Garage Door Opener Company Bricks Customer Hardware After Negative Review

from the you're-really-not-helping dept

So if there's one thing we've probably repeated more than others around here, it's the idea that in the IoT and copyright maximalist era, you no longer truly own the things you think you own. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about video game consoles, software, smart home hubs, ebooks, DVDs or routers -- in the always-connected, copyright mad, instantly-upgradeable firmware age, companies are often quick to remove some or all functionality at a whim, leaving you with little more than a receipt and a dream of dumb technology days gone by.

But we've also noted repeatedly that part of this new paradigm involves companies using this capability to punish customers for poor reviews. This is, it should go without saying, an idiotic policy that almost always invokes the Streisand effect and makes the "problem" of a negative review significantly worse than if the company in question had done nothing at all.

Case in point: internet-connected garage opener Garadget, which is taking heat this week for bricking a customer's 'smart' garage door opener after the customer in question left a negative review on Amazon. Earlier this month, a Garadget user posted to the company's message board, complaining about problems with the iPhone app that controls the garage door opener:

Just installed and attempting 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...

Not really uncommon in the internet of broken things era. The user then followed that up with a one star review over at Amazon making the same complaints:

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.

At this point the company had several options. They could have ignored the complaints, or perhaps done something crazy like use the input to make a better product. Instead, Garadget boss Denis Grisak apparently thought it would be a good idea to inform the user on the company's message boards that his product would no longer be allowed to access the Garadget servers:

Martin, The abusive language here and in your negative Amazon review, submitted minutes after experiencing a technical difficulty, only demonstrates your poor impulse control. I'm happy to provide the technical support to the customers on my Saturday night but I'm not going to tolerate any tantrums.

At this time your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund. Your unit ID 2f0036... will be denied server connection.

Yes, nothing teaches somebody a lesson about impulse control quite like -- exhibiting extremely poor impulse control. Only after the entire fracas went viral via the internet of shit Twitter account and over at Hacker News did Grisak begin to realize the error of his ways, posting a follow up forum statement indicating he was fully aware that the Streisand effect was in full bloom:

Ok, calm down everybody. Save your pitchforks and torches for your elected representatives. This only lack the death treats[sic] now.

The firing of the customer was never about the Amazon review, just wanted to distance from the toxic individual ASAP. Admittedly not a slickest PR move on my part. Note taken.

A quote from a random guy.

PS: Anybody has Streisand's phone number?

That's really a halfhearted apology, especially considering the "toxic" user had what appeared to be entirely legitimate complaints about app functionality. Perhaps the idea that "there's no such thing as bad press" is actually true, but it's just as likely that Grisak's overreaction ensured that countless potential customers -- worried that the product they buy would be arbitrarily nuked -- may look elsewhere for their next garage door opener.


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  1. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Brilliant Job

    "Brick" has a particular meaning in computing, one which isn't met here. The device still works perfectly, but the server that commands it will not allow the user to access it. When the user is blacklisted, it's a ban, not a brick. Now if they had sent an update to the opener that made it cease to work despite commands set by the user, THEN it would be bricked.

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