Every once in a while, a story comes along that is so purely a product of its time, it’s almost transcendent.
This is most definitely the case with the recent Garadget “controversy” first brought to our attention by Arstechnica. It created a bit of a Twitter firestorm (as controversies big and small are wont to do) and, among other things, brought up a couple of questions as to how to respond to consumer complaints.
Garadget is an IoT garage door opening device currently seeking crowdfunding on IndieGogo. The device links to users’ mobile phones, enabling remote opening and closing of their garage doors. But the device itself is not the not the point of contention here.
It all reportedly started when one Garadget user took to the community board to air a grievance, writing, “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 s*** I just purchased here…”
Soon after, the same user left a 1-star Amazon review for the company, writing, “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.”
Leaving negative product reviews is likely one of the top 10 things people do on the internet, ranking slightly below shopping, a bit above reading the news, and maybe tied with reading headlines and calling it reading the news.
But negative reviews usually don’t get a response back — let alone full-blown retaliation — which is exactly what Garadget’s creator Denis Grisak did.
In response to the negative review (and some unsavory language) Grisak had this to say this:
“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.”
That’s right, folks. Grisak bricked the user’s device.
Now, there’s no one right way to run a tech startup, just like there’s no one right way to write an internet comment. Both sides could have certainly approached the matter in a more proactive or constructive manner. (But then it wouldn’t be as funny.)
If there is a moral to this story, it might be watch what you say online lest your gadgets turn to pricey paperweights.