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.
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..."
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.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just, don't but from Amazon. Even Alibaba is better.
Well, turns out my strategy of de-DRMing Kindle books 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.
Then let's hope the journalist won't forget to talk to Garadget as well.
Gradget just now deleted a comment recommending contacting Amazon and the US attorney general, and has locked the thread.
People should avoid startups those use crowdfunding websites as risk free capital gainer preorder pages.
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.
What I do see is they use an open source firmware, used on several other keyboards.
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.
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".
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.
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.
To me that means their products are now inherently suspect.
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
'course, here I am doing the judging now.
Calling child protection services because other parents allow their kids to roam outdside without constant supervision is a whole different kettle of fish.
I can't tell if you are justifying a call to child protection services in such a case, or not.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
A few years ago Jon Stewart (late night cable) played a clip of the routine and they were all bleeped except for one.
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.
Company which needs a little bit of help in how to deal with customers
There was no "we won't help unless you promise to change the review to a 5 star" implied.
(except I'm not sure how I feel about asking them to change their review at this stage)
Thank you for helping us find the issue. We will work tirelessly until we turn your one star disappointment into a five star experience.
They didn't offer this, the bricked the device and suggested returning it to Amazon, who have no power over any of this.
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.
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. :/
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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'll never win a customer with an argument."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This guy should be respectful in general.
That's a basic prerequisite for any normal communication regardless of the context.
Feel free to piss off your customers at your own peril.
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.
Even more so if you had the ticket on hands. :)
Come at me, Ryanair :)
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!"
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.
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.
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.
(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...)
It was a bit weird, but I guess acceptable in that situation.
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.
This behaviour is all too common, sad but true.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In their first and only reply they perma banned the customers device ID. How are they helping?
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.
A more amusing instance of this outlook at work:
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.
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.
Just look at Ham Radio Deluxe.
If you've already sold them the product, you really cannot do this.
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.
As it stands, this is how ANY court of law would see it as well.
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.
From the Government.
Because we shouldn't be protected from business interests when they get too powerful?
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?
I don't think customers get to behave however they want without repercussions, but come on...
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).
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.
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.
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.
(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."
"Take your business elsewhere" would be Garadget issuing a refund from their end and then disabling the device.
And you don't see the issue?
Usually this kind of hiccups happen not in a sunny warm day, but when it is heavily raining, during a storm, etc.
Is it even possible for an app developer to disable an iphone ? Apple would be mad.
The Garadget device, not the customers phone!
I never mentioned a phone, did I?
Anyways, device is not disabled as in bricked, it's blacklisted on the server side of thing.
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).
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?
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.
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.
But I am pleased to hear that Amazon is no longer (always, anyway) blocking access after account termination.
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 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.
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.
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?
That's not at all the same narrative.
- 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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let's not pretend that Garadget is somehow being magnanimous here.
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?
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?
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.
No, he isn't. He suggests returning the device to point of purchase, Amazon, who have no control over this situation.
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.
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
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.
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.
This should be closer to the top :) Sadly many consumers don't understand exactly what they're buying into.
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.
2. Not-invented-here syndrome.
3. They want to own your IOT ecosystem with their proprietary protocol.
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?)
"Abusive language" is really, really, really stretching it.
Looking at the other reviews, 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...)
And the knee jerk response of bricking the device is ok then?
iPhone App will not stay open - just flashes when trying to launch
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...
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.
Sounds a like breach of contract.
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
> 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.
He bought the product, he's entitled to the product -- a refund is not sufficient since the purchase cannot be rolled back.
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.
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.
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.
Even if I "refund" it. That's still illegal. It is called theft.
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.
> 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.
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.
It seems really risky to purchase IOT products right now.
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.
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.
Its also a dick move just in the casual way.
I imagine that kind of thing varies state-by-state in the US?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
Admin posted a response:
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?
Anyway, the Amazon page is getting attention from ArsTechnica and Vice journalists. It's getting more and more interesting.
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.
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.
A customer on the other hand is anonymous and you're relationship with them will generally end after the original sale.
Buyer beware! Your device could be disabled just because someone at the company doesn't like you. 1/5 stars.
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.
- 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?
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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?
It raises a larger question, are Smart Devices are really Smart or gone screw us one day like this ?
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'.
It's more polite than IoWJ (Internet of Worthless Junk).
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.
Most stores display signs reserving the right to refuse service to anyone. Using profanity is one reason a customer might get kicked out.
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.
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."
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
That seems like a contract that clearly shouldn't be allowed.
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.
People don't even spare Apple for their fuck ups. Who do they really think they are?
Now let's think again when you trust some third-party for something as important as your home door.
Both times it was rejected as being against review guidelines: http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines
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.
That's ... weird.
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.
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.
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.
Is the spite towards that one person really worth it?
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.
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.
> We don't know anything else
It's almost like you treat your 'doubt' as a matter of fact, rather than pure opinion.
EDIT: Sorry for being inflammatory here.
Should we really have to caveat the accusation with "maybe he's a really nice guy" or something?
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 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.
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.
They certainly _can_ do that, too.
"This customer is a toxic asshole" is not that far from "this customer has a skin color / religion / political view I don't like".
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.
The review might not be abusive, but usually a negative review like that is the cherry on top of a very abusive sundae.
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 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.
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.
another behaviour that's quite common here ;)
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.
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.
>At this time your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund. Your unit ID 2f0036... will be denied server connection.
Or at least you shouldn't be able to without being liable to be sued.
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 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.
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.
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.
It's not remotely disabling things they've previously bought from you.
That's quite a different kettle of fish.
"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?
(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.
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.
Anything else is just opening themself to a shitstorm of negativity.
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.
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.