Hunter Fan Abandons the Internet of Things

Back in November of 2011 I wrote very critically of Hunter Fan Company's Universal Internet Thermostat with the title "A thing the Internet of Things doesn't need" because, as I saw it, the device was hugely flawed both technically and aesthetically. Then, after living with the device for just over a year, in April 2013 I wrote another column, "Directly connected to the Internet of Things", in which I wrote about how many devices that are supposedly designed for the IoT being architecturally problematic and enumerated the problems with the Universal Internet Thermostat. Today I find that Hunter Fan Company has decided to not only discontinue the Universal Internet Thermostat but is, in effect, buying back all of the product sold (the company's email message to registered owners is copied below). This buy-back program will cost Hunter Fan dearly not just for the cost of the product but also for the cost of administering the program as well as in consumer credibility for any product they produce in the future more advanced than an electric motor connected to a big propellor. Let this be a warning to any company that wants to connect their products to the Internet and enter the "connected" market: If you don't employ or consult with people who really understand the architectural issues of the Internet of Things you will fail. At best, you'll be an also-ran. At worst, you'll do what Hunter Fan Company has had to do ... waste a lot of money. The Hunter Fan Company's notification message:

Dear valued customer: We regret to inform you the Hunter Fan Company has decided to discontinue our Universal Internet Thermostat Services. Our records indicate that you purchased 1 product(s) that qualify for this reimbursement program. Because we value your loyalty to the Hunter brand, we want to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.  First, Hunter Fan will provide you with full compensation for your unit.  You will also be able to continue controlling your thermostat via the internet until August 1, 2013.  This will allow time to locate another thermostat for your home. Request Your Refund: Click on the link below to enter basic information so a Visa prepaid card can be mailed to your attention.  Once you submit the information, you should expect the Visa prepaid card within 21 days.  The amount to be refunded will include the cost of the thermostat and all applicable sales tax.  Please note: Do not return your thermostat unit(s) to the retailer. They were instructed that all returns must be processed by Hunter Fan. The information required to process your refund includes your name, address, serial number(s) of your thermostat(s), and the email address used to register your thermostat(s) online. The serial number for your thermostat is located on the circuit board on the back of thermostat and starts with the letters HFTS. Please request your refund very soon.  Your internet thermostat will continue to work only for a limited period of time. We apologize for this inconvenience and we appreciate your loyalty to the Hunter brand. Sincerely, Hunter Fan Company
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