The firm’s sporadic posts in response to a barrage of complaints about the downtime on social media led to speculation it had actually gone out of business.
An email asking for comment sent by Newsweek to Petnet’s press email address returned a bounce-back. However, a message to a support email address appeared to have been sent successfully. So far, the company has only been sharing its updates via a support account on Twitter.
Posts about the issues started back on February 14, with Petnet confirming it was investigating an outage affecting customers using the second-generation SmartFeeder product. It urged those customers not to turn off the devices and promised updates on the matter would soon come to light. It took another four days for the next update to be published.
The Petnet support account on Twitter wrote on February 18: “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.”
After another three days, and mounting customer queries, the company suggested the device and mobile application functions had finally been restored and pushed a link to a support page.
Indeed, some commenters confirmed systems were back online.
But many Petnet customers indicated they would be returning the smart product to online retailer Amazon and fumed about the failure to provide explanations, even if the situation was fixed.
“My cat starved for over a week,” one user wrote in response to the February 21 social media post. “Tech support with your company stinks. So glad I returned mine. I have been so vocal, I thought you shut down. Talk to your customers don’t hide or ignore. Terrible experience.”
Another wrote: “Emailed bounced back. Phone calls not answered or voicemail not returned. I purchased mine about a month ago. Glad I got from Amazon. Returned just today.”
A third complaint read: “My cat starved while we were out of town, ended up having neighbors needing to save her. 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.”
One Amazon listing for the device has been hit with a wave of negative reviews. One new comment read: “Horrible products. Lack of connection for a week. My cat is hungry.”
Another angry review said: “There is currently a massive outage that basically bricked a ton of 2nd generation devices. The company claims that the feeder was supposed to keep going with the schedule, but my device is currently offline and doing absolutely nothing.
“To make things worse, they have a support e-mail that doesn’t work and their only other method of communication is via twitter, which they are also not monitoring.”
According to its website, the SmartFeeder sells in the U.S. for about $145. The company’s profile on Crunchbase states it has amassed $14.9 million in funding since being founded in 2012.
As reported by the BBC, Petnet products suffered similar issues back in 2016.
“You may experience a loss of scheduled feed and failed remote feedings,” Petnet said at the time. “Please ensure that your pets have been fed manually until we have resolved this issue.”
The post Petnet Internet-Connected Animal Feeder Suffers Mysterious System Outages: ‘My Cat Starved For Over a Week’ appeared first on Newsweek.