The “smart” internet of things era was supposed to usher forth a new era of convenience. Instead, it somehow keeps managing to advertise how dumber technology is often the smarter option, and you’re not being particularly innovative if your product actually makes life harder. From “smart” door locks that are easily hackable to hackable “smart” TVs that are so smart they spy on you, there’s near daily examples showing how connecting old tech to the internet and calling it innovation–is itself not particularly innovative.
Smart pet feeders are apparently no exception.
PetNet, whose products promise to intelligently feed your pets the right amount of food at the right time, didn’t have much fun this month. Starting on February 14, the company announced that it was investigating a system outage affecting its second-generation SmartFeeders that made the feeders appear to be offline. In a series of Tweets, the company insisted that the feeders would still dispense food on a schedule, even though users couldn’t change settings or use the app. The company also couldn’t really specify why the system was having problems:
Many consumers found that the feeders weren’t working at all, and the problems continued for almost a week before the company was able to provide any clearer answers. Adding insult to injury, when customers reached out to the company to complain, they hit a complete and total brick wall in terms of functioning customer service. Emails and phone calls weren’t returned, and the company simply refused to answer annoyed customer inquiries on Twitter or Facebook. Even emails to company execs wound up being undeliverable:
“During that time, customers voiced frustration at the company’s lack of responses to their questions on Twitter and Facebook. Messages to the company’s support email and CEO Carlos Herrera were undeliverable.
TechCrunch tried contacting their emails and got delivery failure notices. A message sent to their Twitter account was also not replied to. We have contacted the company again for comment.
Petnet customers were not amused to discover that neither PetNet the company, nor its products, were particularly “smart”:
@petnetiosupport does that same third party pick up your phones, answer your emails, pay your lease (property address is available for rent) and support your customers. #stillwaiting pic.twitter.com/JR3PQEDp0G
— Eric Fishon (@eman1061) February 18, 2020
This is not the future the Jetsons promised. And once again, dumb tech is often the smarter option.