If you’re a fan of Best Buy’s Insignia line of smart home products, we have bad news: All “smart” functionality will be stripped out of the devices on November 6, rendering them anything but smart. Best Buy announced this shutdown in September and discontinued most of the products at that point, but customers are still unhappy that their devices no longer function — especially since a full refund isn’t possible. Insignia is only offering a partial refund to customers, and even then the only products eligible for a refund are those activated within the Insignia Connect app with a valid serial number.
Some of the devices will retain functionality, at least as far as their base function goes. Smart lights will still work as lights, but you’ll have to turn them on the old-fashioned way. The smart freezer will still keep things cold. The smart plugs will still act as plugs. But after tomorrow, any Wi-Fi connectivity and control through voice assistants will vanish. The Insignia smart camera has been the greatest source of outrage for customers. While the other products can still function, the camera will be rendered completely useless. It will be nothing more than a junk device taking up space.
The entire event serves as a PR nightmare for Best Buy and Insignia, but it isn’t the first time something like this has taken place. Earlier this year, Lowe’s shut down its Iris smart home platform, but customers received nearly a full refund when the service turned off. Lowe’s also explained its reasoning behind shutting the service down, something Insignia has not yet done.
Customers have taken to social media to express their frustration with Insignia. Some have noted that the refund process, as convoluted as it is, doesn’t cover every solution. Only 10 serial numbers can be refunded online. Dedicated customers with more than 10 devices to refund will have to contact their customer service line.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the event illustrates a weakness in all smart home platforms. Customers are at the mercy of the backend servers. No matter the company, if the servers shut down then any products that use those servers are also shut down.