Larry Downes: “‘Firing’ the customer and other cringe-worthy behavior hurting trust in smart devices” (Washington Post)

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The Washington Post

Here’s how not to build consumer trust in smart devices known as the Internet of Things. A recent news report describes how the inventor of a smartphone-enabled garage door opener called Garadget, funded through the crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo, got annoyed when a customer experiencing trouble with the app posted an angry comment on the company’s community board and, later, a 1-star review on Amazon. In response, the company’s founder simply disabled the product remotely, denying connection to the company’s server and effectively making the device useless. “At this time your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund,” the company wrote back tersely, in an exchange that has, of course, gone viral. (The company updated the post today, noting that “firing” the customer was “admittedly not a slickest PR move on my part.”) IoT companies will have to do better than that. After all, trusting the safety and security of your garage door, especially to a start-up company, is already a daunting proposition for any consumer, let alone one with a founder with as bad a temper as its users.