Get All Access for $5/mo

The Maker of an Internet-Connected Garage Door Disabled a Customer's Device Over a Bad Review 'I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.'

By Rob Price

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

There's a new, dystopian risk to using internet-connected gadgets: If you complain, the company that made it might remotely kill your product.

This is what happened to one customer who bought Garadget -- an internet-connected garage door opener. It lets you remotely lock or unlock your garage with an app, or see if it's open.

But after they complained about it online and left a negative review, he got an unpleasant surprise -- Garadget had bricked their device. (We first heard the news via Ars Technica.)

The customer had left a comment on the support forum complaining about technical issues, asking "wondering what kind of piece of shit I just purchased here." They then followed it up with a negative Amazon review, saying:

"Junk -- DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY -- iPhone app is a piece of junk, crashes constantly, start-up company that obviously has not performed proper quality assurance tests on their products."

Well, Garadget did not like that one bit.

The company disabled the disgruntled customer's device by denying it access to its servers -- and announced it had done as such on its forum (emphasis ours):


"The abusive language here and in your negative Amazon review, submitted minutes after experiencing a technical difficulty, only demonstrates your poor impulse control. 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."

Garadget defended itself in a subsequent post, saying it took action to "distance from the toxic individual":

"Ok, calm down everybody. Save your pitchforks and torches for your elected representatives. This only lacks the death threats 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. Access restored, note taken.

"A quote from a random guy.

"PS: Anybody has Streisand's phone number?"

But the company has come under heavy criticism on the support forum -- and elsewhere online -- as a result of the action. "I don't own your product, so I can say this without fear of retribution: What a terrible way to do business. I'll leave an Amazon review, too, just because I can," one poster wrote. "P.S. Please don't change my locks while I'm at work."

The Garadget device.
Image credit: Garadget

"Ironically it seems you have much poorer 'impulse control' and are much more prone to 'tantrums'," said another. "Maybe you should stop working in customer support. Doesn't seem like you're much good at it."

Garadget did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, though Grisek told Ars Technica that "there isn't much more to add."

The whole incident raises a broader issue with the "internet of things": If your devices rely on someone else's servers to run, and they can be remotely disabled at any time, do you really own them?

In 2016, smart-home company Nest decided to discontinue a line of products built by Revolv, a company it acquired -- bricking customers' devices. The decision sparked outrage from customers, and raised questions about consumer rights in the internet age.

"When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufacturer can intentionally disable it without consequence?" one disgruntled Revolv customer wrote. "[Then-Nest CEO] Tony Fadell seems to believe the latter. Tony believes he has the right to reach into your home and pull the plug on your Nest products."

Nest subsequently offered compensation to affected customers to make amends. But what's happening with Garadget shows the issues around internet-connected devices is only just getting started.

Rob Price is a technology reporter for Business Insider.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

Top Secrets to Starting a 6-Figure Etsy Side Hustle That Earns Passive Income, According to 3 People Who Did It

Etsy remains a popular ecommerce platfrom for sellers — and can be incredibly lucrative for those who know how to use it.

Thought Leaders

10 Simple, Productive Activities You Can Do When You Aren't Motivated to Work

Quick note: This article is birthed out of the urge to do something productive when I am not in a working mood. It can also inspire you on simple yet productive things to do when you're not motivated to work.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success — Kick Unproductive Thinking to the Curb With These Tips

Want to streamline your business and take it to new heights? You need to learn to stop the negative thought processes that lead to unproductive thinking. Here's how.

Business News

Amazon Is Thinking About Charging Extra for AI Alexa

"Hey Alexa, how much are you going to cost?"

Business News

SoftBank CEO Says AI 10x Smarter Than Humans Could Be Here in a Matter of Years

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son spoke to shareholders during the company's general meeting on Friday.