There are a lot of ways to deal with unhappy Kickstarter backers. Being generally unresponsive to complaints isn’t a good idea. Withholding already-delayed shipments and blaming it on allegedly defamatory comments definitely isn’t.
Cobblebot promised shipments to its earliest backers by October 2014. It’s now April 2015 and some have yet to see the 3D printers they’ve paid for. Worse, other backers of other products by Cobblebot have already received theirs. (Cobblebot started another Kickstarter project shortly after this one was funded, as well as using IndieGogo to raise additional funds.) It’s the earliest backers — at least those who have been critical of numerous shipping delays — who are still waiting for their paid-for printers to be shipped.
Whatever the real reason behind these delayed shipments, Cobblebot has chosen to portray this as a (highly dubious) legal issue.
One customer, who goes by the handle of JeffRandall on the Cobbleverse forum, recently contacted the company via email with the following message:
“Can you please tell me what the status is for my final shipment. I paid the final invoice over a week ago and I am one of the 99 super early bird backers [these backers had an expected delivery date which passed 6 months ago!]. The message from you was that the package had been prepared, yet it hasn’t shipped in over a week.”
Jeff received the following, rather alarming reply shortly after:
Sorry for the delay and an explanation is necessary. Your account was placed on hold by our legal department. Under Texas law, it is unlawful to engage in defamation of another’s character and reputation. The law presumes certain categories of statements are defamatory per se, including statements that (1) unambiguously charge a crime, dishonesty, fraud, rascality, or general depravity or (2) that are falsehoods that injure one in his office, business, profession, or occupation. Main v. Royall, 348 S.W.3d 318, 390.
Several of your recent posts on various internet forums were being reviewed by the legal department for inclusion in our fourth round of upcoming legal actions being filed to protect our company’s reputation from the illegal act of defamation.
All the above being said, we did receive a hold release from the legal department today and will proceed with the shipping of your package. What does it mean when the legal department releases a hold? It normally means one of two things: 1) The legal department has decided the reviewed statement(s) were not defamation under Texas law; or 2) They have decided to issue a warning (Cease & Desist letter) to provide the opportunity to stop defaming the company’s reputation.
Keep in mind that the support department does not have access to the legal department’s records, so we don’t know anything for certain. We are just attempting to explain the type of hold that we saw placed on your account and what that type of hold means.
In any case, the hold has been released and we will move forward with the shipping of your final package.
Thanks for supporting Cobblebot and have a wonderful day!