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article imageSmart garage door maker in hot water after locking out customer

By James Walker     Apr 5, 2017 in Technology
The manufacturer of a smart garage door monitor has been accused of lowering the reputation of the Internet of Things by acting like a "petulant child" while responding to a customer complaint. The company ultimately disabled the user's device.
Garadget is a new connected garage door device that's controlled by a smartphone app. It can be used to remotely open and close the doors and check whether the doors have been left open after you leave your house. The app provides alerts if you drive away without properly securing the garage.
The device started life on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, raising $63,000 from 450 backers. It has since gone on sale at retailers in several countries, attracting attention for its keyless entry, remote access and departure warning alert features.
Despite the largely positive reception, it seems as though not everyone is happy. As Ars Technica reports, a customer by the name of "R. Martin" hasn't had a great time with his unit.
In a post on Garadget's community board, Martin explained that the iPhone app consistently refused to register his doors despite having been reinstalled. After not receiving a response, Martin posted a 1-star review on the product's Amazon listing, telling other customers "do not waste your money" and the device is "a piece of junk."
Company founder Denis Grisak then responded to the support forum post. Describing Martin's comments as "abusive," Grisak dismissed his concerns as "a technical difficulty" and said his posts "demonstrate your poor impulse control." In a highly hypocritical turn of events, Grisak said he wouldn't "tolerate any tantrums" and announced he was disabling Martin's device.
The conversation has since gone viral across the Internet with many people using it as an example of the dangers of the Internet of Things. Grisak was able to "brick" Martin's device, leaving it unusable and him out of pocket. Garadget has been widely criticised for using a "kill switch" to avoid helping customers with negative experiences of its services.
With the Internet of Things (IoT) already viewed sceptically by most consumers, incidents like this don't do much for the industry's image. Analysts have suggested the events could erode trust in IoT manufacturers, making it even harder to ship new devices.
"When incidents like this happen, it makes it even harder to get these kind of products into people's homes," Ben Wood, an analyst for CCS Insight, said to the BBC. "This was a very ill-advised move."
Grisak later responded to the outrage by saying he bricked the device to distance himself "from the toxic individual ASAP." He admitted it wasn't the "slickest" PR move for his company before referencing a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Musk once cancelled the order of a "rude" customer when he publicly criticised the company online.
More about internet of things, IoT, Smart, Devices
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