Garadget faces backlash after locking out irate user

Garadget Image copyright Garadget
Image caption Garadget is designed to let owners check if they have left their garage door open by mistake

The maker of an internet-enabled garage door device is facing a backlash after blocking its use by a customer who had complained about the tech.

The owner had written negative comments about Garadget's kit on both Amazon and the start-up's own site after having problems with its app.

People have expressed concern about the US firm's actions.

The block has been reversed and founder Denis Grisak agreed his first reaction was not the "slickest PR move".

But he noted that Tesla's Elon Musk had once cancelled a customer's order after criticising the automaker online.

'Abusive language'

Garadget's kit is designed to let owners open their mechanised garage doors remotely to let visitors in, and to offer a way to check the doors have not been left open by mistake after leaving home.

The product raised nearly $63,000 (£50,000) on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo last year and has since gone on sale elsewhere.

Image copyright Garadget
Image caption Garadget's handling of a complaint has attracted undesired publicity

But on 1 April, a buyer named Robert Martin complained on Amazon that the product was "junk", and referred to it with a swear word on the firm's own community board.

The next day, Mr Grisak replied: "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 customers on my Saturday night but I'm not going to tolerate any tantrums."

He added that he had denied a server connection to Mr Martin as a consequence and suggested Mr Martin ask Amazon for a refund.

When another user accused Mr Grisak of breaking the law by "bricking" the kit, he denied this saying he had not changed its hardware or firmware.

However, other board members also complained. One compared Mr Grisak to a "petulant child" while another claimed "sales are going to tank if people think you have a kill switch to be fired any time they say something you don't like".

Mr Grisak has said he has no intention of repeating his action.

Image copyright Garadget
Image caption Garadget's app allows garage doors to be triggered remotely

But one tech industry consultant was also critical.

"The bottom line is that it's already a hard sell to get people to embrace the so-called internet-of-things," said Ben Wood from CCS Insight.

"In particular, there's a huge amount of trust involved in having something that can open your doors.

"When incidents like this happen, it makes it even harder to get these kind of products into people's homes. This was a very ill-advised move."

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