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iPhone App will not stay open - just flashes when trying to launch (garadget.com)
638 points by ant6n 22 days ago | hide | past | web | 436 comments | favorite

I don't know why many comments about "the customer is clearly an asshole, therefore he deserves the lock not working/the company has the legal rights to do so blah blah" are modded so high right now. Even when the customer is an asshole, that has absolutely nothing to do with a security device betraying him or not.

I'm very glad that the customer is now only denied access to the app. I can see one day a company that sells the "cloud-lock" will allow any thief to get in the customer's door because they left a negative review for the product (and not bragging about their vengeance in a public forum like this Garaget company did). The fact that your lock one day will betray you, or your smoke detector won't sound, your pacemaker will pump differently or your car will make a different ethical decision because the company that sells it thinks that you're an asshole is beyond crazy.

If this isn't a wake-up call to anyone who doesn't realize how dangerous this DRM (Digital Rights Myass) thing is becoming, I don't know what is. This is the can of shit that's just can't wait to hit the fan for those who trust in those cloud-based proprietary "solutions." This is exactly the kind of behavior that Stallman and the EFF warned us against and guess what, they're right again.

I agree with you completely. In addition, imagine if this was your home door lock. Let's say it has bluetooth connectivity and it didn't work from 8 feet away (with a 10 foot range advertised), you get pissed, give it a wordy 1 star review, and the next thing you know you are locked out of your house. This is all at whim of someone behind a computer potentially halfway around the globe.

The Garage door often _is_ a home door.

OMG I can't beleive anyone cares about the app's hurt feelings!

Now seriously, this is amazing, so unprofessional. The company really mixed up things based on how someone felt at the moment of dealing with support? Now the question on the table is if that breaks contract or not. Both cases are terrible. If you say yes the company opens a juridical risk and if you say no it means its Terms of Service have something like "...and we may deny the service if you leave a negative app review or ask for our support in a way that we don't feel belonging to a 'safe space', specially if the user don't trigger warns us..."

I absolutely second that.

And the problem is: the industry's interest is to lock you in on their cloud so that you end up paying a recurring fee of some sort, while the public's interest is clearly to be as free as possible from the manufacturer once you have purchased from them...

So until there is clear regulation about what you own, what you don't, and what your (preferably protective) rights really are when you purchase a device that relies on the manufacturer's cloud for operation, and even more generally, when you seem to own some thing but the manufacturer explains in the fine print that you only have a "license to use" that thing that limits what you can do with it ; until that, my friends, we're going to be at the mercy of manufacturers acting in their own interest, punto.

I don't really see that future where honest lockmakers would routinely pivot to selling access to the highest bidder, but I do see one where potential buyers would be even more likely than today to choose the devil they know (an overpriced incumbent with less innovative products, but who can be absolutely trusted to not trip into suicidal anti-customer vendettas) over the devil they don't (the charming startup that might hide a source of infinite childishness)

I highly recommend the movie Repo Men (2010) to those who want to viscerally feel the implications of this kind of DRM.


> I don't know why many comments about "the customer is clearly an asshole, therefore he deserves the lock not working/the company has the legal rights to do so blah blah"

This attitude is rife in the tech industry, sadly, people somehow thing one of their own is being abused by others having an opinion or reporting an experience. Safe spaces, trigger warnings....

I agree mostly, except the last part about DRM. I don't like DRM either, but this isn't DRM, this is a case where a physical device is dependent upon a cloud/internet service to actually function. So if the company either goes belly-up, or (as in this case) decides to capriciously revoke your device's access, you're left with a device that simply does not function.

Personally, I think this is terrible, but I think this incident is a good wake-up call to how ridiculous this kind of thing is, and why consumers should stay far, far away from such devices. I hope this gets a lot of mainstream media attention. But it's not DRM; that's an entirely different animal. That's where your own device (usually a computer or mobile computing device like a phone) is sent some encrypted media content, along with keys to decrypt it, so that it can only be viewed on your device (and according to certain stipulations), and this is enforced by your own device against you, the device's owner.

you mean the device licensor, read your EULAs next time :)

Tactical note: Drop the last paragraph. It adds nothing, and takes away from the point you very effectively made prior.

People will most strongly remember the first and especially the last words you say to them. Make sure those words are the ones you want remembered.

The last one is a very important paragraph to see the big picture. Without that, my comment might just be an isolated case and fear mongering.

It is important to see although this door lock/car control/whatever problem is new, the underlying thought process is not new. Not having the rights to understand and modify, leading to having to trust what "the cloud" or proprietary software does (especially those that determine your personal security) is a topic that was brought up again and again by the people I mentioned. We will be lost in the details of this particular case of this door lock/crazy customer/picky company otherwise, so I think it is worthy to relay the principles.

That can be effectively done without the explicit tie to Stallman and FSF, whose absolutism many find offputting.

Garadget is a "cloud-enabled garage door opener" sold for $99 on Amazon.

The manufacturer seemingly disabled the product, or primary advertised features of the product, in retribution for a short negative review left on Amazon.

IMO Amazon should immediately drop the product when they catch wind of that, and so should any other retailer that carries it. The manufacturer's abused their relationship with the retailer (which now has to handle a return of a perfectly good device they sold) and the customers (who now have to fear retribution for reviewing products they purchased at retailers).

Regardless of whether the content of the review was justified or not, this probably won't go well for Garadget, whoever he is. A journalist has already reached out to the customer.

I can sympathize with being frustrated with customers. It takes a lot of self-control to remain professional at times. If you don't have that kind of self-control, you need to hire someone else to do customer support that does, or you won't have a very successful business. Being the boss doesn't mean there are no repercussions for your actions.

Amazon lets far worse things go unnoticed, like fake medical products. Why? Because of the money.

Amazon has already bricked a Kindle (and the full user account) because it had "a pirate PDF", according to their automations.

Just, don't but from Amazon. Even Alibaba is better.

Do you have a reference? Googling dont reveal any cases, only people speculating if they might do it.

The closest analogue I know is Amazon remotely wiping books from customer devices when Amazon noticed that they did not have the right to sell them in the first place: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18ama... (Ironically, the books were by Orwell.) There was a lawsuit which was settled http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/techflash/2009/09/am... and apologies from Amazon which said they would not do it again (this was in 2009) http://mashable.com/2009/07/17/amazon-remote-delete/.

Yes, that was a mistake, and they said it was a mistake, and they won't do it again. So you can't use this as a general example of how amazon behaves - unless you are arguing they listen and try to fix mistaken behavior.

No matter how benevolent Amazon may be, it is still problematic that, when you "buy" an ebook with them, they are technically able to remove it from your ebook reader. This is bad even if they only use this power when they mess up or when they are legally compelled to do it (an option they still explicitly allow for). So even if they apologized and promised not to do it again, the point still stands...

Yes: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4682392 . There are speculations on whether the Kindle was actually wiped or whether she just couldn't use it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4684392

Wow, seems like it really is the case.

Well, turns out my strategy of de-DRMing Kindle books[0] is more than a good suggestion, just to be on the safe side.

Under my moral compass, after I have purchased one edition of the book, I have the right to convert it to whatever the hell I want.


Aliexpress is build on escrow. I don't think amazon is even trying to beat that kind trust.

> A journalist has already reached out to the customer.

Then let's hope the journalist won't forget to talk to Garadget as well.

Why? He listed his reasons for the ban in the thread. He though the customer was rude, so he disabled the $100 device he sold.

Gradget just now deleted a comment recommending contacting Amazon and the US attorney general, and has locked the thread.

Their domain still leads to an indigogo page.

People should avoid startups those use crowdfunding websites as risk free capital gainer preorder pages.

They don't get proper investment for a reason.

> They don't get proper investment for a reason.

That's not always true. Ergodox-ez.com has an awesome product (a keyboard) they funded through indiegogo. Not to mention basically every 3d printer company, even the VC funded ones.

Crowdfunding (and pre-ordering in general) helps hardware startups raise the cash they need to manufacture a batch of product. Without it, they'd have to raise the full cost of the batch in advance, (which is probably a lot,) on the hope that customers will buy it up. I can't think of many startups that have that much goodwill from investors.

It makes sense to be extremely skeptical when giving your money to an early-stage company, whether as an investor or a pre-order customer. But writing off crowdfunding in general means you're writing off almost every hardware startup, including some of the great ones.

Speaking of the keyboard world, there's also the extreme of the crowdfunding concept: sites like Massdrop that emphasize crowdfunding individual batches of a product (almost always one-off) rather than aiming for eventual mass-production and general availability. It apparently seems to be working for some people, but as someone who doesn't follow every last Massdrop deal, it just seems more annoying than useful as a business practice.

It's definitely better for customers if you have a constant supply of products to sell, but for niche hobbyist groups (like mechanical keyboard enthusiasts), it's the only way to get some stuff made. I like it. I was able to get a keyboard PCB fairly inexpensively, which is a big deal because getting one-offs of PCBs that size costs $$$.

Ergodox-ez.com sure make a big deal about being 'open source', yet I can't find a schematic, PCB design or anything related to this on their site. Perhaps I'm missing something?

What I do see is they use an open source firmware, used on several other keyboards.

Seriously? What about companies that emphatically don't want to sell off a large percentage of their company and their souls to a board of venture capitalists and the like?

Then bootstrap and self-fund.

One thing for a software or services based company, but if you are a product based company that needs significant capital investment to get production started, and you haven't got any credit history to be able to get a bank loan, then crowd funding seems to be a legitimate way to go. Plus you get the added bonus of getting marketplace validation from your actual customers if they fork out the money to subscribe to you.

First responder to this thread was pretty much lambasting all projects that opt for the crowd funding pathway, which I think is a grossly unfair judgement call.

Then talk to investors to take investment.

I don't think its unreasonable that someone who takes a risk on giving you money in your infancy to realise your product should get some equity or something else from it that's more than just a "preorder".

It's crazy how many people do not realize that "bootstrap" as in "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" is a sarcastic MOCKERY of that sort of sentiment. It's like we need new idioms. Here's a suggestion: "This poor new mother doesn't need welfare, she can live off her own milk!" I bet it would take a long time before "live off your own milk" degrades to being taken non-sarcastically…

They should exploit consumers I guess.........


Would you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News? We've asked you this before.

> I can sympathize with being frustrated with customers. It takes a lot of self-control to remain professional at times.

That's why you shell out customer service to disillusioned minimum wage drones: they hate you as much as the customer, which creates a subconscious empathic link.

According to the Amazon.com page for the item, it ships from and is sold by the manufacturer. So it's not a proper Amazon item, it's an Amazon Marketplace item.

In this case, I don't think Amazon even is the retailer, they're just the platform, in the same sense as eBay/PayPal.

Also, the guy (presumably guy) has said to return the product for a refund, so things will pretty much be zeroed out, unless the customer doesn't go through with it.

But this now means that no Amazon reviews of this product are remotely trustworthy for the simple reason that they have made public that bad reviews risks getting your device bricked.

To me that means their products are now inherently suspect.

I'm pretty surprised by the comments here on decorum and civility. The customer called the product a "piece of shit" - yes he used bad language, but he's criticising the product itself. An object. The rep. directly insulted the customer's character (saying he had "poor impulse control" and was throwing a "tantrum").

Is this another example of American tendencies to be extra sensitive about "profanity" or am I missing something? From my reading, the rep. was significantly more out of line even in his tone and message than the customer, even before he went and defacto-bricked the device in his own little tantrum.

The character assassination gets even more childish if you look at the customer's account:

> This user is suspended until Dec 28, 2019 3:37 am.

> Reason: attitude

I'm also surprised at the amount of overly sensitive people defending Garadget here. Their basis -- that this customer was likely brought up wrong -- is a bit amusing. It suggests that the defenders were brought up to judge others based a single interaction, without any thought of context, or anything but the barest of social awareness.

'course, here I am doing the judging now.

Welcome to American culture. If you think this is bad, look at how parents judge other parents' parenting skills. Mom-shaming is one of the great American past-times. There are few cultures in the developed world with such a strong affinity for judging others. It's the root of the political climate, too: two people who might otherwise get along will, for example, often never have a second date once they discover they are from different political parties.

Shaming others is one of the basic acts of culture reinforcement. It's everywhere in one form of another, not just America. You might notice it here if you're a foreigner because what we shame might be different than where you come from.

Yes it is everywhere, but it definitely exists in different degrees among different cultures. Some societies show much greater preoccupation with other people's lives than other societies. Which is why some cultures are known as more "tolerant" than others.

Indeed. Isn't that what much of this thread is about, aimed at the developer/company in question here as well?

Mom-shaming is one thing.

Calling child protection services because other parents allow their kids to roam outdside without constant supervision is a whole different kettle of fish.

And yet roaming outside without supervision is perfectly accepted and safe in most regions of the U.S. (certainly not all), and the world. I can't tell if you are justifying a call to child protection services in such a case, or not.

  I can't tell if you are justifying a call to child protection services in such a case, or not. 
No. Absolutely not! I'm horrified to read stories where that actually happened.

I agree. If a company can't handle that reaction, I don't want to do business with them, so I'm at least grateful they made this public so people like me who don't want to deal with businesses like theirs are aware that a bad review may lead to insults and being prevented from using their product.

As I've indicated elsewhere: this event also means I can't trust any of the reviews of their products, because it's clear they are happy to punish customers who leave bad reviews, and at least some proportion of customers will be aware of this when leaving reviews.

Fair enough. Previously his remarks seemed justified to me but I hadn't considered it from this angle before. I agree with you; personal attacks are never justified, and Denis Grisak is valuing his own work over a customer's​ bad experience.

In other words, the creator would rather be alone with his product than have customers. That's fine, but in that case it's probably best to reconsider selling it altogether.

If you run a business, you generally do not want to deal with customers which are assholes, trolls, they cheat, lie, etc. And many companies rate customers and one which are rated low have longer wait time or harder time to get returns/refunds. I do not have proof but I think Amazon has that rating. Lyft has that. Uber has that. AirBnB, etc.

But the BIG issue here is that you must treat customers with respect: if you do not want offer service to certain person, apologize, explain situation on your side (whatever - we are small team, we require dress code, etc.), offer refund, and that is that. Be nice. Be polite.

In short, I do not have problem that they disable his account. Whatever - that is the business. I have problem with their attitude.

It's more of a HN thing than an American thing.

I dunno. Don't American's bleep their TV shows?

It's quite amusing the see American guests on some of the ruder British talkshows, and see their reactions when some British guest swears, which often leads to more swearing when the British guests notice their reaction and choose to demonstrate just how much they can get away with.

It's pretty much a standing joke on some shows - US guests on these shows fall in two categories: those who are aware of UK humour and/or the specific show (often people who live or have lived in the UK) and who are "in on it" and tend to play up the difference and play up to US stereotypes, and the unsuspecting innocents who have no idea what they're in for, and who get pounced on like prey.

To be fair, the UK are generally quite uptight about this kind of stuff as well - particularly on radio, but also on the majority of daytime TV. Graham is something of an exception, though he's been doing it for so many years now, his competitors are catching on.

Quite so: he's definitely post-watershed material.

Only on over the air, and if it's only the word "fuck"

Other words do get bleeped, especially before watershed. Notably, about half of George Carlin's famous list of words not allowed on TV is subject to bleeping.

Same deal on radio, though that's been loosening lately. Sublime's "Wrong Way" still omits "whore" and "tits" whenever I hear it on the radio, but some songs get away with "bitch", which I guess is progress.

At least on the east coast, the further south you go the more things get bleeped out.

Um....No. George Carlin even did a very famous stand up routine about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_dirty_words

A few years ago Jon Stewart (late night cable) played a clip of the routine and they were all bleeped except for one.

Dear customer,

We are a small team who don't have the resources to test every single OS version on every device. Problems will happen.

As such we're happy to issue you a refund, and you can keep the device. All we ask is that you let us update the app to make sure it's working on your device, and hopefully others.

Thank you for helping us find the issue. We will work tirelessly until it is fixed. If at some stage you are satisfied we would be delighted to turn your one star review into a five star one.

Kind regards Company which needs a little bit of help in how to deal with customers

I'm fine with a request to change the review, but not sure that they should tell them exactly how many stars to give.

Wierd, I read it as "We will work to change your mind about the product so you'll want to change that 1 star to a 5 star."

There was no "we won't help unless you promise to change the review to a 5 star" implied.

Try it and notice how it actually works vs just asking to give a better grade.

I can see it working, but I just feel that it's putting pressure on the consumer to rate the company how they want them to.

Yep. It usually turns out better that way.

(except I'm not sure how I feel about asking them to change their review at this stage)

I would probably be a lot more indirect about it.

Thank you for helping us find the issue. We will work tirelessly until it is fixed. If at some stage you are satisfied we would be delighted to turn your one star review into a five star one.


Thank you for helping us find the issue. We will work tirelessly until we turn your one star disappointment into a five star experience.

I have a business selling software. And most of the the time, rude customers are just frustrated with the product. Once you start to address their concerns, they are actually very friendly and would not hesitate to change their review or give a 5 star rating.

> As such we're happy to issue you a refund

They didn't offer this, the bricked the device and suggested returning it to Amazon, who have no power over any of this.

Which companies do the refund + keep-device if unsatisfied?

It's not about "Whatever, here is your money back, just keep the device we don't care, goodbye."

It's about acknowledging the customers frustration, hopefully lowering it by returning the money no questions asked, and ALSO keeping the door open to continue the conversation in the hope for a more positive outcome.

Maybe the customer angrily throws the device away and you never hear from him again. Okay then, everybody moves on.

But maybe he is less frustrated and is willing to have a productive discussion about his problem, provide you with more information and try some things.

Again this might lead nowhere. Ideally you either find that something completely out of your control was the fault, and the customer can admit that blaming you for it was unreasonable, or you find the fault and are able to fix it.

So you might end up with a customer that no longer blames you, or even better one that is now able to use and enjoy your product.

I've worked with a small hardware manufacturer for consumer electronics a few years back and they literally trashed every return (at least in the US market).

They used to just let customers keep them until people apparently caught on and took advantage of the policy.

I know they trashed them as I was the only company resource in the US and they shipped them to my house to be destroyed. :/

Big difference between company policy (which will be abused) and good decision making by the company in individual cases.

I got an offer for a refund + keep the device on a $7 electronic part that I posted a 3 star review on from a fulfillment-by-amazon seller.

I guess handling the return would cost more than the value of the item, and presumably they really don't want a 3 star review.

(I did not accept the offer, that would feel a bit dishonest)

Amazon, occasionally, but not always.

Also happened to me at least twice with Spreadshirt (but they don't really sell devices). Once the product clearly had a defect (part of the print was coming off), once I ordered it just too small.

Every company selling products via the internet in the EU.

Definitive NO. I think you mean they have to offer free _return shipping_.

I only know the situation in Germany for that, and the law here is not even as straightforward as most customers expect, just the big online retailers are pretty relaxed with their return policies (because that is what the customers are expecting).

There is no situation where you could insist on keeping a defective product, and its also not commonly offered voluntarily.

I've had this experience with Monoprice and a few AliExpress sellers at least. "Oh, it doesn't work? Meh, all yours, have a good one" is a very good way to make customers come back.

It's ripe for abuse, so I'm sure companies have to be careful with it, but if it's low margin stuff it probably doesn't matter much anyways.

Yes, they have to offer free return shipping and for many small items, receiving a to-be-refurbished item is almost worthless to the manufacturer, so it's both cheaper and simpler just to not ask for the item back.

Actually in Germany there is no longer a law that forces the retailer to cover the return shipping costs. They will have to refund your money no questions asked, including the shipping fee you paid, if you return the item in the first two weeks, but not the return shipping. But since for a few years there was such a law, it is very very commonly offered anyway.

And also you can in principle be asked to cover any loss of value if you damaged the product or used it in any way that was not "necessary for testing/evaluation".

So far I had to return every item I did not like or that arrived damaged. Especially for obviously damaged goods it makes no direct sense for them to ask for it back to trow it away on their end, but I really think at least a retailer like amazon does not just hand waive a decision like that and has some economic reasons.

Somewhat related, once I noticed a significant price drop the day after I had bought a product from amazon, and asked support if they could refund me the difference. They could not, but told me to just order another one for the lower price and refuse the delivery of the first order (which means the logistics company returns the item directly).

So clearly "cheaper and simpler" for a company like amazon is not always as straightforward as one might expect.

I get the sentiment, but why should a hardware company let the user keep the device and their money? Issuing a refund and finding a way to retrieve the device so it can be resold makes much more sense to me. Especially for a small company....

Giving away your product for free to every customer that complains seems like a quick way to go out of business.

If you buy a faulty ipad from apple, they'll certainly give you your money back, but they'll make you return the ipad.

Super simple - turn your worst anti-evangelist into your biggest supporter. For the value of a used, possibly defective device with a $99 retail (therefore costing probably $20-35 to produce).

It's hard to explain, but I've lived through this so many times, and seeing an angry customer turn into a better marketing resource than any adwords campaign, and getting the warm fuzzies at the same time, is good business in my book.

> If you buy a faulty ipad from apple, you can certainly get your money back, but you need to return the faulty device too

Sure, but Apple won't remotely disable your device until you turn it in for a refund. If you want to preëmptively cut off services, you should initiate the refund. That leaves the customer with a free (albeit broken) product. This is partly why few companies remotely disable devices after purchase, particularly as a retaliatory measure.

Yeah, definitely not advocating for remote disabling of anything. Only responding to the sample support response and suggesting that it's worthwhile to retrieve the device and issue the refund. Not just issue the refund.

Not a 99 dollar retail price device. I'd guess the hardware earned the developer maybe 10, 20 bucks?

Loosing one or two less future sale probably makes up for the loss.

Understanding that one customers frustration and improving the experience for other new future customers could literally be priceless.

They're probably making way more than $10-20 on that thing - you can buy wifi capable dev boards for $10 out of China. If you're producing in bulk, you can probably build that even cheaper.

The marginal cost to make more units is dirt cheap, I'd be surprised if it's >$20 - the cost to develop the whole system in the first place is the hard part on the technical side of things. Then there's the business side which they just blew pretty bad. Giving the customer the hardware costs them almost nothing - write it off to make the customer happy. As long as you don't have to do that too much, it's perfectly sustainable.

If the company only makes $20 bucks on it, then they're losing $80 by giving it away. That's how profit margins work.

I like how they chastise Martin for poor impulse control and then go for the nuclear option of disabling someone's account over a single review.

"They think my service doesn't work now, well let me show them what not working is really like!" The irony is amusing, except for Martin.

Also, I'd like to take this time to note that this is another reason that it's important to have control over your own devices.

Yep. Just shows me this is not a company to buy things from, if they're going to go off at the drop of a hat like that.

I agree with the point about having control of your own devices as well - an awful lot of "smart" devices are going to be worthless or near-worthless as soon as the company behind them decides it's not worthwhile to keep the cloud service running.

Manipulating reviews is unlawful in Europe ... Would love to see a prosecution in this sort of situation.

The users who are arrogant and abusive usually have zero overlap with the ones who care about control over their own devices.

I mean, your statement is true for most subsets of users. "The users who are nice and kind usually have zero overlap with the ones who care about control over their own devices."

That said, I do view it as important for those of us that do care to be loud about it. It's in the benefit of all consumers for devices to be secure and usable without a external support.

I mean, even though I feel personally it should all be open hardware and software, I won't even go that far. Just let my stuff work when your servers stop working.

Carry the torch friend, I gave up the battle long ago. My last remnants of caring are my recurring donations to the EFF and Public Knowledge.

That's not the point. The company has no right to deprive a user who paid from receiving the product.

You don't get to do a personality test on your customers. Some will be jerks and it's their right. Someone who doesn't recognize that others are under no obligation to like you is dangerous to society.

> You don't get to do a personality test on your customers. Some will be jerks and it's their right.

Yes, you do. As a business, you get to decide your customers. Full stop. You do not have a right to purchase a product from a business, and they have the right to refuse you as a customer.

You can't simply sell your products on Amazon and then brick the product if you find out someone that you don't like bought it. That's absolutely absurd and frankly I find it shocking how biased you are towards the creator.

You can't retroactively undo a sale based on your whims.

> You can't retroactively undo a sale based on your whims.

But you can! You don't like it, but its entirely possible (clearly) and legal.

Why should you be required by law to provide services to someone? Or are you interested in Amazon using their leverage to enable customer abuse of sellers? No thank you.

The entitlement complex runs deep in society today. So unfortunate.

It's not necessarily that you're required to provide services in the first place, it's that that ship has sailed once you've already sold the product, while knowingly using a marketplace which has no vetting.

I wonder how you'd feel if a company decided to disable your fridge years after you bought it, because you publicly pointed out an issue with the product and figured it's worth 2 stars. Tell me, is there a time limit on this insanity?

> I wonder how you'd feel if a company decided to disable your fridge years after you bought it, because you publicly pointed out an issue with the product and figured it's worth 2 stars. Tell me, is there a time limit on this insanity?

I don't buy networked products that I'm not okay with losing the cloud functionality at a moment's notice. Caveat emptor.

The means by which the company deprives you of the product is not what's being debated.

Return the product if you're not happy then. You're not entitled to a service, only the piece of hardware.

At once, your majesty.

But seriously, it's not you or the creator's call whether I have to return the product. I don't have to return it if I gave it a bad review.

Just because I bought something from a store doesn't mean I'm now accountable to the creator.

I hope you don't have to test your theory in court, because you will lose - because the law is clear on this matter.

> I hope you don't have to test your theory in court, because you will lose - because the law is clear on this matter.

The law is clear. You can keep the product. You are not entitled to services. You can keep your lump of silicon, that is all you are entitled to.

Dunno I feel its the other way round.

That's a baseless assumption.

Most of my assumptions are baseless, and only generated based on my anecdotal evidence, life experience, and the occasional Google search. No refunds!

"Throwing a tantrum"? The review in question is something along the lines of "the control app is flashing and doesn't work at all. This is junk, don't waste your money on it. 1/5 stars." If you make any public facing products, you will occasionally get such (and worse) reviews even if your product is a shiny perfection forged in heaven by angels themselves and wrapped in magic. Fact of life.

On the other hand, the support engineer's response (that ends with blocking the user's device for good) _is_ a bona fide tantrum, worthy of textbooks.

I am also quite surprised by the number of comments here at HN siding with Garadget. People like these shouldn't be allowed anywhere near tech support roles, as a single such incident can ruin the company unless they can spend tons of money for lawyers.

(This is why it is, in my opinion, better to start with enterprise products. Enterprise sales are much less public and you can afford to fire customers you don't like with ease, and vice versa.)

> the support engineer's response (that ends with blocking the user's device for good) _is_ a bona fide tantrum, worthy of textbooks.

I don't think that's a support engineer. I'm pretty sure that's Denis Grisak, the founder of Garadget. I find it fascinating that he used the phrase "only demonstrates your poor impulse control" to the customer while arguably his own response seems to suggest his own impulse control may require reinforcement.

That explains some things.

I have been a founder too, and I am aware that this is a lot more stressful than it seems from the outside, and this one star review might have been the last straw.

However, dealing with angry customers is a part of the job (like everything else, until proper employees are hired). Let's say that this person is not particularly good at said job.

I was a founder and did tech support for years. Eventually stopped doing it for a couple of years and tried doing it again.

I wanted to fire every customer who called in because of the abusive way they treated the support people. The support people patiently explained to me that it was part of their job and they didn't take it personally.

I have found people are on a grid with "people helpers" as one axis and "problem solvers" as the other. Close to 100% people helper, you know that you can help this person because you've done it 100x. Close to 100% problem solver, you're going out of your mind because you've done this 100x.

They wouldn't have had an issue here if they'd just kept this quiet and via direct support email instead of in public.

It's not like he was being abusive to an individual support staff member, he cussed about the app in an Amazon review and on their forum because it was genuinely failing for him. Nothing wrong with that, people get worked up when stuff doesn't work sometimes, you need to be able to handle some level of that when doing support for your product.

And worse, they're selling a physical product which they just made effectively useless after that customer invested time in installation and setup. Sad to see the warnings about cloud services being abused in this way seem to be quite true.

Yes. Former founder here as well. One thing many would-be founders don't seem to realize is that like it or not, good companies satisfy individual humans, and successful ones scale that to satisfying a lot of individual humans.

Companies aren't about the big idea. They aren't about the product. They're about serving other people. To do that, having a big idea and a product can definitely help. But the very easiest way to fuck up a company is to forget that success comes down to a great number of small interactions.

It's quite clear a lot of people in here are approaching this with a "B2B" mindset where clients and contracts can be fired and terminated.

This scenario is "B2C", "the customer is always right" may be a tired phrase but it rings truer than you might think.

A lot of people are saying this guy should be respectful of this small, indiegogo compnay. Problem is, they are ignoring the fact the product is being sold on Amazon, this may be the customers' only exposure to the company so they might not have any idea of how large the company/operation is! Customers have an expectation of quality on Amazon

> the customer is always right

This is a useful perspective to take if you're in sales. For a support engineer, not so much. When I did Tier 1 for credit cards, the mantra everywhere invoked was instead:

"The customer is not always right, but is always deserving of respect."

Which has always struck me as a much more balanced and sensible attitude to take, when the objective is to solve a problem.

Sometimes that problem is between the keyboard and the chair. It happens. But it's still a problem that merits solving, rather than being a jackass about, because it's still stopping the customer from using your product, and why should he give you money for something he can't use?

Of course, that doesn't seem likely to apply here - pretty hard for an app crash to be a PEBKAC. I've found it a useful enough perspective to merit mention here, in any case. And perhaps such an attitude would've dissuaded the Garadget representative in this thread from so precipitously making a fool of himself, too.

"You never win an argument with a customer."

Or more importantly,

"You'll never win a customer with an argument."

That is a hundred times better than the standard version. I am stealing that for sure. Do you know who to credit?

It was something my boss told me when I used to work retail. I think it's part of the commons now ;) no attribution.

The two are exactly the same from the outcome perspective; you always treat the customer with respect and try to please them.

There is a slight nuance with this when it comes to support - support often doesn't have the ability to satisfy all customer wants, and sometimes what the customer wants is outside of the supported use cases or the scope of support.

For the topic at hand (Garadget), the rep was absolutely out of line; I don't know if this was a policy they were enforcing or just a bad day, but I've been called worse than that by my customers even on good days, and it should just roll off you at this point.

But, always trying to please the customer has a nasty effect of backfiring a lot of the time, since sometimes pleasing them means getting into support situations that are untenable.

Respect? Absolutely - usually customers are smart, and as long as you are reasonable and respectful, so are they. But aiming to please gets people into a bad mindset of not being able to deliver bad news or establish policy.

Edit: corrected spelling mistake.

Ideally, yes.

The more nuanced formulation acknowledges the existence of limits on what will be done - you don't, for example, get a 90-day delinquency reaged off your account once you pay up to date, no matter how you ask.

It also, and I think this has merit for Tier 1 reps who are constantly exposed to all the marvelous and frequently trying vicissitudes of humanity, explicitly calls out respect as a value. Certainly I found that explicit reminder useful from time to time, and I know others did as well. Perhaps this fellow might have, too.

> This is a useful perspective to take if you're in sales. For a support engineer, not so much. When I did Tier 1 for credit cards, the mantra everywhere invoked was instead: "The customer is not always right, but is always deserving of respect."

If you're going to split hairs to that degree I would absolutely expect you to notice that the customer called the product a piece of shit, not the support engineer.

Respect in this case, or the principle of charity if you prefer to consider it in those terms, requires acknowledgement of the fact that such intemperance of language from a customer almost certainly originates in extreme frustration provoked by the malfunction of the product.

In the course of a year and a few months spent doing credit card Tier 1, taking on average about 150 calls per day, I dealt with a lot of people. A very few of them were indeed just assholes, of the sort who'll open with "your product is a piece of shit" just because that's their attitude in general. They were easy to identify, but hard to work with. A vastly greater number were instead moved to unusually assholish behavior out of frustration with the situation in which they found themselves. Given a touch of professionalism, they were easy to identify, too, and easy to work with as well once given the opportunity to vent some of their ire and settle down enough to behave rationally again.

Perhaps the customer in this case is just an asshole. But my experience, which is not inconsiderable, shows that that is extremely improbable. Given, as I mentioned before, a touch of professionalism on the part of the support engineer, I see no reason to doubt that this situation could have been brought to the same sort of mutually successful outcome which I so often produced in my time wearing a headset all day. Instead, the engineer has succeeded only in producing a PR nightmare for his company, and I hope also in getting himself fired for cause. (I would! On the spot, in a heartbeat. Just as, in any of the several customer-facing roles I've had, such incredible behavior on my part would certainly have incurred the same response.) I fail to see how such an outcome has any utility for anyone involved - the customer's still stuck with the same broken product he started out with, and the company's out both money and reputation, too. I'd be fascinated to see how anyone could argue that that's a reasonable expenditure to buy a mean and fleeting little moment of satisfaction for one support engineer.

"The customer is always right" is a good mindset for both B2C and, to a lesser extent, B2B; but it should not be taken literally. If a customer in store is abusive, politely but firmly showing him the door is the right response. Do not deal with bad customers. But attacking a bad customer, stealing his stuff, etc. is a really bad idea.

Disabling a previously bought product for a negative review is probably illegal in most jurisdictions. It is clearly illegal under Amazon ToS. If I were the device buyer I would just return the unit. Even if they restore access this is an accident waiting to happen.

Reading this reinforced my conviction that I do not want my home hardware managed remotely. At least not the stuff I regularly interface with.

"The customer is always right" is an aphorism which applies to market forces, not individual customers. People keep misusing this phrase to mean that you should never disagree with a customer, but that's not the meaning of it at all.

> this guy should be respectful of this small, indiegogo compnay

This guy should be respectful in general.

That's a basic prerequisite for any normal communication regardless of the context.

If you can't or won't maintain professional conduct in the presence of others who conduct themselves less than professionally, then you can't really consider yourself professional either, can you? You're just playing at it, when doing so suits you.

I don't agree. As a freelancer, when I do business with someone, I expect them to comport themselves in a civilized manner. If they're too thick or ill-bred to manage it, they can take their money elsewhere. I don't see why it should be different for any company. The exchange of money isn't a license to ignore standards of social interaction between equals.

You're absolutely right! Engaging in this kind of substantive retaliation because someone said a swear word you didn't like is totally unacceptable in any professional context.

Sure. And if you are the maker of an App or product, the customer can then give you a poor review, or make his story go viral and totally fuck over your business and you proceed the recieve hundreds of poor reviews.

Feel free to piss off your customers at your own peril.

You can try enforcing those standards, as this company did. But you may find that doing so causes your business to be economically unviable. That's fine as long as it's your preferred outcome, but if it isn't, you need to suck it up and deal with people who don't treat you how you want to be treated.

I'm convinced that there are enough reasonable, civil people in the world that I don't have to pucker up to kiss the behinds of those who can't behave with a modicum of decorum when their expectations are slightly undermined.

The problem isn't the people you "fire" directly. It's that those other reasonable, civil people might wonder where exactly where you draw the line, and justifiably avoid you based on not knowing. There's enough folks in this category that you really have to be more careful unless your product is truly out-of-the-park stellar and one-of-a-kind.

I absolutely agree. From an outsider, the reaction from Garadget will stay in my mind far longer than the initial review. Imagine this in a bricks and mortar high-street shop? 'The customer is always right' is a difficult but noble stance - if a customer is being difficult, suck it up, be sickly nice then go out the back and scream when they've left.

Customers are not always right. Making you employees treating them as if they were, or as if the employees were slaves, is morally bankrupt. Grow a spine!

That can actually be a winning PR strategy. Not sure how it is in the US, but here many companies have started to respond with blatant sarcasm and mockery to unreasonable criticism in social media. You'll have a newspaper's support guy answering "brb, getting one of those sweet-paying protest gigs" when someone accuses them of being "paid by George Soros, just like those protesters".

This, however, is not one of those cases. The customer may have been a bit harsh, but his review is completely within the bounds of acceptable human behaviour. They could have reached out to them, and they would have probably been willing to change the review as well.

That's only because the reaction was so unusual. I'd react the way you suggest but I admire people who react the way he did. And, every now and then you hear of a business with a fuck you attitude that succeeds, e.g. Ryanair

And if Ryanair representative suddenly appeared here and banned you from ever flying with them because you talk shit about them on HN, you'd have been rightfully mad.

Even more so if you had the ticket on hands. :)

Absolutely and I know I could rely on the rest of you to show solidarity and boycott Ryanair, right?

Nah, they're garbage, verging on a human-cattle transport service. Fuck 'em. There's far superior carriers servicing the same areas for the same or very similar prices.

Come at me, Ryanair :)

Ryanair only succeeds because my tolerance for "fuck you" is more than my tolerance for expensive flights. The moment I have a cheap alternative, I'm never touching Ryanair again, and sometimes not even then.

In my experience there are a small percentage of customers, bullies basically, who are toxic and have the ability to ruin the experience for your good customers by taking up an inordinate amount of resources in money, time and employee mental state. Maybe part of the reason they are cheap is because they don't pander to this type?

Dunno. I once tried to check in online, but the service was just giving me errors. Tried for half an hour.

When the service was back up, it wouldn't let me check in because that closes two hours before the flight. There were around 20 people at the check-in, all of which had had the same problem.

They made every single one pay 45 Euro per boarding pass, telling us to file a complaint later.

Filed a complaint, got a canned response "sorry, those are the rules". Didn't feel like suing them.

So, let me say this to Ryanair: "I'm very sorry for being toxic, and ruining the experience. Also: eat me!"

Do you not have recourse to a Small Claims Court or similar process where you are?

Here the mere threat of using the Small Claims Court is frequently sufficient to prompt adequate redress. No lawyers are allowed to advise parties. The head of the company has to show up in person and sit waiting on a bench along with everyone else waiting for the case to get called. Court sits outside of normal working hours, and there's no appeal. For small amounts it works incredibly efficiently.

Another horror story: A friend of mine had booked a trip with Ryanair to Hungary for a week, Sunday to next Saturday. A few days before the trip, Ryanair calls him and tells him that the Sunday flight is not going to happen due to low occupancy, but they can transfer his booking to the Sunday after that. He had already booked the hotel, so he only agreed grudgingly, figuring that he might be able to transfer that booking for next week and asked whether the return flight would be on a Saturday as well, but Ryanair's answer was incredible:

The Saturday (return) flight is going to fly as scheduled, so they said it wasn't their responsibility to reschedule it for free. He could either pay out of his pocket to reschedule his return flight (if he could find a suitable flight), or he could return from Hungary a day before he actually flew there.

Fuck Ryanair.

Could it be possible that your friend got in this mess because they booked two one-way tickets instead of a return ticket? If both flights were on the same PNR, I can't see how such a ticket would be valid.

You left it rather late to check in by the sound of it, though. Just saying

My tolerance for Ryanair is zero… I won't give my money to a business that treats me like shit

I wish I had such choice......ryanair is the only airline that flies anywhere near where I live. I could say "fuck you ryanair" and fly with someone else, but then my total journey time home would go up from 3 hours to about 8-9 hours. As much as I dislike them, I'm not going to make my life significantly more difficult and spend more money just to avoid them.

In the mid 80s the route I occasionally flew was monopolised by the national airlines of each country. There wasn't a penny difference between their fares at about ten times the usual fare today. Most people went by coach instead, a 12 hour miserable journey. Everyone flys it today thanks to Ryanair.

Yeah, exactly. Their flights are a mass product designed to be as cheap as possible, and not, say, a luxury premium gadget designed to open my garage doors from the comfort of my car without the need to find my _usual_ garage remote key, right? I can use my iPhone for that! How convenient! I will definitely pay $99 for this wonderful appliance, right with my second Aston Martin. /s

True but it doesn't negate the fact that they became Europe's biggest airline before that.

A lot of brick and mortar shops actually have a sign that says "We reserve the right to refuse service."

Yes but they had better have a really compelling unique product if they choose to exercise that right.

I've worked retail. Pretty much every place that's worth working at has banned a few customers. Perhaps 1 in 1000 customers will be actively abusive towards other customers or towards employees.

I recall my first boss, who once had a customer push to the front of the line in a crowded shop. The customer rudely demand to be served. My boss was a very proper older southern lady, and she said, "Ma'am, you can also find [this product] at the grocery store across the street, and I encourage you go there." After the woman had stomped out, my boss turned the other customers and said, "Well, she wants us to have a bad day, and we're not going to," and she served the next person in line. I'm told the other customers practically cheered.

Of course, if you had told her that her product was a "piece of shit," she would have disapproved of your language but she would have refunded your money and replaced the product in an instant. She took quality seriously. If you were really rude about it, I suppose she might have "fired" you afterwards, though.

As a boss, you need to set limits about how badly your customers can act before they get (politely) booted. Anything less is inhumane to your employees. But this doesn't mean you should fire a customer over a bad Amazon review.

There's "refusing service", "banning customers", and then there's "turning off a device you've already sold to a customer after he's taken it home". There are not many goods/products/businesses who get away with doing that. Even Steve's "You're holding it wrong!" wasn't followed up with "so I'm gonna remote brick it on you"...

(Interestingly, Amazon have in the past remote-deleted Kindle books on people's devices - but for very much better reasons that "you were a bit rude in your review", and they _still_ copped a roasting for it...)

I've had one of my kindles replaced because it wouldn't connect to wifi anymore, and the rep said they are sending me a new one, and I don't have to send the old one back, but they are blacklisting it on their servers - so if I ever fix it, it won't connect to the internet at all.

It was a bit weird, but I guess acceptable in that situation.

> I am also quite surprised by the number of comments here at HN siding with Garadget.

You are? I'm not. A lot of people here are just as unscrupulous as the developer and will defend any unethical and terrible behaviour as long as it makes a dime at the end of the day. Take a look at any Uber thread and you'll see the same kind of comments from people who think that, if they're as ruthless and unethical, one day they'll be the new unicorn on the block.

> I am also quite surprised by the number of comments here at HN siding with Garadget.

This behaviour is all too common, sad but true.

>I am also quite surprised by the number of comments here at HN siding with Garadget.

I don't agree with disabling the customer's device, but I also don't agree with customers somehow being absolved of having a minimum level of decorum.

Calling a product a piece of shit is perfectly acceptable behavior, it often is a reasonable and accurate opinion about a product and definitely meets the standards of the "level of decorum" expected for customer product reviews.

Customers shouldn't be absolved of having a minimum level of decorum, but that minimum is at the level of (a) personal insults at specific people ("Bob in customer support is a piece of shit" wouldn't be ok but "your customer support system is a piece of shit" is fine) or (b) libel, as decided by the legal system.

For direct criticism of a product or service literally anything that I imagine would be above that minimum level of decorum. Insulting people is not ok, but insulting products definitely is.

No, I'm sorry, that is not perfectly acceptable behaviour.

It's not illegal - but it's also not helpful, or constructive, and nor is it desirable if you're trying to build a helpful community.

There are other ways of getting your point across, without resorting to insults such as "piece of s*it".

In Chinese, we might call this 家教 - or "upbringing". If you have no decorum, or class - it suggests that your upbringing was poor, or that your parents failed to raise you well.

We often forget that there's another person at the other end of the phone, or at the other end of our comment. In this case, a real-life person who put a lot of work into a product. You don't have to love it - but if you are going to criticise it, at least don't be a jerk, and make some good-faith efforts to work with them through the issue.

It's not exactly like the developer didn't try to help.

The audience of Amazon product reviews is other customers, not the developer. "Don't buy this product, it's a piece of shit" is constructive, helpful, actionable advice to other customers.

It is desirable if you're trying to build a helpful community where customers help other customers differentiate between good products and products that sometimes don't work on arrival or have software reliability problems; a community that recommends to avoid certain companies is a helpful community to have for a buyer.

The phrase "piece of sh!t" for better or worse, is now so widespread its almost never meant literally. People who take it to heart shouldn't be working in _any_ client facing role.

It might be chinese culture to avoid criticize things directly, but it's also part of the chinese culture to give backhanded compliments like "5 out of 5 stars, when it works, which is never." I don't think the 笑里藏刀 (literally translated as "dagger hidden in the smile") aspect of chinese culture claims any moral high ground over the western straight shooting f* you.

I'm chinese too.

> It's not exactly like the developer didn't try to help.

In their first and only reply they perma banned the customers device ID. How are they helping?

> In Chinese, we might call this 家教 - or "upbringing". If you have no decorum, or class - it suggests that your upbringing was poor, or that your parents failed to raise you well.

It's impressive that you're able to extrapolate the questioners life up until this point based on three words.

If the product in question is a shitty product, there's no problem describing it as such.

If he's from China (and I'm assuming so), I'm not so surprised. It's a status thing culturally. I've had my ideas at work dismissed on the basis of my not attending an Ivy League school by the sort that spouts concepts like this.

A more amusing instance of this outlook at work: http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1940-china-one-p...

"No, I'm sorry, that is not perfectly acceptable behaviour."

No, you don't get it. From a business perspective expecting good behavior from customers is just plain stupid. It's not customers' fault if they don't understand something and don't take time and effort to deal with your product and just call it shit, they are human after all. You can't defeat human nature. But you can try to understand it and at least be prepared to deal with it and minimize a negative impact on your business.

I agree with you in principle, but times have changed. We still have words for this in America, but no longer really have the idea.

The problem with this, is that now I don't expect to be able to believe any of the reviews of this product, because their behaviour will make any of their customers who are aware of this event more timid.

To me, this is the seller trying to manipulate public perception by silencing reviews from those with a bad experience. I'll put up with a lot of problems if the seller is responsive and handle issues well, but if I risk having them stop me from using the product?

This seller has demonstrated I can't trust them not to turn off my access to their servers without warning. To me, that is an absolute deal-breaker that would stop me from ever considering their product.

I can understand anger over a customer that rushes to give a bad review without waiting for a support response first, but their response in my eyes made things ten times as bad.

If you operate a business in the Internet age and delude yourself that customers are required to have decorum, you are in for a rude shock, sooner than later.

You can require your customers to show decorum if you choose.

Fair enough, but please tell them that before they enter a contract with you. Don't take their cash followed by not providing a service for reasons not stipulated before accepting the money.

You would think "please don't be an asshole" would be common sense, but I suppose adding it your product description about you providing support is being explicit.

Not only providing support, but unilaterally disabling the product they purchased after the fact. That should be incredibly explicit. And even then.

Just look at Ham Radio Deluxe.

This is actually not true if you hope to sell long term as an Amazon marketplace seller.

Is existing only at Amazon's pleasure any kind of long term strategy for a business?

Depends on what you mean by long-term. It seems to be working well enough for a significant number of businesses at the moment, and has been for some years now.


If you've already sold them the product, you really cannot do this.

No? If I went into a store to complain and my first words were "what kind of shit have I bought here?", then I don't think I'd have any cause for complaint if I were forcibly ejected and told to come back when I'd learnt how to behave myself. Same should apply online.

If the store then came to your house and confiscated your product, you absolutely WOULD have the right to complain.

The store owner could go to jail, because that is called theft.

Screwing over customers has a cost.

This story went viral. And now this business is going to receive hundreds of negative reviews.

The product wasn't confiscated though, only the service was cancelled, and a refund was offered for returning the product. This is the main point a lot of people are missing here.

As it stands, this is how ANY court of law would see it as well.

People don't have decorum IRL. When something doesn't, they tell of their friends it's a piece of shit. If you submit yourself to a review system, you gotta expect it. If you can't accept that you need to change your view to see the world the way it is, not rambling, expecting the world to change for you. Unless you are able to change the world. But people rambling never do.

>minimum level of decorum

Free speech doesn't mean much? Entire nations were founded on the basis of individual rights to bitch about things they don't like, without incurring oppressive retaliation.

Really, this is imperialism versus the free market. Either you harden up and listen to the people whose participation influences your survival directly (i.e. customers), or you go out of business.

In this case, the latter condition appears appropriate.

> Entire nations were founded on the basis of individual rights to bitch about things they don't like, without incurring oppressive retaliation.

From the Government.

> From the Government.

Because we shouldn't be protected from business interests when they get too powerful?

The discussion is about words, and no you shouldn't be protected from the words and speech coming from business interests.

That's not even remotely what he was saying people should be protected from WRT business.

Words were exactly the subject of his parent comment.

One mans business is another mans government.

Yes, we should be protected from business interests when they usurp our basic rights to free speech. We should be protected - by our governments - whenever our rights are misused/abused.

What else is government for if its not to protect our basic rights?

He called their product a piece of shit and that justifies bricking his device?

I don't think customers get to behave however they want without repercussions, but come on...

Thanks to psychology, there is a nice way of making it work for both sides (not in this particular case, of course — the damage is done).

Hardware companies should (and will, eventually) offer the devices for free and switch to subscription model.

Devices like these are not products, they are services. They are useless on their own without the operating backend, support and maintenance. If I am buying the device, I expect it to be working. If I am subscribing to a service, I know that it can be cancelled anytime.

(And $5/month are worth much more these days than $99 once. If you can keep the customer that long, of course).

I agree

But "subscription model" for a garage opener is, sorry to say, stupid

Of the things in my home I want a garage opener to have pretty good reliability. I need a plan B if the power is out for a conventional one. I don't want to get locked out if I miss a payment (this is not like rent where these things are regulated and lack of payments are handled through actual notices)

Relying on the internet to open your garage is just naive.

The product is basically a cloud-enabled garage door remote. It doesn't replace the buttons on the wall in the garage, nor does it replace the garage door opener you use in your car, or however it is you work your door. It supplements them, like buying a spare remote, except this one is app-enabled and can be used without line-of-sight to the door.

I have a smart garage door opener, smart deadbolt, smart car (remote start/heat/cool/etc), smart thermostat, smart light fixtures, smart smoke detector... all of them function without internet, or power, as applicable. Light switches, buttons, keys, etc still work. Most smart devices are like that; the remote functionality is supplemental, not a replacement.

It is not that simple. Do you remember one of those bear toys that were sending the recordings of their conversations with children to an exposed MongoDB instance? I bought one of them for my daughter a few months before. And I am a software engineer who knows what an exposed MongoDB instance is. My voice and my daughter's voice are now in the leak. Thankfully, the toy was only used with my supervision, so I know what was said there.

The problem is that is was advertised as a Bluetooth-powered toy to communicate with your child via recorder messages. "It's fun" -- I have thought, so I bought it. Only later I realized that it forwarded everything that was said to their servers via their "cloud app".

OK, I have thought, so they have the recording. But at least do they have some decency to not share it with the public? And that, indeed, turned out to be a little naive.

The toy became "broken" a few weeks before the leak when I was finally fed with it, but the damage is done.

Now I have similar worries about my NetAtmo devices. They do look cool and measure CO2 content in my rooms, which is the reason I bought them, but they also contain an always-on microphone for measuring "noise pollution", and I am not sure at this point if they don't transmit everything I speak in my room to the CIA, NSA, Russians, our reptilian overlords, or whoever else needs to hear the shit I say at home.

There's a really easy solution to this. Don't buy junk you don't need sold by people who don't care. Who convinced you you needed it in the first place? That's probably a bigger source of noise pollution...

The "sold by people who don't care" is a bit of a problem. How do I know they care? I'm a software engineer, I'm much more technical than most people around me. I have a hard time picking my way through that - is that childs toy bluetooth or wifi, with whom does it communicate what, how do they handle the data that they may or may not gather. Is it using a secure protocol to do so? How am I going to explain that to my less technical friends that don't have my knowledge? How can I educate them or how can they self-educate to a point where they can make a conscious decision about which toy is trustworthy? Heck, Miele had their dishwasher hacked, generalize for all IoT devices.

I want (in fact, I need, because of my sensitivity to CO2 levels) a nicely working CO2 sensor in my room. I tried a few cheaper options, but they didn't work as reliably. I did my research, and it was either NetAtmo or some industrial-grade sensors, more expensive and ugly.

I love the idea that you have any concept at all about whether or not someone needs an item. We're all glad you aren't materialistic, but we don't really care about your opinions on other people's spending habits

He offered the customer a full refund for the product - I don't see the issue.

(Well, ok, he could have just turned the other cheek - but I suspect most of us here, when at the receiving end of such abuse, have wanted to say - "You know what? Take your business elsewhere."

> have wanted to say - "You know what? Take your business elsewhere"

"Take your business elsewhere" would be Garadget issuing a refund from their end and then disabling the device.

He disabled the device.

And you don't see the issue?

To be clear, he disabled the app, not the customer's device.

The device's primarily-marketed feature is opening your garage from an app. To do this, the app and the device talk through the company's server. This developer blocked the customer's app from the server. That breaks the device's primary functionality.

As a side note, I wonder about the original app design, I mean, Wi-Fi/Internet connection is down and I cannot enter my garage (unless I still have anyway handy the original garage remote or key), the company's server is down (for whtever reason) and I am locked outside the garage, there is a DDOS on (say) Cloudflare and I am locked out of the garage ... :(

Usually this kind of hiccups happen not in a sunny warm day, but when it is heavily raining, during a storm, etc.

This is a major flaw with a lot of technology now. The assumption that you will have an internet connection. It's horribly inefficient, especially when we have robust p2p wireless protocols.

Since Garadget deliberately and maliciously disabled the device, can the consumer sue for compensation for the time wasted on it?

Yeah, I misinterpreted "device" (as "iPhone").

The device is useless without the app. They disabled the device.

Where did you get that from ? It seems to me he simply banned the device unique ID on the server side.

Is it even possible for an app developer to disable an iphone ? Apple would be mad.

"Your unit ID 2f0036... will be denied server connection"

The Garadget device, not the customers phone! I never mentioned a phone, did I?

Sorry confusion on my part, the guy mentions his iphone app not working and the dev answer that the device is banned. My bad.

Anyways, device is not disabled as in bricked, it's blacklisted on the server side of thing.

There isn't too much difference between a bricked device and a device that most likely loops trying to connect to the server and fails indefinitely with no other functionality.

"Bricked" being an irreversible state, I agree (technically). If there isn't a way for the customer to reverse the ban, it might as well be bricked in the practical sense, from the customer's perspective.

Mate, if you're aiming to split hairs, you're doing a fine job.

It's an app, so virtual device, I guess.

The "Garadget controller" (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/softcomplex/garadget-ga...) looks like a physical device to me.

You're right. I didn't look carefully enough at the Amazon page.

We are talking about the device that he sold him right? Not the iPhone? Lol.

He offered a full refund (although he admittedly could be a bit more tactful).

If he's said - I'm disabling it, too bad, I'd agree that's out of line.

However, what was actually said was - You're a jerk - I don't want your business, give me back the device, and I'll give you the money back.

Now they don't have to deal with each other, and nobody loses out (well, except for wasted time on both sides).

The issue is we've entered an age where, because of devices' entanglement with the cloud, the manufacturer's interest in the object isn't exhausted at the moment of sale. This is a big change in the way things have traditionally been done, and in the long term it could have major consequences.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened - but usually manufacturers are pretty reticent about it, and try to avoid looking capricious in their actions. When Amazon removed books from customers' Kindles they got a bunch of flack for it, even though there was some sort of reason involving the copy not having been licensed properly, or something.

If I brought a normal washing machine and it leaked a lot, I could post a factual review on line without fear of retribution. If I brought an internet-enabled washing machine and it leaked a lot, should I expect that posting a factual review online would get my washing machine remotely disabled? This would not be good for getting trustworthy reviews.

And if a device can be remotely disabled because of a negative review, can it also be disabled because, say, I'm a Yankees supporter and the guy taking my support call thinks Yankees suck? What if the support guy thought it would be funny to see me hopping on one foot while holding a shoe on my head - can he disable my device until I send him a video of that?

How would you feel if you bought a Tesla Model S, then a few weeks later they called you up and said "we don't like your online review of your car, so we're going to disable most of its functionality, but you can return it for a refund". $8000+ in option packages on that car rely on cloud functionality run by Tesla. If you don't -want- a refund, but -want- the car you already paid for that's sitting in your driveway, should the manufacturer be able to roll back your purchase on their whim?

Musk did actually blacklist a someone for tweeting something unfavorable towards Musk.


But he did not disable a car. Refusing to continue to sell new products to a customer you consider rude is very different from bricking the product the customer is already having bought and using.

Yes, great analogy.

But Amazon can nuke accounts and disable "purchased" books, video, etc, at will. So there's a gray area. I think what Amazon does ought to be illegal, but hey.

So, with a little shame I'll admit I've actually been "banned" from Amazon. The one thing I can still access is all the digital content such as books, videos, and like, games or game keys that are associated with my account. I can't get into half of the account settings, can't even view my stored payment methods, for example.

But, to their credit, I can read my stupid Kindle books. Luckily their eBook DRM is terrible and I have liberated my content, but, still... to their credit, they did not block what I had paid for.

Now, I'm not saying it's impossible for them to block this content, but, it seems they are sensitive to the dubious legality or morality of doing so. I suspect it might have something to do with the huge negative backlash they got a few years ago when they did disable someone's entire content library and it got publicized.

Sorry about being banned, bro.

But I am pleased to hear that Amazon is no longer (always, anyway) blocking access after account termination.

If companies want to keep control of media and devices in this way we need a law to make them behave. Disabling a device without​ due notice should receive a hefty fine and compensation to the user.

Preventing or no longer supporting access to media should be similar and require an alternative format be made available, so Amazon can block access to an ebook or movie but must provide a download instead.

That would balance alittle the current disparity of power the companies hold IMO.

Recently NowTV/Roku unlawfully accessed my set-top box and disabled an app, the main reason for having the device, because they don't like it. They claim it's illegal but it's available from the curated app-store if I buy the more expensive device from the same manufacturer (or indeed a device from many other manufacturers).

I can't afford a lawsuit and we don't have group actions in the UK. Net effect a company cripples a device because they don't like how it is being used, and commit unauthorised access of a computer system in the process (currently illegal, but only individuals are being prosecuted for it).

We need protection from such companies.

I'm sorry to hear about your Roku. Whenever I get a device, I now have to spend time backing up as much as I can, for the inevitable "upgrades" that will hit me. With Android devices, you should always copy all of the .apk files off. I have a script somewhere which disambiguates the filenames and rsyncs them to my backup server. It has saved me many times. It's ridiculous that I have to go through so much trouble to have the same level of stability I had with a desktop pc I would buy from Dell, in the sense that Dell would give you a restore disc that will return your device to factory functionality.

I keep trotting this comment out every few weeks, because it happens so often now that the cloud eats something we own. Probably my most frustrating experience was when Apple forced me to update iOS, but they removed many features that I relied on. BTSync broke, Nightshift functionality that I was using with Flux was rendered unusable. And a ton of other little annoyances[1].

Apple heavily damaged my iPad with an update awhile ago. And Apple won't take no for an answer, and will keep downloading the next iOS update even over a cellular connection, so I had to firewall it.

Computing today might seem seamless, but, just you try and go against the grain. You'll encounter a remarkable amount of resistance. All I want is so have agency over the devices that I buy.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11986500


Garadget sold a product to the customer, accepted the customers money -then disabled the product when the customer wrote a negative review.

Who's the jerk?

No, he disabled the thing then told the customer that his only option was to return it to Amazon for a refund.

That's not at all the same narrative.

Yeah, but he disabled the device before refunding any money.


When I had a streaming website, featuring only embedded videos, we decided to put a form so that people could tell us if something was wrong. 90% of it was garbage:

- gibberish - insults - useless comment either empty of content or context - people asking us to fix things that weren't broken, or weren't broken on our site

We didn't ban them. Instead, we extracted each useful information out of it:

- adding missing informations to guide people on the site - adding features to remove frustrations from people - adding filters to remove fake email addresses (dns lookup on the domain name) so that we spent only time on those who are expecting an answer

The client is not always right. And I don't try to be nice to rude people. But that doesn't mean you can't use rude people to improve your business.

And clearly, if you can't stomach the stupidity and nastiness of humanity, don't sell to the average human. It's like getting angry at mosquitoes because they bite you, it's the most useless reaction ever. Worst, those particular mosquitoes give you money and you are not allowed to kill them.

So either do your job professionally or leave. Leaving is a very sane option IMO. There is not reason you should live this experience if you don't want to if you have the choice.

Any person working in an affordable bar, restaurant or shop knows that. Because they often don't have the choice.

> clearly, if you can't stomach the stupidity and nastiness of humanity, don't sell to the average human. It's like getting angry at mosquitoes because they bite you, it's the most useless reaction ever. Worst, those particular mosquitoes give you money and you are not allowed to kill them.

This is gold! ;-)

I sell a little object on Amazon; a person returned it with an angry message (non public) that explained that it didn't work, and while explaining it, clearly demonstrated that she didn't understand how to use it.

I wrote her back to say I was sorry of what had happened and that we would try to do a better job of showing how to use the object (which we did).

She didn't reply -- but bought 2 the week after...

> The client is not always right. And I don't try to be nice to rude people. But that doesn't mean you can't use rude people to improve your business.

You're right, the client isn't always "right", however, on a personal level, I'd recommend being nice, period. Outright extracting value out of the "rude" customer is part of the problem, at least in my opinion, as that frame of mind permeates throughout culture.

Maybe, if you were "nice", you'd influence that person (maybe they had a terrible day, not everyone is a troll) and then, not only would you gain value from their complaint(s), you'd have an additional customer for life (or at least for a more time than never).

Relationships are the backbone of sustained success.

Any person working in an affordable bar, restaurant or shop knows that. Because they often don't have the choice.

Working low-wage, unskilled customer service sucks, but offers important life lessons about the way other people conduct themselves, and your own options to conduct yourself in the face of behavior you don't like. The best thing about high-school jobs is they offer concentrated streams of some of the interaction types necessary to becoming a well-adjusted person.

You either learn to stick to principled action while other people's behavior roll off you like water off the proverbial duck, or grow up to be the kind of person that thinks societal tut-tutting of 13 year olds on twitter an important moral cause.

Usually Internet (and real life) shitstorms are made when two assholes collide. Customer may be an asshole trying to stick it to the little indiegogo guy in a way he knows will have a disproportionate impact. On the other hand, the iPhone app does really suck and crashes constantly. Even big companies can't seem to make reliable software these days. All of that said, you went into business, so time to put on the big boy pants and be a professional. You sold the guy a device that comes with a service, and is useless without it. Don't pretend that you can just cut off the service because you don't like the guy and you've still fulfilled your obligations as a manufacturer.

On a broader note, IoT hardware that you install in your house that needs a service provided by a shaky startup company is going to cease to be a salable product fairly soon as more people get burned by it. We really need a low-attack-surface, standardized protocol to control and monitor these things without the support of the manufacturer. If we could make universal remote controls for AV equipment in the eighties, we ought to be able to make a universal remote control for home gadgets in the '10s.

> trying to stick it to the little indiegogo guy

If it was purchased from Amazon the customer may not know anything about the indiegogo or the size of the "company". Just expected to get a working product.

Shouldn't matter indiegogo or not, a product SHOULD work.

MQTT Perhaps? You could have a simple MQTT broker in your house that's the gateway to your in-home MQTT controlled/monitored devices. Your broker could easily establish bridge connections to other brokers for specific namespaces. Just need a simple method to define these needed bridge connections for the devices in the home. I'd feel a hell of a lot safer if all of my IoT type devices had zero access to the internet directly.

Well, he's also offering a refund. Not sure where the problem is in that case with the service provider's response. If you have sh*tty customers it's smart to drop them fast and focus on your good customers.

Yeah, he bricked the device and then told him his only option was to return and refund through Amazon.

Let's not pretend that Garadget is somehow being magnanimous here.

What device? The cloud-enabled device he sold himself? What I understand is that he's blocking that user from using the cloud.

Yes, the device the user paid 99 dollars for and is now useless. So for the user to get his money back he has to send back the device.

And? That's how it works.

He doesn't like the customer's tone of voice so he can decide to turn the customer's device into a $99 paperweight? That's not at all how it works.

You're being strangely defensive over this whole thread and I'm going to echo another commenter in asking, are you affiliated with Garadget in any way?

That's how cloud services work. If you buy a cloud service, then F up with the cloud provider, your cloud device is worthless.

And there's really no problem with it, since you can get your money back. You don't lose any money.

> are you affiliated with Garadget in any way?

Let's say it's true. Would I say it, after going so far of somehow getting a 2843 days old HN account for it? Or let's say I'm not. Why would I even bother to answer to anyone but a moderator (who would probably send me an email in that case)? So, what's your point? Trying to discredit a discussion partner because you run out of arguments?

That's how it works if you're a shitty, unethical company that has no business being involved in the security space.

No. That's probably illegal.

Don't break the law.

It doesn't matter what fine print the customer signed, if the contract is illegal.

Consumer protection laws protect us from this BS.

I don't think that point is as clear as you imagine. Really bricking a device may be illegal (and is probably already contested enough in front of a judge that a lawyer can tell you the details). But this device probably works 100% the same, just the server responds with "Not authorized". So in fact the device is still working perfectly fine.

> Well, he's also offering a refund.

No, he isn't. He suggests returning the device to point of purchase, Amazon, who have no control over this situation.

Maybe Amazon is different in other countries (I doubt it), but in my country after ordering on Amazon you send stuff back to the seller, not to Amazon. The ticket for that is handled in Amazon's interface but the actual interaction happens with the seller.

You seem to have confused orders fulfilled by Amazon, and people selling products on their platform as third party sellers.

You don't state which country your in, or answer the question someone asked of you regarding the potential affiliation you may have with this company.


1 point by erikb 14 hours ago [-]

I've been actually answering that question twice, yunoreed.

Time is a concept you seem not to understand.

I can't believe people are still buying any "cloud powered" crap for their homes

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice...

Don't buy anything "cloud powered/IoT stuff" unless you know what you are doing and the product has been vetted by the general public and you're aware that there will be breaches

Right now the number of IoT stuff I intend to buy is Zero

I made a decision long ago that any "IoT" or "cloud" based physical device in my home will be one that I build myself and that I control access to exclusively. So far, I haven't been motivated by the current commercial offerings to build a clone of any of them, though I'm considering a homebrew Echo clone just because I'm fascinated by voice recognition and voice control.

The Raspberry Pi, with the release of the Zero W, has finally hit the point where it's feasible and affordable to hack together such a device and keep the build cost under the sale price of the Amazon Echo Dot.

Until you realize there are no voice recognation softwares that work well enough to not use Google or Amazon on the backend.

Yep, cloud-based deep learning bla bla bla.

There is an actual reason to use the cloud for apps like this: there is enough data to power the machine learning algorithms at scale. Although I'm a hardware hacker I know I'd never be able to build a homebrew Echo running completely in my own house.

> I can't believe people are still buying any "cloud powered" crap for their homes

This should be closer to the top :) Sadly many consumers don't understand exactly what they're buying into.

There are already established protocols in this space that never needed and do not require a cloud connection, let alone internet. (I forget their names, but industrial control automation has a long history) Why can't device makers simply speak the language?

It's not so much the protocol since most of the devices are either z-wave or zigbee (BTLE is growing). All of those can operate without a network connection - it's just the companies that decided that the hub needs to store everything in the cloud. I believe the new smarthings hub can operate offline.

I've been slowly upgrading stuff in my house but steering clear of wifi only devices. They just don't work that well to begin with. Only exception being my nest thermostat - but that can even work offline, just with limited functionality.

A few reasons.

1. Ignorance.

2. Not-invented-here syndrome.

3. They want to own your IOT ecosystem with their proprietary protocol.

> vetted by the general public

Or preferably vetted by Matthew Garrett. (I'm not sure - has he actually given a clean bill of health to any cloud powered/IoT device?)

For context, the associated review appears to be this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2XHHHGM6BEUG6/re...

I'm sure any negative review is painful, but that hardly seems to cross any lines.

"Abusive language" is really, really, really stretching it.

Yeah, abusive language it is not. It's more of a tantrum.

Looking at the other reviews, it does seem that the company is happy to help with issues even where there is a negative review.

Why would you call it a tantrum? It sounds like a reasonable review that a calm dissatisfied customer would make as well.

> it does seem that the company is happy to help with issues even where there is a negative review.

Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't make doing the wrong thing okay. In the linked case, there was a negative review, they were not happy to help with with issues, and they bricked the device.

Legally they may be okay.. Morally I think they're wrong. And from a PR point of view this is literally the worst possible thing they could do, what are they insane?

(And as others have noted, the rep is significantly more guilty than the customer of abusive language and throwing a tantrum. Ironic...)

> It's more of a tantrum.

And the knee jerk response of bricking the device is ok then?

His service account was also banned: rdmart7 Robert Martin This user is suspended until Dec 27, 2019 7:37 pm. Reason: attitude

after writing: iPhone App will not stay open - just flashes when trying to launch Device Setup 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...

From the Amazon product page Q&A:

What happens if the company goes out of business? Does the app require a server to be active in order to use the App?

The app requires a server component as does any consumer friendly product with mobile access. There is a plan to add the support for server-less mode, though it will require users to configure domain name service and firewall. The main server component is maintained by the Particle and pre-paid for the life of the device. Additionally, unlike many products bricked by the companies going out if business, Garadget is an open source system so it welcomes third-party solutions.


"pre-paid for the life of the device"

Sounds a like breach of contract.

I don't see this story going anywhere positive for Garadget. Blocking functionality because of a bad review? This will backfire horribly.

Even if they may or may not had a legit reason I hope so, because iot and cloud based access and control scares the shit out of me, so more company dies stepping this boundary the better the ecosystem will evolve.

They didn't block it because of the review. Read the stuff in the link and not just the headline.

I read the stuff in the link, they 100% blocked the device because of the two review he wrote. What are you even talking about?

You've been shilling in this thread, and avoided answering the question "are you affiliated with them?"

I've been actually answering that question twice, yunoreed.

It's called time, you did it after being prompted multiple times, and after I posted this

I think this is a bad thing to do. Customers bad-mouth companies all the time, most of the times just temporary. Best to try to please them or to ignore it. "Customer is always right" is in the end one of the best strategies, even if it isn't true.

It takes great arrogance to ban someone bad-mouthing your product. I don't think it is illegal and I don't think it should be, but I do think you should be able to get a full refund.

Besides, getting banned for services you leave a bad review on is really bad practice. Imagine a world where leaving bad reviews results in a ban from that service... It would greatly reduce customer's trust in their products

Edit: The journalist comment on the amazon review (linked below). That might burn, hehe

From garadget's post on their forum:

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

It seems to me like garadget is perfectly willing to refund the purchaser, once the purchaser returns the item.

This seems a bit like altering the terms of the sale after the sale has completed.

He bought the product, he's entitled to the product -- a refund is not sufficient since the purchase cannot be rolled back.

Err, isn't that by definition what a refund is?

You roll back the purchase?

Customer gets his money back, Garadget gets the device - and they don't need to deal with each other again.

At least in Germany, you are not entitled to enforce this by disabling the purchase. That could backfire badly.

I'm not sure what the case law on this is, but if you form a contact to supply X and the X you supply is broken, it's not unreasonable for you to demand a working X is provided as per the contract (specific performance).

Also, bricking someone's device remotely* and giving them only the option of a refund is dangerously close to criminal damage of their property.

* Although in this case it sounds like they blocked it on their side rather than remotely killing the device.

You cannot rollback the purchase, there is opportunity cost and other factors that make this impossible, but a new arrangement can be made if both parties agree to it.

A refund is one way to attempt to satisfy your obligation of the purchase. If both parties to the sale agree that it is satisfactory then it is sufficient. However, one party cannot unilaterally make that decision precisely because the transaction is completed and cannot be undone because the buyer can't be guaranteed to be made whole again by this action.

For example, a buyer choosing between two products both on sale for today only purchases product X for $10 over product Y for $15. If product X turns out to be unable to do the things agreed to in the purchasing contract, and that flaw is discovered a few days later when product Y's price has gone up to $1000 then refunding the $10 and leaving the purchaser without any product has COST money due to no fault of the purchaser and the purchaser probably would not agree to have a refund as a suitable next step, instead preferring to have the original obligation satisfied as promised and paid for.

A more real-world scenario happened to me when I was purchasing an oven from Sears. I bought a floor model for last year's model of oven on sale (but not "As-Is" or "No Warranty"). I paid around $1200 for the oven, which had all the features I wanted and was the price I wanted to pay. I received the oven, installed it, verified it worked and subsequently donated my old oven. A few days later, the new oven's electronic display started to fail. The item was still covered by the manufacturer's 90-day sale warranty so I called the manufacturer service out and they attempted to repair it but were unable to do so. They indicated that they had stopped making parts for this oven and it could not be repaired. They offered to refund the purchase or provide me with a new oven whose price did not exceed what I paid for the oven I did purchase. This would leave me with an oven of less value than I purchased, or no oven at all -- both worse off than before I engaged in the purchase. The sale was complete, I held up my end by providing all the cash requested for them to provide a working oven with the features I had selected. We had come to an agreement and because the product they delivered had a defect they were attempting to substitute some alternative product instead of the one I purchased. I did not accept this proposal, even though they insisted it was the only two options. I offered to contact my state's attorney general regarding this situation. They were suddenly able to send a more competent repairman who reported that this was a common problem with this model, a known-defect, and there was a standard kit to fix it. It was fixed a few days later and has continued to work to this day.

If I am a clothing store, and I do not like your review, I could NOT come to your house and confiscate the clothing that you bought.

Even if I "refund" it. That's still illegal. It is called theft.

It doesn't seem like that to me. It seems like Garadget is willing to let Amazon handle the refund, which Amazon would do, anyway.

I wonder why Garadget would want to let Amazon process the refund, anyway. It seems like that's got to count against them in some analytics somewhere.

For those like me wondering what Garadget (garage door futurizer) is:

> Garadget is a simple and elegant way to breath [sic] a new life into your existing garage doors opener. It helps prevent mishaps so familiar to many of us...

... and then introduces new ones, like: "have I used the correct words when speaking to a company representative, or else I won't be able to open my garage door".

This is a general problem. It's possible that if you buy a Tesla and trash-talk the brand somewhere, you won't be able to drive it anymore, for example.

This future we're living in, I'm not sure I like it. In any case I'm now certain I don't want to futurize my garage door.

I was a co-founder of a business where I served as the lead product developer and served as tech support for many years at the same time. When you craft something with your own two hands - pouring sweat and tears (literally) into it - and a customer contacts you with half truths, unfair accusations and has made very little effort to fairly examine the situation, it is incredibly difficult to not take it personally.

In the heat of the moment, I occasionally found myself typing up a nasty response. Out of habit, I would re-read my response before sending it. That always caused me to pause. I don't recall a situation where I sent my original gut reaction. Inevitably, I would re-write the response in a much less personal and much more professional tone. This caused my customer to (almost always) respond in a similar manner, and in time a personal and professional relationship of trust was the result.

Nonetheless, it seemed to be somehow therapeutic to bang out my initial reaction, even though I didn't send it. It allowed me to put my frustrations down on paper, which caused me to think through the situation. It also allowed me to "vent" and blow off the steam caused by my ooo-so-personal connection to the business. And perhaps most importantly, it allowed me to see that the nature of my gut response was at least partially unjustified, somewhat immature and certainly unprofessional.

I shudder to think of the opportunities (and genuine friendships) that would have been forever lost if I had pushed "send" on my initial responses. The satisfaction of such responses lasts but a moment yet the consequences last forever.

Do we know what state OP lives in? By coïncidence, I'm in a legislative meeting on Thursday concerning New York's regulation of the post-purchase responsibilities of retailers and manufacturers of devices that neeed to talk to the Internet to work.

Wow, I will most definitely never under any circumstances become a customer of this spoiled company and its pretentious support behavior. People like this should not be in the software business at all if they don't want to deal with customers (including the more hostile/rude ones). If you are going to sell something to the public, you must be prepared to professionally handle all kinds of people, and if you cannot, you should not be interfacing with the public at all.

We should probably start having regulations around IOT servcies. The issue here isn't that the customer or the service rep was abusive. The real issue is that the company can disable the cloud service that is essential for their product to work based on their perception of the customer.

It seems really risky to purchase IOT products right now.

Could it be different though ? IOT is closely related to MMO videogames in that most servers close down at some point in the not so distant future.

I will not buy any IoT ever, even with regulations.

Factor in that IoT has terrible security and has already been massively exploited and now you're part of a criminal ring of webcam owners or fridges or whatever gizmo that attempted to DoS a DNS root server or government or antiterrorist unit and according to laws you can be jailed/decapitated/fined or worse.

Hmm.. in that case some sort of classification should be there. Games are non-essential but temperature controller, door openers and locks are essential functionalities.

As a general rule the manufacturers of IOT devices should be made by law release the server side code/binaries that a consumer could run by yourself (and also provide configuration options on the hardware device itself). I know it won't be of much use to most consumers as of now but as people become more techology-literate they should be able to download a container, choose a cloud provider and upload it to run the backend.

As IPv6 become more popular home routers could expand their functionality to provide container hosting.

edit: Added the part about self-hosting.

Yeah, negativity/hate is not a reason to force your customers to refund their purchases. This is basically illegal, atleast in Sweden if not the EU since this voids the functionality of the product with an intent to discriminate against a group of people.

Its also a dick move just in the casual way.

I'm pretty sure remotely bricking a device like this would be against Australia consumer law also.

I imagine that kind of thing varies state-by-state in the US?

as pointed out on Amazon this might run afoul of https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr5111 H.R. 5111 (114th): Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016

To be honest if I'd bought a product that in some way controlled access to my property and which malfunctioned and locked me out, I'd probably not show too much patience either.

There are any number of reasons it could be important for me to get into my house or garage right now: I've left the stove on, I've left a soldering iron on on my workbench, my partner has collapsed, I've popped out to pick something up from the garden and have accidentally locked myself out and my baby is inside unattended, or I'm just really effing tired at the end of a long and draining day at work and it's that one last straw (and the list goes on).

Sure, I probably wouldn't lead with swearing, but I can pretty much guarantee that if the situation wasn't resolved very quickly swearing would result.

All of this just strengthens my resolve against the idea of living in a "smart" home. Give me a physical lock and key, and a decent EDC solution for carrying the latter, and I'm happy. The one improvement you could make (which a friend pointed out to me the other day) is to add central locking. I.e., I leave by any exit and lock the door, and every door and window in the house locks. Of course, there are ways that could backfire so it needs some careful thought, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I won't be buying a Garadget or any similar device anytime soon.

Seen from the company's perspective, a user posting a negative Amazon review BEFORE contacting the manufacturer for help is upsetting, especially when as others have noted, it's a product you've invested a lot in, and suddenly you have someone publicly advising others not to buy it. Of course this can cause even a well-meaning employee to go straight to damage control.

Not that I'm defending the person here, though. This is a total overreaction, and very condascending. Insulting your customer by questioning their maturity is not going to help your relationship, they've basically abandoned all hope of solving the customer's problem right from the start (going directly against their role as customer support) and again tried to do damage control, not realising they're part of the Twitter generation.

What's even worse is that the account name is the exact name of the company/product, so it's totally official, and endorsed by the head of the company. If it was any other name, it could be passed off as a rogue representative having a bad day, but to see something like this coming from the official account, that if you don't play how we want you to play, we'll kick you out, is sure to put others off.

Not that I needed or ever wanted a 'cloud-connected garage door opener' but hell, I would never buy one from this company now.

> Seen from the company's perspective, a user posting a negative Amazon review BEFORE contacting the manufacturer for help is upsetting, especially when as others have noted, it's a product you've invested a lot in, and suddenly you have someone publicly advising others not to buy it. Of course this can cause even a well-meaning employee to go straight to damage control.

Nonsense. If I buy something from you and it sucks, I'm going to leave a negative review. It's not my job to help you make your product better -- pay me a salary, if you want that. Make a better product if you want better reviews.

> a user posting a negative Amazon review BEFORE contacting the manufacturer for help is upsetting

I don't know about that to be honest. Contacting the manufacturer, trying to work with them to get it working, it's all nice but actually it's just another step to turn customers into free QA staff. Companies managed to make this acceptable for software, then for videogames, and now they try with regular devices.

If it's released, if it's on Amazon, it has to work. If it doesn't, I'm glad the guy complains about it and rate it one star, so that I don't buy it myself and waste time with a buggy device.

I don't disagree on the QA staff point, but any new product, no matter how well designed, will have problems. And this is across anything that can be bought and sold, software, devices, ideas... nothing is ever perfect first time.

A related concept is that no amount of testing is ever going to cover every corner case. I mean, for the sake of argument, let's say this guy's iPhone hasn't been updated in who-knows-how-long and is running an OS that's five years past its sell-by date. It's probably next to impossible to buy an identical phone to test with, but their software needs an update that was introduced two years ago, and there's no way around it. This all could have been conveyed in a calm and pleasant (and constructive) forum thread without resorting to name-calling on anyone's part.

I get that first impressions stick, make no mistake, and having the product fall on its face as soon as you get it out of the box is one of the worst. To a degree, users have unrealistic expectations (I'm a developer-turned-engineer), but companies are guilty of that by letting their marketing divisions claim perfection to the point of making your morning tea the moment you open the package.

Just saying that, yes, an out-of-box experience gone bad is not what you pay for, but a polite email to the company or seller can often resolve it quietly and calmly, and in the extreme case, they'll offer a refund. I've dealt with several bad buying experiences this way and usually end up rewarding the seller for doing their utmost to make things right after a firm but professional email exchange. No need for cursing, just telling the seller you are unhappy. Of course, being more technical than the average, my expectations are probably much closer to reality from the outset. Most people buying into the IoT market seem to be average Joe's expecting magic.

If the company had responded correctly, this could well have been a positive outcome and the circumstances that caused the initial complaint nullified, so nobody else has a similar out-of-the-box experience, and the one-star review becomes obsolete. In that scenario, I as a seller would be extremely eager not to let that one bad experience spread and taint perceptions of my product.

Of course, that didn't happen here. The company is way more at fault, no question, but the buyer had no reason to curse a device that didn't live up to his expectations, however unrealistic they are, until the company has had a chance to explain themselves (whether they take it or not). However, now it's all blown up. As for whoever's behind that official forum account, I sincerely hope they're either fired, or if it's the boss himself, his product probably deserves to fail. No room in this world for two Elon Musks...

Welp, seems like a massive Streisand effect (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect) going on here. Really torpedoeing their reviews...


Garadget does not deserve to be in business. If you are a B2C company specializing in security IoT, you don't have the right to disable your clients hardware as you see fit...Garadget have engineered a common product, but they know little about business...

Indeed, could you imagine the uproar if ADT (a traditional, remote monitoring security company in the US) were to lock a customer out of their own house because of a bad review? This is no different and is downright suicidal of Garadget.

Even if this is the action of a single bad employee, so far the company has not stepped up to remedy the situation, and given it's a crowdfunded business out of nowhere, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the bad employee in question is a founder of the company. If that's the case, it's rotten to the core.

Just an FYI update for those still looking.

Admin posted a response: <Quote> Ok, calm down everybody. Save your pitchforks and torches for your elected representatives. This only lack the death treats 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 guy132.

PS: Anybody has Streisand's phone number? </quote>

It's mostly just too bad modern finance doesn't offer a way to short the stock of a small indiegogo thing that's doomed to fail...

Why was the original title modified? I thought it captured exactly what happened perfectly, and was not a click-bait.

Anyway, the Amazon page is getting attention from ArsTechnica and Vice journalists. It's getting more and more interesting.

Client is bad. I don't care, it's his problems. Service is not that good. I care about it, those could be my problems. I don't behave like that client, but who knows, what they don't like.

Actually I'm surprised if it's legal to do. In my country, if you're doing public business, you can't choose your clients. You set price, client pays money, you serve client. You can't deny your service just because of reasons. There are some exceptions like face-control on half-private parties, but those are gray areas.

And, hell, no clouds near my, unless they are completely optinal. They are terrible for user. I hope, people will learn it and will avoid clouds like plague. User should own his data and code to process that data.

Client isn't "bad". They are a customer not a client, the relationship is so very different, you can't just fire a customer or tell them to go away, especially not if you're selling your product on Amazon where people have an expectation of quality.

> They are a customer not a client, the relationship is so very different

Mind you, for many non-native English speakers this is very subtle, non-obvious difference. In my language, for instance, we don't have separate words for clients and customers.

I'm a reasonably literate native English speaker and I don't understand what the (supposed) difference is.

The relationship with a client is closer. Generally speaking the work is more bespoke and the level of trust between parties is higher. You see this when the product is not standardized.

A customer on the other hand is anonymous and you're relationship with them will generally end after the original sale.

How's this for a review?

Buyer beware! Your device could be disabled just because someone at the company doesn't like you. 1/5 stars.

I thought acting like this against a bad review was pretty much verboten on Amazon?

It would cause problems if the customer wanted to continue using the product after leaving the bad review.

I'm not sure what annoys me the most in this story, that the developer tracks users and punish customers that s/he doesn't like or that some people are "buying" "cloud" based software with no understanding that this means they are denied control and ownership of said software and that it will stop working the instant the company folds the servers.

Foucault's "Surveiller et Punir" (Watch and punish) makes me wonder how cloud and smartphone are not so different from being locked up in a jail.

What's the right way to design an IoT product to not be dependent on a startup's cloud servers?

- Allow the app/device to point to a different host (running an open source version of the backend)? - Support LAN connectivity without round-tripping to a third party server? - Allow the user to load their own firmware onto the device?

I don't know where the line is for these things, it seems to be a balance of convenience, ownership, and security.

What's the ideal way to handle this so it works well even if the backing company disappears?

> What's the right way to design an IoT product to not be dependent on a startup's cloud servers?

How about providing a single board computer like a Raspberry Pi and the software images (or source code if you can) to run the software? This is obviously not a solution for everyone but it would probably work great for the DIY crowd.

That said, I'm not buying any IoT devices, self-hosted or not, in the foreseeable future. When I buy a gadget that opens my garage doors, I expect it to last 10-30 years with minimal maintenance. I have zero faith in a startup being able to provide even a fraction of that. The economics just don't add up, why would they give me any service decades from now if I paid them $99? The company will have to sell a whole lot of these in order to be able to keep their servers running and their clients updated to run on most recent iOS/Android. I don't see any technical issues in doing so, just that it's not a viable business.

> How about providing a single board computer like a Raspberry Pi

The issue is more about connection to external servers than the particular board itself. A product that both runs great out of the box, and is also hackable to the point where it doesn't 100% rely on the original company being around to run is the sweet spot I'm thinking of. I'm mostly just thinking aloud about what features the product needs to have in order to hit that sweet spot.

> That said, I'm not buying any IoT devices, self-hosted or not, in the foreseeable future

That's cool, but this isn't about the average HN user. Consumers want to, and indeed they do, pay for these devices. I just want a nice model where these products can be sold while not leaving the customer stuck if the original company goes under.

> The issue is more about connection to external servers than the particular board itself.

Oh I meant that the R.Pi would be the server where the IoT gadgets connect to. Located in your home and available through your home network connection. Optionally with some kind of (self-hosted) server in your own VPS.

This is obviously a solution for DIY-ers only.

> Consumers want to, and indeed they do, pay for these devices.

I don't think this will ever work if the customers pay for the devices but not for the service. A $99 gadget doesn't leave much for the company to be running the service. I don't see how the economics would work out without a recurring payment.

My gut feeling is that gadget startups such as this one haven't even thought about surviving more than 3-5 years without being acqui-hired to a major corp. Some may bet on getting to be big and thinking that scale will help.

But even if every darn garage in the world would have this gadget for the $99 they charge, I can't see how they can keep the servers running and the software up-to-date with a one time purchase for the life expectancy of an average garage door.

But consumers complain about recurring fees and there's only so many services you can subscribe to. Paying $2-$10 a month for your garage door, thermostat, cat feeder, plant waterer, etc will add up to a lot of money and hassle.

The only way I see forward with cloud-powered IoT gadgets is that a major company with billions of dollars sets up the infrastructure that will scale up to millions of users with a few billion gadgets (and a monthly fee). It's either that or self-hosted DIY. I don't think it's economically viable for a start-up to provide a cloud service for a one-time fee for any meaningful period of time.

I'm sure customers don't want to buy and install a new garage door opener every 3 years when their previous IoT gadget startup goes belly up, servers go down and the gadget turns to a brick.

Ahh I see what you mean about the Pi now. If only consumers were satisfied with a LAN-only IoT device...

As for server costs, I think you could get away with something pretty low cost if you trim down what you offer to essentially just a message broker that runs on a handful of machines. Depends on what kind of data the device works with. A camera would cost a lot in bandwidth. A garage door opener, not so much.

If IPV6 were more widespread I suppose the issue of connecting apps to devices would be more straightforward but as it is now you pretty much need a third party server if you want to control your devices remotely. But for a small team handling thousands or tens of thousands of these devices, I think your server costs wouldn't amount to much. If your product becomes big you could start launching other things to sell and reuse the infrastructure you have. At least, that's how I hope it would go down :)

Looks like Garadget have thought of that (at least for the future):

The app requires a server component as does any consumer friendly product with mobile access. There is a plan to add the support for server-less mode, though it will require users to configure domain name service and firewall. The main server component is maintained by the Particle and pre-paid for the life of the device. Additionally, unlike many products bricked by the companies going out if business, Garadget is an open source system so it welcomes third-party solutions.


Well that's better than most IoT projects. The hardware is the special part anyway, so it seems fairly reasonable to have backend servers that are easily replaceable with open source software, or are open source themselves.

If you don't want to open everything right away, put protocol specifications, keys and the like into escrow somehow, to be published when the service is discontinued (it can't be tied to the company or brand because there will always be some form of legal successor). Run a domain called $productname-support-beyond-the-grave.com or so where the escrowed data would appear and for the time being use it to explain what you are doing and why buyers should be wary of competitors without a similar commitment. Keeping a repository like that up to date costs a lot of money, the shameless self-praise is how you would make it agreeable with budgeting.

There should be a service for that, with people who can build experience over multiple client lifecycles and a recognizable brand, maybe even a 3/4/5 star commitment rating that would go down e.g. when there are indications that the repository is getting stale relative to the deployed service/firmware of the still living company.

> What's the right way to design an IoT product to not be dependent on a startup's cloud servers?

Not designing an IoT product in the first place seems to me the right way to avoid this issue. The IoT feature can usually be achieved otherwise and seems to be added in so the company can have more power/control over the customer.

If you are adamant on making this IoT anyway, the only option is a distributed and/or federated network with an optional offline mode and option use of one's own network and server.

> Not designing an IoT product in the first place seems to me the right way to avoid this issue

Unfortunately there is demand for these products and companies will always fill that demand if there is money to be made.

If users want to control things in their house remotely, the commands need to be routed through a server one way or another. This is a matter of convenience and I'm sure most users would purchase a product they can control remotely vs. one they can only control on their home network.

> the only option is a distributed and/or federated network

What would a distributed network for this sort of product look like?

The question is not about this IoT Garage Door disabled, it's about how safe our devices are if it's gone connect to the providers server. I'm sure this Startup will comeup with a story saying it was by a 'so called' bad employee and try to manage the PR for the day. How's that this and other co are going to safeguard our data/access to our own product/home if it happens to say a Smoke Detector or Smart Lock if we give bad review. Will they unlock it and claim its' a glitch because I've given a bad Review and sigh go nuke and use abusive language ? What the hell is this ? I thought the Govt alone is acting in a Totalitarian mentality, looks like it's given Co. also the feeling that they can act like this in a Democracy. What ST is this ? Who to believe ? What to buy ? What if a Smart Smoke Detector co employee decides not to alarm/notify me when my kids are at home alone ? If a life is lost will they be able to give back ? We need LAWS to CLOSE DOWN such Co. so that they don't hide behind 'so called' bad employee or 'so called' bug/glitch in their program.

It raises a larger question, are Smart Devices are really Smart or gone screw us one day like this ?

This is (hopefully) someone who has very little experience dealing with customers and did a bad job today. It's not some web 3.0 holocaust that we all have to be shocked and amazed about.

I'm sure he'll get chastised and everyone involved will continue to be fine (and maybe a little wiser). Or we'll turn it into some major incident with our weird fixation and the person will get fired and it will turn into a 'whole big thing'.

The Internet of Silly things strikes again. Perhaps people will grow cautious of buying into products and services which they have no real control over.

IoST. (Internet of Silly Things). Love it!

It's more polite than IoWJ (Internet of Worthless Junk).

Excellent, you can join the steering committee where we ignore all lessons learned from any previous product security failure, and add in multiple expensive features users can't comprehend, let alone use. To the cloud!

I'm kind of happy that this is happening. Whatever the legal situation may be this is just wrong and it needs to be fixed.

On steam you don't buy games anymore you only buy the right to play them so you cannot resell them. You are effectively buying a service.

Now in this case you are buying a device that does not work without the service and you don't have a right to the service?

No, this does not make sense.

Should the result have been any different if this exchange had happened face-to-face in a brick-and-mortar store?

Most stores display signs reserving the right to refuse service to anyone. Using profanity is one reason a customer might get kicked out.

Does 1 review make or break a company? I've been seeing a lot of "5 star vs 1 star" issues recently. One of them was on an Uber article where the customers were not getting 5 start for not tipping for example and this impacted their ability to get rides (or so I think based on what I read).

A lot of other smaller companies selling stuff online only and even Indi games seems to be very sensitive about reviews. Is the difference between overall 4 star vs 5 star so impactful?

Maybe there is a deeper problem somewhere in here. Or maybe this is a reasonable backfire for a bad customer support.

The IOT industry yet again proves that it is irresponsible and incompetent.

This whole area feels like the territory the super-injunctions came out of.

There is almost no coming back from widespread bad publicity, no way to equally show the other side of the discussion, and its only getting easier to take your 5 minutes of frustration to the largest platform in the world and complain before doing a single minute of work, thought or reasoning.

I don't think its a bad attitude to simply say "I don't want to work with those who don't want to work with me."

> 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.

HELL YEAH! Finally someone with the balls!

Bending over backwards - NOPE - why don't you contact support first? Why do you use course words? WELL DONE

I'm gonna go against the grain here and say I don't think this should be legal. Hiding behind the idea "we only sold you a license" is ridiculous. You sold a product, it includes supporting software. Unless their is actual misuse by the customer you shouldn't have the right to arbitrarily terminate that license.

That seems like a contract that clearly shouldn't be allowed.

Someone left some advice for the customer of the company on the linked thread and that rep deleted it and locked it. Does anyone have it?

When judging the social and technical skills, business sense, self-preservation instincts etc. of the involved parties, consider that these people are special enough to devise and produce a ridiculously unsound IoT device and to buy it. Learning about this incident made me feel on the winning side of natural selection.

Unless this unprofessional business owner not only refunds the money but establishes in writing no harm has befallen the owner as a result of using his device, he's probably got a lawsuit coming. The fact of the case are public knowledge now. No amount of abuse by customer legally or ethically justifies removing the primary feature of the device that was purchased. Money must be refunded before the account can be closed. The behavior is not only unprofessional and incredibly poor judgement as well as emotional control. This company has a an open-shut case against them from what I know of the law here. It also sets a nasty precedent that would possible compel to throw the book at the business owner to discourage similar behavior from other IoT companies. Really bad call, Garadget. IoT's are proving dangerous enough without company owners doing things like this.

Who would use a garage door opener that has to connect to some clown company servers?

I'm using their product. Let me tell my story.

I have an old garage door opener -- ancient Craftsman. It doesn't even have a secure RF opener; no rollover codes or faux-crypto. My wife lost her garage door opener remote. I looked for replacements and couldn't find any that were less than $40 new or $30 used. Ridiculous.

I have an outdoor keypad on the garage, which is detached. It doesn't work very well in the extreme cold because the 9V battery gives out. This solves a unique problem for me: I do not want to buy a new garage door opener. Mine was recently rebuilt with new gears and should be good to go for years. Further, would be a few hundred dollars without labor, and I don't want to do the labor myself. I've done it before; not worth my time. Now, Garadget exists. I got mine for $69. Now I have infinite remotes as long as my wifi works (It's on my IoT VLAN which only can do outbound 80 and 443).

So, Garadget solved a unique problem for me in 5 minutes of work and saved me money. Hilarious that a device this advanced is cheaper than a simple RF remote, but that's supply and demand in action.

Now is this a security concern for me? No. If someone wants to break into my garage they can eBay some garage door keys and just disengage the garage door from the opener via the keyhole on the front of every modern garage door. Or pick it I guess? Or they could get a kids toy and reprogram it to brute force all the garage doors in the neighborhood. https://youtu.be/iSSRaIU9_Vc

tl;dr while this is the Internet of Silly Things, this is not a security concern for me. If someone hacks the company servers and starts opening and closing my garage door I'll just unplug it or remotely block it from my network.

It is borderline psychopathic to track down a user who gave you bad review and brick their device. It's also illegal.

People don't even spare Apple for their fuck ups. Who do they really think they are?

Lost opportunity to learn, improve product and turn a detractor around.

Even if the customer is a dick, you can't lock someone out of their own door.

Now let's think again when you trust some third-party for something as important as your home door.

Poor impulse control on both sides. If you are incapable of distancing yourself from not so mean or angry comments like that you should not be let handle customer support.

Do they realise that nobody is going to sympathize with the company in such a situation? Perfect example of how to make things worse.

The item has reached international media. British tabloids, Vice and a Polish site are all reporting on it.


Maybe the real reason was that it is cheaper to ban a customer than investigate the issue?

I was wondering why the Amazon product page wasn't full of one-star warnings about this behavior, until I tried to post one, twice.

Both times it was rejected as being against review guidelines: http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

Thats a good thing. Reviews should only be from actual customers, not people using it to post anything - good or bad. Best thing you can do is mark the negative comments about the app not working as helpful as those will be surfaced higher up.

Personally, if I ended a support request with "wondering what kind of piece of shit I just purchased", returning to Amazon for a refund would probably be the BEST outcome I would expect.

But the founders response also could use some work. Always take the high road.

"Get a lawyer" is why we can't have nice things.

I like how "throwaway2" has gone to the teacher to tell tales on that page

Garadget probably just cost themselves a lot of potential customers.

Cloud-to-butt keeps delivering.

Anyone else notice how he refers to customers identified by username by their first name?

That's ... weird.

That's not being professional

lots of good things being said here, but being honest with everyone, I can imagine why he did it.

After reading this, I immediately thought of the xkcd comic about the tiniest open-source violin. [1]

I find these cloud-connected ways of augmenting our home are really neat, but I think examples like these are why I wouldn't want the technology being proprietary or requiring a company's cooperation just to open a door.

[1] https://xkcd.com/743/

Totally agree with you!

I kinda like that they disabled the device. It's a bit strange, but I'm surprised this discussion isn't more divided.

Reading this, I have empathy for the developer.

There is a small subset of customers that will give you a bad review at the drop of a hat because they know it hurts you. They're poison.

Finally one of these people got some tiny payback.

> There is a subset of customers that will give you a bad review at the drop of a hat because they know it hurts you.

I think you give some people too much credit. They just expect things to work and get upset when it doesn't. They're powerless to change or fix anything besides coming to you, the developer. Yes, cursing isn't a good means of communication. Yes, having empathy for the other side is a good thing when trying to get something. It's still probably not _that_ personal.

> Finally one of these people got some tiny payback.

At the expense of a lot of bad PR and a general loss of professionalism displayed by the company. I've never heard of this company, but I will never do business with them now.

Maybe in the case of a home automation product, "just expecting things to work" is a credible position; when it comes to other product categories, though (e.g. indie video games on Steam), there certainly are a ton of negative reviews that are seemingly done purely out of spite, or "for the lols", that can have an outsized impact on the product's visibility.

Acting out in retributive ways when your customers (justifiably or not) have issues and leave negative reviews is a pretty terrible way to build and run a business.

Is the spite towards that one person really worth it?

Look at the timing.

This was an Amazon purchase. The developer mentions Saturday, and how the Amazon review was left around the same time as the forum post, so presumably the the item was delivered on that same day. That's gonna be a bad experience for both sides: The purchaser has to wait until Monday to return, and the developer has to deal with (what I expect is) a drive-by flame. It's a Saturday night, and each side reacted poorly.

Honestly, I doubt the guy was going to continue attempting to use his device after leaving such a review, so the developer bricking it doesn't have any effect. In addition, the customer will get his money back via the Amazon return, so the developer was losing there anyway.

We don't know anything else, so I don't know what the actual problem would be. It could've been build quality, or shipping, or software, or the purchasers mobile device, or who knows what.

To be honest, based on what I see here, and speaking as someone who is just a customer, I believe the customer started the boulder running with his negative review and drive-by flame, and I feel lenient towards the developer.

I bet the guy would be happy to continue using the product, they just want it to work.

You work out what their problem was and fix it, if they explain the issue. Regardless the attitude should be "how do we make sure the next buyer doesn't have an issue".

You are going to get bad reviews no matter what, some entirely unfair. All you can do it focus on making the product as good as it can be.

Apart from the effect of being unable to trust a security-critical product? As mentioned in other comments, Garadget is able to open the garage doors of its customers remotely; this incident implies that they could actually do it, should their decide that a customer deserves an even worse punishment than denied service.

> I doubt the guy was going to continue

> We don't know anything else

It's almost like you treat your 'doubt' as a matter of fact, rather than pure opinion.

I honestly sympathize with Garadget a bit more in this case. Some people are just "assholes" that are all too quick to give a one-star review over the slightest thing, and it looks like this customer was one of them. The customer is not always right.

EDIT: Sorry for being inflammatory here.

This customer may have been an asshole in this situation but that isn't really a good reason to state he's an asshole. For all we know he might spend the rest for his time reading bedtime stories to sick kittens. Judging someone's character based on a single incident isn't a great thing to do.

In the context of this thread, what is the difference, really?

Should we really have to caveat the accusation with "maybe he's a really nice guy" or something?

> Judging someone's character based on a single incident isn't a great thing to do.

By the same token, publicly castigating someone because you couldn't get their software to work on your device isn't a great thing to do either. Perhaps the developer sells his gadgets so he can house sick kittens, and he was up all night trying to nurse a particularly sick kitten when the angry email came through??

> The customer is not always right.

"The customer is always right" never meant that customer service should be a door mat, but rather comes from advertising and the idea that consumers will spend their money on products that best fit their needs at the best value. If you sell something noone wants, or at too high a price, you'll gain little to no market share.

Who here hasn't thrown a tantrum on Yelp?

Me. I don't even have an account on it.

Not "for negative Amazon review", but for being an asshole.

This guy forgot that there are people behind every product and the abstraction is as thin as it gets when it is in fact a smaller company or a startup. There are negative reviews and there are nasty reviews. He was nasty to them and they no longer wanted him as a client. No reason why a company should swallow shit that a person wouldn't. They certainly _can_ do that (no questions asked refunds, customer is always right, etc), but it's an option, not a requirement.


We had paying customers like that - sent pissy emails, no Hello, no signature, just spit and complaints about minutae with personal attacks ("only an idiot would do it that way") and a shitload of entitlement because they paid us money. In all cases they recieved an immediate refund and a goodbye. If they can't make a basic effort to keep things civil, we have no interest in working with them.

The only issue with the case at hand is that they explicitly mention bad an Amazon review, while they actually dropped him because of his general toxic attitude.

Your device has stopped working because your internet meme/karma points are too low. You need to give us a 5 stars review and a like on facebook and stop being an asshole before this lock will function again.

They certainly _can_ do that, too.

Have you mixed up the comments? What you wrote is unrelated to what I said.

There are countries where national laws says doing that is illegal to deny service to some customers based on subjective opinion and you can be sued for discrimination.

"This customer is a toxic asshole" is not that far from "this customer has a skin color / religion / political view I don't like".

no, actually, it is quite far from (especially) skin color. It's based on actions and behavior and not on some trait of the customer. I can't think of any country where you need to serve customers that misbehave.


Half the EU?

I think the problem here is that they _disabled a home security product_ because the guy pissed them off. They can certainly fire the guy as a customer, and tell him to return the device for a full refund, but remotely disabling its ability to function is not only unprofessional, but irresponsible.

Regardless of that, the support rep's response comes off as petty and childish. There are much better ways to get out of that situation.

I'd never heard of this company before, but based on that one support interaction, I would never buy from them.

It's not a home security product if it connects to servers and can be disabled remotely.

By that logic, our alarm at the office isn't a security product because the alarm company can monitor and disable it remotely.

Read the review here [0]; it's not abusive. It's probably the review of some guy who has been burned by half-assed Amazon shovel ware before.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2XHHHGM6BEUG6/re...

Amazon removed the comments from that review about 30 minutes ago. There was a comment from a journalist, Thor Benson, asking the reviewer about his experience.

Well, whoever made it is really serious about providing support. Look at the community here: http://community.garadget.com

The review might not be abusive, but usually a negative review like that is the cherry on top of a very abusive sundae.

> Well, whoever made it is really serious about providing support.

They sure folded early in this case.

In the tech support jobs I had back in the day, the customer calling the product a piece of shit was just a form of greeting. Surprisingly often, we were able to win them back. We didn't have the option of being this thin-skinned.

I think the course of events may well show that neither does Garadget.

The guy has three reviews on Amazon, two of which are one-star.

I think the abusiveness is primarily in the guys forum post, plus posting the negative Amazon review without waiting for response from the developer.

But that's just my sensitivity level.

He has two one-star reviews and a five-star. You can't actually fault him for only reviewing the exceptional Amazon purchases...

You are so misinterpreting the world. There are people who only review when they are facing an issue, and if they are happy they think there's no need of review because they got what they paid for. I wouldn't judge a customer as having abusive nature even if he has 100% negative reviews..

It's a real person who gave you real money and is wasting their time with the defective product sold to them as well.

Having been in the same boat, I totally agree with you, parent.

I'm VERY quick to refund and work as hard as I possibly can to help people who want my help, and some people just don't want my help -- for what it's worth, I have many more five-star reviews than one-star reviews on the wares that I peddle, but there are some one-star reviews that are just genuinely inflammatory from people unwilling to work with me to help resolve their issue. It happens.

Honestly I think the app author is acting well within his means here. The user uses abusive language and apparently immediately escalates the issue when not being satisfied immediately despite his language.

You spent a lot of posts defending the company. Are you affiliated with them?

I think many people here only read the headline and immediately start aiding the destruction of what seems to be a single person's business. I have experienced myself how painful it can be to stay polite towards a*hole customers, so as said in some comment: It's totally fine to quit a customer who acts like that and refund him.

I'll just note that this entry was posted twice, by two different accounts, with the same title, even though it does not appear anywhere in the site. PR effort for or against.

> I'll just note that this entry was posted twice, by two different accounts

another behaviour that's quite common here ;)

What entry? You mean my post? If so, please reference the other.

I mean the HN submission.

Yeah, alright.

You didn't answer the question. Are you affiliated with them?

I actually did by giving my reasons. Btw, if you are into these kind of theories: ALL my comments in this thread were exactly downvoted the same number.

Perhaps it is because I have spent the entire day today trying to mitigate a new user on our web app trying to abuse our service to send out spam, but I am leaning more towards siding with Garadget on this one.

I know that 'being professional' is of paramount importance, but I wish users would remember that every time they send an abusive email to a company, an actual person is on the other end who is going to be receiving, reading and interpreting it. I've been caught hunched over my desk late on a Saturday night (the purported time that the rep received the email) after spending all day debugging an obscure issue in my software, and I can tell you that it won't take much to push my overtired brain to retreat into its 'inner child' mode at the slightest provocation.

In all cases, I am glad I implemented the 'count to 10' rule or just stepped away from the keyboard for a while to gain some time to come back and look at the issue objectively. But often times the delay in responding usually aggravates the customer a little more. Such is the burden for the 'smaller shops' where only one or two people take care of everything from writing the code, to providing support to making the coffee and sweeping the floors.

if they had even just said "you are a jerk and no one in this company is paid enough to deal with you; here's how to return your device for a full refund and here is a list of our least favourite competitors for all your internet-of-shit needs" i would have been 100% on their side. effectively bricking his device was beyond the pale, and says that you can't trust them to control your gadget from their servers.

I agree with you, and I don't condone the bricking. I am sure that the rep regretted his/her actions in the cold light of Sunday morning. But I wish that users would also take some responsibility for keeping the conversation civil. I don't like that the user is seemingly always excused for being angry and irrational, but the company, be it a one man shop or a large mega corp is always expected to be a cold, faceless, emotionless entity.

ALL interactions are essentially a 1 person to 1 person interaction where simple things like common respect, politeness, understanding and constructive dialog should be considered.

I don't expect the company to be a cold, faceless entity. I'm not complaining that the owner was petty or unprofessional. I'm very specifically complaining that he abused the power he had to render the device the customer had purchased inoperative.

He did that though? I guess he didn't give them full instructions, but he did effectively tell the consumer to return to Amazon.

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

You can't really break someone's shit and tell them you'll give them a refund once they ship it back to you.

Or at least you shouldn't be able to without being liable to be sued.

right, but he forcibly removed the other option, which was for the device he had purchased to simply keep doing what he had paid for it to do. this is typically not something anyone expects a seller to do.

That applies for free open source projects, but if you work in support, get paid for it and take the things personally, the job is not for you.

In many cases, customers arguably have a right to be angry, because your company delivered a shitty product. You happen to be the target of that, because where else are they going to direct it? It's the same with police. If you can't stay calm when people behave like asses, the job is not for you.

Staying calm and collected is part of your job description. Deal with it or look for another job.

I can't decide whether this is legal or not.

I am closer to siding _with_ Garadget in that as a private business, they don't HAVE to provide a service to someone (and it looks pretty obvious that there was no particular discrimination or the like); in fact, they have the right to refuse service.

That said, the person also DID purchase a physical item (in fact, Garadget probably should have refunded them first, just basing this off my own personal ethical point-of-view).

That said, if a negative Amazon review IS the real reason (it looks like there was a bit more to it), then this COULD also backfire as bad publicity. Do other people want to give their business to someone who in the past has refused service to someone solely on the basis of a bad review?

I've left negative Yelp reviews and tweets before in earnest to those that I think deserve them, and while I genuinely won't be giving anyone repeat business after I've been prompted to review them, I would be even more upset if I _was_ refused service on the basis of my reviews.

As you can see, businesses seem to really try to find out who has personally left negative reviews, so I'm sure they all know who I am. That said, I personally don't swear in any of my negative reviews, I try to keep them constructive.

> they don't HAVE to provide a service to someone

I'd say they gave up that option once they sold the device. They could have refused to sell it initially, but after the transaction is completed, arbitrarily cutting of the service should not be permitted.

I think it should be illegal. Frame it in terms of a burger. If McDonald's says "since you say our food is bad we're messing with your burger after you bought it and we'll give you your money back if you return it" that would be illegal and probably, not sure though, a form of discrimination.

McDonalds is well within their rights to deny service to a customer (assuming it's not discrimination).

In fact I've seen them (and other restaurants) do this first hand.

A customer is being abusive, or giving the poor checkout person a hard time - if they get abusive or threatening, the manager will often intercede and tell them to leave the store.

Likewise, I used to work in a electronics store - if a customer is a being a jerk, you're well within rights to ask them to leave (politely). Obviously it's the nuclear option - but there's definitely precedent for it.

"Denying service" in those cases is not conducting any further sales/etc with them.

It's not remotely disabling things they've previously bought from you.

That's quite a different kettle of fish.

To be clear, the Garadget was _not_ remotely disabled (or bricked).

Here's a direct quote from the manufacturer to the customer:

"At this time your only option is to return Garadget to Amazon for refund. Your unit ID 210036...will be denied server connection."

How is that not being bricked?

You probably can't go to their house and pour water in their electronics and tell them they'll get a full refund if they ship it back to you.

Fine to deny future service, denying past service is the problem here.

He didn't mess with the customer's garage door opener, so it's not like messing with a customer's burger. It's more like cutting the customer off from the unlimited coffee refills when they get 86'd from the restaurant.

(But the coffee cup is useless without coffee!)

However, linking the action to a bad Amazon review and publicizing the device ID both demonstrate very poor impulse control.

"(But the coffee cup is useless without coffee!)"

Here, I disagree (or agree with you, depending on whether your italics indicate e-sarcasm).

You could fill it with water or tea or make your own coffee or even sell it to somebody else at nearly full value! (I'm sure the restaurant support would be happy to welcome a new customer back to the fountain of coffee).

You get my analogy.

It's not illegal. That is just the world always connected devices operate in. What Garadget ought to have done was in a professional tone, offer a refund. If the customer repeatedly use abusive language in the support system, go ahead, deny him service. But until then (and that means Amazon reviews and community forum posts are not counting), leave it running.

Anything else is just opening themself to a shitstorm of negativity.

> this COULD also backfire as bad publicity.

Assuming the review that nneonneo found is the correct one, then a journalist has already replied wanting more info, so it seems plausible that some bad publicity will come from it.


So he can return it for a refund. They're revoking his usage of the service. It's petty, it's going to Streisand them for a while, but it's certainly not illegal.

Perhaps a good analogy is getting banned from bnet after having bought Starcraft/Diablo CD... but in this case they're offering a refund for return.

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