The maker of a ‘connected’ garage door device, called Garadget, which enables users to open and close it from their smartphone, deliberately cut-off a customer following a negative review and referring to the device as a “piece of shit” in a posting on the company’s online forum.
Garadget was crowd-funded to the tune of $62,865 via Indiegogo in February last year.
In the review on Amazon.com, the owner, Robert Martin of Tulsa, Oklahoma, described the device as “junk”. He continued: “DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. [The] iPhone app is a piece of junk, crashes constantly. [It’s a] start-up company that obviously has not performed proper quality assurance tests on their products.”
Just under one-quarter of the reviews on Amazon gave the product one or two stars.
The user also posted his disgruntlement on the company’s online forum. “Just installed and attempted to register a door when the app started doing this. Have uninstalled and reinstalled iphone app, powered phone off/on – wondering what kind of piece of shit I just purchased here,” he wrote on the company’s forum.
At this point the company cut off his access to the system, preventing him from using the device he had purchased to open, close and check on the status of his garage door.
The company has since relented – but not before a storm of criticism was unleashed in which the potential pitfalls of so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices were also highlighted.
“The fact that your lock one day will betray you, or your smoke detector won’t sound, your pacemaker will pump differently or your car will make a different ethical decision because the company that sells it thinks that you’re an asshole is beyond crazy,” wrote one online commentator.
He continued: “If this isn’t a wake-up call to anyone who doesn’t realize how dangerous this DRM (Digital Rights My-ass) thing is becoming, I don’t know what is. This is the can of shit that just can’t wait to hit the fan for those who trust in those cloud-based proprietary ‘solutions’.”
Another added: “The problem is: the industry’s interest is to lock you in on their cloud so that you end up paying a recurring fee of some sort, while the public’s interest is clearly to be as free as possible from the manufacturer once you have purchased from them…”
Others suggested that retailers like Amazon should more closely police IoT devices in order to protect customers from potentially abusive companies.
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