Cisco created a little negative buzz this week. There were some stories about a firmware update that changed the process of managing your home network to being from the cloud instead of over your LAN. According to stories, with that update came new “terms of service” (TOS) that you agreed to let Cisco track your Internet history, your connected devices, etc. This apparently led to several forum posts by irritated users complaining about the firmware update and the new TOS. Some users complained they had opted-out of automatic updates and that the update was still forced upon them. We understand vendors trying to force the cloud upon all of us but, did Cisco go too far?
Cisco, to its credit, has since apologized via media statements and apparently, in a blog post. It also has said it changed the language in the TOS. The problem is today corporations are largely viewed with a sentiment of Main Street vs. Wall Street. Most brands are scrutinized far more today than decades ago. Social media – including online forums – is one big reason why. Social media has forced companies into submission many times and to think about being more transparent with their actions.
Writing language in the TOS like that – and apparently forcing an unwanted update on many users – comes across as just another corporation being sneaky, apology after the fact or not. Cisco says the language was a mistake. But users end up questioning if the mistake was in getting caught. In other words, with all the lawyers and marketers Cisco has, the language was still included – that many people made the mistake to leave it in? Perhaps it’s the opposite – just one or two people reviewed the language before using it. That’s a mistake from a company this size – at least state that’s what happened and that you’re putting policies in place to ensure a more robust review process.
If the situation was truly a genuine mistake, it’s unfortunate for Cisco that they have to endure the backlash but, that’s the nature of consumer-corporate relationships today. Corporations must stay on their toes and when they do err, accept responsibility and be completely transparent about what happened and what you’re doing to fix it.
To compound the believability of Cisco’s apology, stories have reported that the problem was twofold. First, the TOS language was suspect in taking advantage of consumer information and the firmware update related to the new TOS was forced upon users. At least that’s what the stories say and Cisco cannot change that.
Tech PR Review previously posted about the winds shifting for corporations, in terms of needing to be more transparent. TOS agreements never help. No one likes fine print to begin with and when something odd is within it just begs for public scrutiny.