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How to avoid customer complaints about slow charging speeds

Using cheap, generic chargers with slow charging speeds will leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth and reflect badly on your venue. We share with you the ‘golden rule’ when choosing your charging station and other common mistakes to avoid.

Have you ever purchased or used a cheap iPhone or car recharger purchased off eBay? Did you notice how frustratingly slow the charging speed was? Did you ever wonder why Apple can charge customers $50 for their iPhone chargers?

The answer is actually relatively simple. Smart phones today are, well, smart. When you plug in the phone will check, or ‘authenticate’, the charging device to make sure the power settings (e.g. amps, watts, volts, etc) and hardware is exactly what it requires. There are approximately 7 to 8 different setting that need to be correct. If the phone detects that just one of these settings is incorrect, it will slow down, or ‘throttle’, the charging speed, typically to 3 times slower than a regular wall charger.

For example, a throttled charge will provide only 3% for an iPhone 4 in 10 minutes, versus a regular wall charger at 10% in 10 minutes. An iPad goes a step further and displaysw a message saying ‘Not Charging’!

This poses a big, big challenge for charging kiosks, particularly given there are so many different devices out there, each with its own individual power settings. To date, most charging station have attempted to supply all phones with a similar level of power, and until recently, most of the charging speeds have terribly slow.

Compounding this problem is the total overall power supply. If you connect a second device, the total overall supply of power halves. Connect a third and it halves again, leaving 33% for each device. By the time you get to 8 or 10 devices, your charging speeds have slowed down so much that it makes recharging almost a complete waste of time.

Your customer’s time is precious and installing a service that doesn’t work properly will leave them unhappy and angry. There have been many reported cases of charging station vandalism as a result of a slow charge, in particular to the charging tips. Whilst something as simple as charging multiple devices at once may appear simple, it is actually very complex. We’re constantly surprised at how many venues agree to install low quality charging stations into their venues without even considering whether or not the unit is capable of charging devices properly.

For this reason we stress that before you purchase or install a charging station, you follow the golden rule – test for 10% charge in 10 minutes for an iPhone 4, or don’t install!

Lots of service providers claim to offer a fast or ‘rapid’ charge, however these claims are false as they refer to methods that only apply to old-style batters (NiMH). You see in the old days you could turn up the volts, amps and watts, and ‘push’ the power to the device to speed up the charge. This practice was extremely harmful for the consumer’s battery… literally, nuked it! Fortunately, this practice has been eliminated by the smart phone which will only ‘pull’ the maximum current if the 7 or 8 charging settings are correct and authenticated by the device.

Why is charging technology so important? Well it really comes back to why you want to install a charging kiosk in your venue in the first place. Do you want to improve your customer service or lower it? Do you want to keep your customers happy and spending whilst recharging? Do you want to improve the customer experience or implement a poor quality service which says you don’t value their time?

To assist in deciding which supplier to chose, we’ve prepared a list of questions we strongly encourage you ask before installing:

  • Is your charging technology developed in the US?
  • Is the charging station capable of charging multiple devices at once without power output being halved when each new device is connected?
  • Can iPads and other tablet devices be charged as fast as a wall charger? (many tablets require a higher level of amps than mobile phones)
  • Is your charging technology accredited by any independent 3rd parties?
  • Is the charge board USB-IF compliant to deliver higher current charges?
  • Does your charge board contain over current protection? (ie, will it survive a power surge?)
  • What is the total wattage available from the charge board?
  • Can you show me proof of all of the above?

If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘No’, then you should seriously reconsider installing the unit as it likely to deliver your venue far more problems than it’s worth!

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