It has not been a good year for customers of Petnet’s cloud-connected automated pet-feeder system. After a rough spring, with multiple prolonged service outages, the company tried a last-ditch plea to its customers: pay a subscription fee of $4 a month, or $30 a year, and we’ll be able to keep the lights on. Some users paid up—but it was apparently in vain, as their smartfeeders are still basically paperweights without connected service.
Petnet’s public troubles began in February, when a service outage took feeders offline. The connection issues lasted for more than a week, during which time Petnet was completely and utterly unresponsive to customer complaints made by email, phone, or Twitter. Nor were customers the only ones who couldn’t reach the company: messages Ars and other outlets sent to Petnet’s press contact bounced back with an error saying the email address did not exist.
Service was finally restored—but only fleetingly, it turned out. Customers again began to complain of system outages beginning in late March. That time, Petnet blamed the COVID-19 crisis for its lack of response, saying in a March 26 email, “One of our third party vendors has notified us that due to COVID-19 their operations are experiencing an adverse effect. We will monitor this situation closely and provide you with any updates as they arise.”