An American security developer named Matthew Garrett was harassed by a Chinese seller after giving the company’s product a one-star rating on Amazon.
Garrett’s Twitter profile shows that he is a software security developer for CoreOS Linux. On Amazon, Garrett not only gave the product just one star (out of five), he also wrote an elaborate 800-word negative review, detailing the security failings of the product, all without cursing too. You can read it below:
Garrett spent $30 to buy a power outlet with a WiFi-switch made by Chinese manufacturer AuYou. The product is designed to be able to connect to WiFi, which then allows users’ mobile phones to remotely control appliances that are connected to the outlet.
While this feature of the product does sound pretty cool, Garrett pointed out the gaping security loopholes of the power outlet in his review. Garrett claims that if the user were not using the WiFi from home, the remote control software would send information to a server placed in China, and then forward it to the power outlet.
“Although the data packages seem to be encrypted, they actually function otherwise,” the encryption expert writes, “The network ID of your data package is sent to a Chinese server unencrypted, allowing the third party to intercept the data and thus control your appliances at home from anywhere in the world”.
Garrett’s review has apparently made the Chinese retailer furious. In an email that Garrett forwarded to the website TechCrunch, he mentioned that someone working for the Chinese seller desperately requested him to take down the negative review. “My boss was just bashing me, he said he would fire me if I can’t get rid of the negative review. Please help me. Would you please change your rating?” the employee pleaded.
Garrett posted on Twitter that he has received three emails from employees, who fear that they will be fired if the review is not removed.
Incidentally, now up to three separate emails begging me to remove https://t.co/qoDhthQZqW or they'll be fired
— Matthew Garrett (@mjg59) June 28, 2016
Garrett has responded by saying that if the company fixes the bug, then he will change his rating and delete the review. However, AuYou employees sent him another email, threatening to file a complaint with Amazon.
He says that he has never been met with such opposition after posting a negative review before. He frequently writes reviews on Amazon regarding the security features of products.
“If someone actually loses his job for my review, I will reconsider whether to take it down or not,” Garrett told TechCrunch, “ On the other hand, regarding the product itself, I think it’s scary that many companies do not care about the personal privacy and security of their customers. It is important to educate the buyers on this kind of issue.”
Garrett himself was surprised to learn that his story has now been picked up on Chinese social media, with netizens voicing their support for him and his review.
— Guoorange (@17orange17) July 12, 2016
Weird future https://t.co/GbvSkBmqhy
— Matthew Garrett (@mjg59) July 12, 2016
The Wi-Fi switch is now listed as “Currently Unavailable” on Amazon. It seems that Garrett wasn’t the only unsatisfied customer as the product carries just a 1.7 star rating, with 69% 1 star ratings, though all the negative reviews came after Garrett’s opus.
It also seems that opening up Amazon to Chinese sellers has created more than just counterfeit problems.