Update July 2018: If you are a Canary purchaser upset how they scammed you and other customers, please get in contact with me as quickly as you can.

canary security camera scam

Canary Retail Box Clearly State No Monthly Fee via Sasha Zare. I can verify this.

Update: If you’re a customer affected by the Canary camera scam, please file a report with the New York State Attorney General where Canary’s main office is located. Here are seven other ways to fight back against Canary for scamming its customers.

On September 5th, a realtor showing my condo stole a few personal items. Certainly, I’d taken precautions securing valuables, but it’s difficult to do everyday on an ongoing basis. This also happened to be the day that my Canary security camera became inoperable. The camera hung all day and there was no way to see what happened. Canary support confirmed the outage but offered no regrets. This may have been the day that the company’s growth overwhelmed its networking capacity leading it to cut off all pre-existing customers from most features shortly after.

Canary basically shut down the major features of its devices shortly after October 3rd. Customers like me that had purchased its products because they did not require subscription fees suddenly were worthless unless you signed up for a $120 annual subscription.

Canary now blocks access to security recordings of intrusion events, providing only useless ten seconds clips. They call these “previews,” but now you can’t view them or download them without a paid subscription. A realtor entering my property (on business) recently set off the device but never made it into the frame before the clip ended:

Canary ended night mode access which turned on monitoring in unoccupied rooms as you slept. Customers complaining online are calling the company’s changes “bait and switch“, saying it turns their devices into paperweights.

Canary began with $1.96 million in crowdsourced funding, Shaf Patel contributed $580. The company even cut device features from its earliest funders. He’s angry that they “almost bricked our devices…they screwed all of us.” He’s blind and relies on Canary for its audio feeds. Whenever he’s asked them to improve accessibility on their app, they’ve ignored him. “This company is disgraceful and have lost my trust.”

@JmHorowitz tweeted ironically, “the only robbery most @Canary users will see is committed by @Canary itself.”

I’ve asked Walmart’s Jet.com to issue a refund for me and stop selling these devices. They’ve rejected my request. I have seen a tweet indicating that Amazon is granting refunds and a comment that BestBuy is asking its customers to call them. Both sites continue to sell Canary devices.

The company has also disabled its support channel, prompting Brian Kappus to tweet, “Can’t the @canarysupport team handle the volume of complaints from your bait and switch program?”

canary scam adam sager

Canary CEO Adam Sager

The company’s founders have shown little regard for its backers and customers. I found Canary’s CTO, Chris Rill, retweeting an Onion article about Equifax defrauding customers without any thought to the scam he’s perpetrating on his own customers. Canary’s other founders include Adam Sager and Jon Troutman. Canary’s Series B was funded by “Walden Riverwood Ventures, with participation from Cota Capital, Khosla ventures, Flextronics, Two Sigma Ventures and WTI.”

Canary may have violated the implied warranty of its product. Customers purchased the devices expecting them to behave as security devices without future costs. The company disabled this feature without notice. It’s possible there will be a class action lawsuit against the company, but there’s no indication of this yet. Owners are banding together in comment sections and anonymous @canary_scam and @scameraaa have begun gathering contacts for affected customers.

Jon Troutman Canary

Jon Troutman, Chief Design Officer

If you’re a scammed Canary customer, I encourage you to contact the retailer where you purchased the product and share this article on social media. You can follow @canary_scam and @scameraaa on Twitter. You can also follow me @reifman and I’ll update you if I learn anything more. If you feel strongly motivated, email me with facts about your situation and I’ll gather these for any attorneys that contact me about Canary.

 

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. Check out Portland Wild, a visual map-driven guide to Portland's public art, its Heritage Trees and its Little Free Libraries.

6 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff, I’m absolutely raging at what Canary have done. I contacted my retailer ‘John Lewis PLC’ and even though the product was about 16 months old, as it had a two year shop guarantee, they have refunded me, deeming it no longer fit for purpose.

    Reply

    1. That’s amazing. Nice work. Walmart’s jet.com told me to screw off.

      Be sure to report your case to the NY AG where Canary is based. https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint

      Reply

      1. Also got a refund from Amazon. Great customer service.
        Jeff, Canary think the bad PR is going to blow over. Don’t let them get away with this scam. Keep sharing this article, writing 1 star reviews and informing potential new customers about how they violated their own terms of service and misleading advertising.

        Reply

        1. I tried getting a refund from Amazon but because it was longer than 30 days (or whatever the timeframe is) they would not refund me. Was this not the case for you?

          Reply

  2. Hi Jeff! I pre-ordered the Canary Flex from Canary’s website and now it seems I am stuck with it because I keep on emailing back and forth with them but they keep on repeating the same thing, you cant get a refund after 60 days and they can give me a code for their membership plan. What scammers. They only accept returns before 60 days when they just barely took off these features like 2 weeks ago. How are long time customers supposed to return it if they were never aware that this would happen! That wont stop me from emailing them and complaining to them! I will be doing what you said and filing a complaint with the NY AG. Should we try the FTC also or something? Any luck with attorneys getting back to you? Hope to get a reply.

    Reply

  3. So glad to hear about your lawsuit! I, too, own three devices that I have in two homes and purchased them specifically because there was no subscription. I would not have purchased them had they required that. I thought I was alone in how angry I felt over being duped. Before the change, I was even able to share an incident with our sheriff’s department regarding an unscrupulous realtor when our home was on the market. I would not have been able to do that with the way they operate, or should I say not operate, today. I wish you good luck with the lawsuit.

    Reply

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