People all over the world are putting their pet’s feeding routine into the hands of technology. Internet-connected feeding machines can save time and making sure furry friends get consistency and a good serving with every meal.
Until they don’t.
Users of the Petnet SmartFeeder were shocked to find out their devices had not been feeding their pets over the course of a week while the system was offline. On Twitter, a number of complaints were directed at the Petnet Support account, which offered only two responses on Feb. 14.
It wasn’t enough to fix the problem, or make their users happy.
According to Newsweek, emails to the company’s support line bounced back. The only updates users received were given on Twitter. More than three days later, Petnet offered another.
“Our team is working closely with our third-party service provider in regards to the outage affecting the SmartFeeder (2nd Gen). We hope to release more information as we learn more. We apologize for this inconvenience.”
Petnet finally told users that the system had been restored on February 21, nearly a week after the first complaints were lodged. Users were told to turn their units off and back on again.
The food flowed once more, but the incident has done irreparable damage to Petnet’s reputation, especially on Twitter.
“My cat starved while we were out of town, ended up having neighbors needing to save her,” one user wrote. “Cat was so starved she was acting an attack cat when they tried to come into the house. Glad (and rather surprised) that the feeder was up and running when we got home.”
Users meanwhile took their frustration to Amazon, sharing even more of their experiences in the form of negative reviews. Scroll through those long enough and readers may find this isn’t the first time Petnet feeders have been rendered useless by system outages. A similar incident occurred in 2016.
“We are experiencing some difficulty with one of our third party servers. This is currently being investigated,” Petnet emailed users and posted to Twitter. “Please ensure that your pets have been fed manually.”
Much to the dismay of busy pet parents, technology has yet to provide a solution to feeding hungry pets at home that does a better job than doing it yourself. That’s a fact some may no longer want to test.
“As we go towards a more automated home you have to acknowledge that, somewhere along the line, things will fall over,” Stuart Miles, founder of the tech site Pocket-Lint, told the BBC.
“Robots and automated systems have hiccups along the way, it’s something we need to get used to.”
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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