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Was I Scammed by this Kickstarter Campaign?

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Two years ago, I saw this very cool E-Ink watch on KickStarter. I wish they had a way to import video from here, but I'll let you click that link and open up the campaign in a new tab.

If you watch the video, you'll see the founders saying that they spent a year prototyping. They even show a working prototype. The company, Central Standard Timing, was looking for $200,000 and actually got more than a million dollars from over 7500 backers. Those are pretty big numbers.

In reading the FAQ they state, "You can back the watch on Kickstarter and we will ship you the watch as a reward when we ship. We expect to ship in September."

The campaign was funded in February of 2013. The estimated 7 months has now stretched to 25 months... and it is going on 26. For those keeping track that's 5x the budget and almost 4x the time.

I still have no watch.

A couple of people have claimed to have a received a watch. However, no one has actually stepped up with any proof of it. And those people have quickly disappeared from the conversation. The vast majority of the comments are people exploring legal action. Some have tried to get Kickstarter to intervene, but that hasn't worked so far

It's not as if the two founders have been completely silent. They have had quite a few updates... 29 of them to date. It's just that they've been very irregular. They'll post 4 updates in a month and then be silent for a couple of months. They post pictures like progress is actually happen. On Feb 4th, they posted a photo with 16 boxes saying that they are shipping. They showed a table with what appears to be 30-40 watches.

It's been a month and a half since that update and a dozen comments come in every day asking what is going on. The people can see that the founders are logging into Kickstarter every couple of days and yet, there are no further updates. For what it is worth their last Twitter update was July 2014.

There isn't an update saying that they shipped 30 units out or anything of that nature.

They are still taking pre-orders of the watch on their website. Even that says, "This is a pre-order, expected to ship summer of 2014." Also, instead of the $129 I paid (some got in at $99 I think), they are now asking for $299.

I'm starting to wonder if they blew through all the money and it was much more expensive than they thought.

I think everyone understands that things can go wrong. Over the last two years, there have been enough updates of things that have gone wrong. However, at least that was communication. Communication is free and easy. It really is the least that anyone can ask for.

I read a lot of Kickstarter success stories. My sample size of this one campaign is probably not indicative of how things typically go. However, it should be a good reminder that things do go wrong. And when that happens, there aren't a lot of places you can turn. You can't make the founders give you an update. You can't make Kickstarter leave a message that they are investigating it.

You really can't do anything. And while it does nothing to help the situation, having a blog to vent helps a little.

Posted on March 13, 2015.

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7 Responses to “Was I Scammed by this Kickstarter Campaign?”

  1. Tom Drake says:

    I had a similar problem, but I know I’m getting nothing. I paid $85 for a “pro upgrade” to Tawki, a new site to make quick videos… plus I was supposed to be linked to on a wall of fame, tweets and shares for 10 days, even a personal thank you message.

    Guess what I got? Nothing. When I asked for an update, I was told, “The IndieGogo campaign was a miserable failure, to be blunt about it. In fact, it raised just enough to cover the promo video.” I replied “So, what about the money? Will the money be getting refunded?” and only got, “Ron paid the video guy.”

    Even worse, the only real reason I contributed was to support a friend. No good deed goes unpunished.

  2. Money Beagle says:

    With all the time that’s passed, and no meaningful updates, I would write off whatever you put into it and move on. It’s obviously not going to happen. My guess with something like that is quality (not enough worked after production) or durability (not enough lasted long enough) became obstacles that they couldn’t overcome for the purposes of mass production.

  3. Kyle says:

    Kickstarter is not a store. You aren’t guaranteed anything when you fund a project.

  4. Lazy Man says:

    You should be guaranteed communication. Even Kickstarter lets you report founders who don’t communicate.

  5. Revanche says:

    Ick, yeah there’s no recourse when a KS fails to deliver other than public outrage. I’ve backed a couple campaigns and they were fine but I tend not to back gadget things because I haven’t run across one that I had enough faith to think they’d deliver.

  6. Ghastly says:

    Have you received an email to confirm your mailing address?

    FWIW I’m in much the same boat, but for bigger $$$ as I ordered mine as a pre-order last year. Note that the site is no longer taking pre-orders, and I have recieved an email stating that they were only going to be able to have the one model of watch available, and were going to ship them in the order in which you confirmed your address.

    But like you, I’ve not actually seen any credible “yep they are shipping” confirmation.

    Two old timer sayings keep coming to mind. One is “you pays your money and you takes your chances!” and the other one – the one I hope I don’t end up associating most with this is “theres one born every minute!!!”

    Good luck!

  7. Lazy Man says:

    They recently updated the campaign. Looks like they had a lot more difficulty with manufacturing than expected and there isn’t money to make all the product.

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