Denis Grisak, the man behind IoT garage door device Garadget, is in hot water after blocking a customer from using the technology after a negative online review.
On April 1, Robert Martin complained on Amazon and Garadget’s community board that the app was “junk”, “crashes constantly”, and claimed the start-up had not “performed proper quality assurance tests”.
Grisak responded by denying Mr Martin a server connection to the application, effectively locking him out, and responded directly to his comments on Amazon, suggesting he ask the e-commerce giant for a refund.
The block has subsequently been lifted, with Grisak admitting his action was not the “slickest PR move”.
The Garadget application allows customers to open and close their garage doors remotely via Wi-Fi-based cloud connectivity from Particle, and a smartphone or wearable. The app also provides a way for garage owners to check remotely whether the doors are firmly shut or open for any reason.
The device is owned by software development company Softcomplex, and raised close to $63,000 in a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in February 2016.
Despite the support it received, the app’s owner Grisak has faced a backlash online for taking his revenge on the hapless customer, with one Amazon user hinting that he may have broken the law – a claim Grisak denied, saying he had not changed the hardware or firmware – and another comparing him to a “petulant child”.
One user even went as far as saying, “Sales are going to tank if people think you have a kill switch to be fired any time they say something you don’t like.”
In light of the backlash, and once Martin’s block had been lifted, Grisak offered a more measured response, saying: “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.”
Bad news for IoT
With yet another incident involving a faulty IoT smart home device, questions will continue as to whether consumers should buy into IoT yet.
Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight, told the BBC: “The bottom line is that it’s already a hard sell to get people to embrace the so-called internet of things.”
“In particular, there’s a huge amount of trust involved in having something that can open your doors.
“When incidents like this happen, it makes it even harder to get these kind of products into people’s homes. This was a very ill-advised move.”