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Nest thermostat owners out in the cold after software update cockup

Buggy code blamed for drained batteries, failed heating

Owners of Nest's space-age thermostats are boiling with rage after a software update left them frigid – and facing a long process to get the devices back up and running.

The problem stems from firmware version 5.1.3, which was pushed out to homes in December. The glitch has left the internet-connected thermostat unresponsive, unable to control heating systems, and often drained of all power, leading to chilly nights for some just as winter really bites.

"We had a bug that was introduced in the software update that didn't show up for about two weeks," Matt Rogers, the co-founder and vice president for engineering at Nest, told The New York Times.

He said that the problems didn't kick in until after the New Year and "that's when things started to heat up." Nice to see he's got a sense of humor about it.

However, Nest's paying customers were in a less than jocular mood about the affair. Twitter and the firm's online forums lit up with reports of freezing homes, fears over burst water mains from those who banked on the Nest to keep a house toasty, and complaints about the steps needed to fix the issue.

Nest has published a nine-point plan to fix the issue, involving turning it off and on again, removing the device and recharging via a USB cable for an hour or so, and monitoring the thermostat's progress via a smartphone.

The biz says that 99.5 per cent of its units have now been fixed, but still the angry tweets keep coming. Several people are reporting that the workaround plan isn't, and some are threatening to sue.

Which shows they didn’t read the small print on their contracts. Like many companies these days, the Nest terms and conditions explicitly forbid customers from entering into class-action lawsuits against the company. Instead, all disputes are to be settled by arbitration on a case by case basis.

"We are aware of a software bug impacting some Nest Thermostat owners," the company told El Reg in a statement.

"In some cases, this may cause the device to respond slowly or become unresponsive. We are working on a solution which we expect to roll out in the coming weeks. In the meantime, performing a manual restart of the thermostat will help until a fix is put in place."

So, how's that mechanical thermostat looking to you now? ®

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