Backers vent online, demand refunds

S'pore-based Kickstarter project says it will ship item two months later than expected

Backers were promised that the magnetic charging cable they invested in on Kickstarter would be shipped before Christmas.

But an update on Dec 30 said that due to delays, the company would start shipping the product in late February instead.

The backers took to the comments section of the Kickstarter project to vent their frustration, with some demanding refunds.

Launched on Oct 13 last year, the Singapore-based Kickstarter project, PowerMAG, received over $18,000 from more than 500 backers.

The charging cable is described as "the world's first magnetic cable for iPhone and Android" that claims to "support 3 amp charging, sync and auto disconnects".

Backers pledged from $4 to $1,200, in exchange for different rewards, such as various types of USB heads and a 2m cable.

When The New Paper contacted PowerMAG, a Singapore company, it said the delay was due to backers not completing the backer survey, where backers are to indicate the quantity and types of charging heads.

Its spokesman said: "As PowerMAG is a one-off product, we require this information to proceed with manufacturing. We can't manufacture until we know the quantity to produce."

PowerMAG added that there was an additional 14-day holding period by Kickstarter to process pledges that it did not take into account, and five days for the funds to be transferred to their bank account.

The company has apologised and said it has "taken necessary steps to ensure that goods will be delivered according to schedule".

Some backers called the campaign a "fraud".

Kickstarter user Kenta commented on Dec 26: "Since there has been enough silence with no delivery, I recommend all backers to at least report this campaign as a fraud to Kickstarter."

User Tan Ti Ling commented on Dec 28: "First project I backed, first project that failed me. Tells me how much I should trust Kickstarter projects in the future."

A Kickstarter spokesman told TNP there is an "inherent risk in creating anything new".

"Some creative projects run into delays or don't end up working out. While that's true on and off Kickstarter, we've worked hard to help our community understand that Kickstarter isn't a store," he said.

While Kickstarter is not responsible for refunds, PowerMAG has refunded users who have requested it.

Experts TNP spoke to said there are risks to backing every crowdfunded project.

Dr Douglas Rolph, academic director of banking and finance at the Nanyang Business School in Nanyang Technological University, said: "Backers have to be willing to take risks to get access to a high-quality product.

"If you're not willing to take a risk, you shouldn't be backing a project."

Crowdfunding expert Samit Patel said businesses are bound to run into problems they did not anticipate.

He told TNP: "(The reason that) many projects do not deliver is because (the organisers) misjudged the scale of the project, or they did not calculate the relevant costs properly."

This article was first published on Jan 14, 2017.
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