Update and Terms-Of-Use Defense
Palladium Books response to theBetter Business Bureau complaints has been to point to previous Updates to illustrate their level of communication. As you saw, see Part 2, information about Wave 2 is sparse. In fact, other than Update 173 there is no information other than statements that more information is coming. Shipping, address change, and convention exclusives-not to mention the two Update long “history” of Palladium-all received more attention than Wave 2 or the status of the project as a whole.
Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill.”
It’s an Investment Defense
“Kickstarter is not a store, and their fund-raising campaigns are not sales nor mechanisms for taking pre-orders. There are always risks, and often unexpected delays and problems. Contrary to what [insertname] asserts, he did not pay for a product. He backed a fundraising campaign for a project whose intention was to create a new product line. In exchange for that support, he is to receive rewards as outlined during the Kickstarter campaign. He received Wave One of those rewards at the end of last year, and we are actively working towards the production of Wave Two.”
Kickstarter is not a store, this is true. Kickstarter is also not an investment house, because if it was there would be more protections for the consumer. Kickstarter is an emerging market where the legalities of the situation have not been ironed out, although as more cases go to court, the law seems to be on the side of the consumer…cough investor. What bothers me about this defense is that Palladium Books is indicating that they view Robotech RPG Tactics as an invention or experiment, “Hey, we tried and it did not work out for us…or for you. Sorry.” While Wave One, did get made and shipped there was plenty of evidence along the way that this was getting done. Wave Two, not so much information or evidence…you read Part 2, didn’t you?
The Slightly More Than Half-Defense
To continue illustrating why the refunds were rejected, Palladium Books moves onto the retail value of items received by each complaintant and why that is also reason why they should not get a refund, “The rewards that [insertname] has received thus far have a total retail value of…” The value varies based on the complaint, but the “We gave them X retail amount” defense continues, “…By that measure he has received slightly more than half of his total rewards.” The cost analysis defense ends in a part count, “They received X parts, which when you do the math is more than half of the total parts they should have gotten.”
It is an interesting position to take, because they received slightly more than half of what they paid for, they are not due a refund for anything-not even the slightly less than half-that they did receive. Why? Obviously, an arbitrary line in the sand, but an interesting one. So what about those people who have not received half? There are some backers who ordered figures that are part of Wave 2, do they qualify for a refund?
The other thing that struck me was that Palladium Books used the retail value as an estimation of the worth, thus the estimation of what half or slightly half is. Backers did not pay retail and as far as I understand are not asking for retail value back. They are asking for what they paid or invested (your choice of terminology), which is LESS than retail value by a substantial amount. Citing retail value as a defense could be a slippery slope.
If Palladium Books had stopped there, they might have…well I cannot say proven their case, because as Part 2 showed, communication in Updates is lacking about the status of Wave 2 and is high on information that is of dubious value and in a few cases an attempt to sell backers items that while they may have an interest in, did not back. Still had Palladium Books stopped there, their no-refund defense would have some teeth. But…
Update Redux and E-Mail Adsheet Defense
“In the past 26 or 27 months since the funding period of this Kickstarter campaign ended, we have posted 87 Updates, an average of more than three per month There have been 14 to 17 Updates in the last six months alone. And both f these numbers are those Updates posted on Kickstarter’s website itself they do not include our own weekly e-mailings which often contain Kickstarter campaign updates. [insertname] claim that we have not provided any information in the last six months is simply untrue.”
Technically, Palladium Books has provided information. As Part 2 showed, the information provided to backers on Kickstarter varies from “quick update” to “buy this.” So, yes, by the technical definition of information Palladium Books has done that, but they have not provided timely, accurate, or even topical information to the backers. I have no clue why an average of Updates matters in a no-refund defense. Then again, I have no idea why telling backers you will be at a convention counts as “keeping them up to date on the status of…”
Now a word on the e-mailings, I have no idea how many backers read them or even get them in any folder other than spam, because that is what they are, don’t believe me, go here. That is what everyone of them looks and reads like, a sale sheet for Palladium Books, with tiny tidbits about this or that and yes, on occasion some of it does pertain to the Kickstarter. BUT, that is not how information should be delivered to backers. Backers should not have to read through ads to find information about the Kickstarter, which is why his statement, “own weekly e-mailings which often contain Kickstarter campaign updates,” is true from a technical standpoint, but much like the last 17 Updates only go to show that all is not as their words would like you to believe.
Wrap Up, Number 1 You Should Have Known
“In conclusion, [insertname] did not order a product, but rather financially backed a project in exchange for the promise of a reward when the project was completed. He was well aware that it could take some time for the project to be finished. We have kept all of our backers informed throughout the process. He received more than half of his rewards last year, and will receive the rest when they have been manufactured.”
That right there. Robotech RPG Tactics is not a product, but a project. Further, the backer, along with everyone else should have known before hand that the project would have delays…except that Palladium Books stated that the project was further along in production before funding ended-and later revealed that there were many problems that would cause a lot more delays. And, as shown, Palladium Books has an interesting definition of keeping backers informed. However, if the backer did not know or understand that they were not paying for anything other than a promise, they should have at least known that there would delays (come on, everyone knows that, right?), at least they should be happy that they got slightly more than half of their promise, which by the way has a retail value of X, which should satisfy them.
Wrap Up, Number 2 Hearts and Minds
“We sympathize with his frustration over how long it is taking to deliver the rest of the rewards; we’re frustrated too. But there have been a number of unforeseen difficulties with engineering and production on this project, as we have explained to our bakers on a number of occasions.”
That’s nice that Palladium Books sympathizes with all of the backers. How would any of us know this unless we too filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Sarcasm aside, if Palladium Books had done the proper research and not relied on the expertise of others, the aforementioned “difficulties” may have been avoided. Regardless, as shown, Palladium Books has not explained much of anything to backers, especially over the last 14 to 17 Updates, which are used as one of the foundations for their no-refund defense.
Wrap Up, Number 3 Conspiracy Theory
It should be stated clearly, that two of the three complaints ended with Hearts and Minds. The third…well got interesting with a rather spirited attempt to demonstrate that the filer was attempting to damage Palladium Books by citing comments from the filer as evidence. Further, the filer was the “leader” of some of the disgruntled backers and on those reasons alone, he should not get a refund. I mention this, because attacking the filer as a defense, seemed…no not seemed, was wrong on many levels.
Final Words, Mine
Why am I writing this? Let me state upfront I am doing this on my own. Even if I was not a backer I would be writing about this; first writing about the game, and second the Kickstarter as I learned about what was going on. As a backer, I do have a vested interest in the outcome and a bias, but I am doing my best to present information and not speculation and rumor. Speculation and rumor are great for water cooler conversation, but do nothing to advance the cause of the aggrieved nor make the issue clear for outside observers.
And make no mistake, I want outside observers to pay attention, because this one project goes beyond the 5,000 investors, 1.4 million dollars, and Palladium Books. This affects anyone involved with Kickstarter. If you are a Project Creator, you should see how NOT to run a Kickstarter and how NOT to communicate with backers. If you are a backer, you should be aware that you have little protection and how a Project Creator can respond to your concerns. If this escalates to lawsuits, well that is a whole other ball of wax.
If you feel this of interest to others please pass along. And if you have additional information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.