The Chamberlain Group, a leading manufacturer of garage door openers with brands like LiftMaster, Chamberlain, Merlin, and Grifco under its umbrella, has recently taken a stance against its customers using third-party smart home apps with its “myQ” smart garage door openers.
The company has expressed its disapproval of what it terms “unauthorized usage” of its smart garage door openers by the very customers who have purchased them. The crux of the issue lies in the fact that customers wish to operate their garage doors and monitor their status through third-party smart home applications, a practice that Chamberlain Group is not in favor of.
The company has stated to clarify its position, stating that it has decided to prevent unauthorized usage of its myQ ecosystem via third-party apps. The decision, it says, is aimed at ensuring the best possible experience for its 10 million plus users and its authorized partners who have placed their trust in the company.
The news of this development was first reported on the Home Assistant blog, a popular open-source smart home platform. The blog reported that the myQ integration is being removed from the project as it no longer functions. The blog also alleged that Chamberlain has been undermining Home Assistant support for some time now.
The integration maintainer, Lash-L, was quoted as saying, “We are playing a game of cat and mouse with MyQ and right now it looks like the cat is winning.” The question that arises here is why a company that sells garage door openers would be concerned about how customers use its products. A review of the app store reveals a possible answer. While the iOS app enjoys a rating of 4.8 stars, the Android app has been hit with a series of one-star reviews since October.
Users have complained about the app displaying advertisements at the top of the screen that cannot be disabled, pushing the garage opening button out of sight. Other complaints include the app trying to upsell services and devices that users do not need. This sheds light on the company’s strategy of using its hardware app as an ad platform. By banning third-party apps, Chamberlain Group ensures that users cannot bypass its ad displays and upselling attempts. The company’s suggestion to “check out our authorized partners,” which include companies like Amazon and Alarm.com, further supports this theory. These “authorized partners” are likely paying a fee to work with garage door openers that have already been sold to customers.
Home Assistant’s founder, Paulus Schoutsen, has stated that while Chamberlain Group has never responded to Home Assistant’s requests to work together, the open-source project cannot pay a partnership fee. He argues that this is not only financially unviable but also against the project’s values. He has expressed his willingness to welcome the integration back if Chamberlain Group agrees to work with them for the benefit of their customers. In the meantime, Home Assistant has recommended a workaround for users stuck with a Chamberlain garage door opener. They suggest using a small circuit board called a “ratgdo,” designed to hack into Chamberlain/LiftMaster garage door openers. This device connects the garage door button wires to your Wi-Fi—something Chamberlain presumably can’t interfere with—and freely communicates with everything. It can even report back the actual status of the door.
Schoutsen and the Home Assistant team have advised consumers to avoid purchasing products or services from companies that treat their customers in this manner. They recommend buying products that work locally and won’t stop functioning when the company decides to pursue an additional revenue stream.