If you’re happily plunging into the world of smart home appliances, take heed: These devices can sometimes be remotely disabled, and something as easy as getting in or out of your own garage can suddenly become a problem.
Or at least that’s exactly what apparently happened to a customer of Garadget, a smart, connected garage door opener. When the customer, identified as Robert Martin on Amazon, left a few bad reviews about his new Garadget, he got banned from using the product instead of getting technical help for the device.
The answer Martin got from Garadget in response was probably not the one he was expecting. Denis Grisak, the man behind the Garadget project, told Martin his harsh tone was not appreciate — and then he proceeded to render Martin’s device unusable by disabling its server connection.
After getting a ton of negative feedback, Grisak later said he restored the device’s access to the company servers, though he didn’t exactly apologize.
Mashable contacted Grisak about the details of the incident, and he told us, via email, that this was an “unusually emotional call” and “a lesson that’s hard to ignore.”
According to Grisak, his reaction wasn’t due to the poor review on Amazon, but rather was about the post in the community board. He claims the customer was still in “early stages” of the Garadget setup, and the device was “never in actual use.” Plus, Garadget is an “add-on device which doesn’t provide or replace opener’s functionality so the customer was never locked out,” Grisak said.
We also asked Grisak whether or not he regrets the way he handled the situation. He told us that “this never happened before and will not happen again.”
Even though the customer’s product was eventually restored to full functionality, this is a cautionary tale for anyone looking to buy an IoT product — with extra features, sometimes you also get extra ways in which things can get broken or disabled. And sometimes, the people who maintain and control these products might abuse their power, leaving you with a broken gadget instead of a smart one.