An Internet of Things maker handed down a harsh punishment to a customer who gave one of its products a bad review — it disabled the device, rendering it inoperable.
Garadget Disables Guy's Smart Garage Door Opener
The device in question is Garadget. Denis Grisak, the person responsible for the internet-connected garage door opener, launched the device via Indiegogo, eclipsing its launch goal more than twice in February. This week, however, Grisak's response to a dissatisfied customer has earned the company a different kind of fanfare.
This is how it all went down: Robert Martin, who purchased Garadget through Amazon, reported problems using the accompanying iPhone app meant to control Garadget on Saturday, April 1. He typed up, in a slight fit of hysterics, a sharply worded comment on the Garadget community board. Martin wrote that he was having trouble trying to register a door through the app. With no luck, he uninstalled then reinstalled the app, turned the phone off then on, but still to no avail.
"[I'm] wondering what kind of piece of s*** I just purchased here," wrote Martin. With no response, he then turned to Amazon and left a one-star review of Garadget:
"Junk — DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY — iPhone app is a piece of junk, crashes constantly, start-up company that obviously has not performed proper quality assurance tests on their products."
Grisak responded to Martin's statements via the community board, saying that his abusive language shows his "poor impulse control." He also said that he was more than willing to help Martin with technical support but that he's not "going to tolerate any tantrums."
Grisak then handed down the final judgement:
"At this time, your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for [a] refund. Your unit ID 2f0036 ... will be denied server connection."
The whole exchange went viral, being passed around from site to site, getting the attention of Twitter denizens and even rising to the top of Hacker News. People rapidly swooped in, with someone even suggesting that the action Grisak did was akin to unlawfully remote bricking a purchased device. But Grisak thought otherwise:
"Technically there is no bricking, though," he said. "No changes are made to the hardware or the firmware of the device, just denied use of company servers."
Garadget Connection Restored
Those watching the whole exchange unfold, however, were rapt. The notion of a company purposefully curtailing a product's operability is certainly disquieting to say the least, especially if it's something already paid for. To his merit, Grisak did acknowledge that the whole thing was a "bad PR move." The problem has now been sorted out, with Martin getting his connection back.
In its statement, Grisak said that while Martin's language wasn't too bad for some venues, it was a departure from baseline behavior inside Garadget, which, according to him, enjoys "a very civilized community."
What Garadget's Response Means
This might just be a simple case of a rude customer and an iffy response by a company. But on the larger view, this might paint a picture of what consequences can occur in the increasing reliance to smart home systems and how there's a proper way to address complaints, even if they're stringent and almost inflammatory.
But all told, here's what Elon Musk, of all people, has to say about the whole farce:
Must be a slow news day if denying service to a super rude customer gets this much attention
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2016
Thoughts about the whole exchange and ensuing incident? What do you think about Martin's complains and the company's responses? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!