You might be starving your pets if you use this smart feeder

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 12:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 12:30 pm

Smart feeders are devices that allow pet owners to dispense food to their beloved animal from an app on their phone.

However, users have taken to Twitter to express concerns over an Amazon-backed start up company called Petnet and its pet feeder device and app.

Petnet users can control feeding times of their pets by scheduling the dispenser to provide food at certain times when the pet owner is away at work or on holiday. But, earlier this month users started mentioning that the system was offline - meaning that hungry pets could be going without food.

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System Update: We are investigating a system outage that may affect customers using the SmartFeeder (2nd Gen). Scheduled automatic feeds will still dispense on at the desired time although SmartFeeders will appear offline. Sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.

— Petnet Support (@petnetiosupport) February 14, 2020

Support and Petnet CEO were uncontactable

Over the weekend, Petnet has tweeted saying its systems are back online and working. But customers are angry at the lack of responsiveness that the tech startup showed while their pets may have gone without food.

@petnetiosupport @Petnetio @amazon @amazonlaunchpad All my boys wanted to do was have dinner but thanks to PetNet and never responding to 30+ emails and server outages and now jammed units for weeks and bounced customer Srvc emails crickets.#hungry pic.twitter.com/g8p6cYueGW

— Eric Fishon (@eman1061) February 15, 2020

Users began tweeting about hardware issues, including the device jamming, with one user tweeting, "My cat starved for over a week".

But this isn't the first time Petnet has been in trouble.

Back in 2016, similar issues occurred. At the time, Adam Simon - an analyst with research company Context - told The BBC that it was important users "always had a manual backup" for smart systems.

He added, "Increasingly, people are becoming dependent on these smart objects, and that could become a problem. In this case, your pet could be left hungry."

Petnet had similar problems last month.

Is a smart feeder worth it?

Currently the Gen2 Smart Feeder costs around £222. Users can control and schedule feeding times for their pets but only if the app and system are online - when this isn't working, the whole network of feeders goes dead.

PetNet has now announced that all systems are back online and that Gen2 users should have complete control over the device, but the controversy has left many pet owners wary of using smart technology when it comes to something as serious as feeding their pets.