PITTSBURGH (KDKA)- How many times has a lost pet flyer been seen on a utility pole or bulletin board?
In 2010, the first ever National Lost Pet Survey from the ASPCA found that 15 percent of pet owners reported a lost dog or cat.
While that might not seem like a lot, if any pet owner lost their pet, it can be heartbreaking.
It was exciting when KDKA-TV anchor and "Does It really Do That?" reporter Jennifer Antkowiak found a product called GIBI that uses GPS on a phone to track pets, so they can easily find them if they're lost. We couldn't wait to try it to find out, "Does It Really Do That?"
But, for the first time in the history of "Does It Really Do That?" stories, a simple product test has turned into a months-long consumer investigation.
Antkowiak said, "we've hit roadblock after roadblock with this one."
The GIBI device is small and fits on your dog's collar. It costs $150, and on top of that, there is a monthly service fee. If you're spending that kind of money, the product should deliver. But, so far, our tester has found only frustration instead of peace of mind.
Deanna Schaffer is a happy mom of shelter dogs. She grew up in a family of animal lovers. They've been fortunate to have dogs that are good about staying where they're supposed to, but she feels for those who have to worry their dogs will run off.
"I've been in those situations before where you're afraid to take your dog off of the leash, because you don't know what they're gonna do or what they're gonna run after if they see something, or if you're gonna be able to get them back," said Schaffer.
Schaffer was happy to hear about the GIBI Pet GPS System, and eager to see for herself how it could save families some worry and stress.
That's exactly what a video on the GIBI website promotes: a quick, accurate and reliable way to help you find your pet.
To use the GIBI, you have to go the company's website, register the device and pay a small monthly fee to activate it and run the GPS. The website explains that anyone can set up safe zones for their pets in a backyard or a park.
If a dog is wearing a GIBI and runs out of one of the safe zones, the pet owner will get an alert on their phone. It sounded great to Schaffer. She was ready to sign up and start the registration process on the GIBI website.
Antkowiak watched as Schaffer created an account, entered her user name, a password and was able to enter payment information, but when it came time to confirm the account, the website kept giving us the same message, "Registration Failed."
Several different ways were attempted, but nothing worked. The "Registration Failed" message kept popping up. At one point, Schaffer got a confusing message about using a coupon code, which was expired, and then some website-tech jargon that didn't make sense.
"When you go back to that that coupon code out of there, the expired coupon code, it doesn't let you advance from there, so it's almost an error in their programming with their website," Schaffer said.
Schaffer then tried to go online for help, and called the customer service number listed on the GIBI website, but a recording told her they were closed because the company is located in California, on Pacific time, and the call came before they opened for business.
Antkowiak and her producer, Corey Martin, weren't surprised by any of it.
In May, when they first wanted to test GIBI and tried to pay for the service before the shoot, they had similar problems with the website. Just like during the test with Schaffer, they emailed and called the company looking for help. A Customer Support Representative emailed a reply, apologizing that they were experiencing difficulty with registering the GIBI, and offered them another number to call.
When Martin called and spoke with the Customer Support Representative, he blamed their issues on internet firewalls set up by KDKA. A few hours later, the Founder and CEO of GIBI, Synette Tom, sent an email to Martina and Antkowiak, also apologizing, and again, blaming the registration issues on internet firewalls.
But, when they checked with their IT Department, they said their parent company, CBS, had no firewalls that would prevent them from using the GIBI website. If it really was a firewall issue, why did Shaffer have the same problems on her home computer?
A few days ago, Antkowiak and Martin tried to call the customer service line one more time during the company's business hours, and that time they got a different message. The recording said, "Your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again." They tried multiple times, but still got the same message.
Antkowiak also tried another email to GIBI Customer Service through the company's website, explaining their issues and hoping they could resolve them so they could finally test the product. No response has been received.
So, the GIBI Pet GPS, "Does It Really Do That?" For now, the answer is unknown. Bottom line, they spent $150 and own a device that cannot be used.
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