Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dog Tech: LinkAKC Doesn't Work

My LinkAKC smartcollar finally arrived on Friday! It's so beautiful, with such unique package design. Too bad I'm going to have to send it back. See, this is a smart collar that works with a smartphone app, and the app doesn't work, making Link AKC a $150 plain leather collar with a big awkward hunk of plastic.

The Hype

Canister packaging for non-functioning smart collar with buggy app.LINK AKC is a smart collar with an unprecedented amount of hype behind it. I preordered mine back in December, and since then I have received AKC's smartcollar newsletter every other day. Yes, every two days I get an email packed with awesome stuff about how great this collar is. Over the last three months I have received 44 different promotional emails about the product I had already ordered and committed to buying. I didn't mind though, because I am a giant nerd and couldn't wait to get it.

The Arrival

The packaging for the collar was wonderful. Very easy to open, but secure with proper protection for the electronics. No horrible plastic to cut through, and the whole thing seems pretty eco-friendly as well.

The collar is a very nice stitched leather piece that is a bit stiff like all new leather. It feels a bit big on Godzilla, but looks great on Zip. The actual tracker and its holder also seem bulky on Godzilla's neck.

The Setup

Smart collar with useless smartphone appPutting the tracker onto the bracket and the bracket onto the collar was super easy and straightforward. I downloaded the Quick Start Guide to my phone, which instructed me to assemble the collar an then download the Link AKC app.

This is where things ground to a screeching halt. I should have been mere minutes away from creating an account, selecting and purchasing a service plan, and pairing the collar with my phone via Bluetooth. Upon opening, the app prompts the user to either sign in with Facebook, or create an account with an email address. I tried Facebook first, and after loading for a full five minutes, the app finally prompted me to choose a user picture. 

Smart collar cannot be paired with phone because the app doesn't workAfter selecting a picture of me and my dogs, it was time to activate the collar. The next screen prompted me to activate a service plan, with three possible options. I chose one, and was taken to a blank screen. Nothing ever loaded. Went back and tried again, same thing. Went back and selected a different service plan, same blank screen.

Being fairly tech savvy, I first tried uninstalling and reinstalling the app. No luck. Rebooting my phone had no effect either. Next I tried creating an account with an email address. The app informed me that I already had an account with that address. Login with my password failed, so I tried to reset the password. The password reset also failed. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling again, just in case. At this point I had been trying to get the Link AKC app to work for well over an hour.

Smart collar with app that doesn't work properly so it's basically an expensive paperweight.Tech Support

 Saturday morning I called Link AKC tech support and spent 20 minutes on hold waiting to talk to someone that couldn't help me. They didn't know why it wasn't working, said it was a known issue, and that they would pass my information along to the engineers. There is no timeline for when this could be fixed, and in the meantime my smartcollar is just an expensive paperweight. Unlike Whistle, Link AKC does not have an online version you can access via computer. The collar will only work with the smartphone app, and the app doesn't work so the collar doesn't work. It is literally useless.
Whistle is better than Link AKC in every way because Whistle actually works.
My LinkAKC collar is currently packed back into its lovely intuitive packaging awaiting its return to the company. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, and I have no way of knowing if it will become functional before that time is up. This smart collar is a huge disappointment. Companies need to be careful how much customer enthusiasm they drum up, as it easily changes to customer rage when the product fails to meet expectations. Link AKC has failed to meet my expectations in every possible way.


  1. Is it working for you now? I've downloaded the app to two iPhones and one Samsung tablet. I've found the app to be pretty intuitive, but any questions I've had were answered via chat on their website. They responded pretty much immediately.

    1. Still not working. I've been in contact with tech support and basically the only solution is to call them up during business hours and give them my credit card information over the phone so they can set up my account on their end. Can't solve this issue over chat, can't solve it by talking to a regular customer service person. No idea how the app works because a bug is preventing me from creating an account or getting to the part where I can pair my collar with my phone. I've had it for nearly a week and still haven't been able to use it.

  2. I have had no problems with my Link AKC smart collar. It has been working great for me and my pup. The thing I like about the collar is that it is more than a GPS tracker, it is a smart phone for your dog. The activity monitor is working great and the tracker has been spot on. I am also loving the light and the sound feature. Sometimes with technology their is a learning curve people will have new technology. You must learn how it works before getting so upset. Also, you might have a faulty collar. That can happen with any tech product. Don't give up, we're loving ours.

    1. I am so glad yours is working out so well! Unfortunately my issue has been with the app, not with the hardware or my inability to learn a new technology. When the app works, it works. When the app hits a blank screen two steps into the setup process, there's nothing to do but wait for tech support to make a back-end workaround for you. It took a week to get the app working for me, and so far I'm not impressed. I've had four false notifications in a day and a half. Not impressed with the hardware either, it feels like a smartphone, but I wouldn't be strapping one of those to my dog's neck. It's a nice idea, but just not for us.

    2. To Mr. Arrogant, it doesn't work on my phone either. It is a worthless paper weight I must send back. DO NOT BUY THIS GARBAGE. The App worked great to take my money, but does not link to the collar. Apparently I now see online the app problems are extremely common with this junk.