- Centurion Member
- Posts: 602
- Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:24 am
- Location: United States
Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted to tell this tale somewhere. Hopefully it can be a cautionary tale for others to learn from.
Well about a year ago I decided to fund a Indiegogo campaign that promised to create a router/tablet combo for a reasonable price. The product was called Soap and there were many great promises made and it seemed the creators had a lot figured out. So, like I have done with many other crowd-funded campaigns that interested me I gave them money, to the tune of $99 for their most basic option.
Then as the campaign went along and they kept bringing in more money they started offering very limited runs of the more expensive options for very cheap. I threw in another $56 and went from the cheapest option to the most expensive and while I was at it I also bought a wall mount for $56 (probably the stupidest purchase of them all). This should've been the first major red flag for me and people were posing online that the specs they were saying would be in the final products would cost much more than what they were charging. I ignored them. I just brushed it off as people hating on this new company that was innovating.
Well several months later I realize that I needed money to cover my tuition costs, so I email Soap and ask for a partial refund on just the wall mount. At that point I realized how stupid it was to buy a wall mount, even more so since my new place I would be moving into would not allow me to drill the large hole required to install it. I wrote a very respectful email talking about how much I look forward to their final product, but wanted to cancel my wall mount purchase. Radio silence.
This was the second red flag. I heard nothing from them for several weeks. Around this point Soap announced that they would not be able to make the hardware, but were still working on the software. They promised to give each backer a off-the-shelf router with similar specs. After several weeks of not hearing anything I got to the point where I emailed them again asking for a full refund. This was about 6 months after I first backed them. This got a much quicker response and a member of the Soap team apologized and said he would add me to the list of people who will get a refund.
It would of been great if this was the end of the story. I get my refund and become more skeptical of future projects, but still support ones I like. Alas this is not what happened. In reality I never got the refund. I got the original email at the beginning of December and that was a very busy month for me, so I mostly forgot about the refund and assumed it would happen sometime in the future. I was reminded of this when Indiegogo sent me a survey on how my experience was with Soap last month. I went and checked my statements and what do you know? I never got that refund.
I found the email I got from Soap promising a refund and tried to reply to it asking the status. All my email did was get rejected by the server. The email address did not exist anymore. This was the point where I realized how much of a scam Soap was. I started reading articles on the founders. How they bought sports cars with money that seemed to come from the campaign. How shortly before the campaign started they had filed for bankruptcy. I went to the comments on the project page and it was filled with people saying they never got a refund or any hardware. Soap sent out a press statement around that time talking about how they were now taking a new direction for their company and will only deal with software and were starting a new campaign to fund this goal. I then knew that I was really involved with a large pyramid scheme where they were trying to get money from new people to pay off the old backers.
I then looked into my options since I knew I would not be getting my refund any time soon if at all. I looked into Paypal but the 45 day window had long past and could not open a claim. I knew from others experiences that indiegogo would do nothing to help, only pointing to their TOS that said the campaign owner had to fulfill their rewards, but gave no assistance if this was not done. So as a last ditch effort I called Chase. The lady I talked to in the dispute department was very polite and listened as I recounted my saga. Chase also has a window where you can dispute a charge for 180 day and when she told me that my heart sunk. However, to my surprise she told me that she would still try to dispute the charges!
I was elated, but still cautious since I knew the chargeback would be disputed by Indiegogo. I even got a email from them saying how they believe the chargeback was in error and I should stop it. I responded that I had not gotten my product or a refund even after I was promised. They only said they would resolve it within 75 days. Shortly after I talked to Chase I was given a temporary credit for the $205.
So to the reason I titled my post the way I did. I called in Chase today to inquire about the status of my disputes. To my surprise they told me that they were all final! I had to ask the guy several times to make sure I heard him right. I could not believe that Chase would dispute a charge from almost a year ago and then approve it. This is the reason I use credit cards and why I will always bank with Chase. Now I will never back a project on any of the crowd-source campaigns. These services host these projects and say it is required for the creators to fulfil their promises, but when it come time to enforce this they are silent. It saddens me that these services has become home to so many scams and the real projects that can make a difference are lost in the noise.
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