Robert Martin bought an internet-connected garage door opener from Garadget. When he had problems with his product, he posted an angry rant on the company’s community board:

“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.”

He also posted a 1 out of 5 star review on the product’s Amazon page.

Now anybody in business has had somebody complain or give them a bad review. That’s not unusual. What happened next is. The company fired back with 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.

The company “bricked” his device by denying access to the servers. In other words, because he complained publicly, they cut off his service.

After the story hit the interweb, the company backed down, posting this and , apparently, restoring his service.

By the way, the “quote from a random guy” he was referring to was Elon Musk.

After cooler heads prevailed, the company posted this. Sounds to me like the PR folks got involved. It’s a lot more carefully worded than the previous couple of responses.

This led me to ponder if the “we can shut you down” was buried in the company’s terms of service in some obscure language. I’ve always wondered if anyone (besides lawyers) actually reads the TOS notices on software, websites, and online services. Often, they are put out for a U.S. and international audience, so some of the things in them aren’t even legal in the country you may be in when you’re using it.

Consumer Watchdog group “Which?” took a look at several company’s TOS and stacked them up against some of the world’s finest literature. Did you know the Paypal terms of service agreement is longer than Hamlet? Apple iTunes terms of service is wordier than Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Whether it was in the TOS or not, though, it’s another example of how careful we have to be when it comes to internet-connected devices and what we’re willing to accept in exchange for the service we get.

H/T Slashdot, Mashable