Kickstarter Isn’t A Store, But These People Still Want Their iPods

whereEarlier this year, Kickstarter made some changes to the way they deal with campaigns to fund new types of hardware. Most importantly, the product has to actually exist. But what happens when the Kickstarted project is obsolete before it even ships?

That’s what happened to the Syre, one of the many smartwatch-ish projects launched on Kickstarter. It wasn’t the first product that was a wrist strap that holds an iPod Nano like a watch, but it did feature a neat innovation: a super-small Bluetooth dongle so you can run around with wireless headphones.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 4.48.40 PMHigher-priced backer packages included items like an iPod Nano and Bluetooth headphones for people who didn’t already own them. Great idea! Some backers even chose the “retail package” for resellers (now banned on Kickstarter) that cost them a $900 pledge and would get them thirty products to resell.

The problem? Since the project launched, Apple came out with a new iPod Nano that made the Syre unnecessary. It now includes Bluetooth. Oh.

That means there’s still a market for the Syre, but an ever-shrinking one going forward. What made the product special–the Bluetooth functionality–is now part of the iPod Nano when it ships.

The Syre already existed in prototype form back in the summer of 2012, or at least people in its Kickstarter video were exercising with things that looked a lot like the product. The creator posted photos of himself visiting the production line in China. He posted photos of what were allegedly the iPods that backers would receive. But the watch bands…didn’t ship. Nothing shipped.

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In an interview with Techcrunch, the creator said that despite those sleek prototypes, the engineering for the Syre wasn’t quite done yet. The product shown in the last few updates was different from that prototype, but backers would still be happy to have it. They’d like to have something.

The product’s backers are now understandably irate. More than a year later, backers are mad and they’d at least like the iPods they paid for, if they can’t have their money back.

Where can backers turn when something like this happens? Kickstarter makes it very clear that once they send a project creator the money, it’s all out of their hands. It’s up to the creator and backers to sort things out themselves, whether that’s a refund, sending some kind of product, or a chargeback.

The problem, of course, is once a project has gone on for this long, enough time has passed that disputing the charge with one’s credit card company is no longer an option.

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If A Project Funded By Online Backers Never Takes Off, Should Everyone Get A Refund?

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  1. Instegone says:

    Kickstarter needs to go away or needs to be better regulated. So far I’ve backed 4 items. 2 video games and a workout shirt and a portable battery for charging items on the go.

    Let me start off with the Portable battery (The Limeade). This was shipped on time and works great, my biggest issue is the price they are selling it for now. I backed it for $89 which included the Limeade L180X. Well guess what, during the Black Friday week they were selling this item for $59 and it included the case for free. So basically rather then backing them if I would have waited a couple of months I could have gotten it $30 cheaper.

    Now the worst offender so far. Radiate Athletics:

    I don’t even know where to start, this company has tossed out so many lies its ridiculous. They were fully funded April of 2013 (they asked for 30k and got 579k) they listed a delivery date of between July 2013 and Aug 2013. As time went on they sent emails and emails stating the delivery date was pushed back.

    One of the updates said they pushed back the delivery date because they were waiting for their dying machine to be built and tested (in a different country) yet their FAQ clearly states: “6) American for America: Radiate refuses to outsource any part of its printing, dying, or research–even though none of today’s leading companies manufacture their athletic apparel in America. Up until now, we have had to purchase the blank canvas fabric from abroad, but with the help of Kickstarter, we will be able to afford bringing even this component of our manufacturing home to America, where it belongs. ”

    In another recent update they said you should hand wash the shirts, yet their FAQ says: “The Radiate shirt is extremely durable and is engineered to surpass even the most grueling training or all-out competition. Our apparel’s color-changing technology will not fade through general use as intended. However, we recommend that you turn the garment inside-out before washing and wash your garment in cold water, drying on a low heat setting. This will preserve the garment’s longevity for years to come. ”

    They also stated early on you would be able to purchase a HIGH heat shirt (if you live in extreme temperatures) which a couple of months ago (after funding) they came out and said they were no longer doing this.

    To add insult to injury during Black Friday and Cyber Monday they were trying to sell more shirts at “40%” off when they haven’t even shipped their backers shirts yet. Did they blow through 600k already?

    Anyways here we are Dec 12th and 1 person so far has received there shirt, and people on their Facebook page and their Kickstarter page can’t even validate if its legit.

    • CzarChasm says:

      To be fair, kickstarter is generally for companies that have had their worth analyzed by professional backers at banks and other financial institutions and found to be wanting. If a bank is looking at these people and saying “no way would I loan them money” maybe you should consider the same thing.

      • MathManv2point0 says:

        Exactly, if a bank or the private placement market have said “no” to the business for investments/loans then why would it make more sense for regular Joe-Shmoe’s like us to invest?