, however I'm sure the overall design of the lock is sound. Once installed this lock seems to function great! As far as DeepHomo goes... I feel your pain. I can tell you I too have made more than one visit to their return counter for other items... Amazing how we all just keep going back.
I haven't lived in Canada for a few decades, but why are you shopping at an US multinational? Is Canadian Tire not around anymore? Or a local hardware store?
Well mine "seemed" to be new. I set the first admin user per the instructions but when I went to do another finger for myself it wouldn't identify my first. Needless to say I'm "locked out". Just trying to find the reset procedure. I find it flabergasting that it's not in the owner's manual. Bogus.
Hi Ben,

2 things to think about:
1. People often return products to these stores saying that the product "was not what they wanted, but everything is fine or all the parts are there" while they have damaged or altered it in some way. If you think about ALL the different products the Home Depot carries and all the configurations they can be in, it is next to impossible for them to know exactly how all of them should be and what is wrong with them, if anything - So back on the shelf it goes!
2. I have delt with Weiser for a long time on various products. I will say that some of thier designs are problematic and cause failures - but they have always sent out parts to me without any questions or problems. Even today I have a customer with a key pad deadbolt that has problems and they are sending me a replacement keypad without asking for any reciept or confirmation paperwork. They have been great to deal with from that side of things.

Good points, anyone.

I thought about that. At the same time, consider that nearly every Weiser smartscan product (at the time) at the various Home Depot's shelves were "bad". There were around 10 "dead" Smartscans on the shelves. That's a lot of unhappy customers and it could negatively affect Weiser's reputation as a result.

I think Home Depot could have done a better job at identifying and trending across the various product returns to catch this kind of thing.

I have just bought a weiser smartscan in Winnipeg at Home Depot. You will never guess why I am searching the internet for info on Weiser Smartscan locks? You guessed it a reset procedure, because the smartlock that I bought was also already used.
As per the theme of the original post I had to go to two Home Depots before I found one that was in the brushed nickle.
Took the time to install it carefully, and got ready to set up the first admin, when "surprise"- admin was already taken and a total of 5 uses are registered.
Thanks for the post, my plan tomorrow is simple: I am returning it and taking my business somewhere else. This sort of thing happens too much at Home Depot.
As for the smartscan I have never used it sadly, but if there are that many returned it obviously isn't satisfying to many people that are the original owners.....I read therefore: junk.
Hi this is Michael from Home Depot Customer Care. I’m sorry about that; I am in a position to help. Please send an email to michael_care@homedepot.com

Michael
Customer Care
The Home Depot
Atlanta, GA 30339
Check out The Home Depot on Twitter, Facebook, & YouTube

Well I just bought one at Reno Depot (Quebec equivalnent to HD) and had the locksmith come and install it. Then I scanned in my fingerprint as ADMIN and great it worked..... Then I tried to open it and guess what, I scan my finger and it recognizes it and then I hear the motor running. That's all folks. Themotor runs but the deadbolt doesn't unlock. Try it several more times but still the same problem. So I go back to the store and buy another one, maybe this one works. Noticed that the last unit I bought was antique and not polished like the original one and that I paid $209 instead of $199. Ok so today 3 days later I tried again and now I want to go into the ADMIN so that I can set the direction of the deadbolt (maybe that's my mistake in the first place) so I set the display to damin and try to scan, it then says sac again and again and then it tells me scanned user 2 and then user 3. Where is the f...en reset button to wipe it clean. I think that I have had enough of this garbage that Weiser manufactures and Home (Reno ) Depot passes along to the end consumers. jUst my 2 cents worth.
Some burglars are buying the locks and scanning their print to admin so that they can then go for a walk in the same neighbourhood as the home depot and then they can just open the lock and rob you while you are at work. Easy to do and no damage or noise.
@Mike: That can't be true because then a homeowner would be unable to setup the lock then!
Mike;

How many people do YOU think wre hiding behind the grassy knoll in Area 51 when the US did not land on the Moon???

Sheesh.....

I purchased this lock as well, and the first one did not work. The ribbon cable was damaged (by a previous installer?). I did return (to Home Depot) and got a new one the second time around. Still the lock is problematic. I am a techno geek - why else would I by one of these, but even I find the lock frustrating. Certainly this is not the level of quality one would expect from a consumer product.

The number of returns to Home Depot must be a red flag. They cannot possibly know about these problems. Weiser is silent on this issue. They have not updated the product since the original design. I can only assume they don't care.

My husband just bought one of these locks at a Newmarket home depot and we cannot get it to work as it has been locked by a previous user. We will be returning it tomorrow.
SOLUTION!!

Ok after pulling all my hair out due to a weekend and not being able to call Weiser I have the solution many have talked about in the above posts. Why people havn't posted the solution is beyond me.

RESET WEISER SMART SCAN:

1. Highlight the Admin and press the check mark
2. Now the system will ask you to swipe finger, instead press the down arrow 3/4 times until it asks for the factory code
3. Now press the Up Arrow and a capital "A" should appear
4. Press the right arrow and up arrow again till you see a lowercase "a"
5. Repeat step 4 until you see "Aaaa" or "Aaaaa" (depending on the model)
6. Press the checkmark again and your lock will be reset!

Now hopefully all of you will more hair than I do!

Well Saturday night while at my local HD in Halifax I decided that I should replace the lock on my frontdoor, as the one that is there now seems to want to freeze, and does everytime it gets cold... While there I saw the Biometric lock on sale for 130.00 so thought hey maybe somethng cool, it warmed my geekish heart. Issue was that all they had was brass and I wanted knickel, the floor person checked the computer and stated that at the other store they had 7. Went to the other store (Halifax V Dartmouth NS) and sure enough they had em alrighty. While talking to the guy there he stated that as to the product it appears some have no issue with them, and others have no issue. I took that to be a challenge. So on Sunday I installed the product. It took a bit of a learning curve for swipping but to be honest the install went great, the cable connecter was a quick connect so that was simple enoough and programing was easy. My wife has found one issue so far, she won't stop playing with it.....I suspect batteries will cost me any savings I had until the novelty wears off. Sorry to hear that you all up in Middle Canuckland are having issues, but here in NS, the HD people are great, and helpful to the MAX......
So this is a little salt for your wound: Why not get proper results from a locksmith shop ?
Forget box store advice on what should be asked at a true security pro - your LOCAL locksmith. No hassels, no pressure and the correct product for the application . This should be a lesson for all you ''box heads'' - quit being cheap time / gas / wasters. Jeez, gotta love you home handyman locksmith/plumber/electricians out there- you keep the box store world turning!!
Unkle: No salt in my wound, friend.

I do hire skilled trades, especially for projects that exceed my skillset (this one did not).

I didn't need a locksmith in this instance, I just needed a product that worked as advertised. Seems you're more interested in lamenting the fact that people don't hire skilled trades anymore though, which is fine, but if that's the case, I have a suggestion for you.

Given the current DIYer trend, many would call this "changing with the times". If you're a professional plumber/locksmith/electrician and business is slow, I would recommend getting involved and helping out these DIYers instead of tearing 'em down.

For skilled trades frustrated (annoyed?) with the DIYers out there, I can suggest two approaches:

The smart-ass approach. This feels pretty good and will probably make you feel better about your trade and the lack of business in the short-term;

The helpful approach. Engaging with DIYers on the various websites and forums in your local city (eg. Homestars.com).

The first approach is a self-serving (and quick) adrenaline hit to your ego. The second suggestion could earn you friends, additional business, and respect.

What a piece of garbage! It worked great for about a week. My wife hated it from the outset. Kids had trouble with it. I could get it work after three or four tries. It quit all together after that. I reset it. It worked OK for a few more days. I quit using it but grumbled every time I thought about how much I spent. I reset it again awhile later. Still no luck. Just tried it again and it will scan to enroll, but now will not engage the deadbolt or initiate a scan to unlock. It is a real piece of garbage. You'd think a company like WEISER would stand up and do something about this. Works great as a regular deadbolt though!
Darn - saw your post and thought I'd find a solution - I just replaced the batteries in my lock cause it was acting up - we've had it for 2 years (works ok) and now same thing - I can eroll noew users but can't engage the deadbold or unlock!

Any afvice?

I myself have had a problem and thought I would share how to reset the settings .

To return the system to Factory Default settings (clears database, users, templates and settings) perform the following:

Press any key to wake up the system.
From the opening menu
Highlight Admin Admin

About

Press check mark (√)
Press down arrow three times (▼▼▼)
Press minus sign (▬)
Press up arrow (▲) The display reads A
Press right arrow (►)
Press up arrow (▲) The display reads Aa
Repeat 7 & 8 until Aaaa is displayed
Press check mark (√)

You are done; the system will prompt that Database is being cleared and in a few seconds will go back to the opening menu.

Thank you to all the posters here with solutions. I saved my husband from physically ripping it off the door and stomping on it, and we are now "enrolled". We had the re-sale problem (from our neighbourhood hardware store) with admin already set AND the sensor error from the loose connection. I guess we'll have to give it a week or two to see if that is the end of the probblems - but again, thanks to those who posted solutions (especially the reset code) :-)
When you put the ribbon cable into the socket there are 2 tabs on either side of the socket to lock the ribbon in place. It will not be loose then.