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]