Nura is getting a lot of attention for its latest product, a pair of wireless earbuds called Nurabuds. As a stripped-down version of the Nuratrue, these earbuds actually lack Nura’s signature hearing test feature. But it’s hard to care about that right now, because there’s something weird going on here—you can only get Nurabuds through the $5 a month NURANOW rental program.
The NURANOW program is actually pretty cut and dry (at least, before you try and cancel). Basically, you pay $5 a month for headphones and get some cute perks, like free access to a white noise app, access to Nura giveaways, and coupons for other Nura items. If you want something a little more ballsy than the company’s earbuds, Nura also offers $10 a month headphones or $7 a month semi-wireless sport earbuds.
All of these items come with a one-time fee on top of their monthly subscription cost. So after two years of renting the Nuraloop sport earbuds, for example, you’ll have spent $222. That’s $72 more than you would spend buying the semi-wireless earbuds up front! But this program could work out favorably if you’re a loyal customer—after 24 months, Nura will let you rent a second device without increasing your monthly fee. That’s on top of the earbuds or headphones you’re already renting, by the way.
But there’s a big catch here—NURANOW is not a rent-to-own service. You don’t get to keep anything you pay for, even if you’re a longtime subscriber. As soon as you stop handing Nura a monthly fee, the company will remotely deactivate your headphones and ask you to send them back within 30 days. Oh, and the company expects you to pay for shipping. Sorry!
But what happens if you don’t return your headphones within 30 days of cancellation? Well, Nura says that “monthly billing will resume” and the company may send you an invoice for the “full retail price of the device plus administration fees.” If your device is lost or damaged, Nura says that you have to pay $15 to $50 for a replacement, or the full price if you’ve replaced a product in the past.
Nura says that these replacement headphones may be refurbished, which is a fancy way of saying that they’re used. But hey, at least we know the company isn’t throwing away old rentals! One thing to keep in mind here is that because this service is for battery-powered headphones, even the most careful subscribers will eventually find themselves phoning in for a replacement and paying a stupid fee. If you stay long enough to burn through two headphones’ batteries, then what was the point in renting in the first place?
Unless you have infinitely deep pockets, I suggest that you avoid Nura’s rental program. Its predatory nature undermines the whole point in product rentals and will cost you a lot of money, even if you bail out early. Unfortunately, this “hardware as a service” model seems to be growing in popularity, as it’s more profitable than letting people own what they pay for. It’s also an easy way to get around right to repair legislation, which could soon pass in the U.S. and Europe.