IoT vendor objects to "rude" review, renders complainer's device inoperable

R Martin bought a Garadget -- a device that lets you verify whether your garage door is closed using a mobile app -- and couldn't get it to work and left an intemperate 1-star Amazon review for the product.

In response, Garadget creator Denis Grisak disconnected his customer's Garadget from the cloud service, rendering it inoperable, and told the customer that he would not "tolerate any tantrums," so R Martin's "only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund." This drew some negative publicity, resulting in the restoration of the customer's service.

Whatever you think of the dynamics of R Martin and Denis Grisak, this is a cautionary tale about how the IoT is full of what we used to think of as "products" (garage-door openers) that are now "services," subject to the ongoing goodwill of the vendor to continue working. If the vendor decides to discontinue a product-service it simply stops working...forever -- same goes for vendors who punish customers for not buying official consumables; or who simply walk away from their businesses.

What's more, the ubiquity of DRM in these devices, along with their abusive terms of service, combined with Section 1201 of the DMCA (which bans breaking DRM even for lawful purposes) and the CFAA (which makes breaking Terms of Service into a potential felony) means that developing an alternative OS for these gadgets, or a third-party replacement cloud, can land you in jail.

IoT Vendor Bricks Customer Product Following Negative Reviews [Catalin Cimpanu/Bleeping Computer]

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  1. renke says:

    in this case only a crapget and a guy who probably shouldn't do anything customer-related (don't know if he has other qualities, he could be otherwise a brilliant manager or developer).

    it gets more interesting when personal, uh, quirks are part of the culture of larger enterprises - like Musk canceling a Tesla car order over a bad review

  2. It's not like a review like his is uncommon. If I were that person I would still return the device. That company that would pull that has no integrity.

  3. A crapgadget like that is totally unnecessary, but if one was interested, they could do it themselves. Here's an idea: instead of making single purpose crapgadgets, make something that can report the status of any sensor when queried remotely. Then you could see if your garage door is open, your coffee maker is on, your faucet is running, whatever, without having to buy multiple crapgadgets.

  4. I notice the tag, "The end of private property" on this story. I'd like to out that this is only the "end of" private property in that it's the logical conclusion of private property. It's our ideas about private property and people's unfettered right to accumulate it that created the situation. After all, it's not that no one owns the right to turn that device on and off, the company owns it. It's just the company chooses to extract rent instead of selling.

  5. No.

    I spent a long time at Compaq/HP fixing servers that really didn't want to work - I mean "really didn't want to work" as in "technical support and field service couldn't fix it, not even with a replacement." Prima donnas come with the turf, and you come very quickly to realise that even they can have very real cause for discontent with your product, all drama aside.

    That being the case, you have three legitimate courses of action, in descending order of preference:

    • You fix the problem. If the problem is bad enough, you even co-opt the customer to help (as your eyes, so to speak). You would be surprised how often that gets even prima donnas onside. It tells them that you are taking the situation seriously.

    • When an equivalent (or better) is available, you replace the product.

    • You give a full refund, swallowing any shipping and/or labour costs required to return the product.

    You do not brick the product and force the customer into a refund. Never. That is the very definition of unprofessional.

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