A startup company decided it's had enough of a certain cantankerous customer so it remotely "bricked" his smart garage door. The man found out the hard way last Saturday that smart home products can be remotely disabled by companies. The guilty party, Garadget, also learned a valuable lesson as it picks up the pieces after its disastrous PR fail.
The Register reported that Robert Martin recently bought a Garadget device for $99. The device is used to control garage doors remotely from anywhere in the world. It also informs the owner if the garage door is closed or not. The owner can talk to the smart door through an app downloaded to a smartphone.
For Martin, however, it wasn't that easy. His Garadget device did not perform as promised and he immediately complained about it on Amazon. He stressed that the device was a piece of junk and encouraged everyone to not waste their money on it. He particularly mentioned that the iPhone app did not work and crashed constantly. He even accused Garadget of not performing "proper quality assurance tests" on its products.
The negative review and the fact that the disgruntled customer started a thread in one of the company's support forums did not sit well with the startup company. Martin was banned from the community until Dec. 27, 2019, for allegedly using abusive language. The startup company did not stop there, however. They then disabled Martin's device leaving his garage door stuck. Someone from Garadget was able to kill the device remotely just by blocking access to that device, therefore, cutting it off from the app.
The Garadget rep responsible for the PR disaster stressed beforehand that he or she was willing to provide support on a Saturday night. The rep, however, stressed that he or she will not tolerate tantrums paving the way for the person to deny Martin server connection. The rep also informed him that his only option was to return the device to Amazon and get a refund.
Advancements in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) have led to the proliferation of smart home devices such as refrigerators, security cameras, and baby monitors. However, controversies seem to follow such smart products.