Unicorn takes $699 from 350 scooter buyers, tells them they won't be getting a scooter or a refund

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/10/unicorn-takes-699-from-350-sc.html

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You mean to say someone in tech ripped off ideas and customers without remorse? Pshaw! Next you’re going to say you have a bridge you wanna sell me. I ain’t gonna be fooled a second time. I already have one bridge shaped hole in my pocket book!

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“Tethics” inaction.

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Move fast and break things. Things like trust and bank accounts.

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Insert South Park “Aaaand … it’s gone” GIF here.

I’m increasingly convinced that the best use of Kickstarter and Indiegogo is to support projects by people/businesses you already know and trust to deliver, ideally with small, achievable goals. The bigger the price tag, the more R&D required, and the more grandiose the claims made for the doohickey, the greater the chance that you’re going to get burned.

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Does anyone know what the hook was? Electric scooters aren’t really a product where you have to hope that they’ll soon be available through the power of innovation, they are in stock right now; and $700 isn’t a notably thrilling price.

Were the stated specs inflated? Is this why they only found 350 suckers despite an allegedly expensive ad binge?

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Yes they got screwed, yes it sucks, but also there’s a good reason for the phrase buyer beware. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people pre-ordering from untested companies or crowd-funding campaigns these days. The presence of a big name doesn’t mean anything and if the big name is smart they have isolated their personal wealth from the corporation. If someone has a great idea that requires big start-up money to get a product out the door yet can’t get funding from people who care about a return then I have little faith that they can actually follow through on the promises made about the product. This is doubly true for ventures fronted by big-name people.

I’d be curious to know how disputing CC charges works if the vendor has been paid, no new money is coming in to them, and they’re insolvent. Does the CC company eat it or is the consumer out? Who’s left holding the bag?

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Evans’s next startup, McGuffin, LLC, asks customers to send $1000 in Trumpcoin funds to an offshore account, after which they will be sent a sealed box that cannot be opened and which contents are kept secret.

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Just in time production does not work in this manner.
At some point in the beginning you need to have stock to sell

What’s impressive about this failure(or an indication of how much scam was involved) is that you don’t necessarily even have to do that.

Something like a Xiaomi M365 is $300, retail, quantity one; and Xiaomi is presumably willing to white-label for some minimum order quantity given that this is the model used as the basis of the “Bird” scooters everyone loves tripping over so much.

Engineering is hard; but when you are (for reasons I’m still having a hard time understanding) crowdfunding a relatively mature and widely available product you can just have an ODM do all that pesky work for you.

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I foresee about 350 cases in small claims court for someone…

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All that’s fine unless it’s actual, intentional fraud, which I imagine people are suspicious of.

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Plus, when you pre-order something, is the price lower than when the product is released? If anything, doesn’t the price go down with mass production? What are you really getting when you pre-order anyway?

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Not even the virgins?

The now mythical Unicorn scooter…

image

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Silly humans; unicorns aren’t real!

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Nothing, really. Just styled for another price point. Made by Segway. Oh, there’s this (found on The Verge: "Because everything needs to be a subscription, UnicornCare gives customers access to a range of additional services for $29.99 a month. "). Aggressive pitch to sell the units on credit (Unicorn was hand-in-glove with a consumer credit company). Vomitous.

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I would then argue that crowd funding has been hijacked by those who have access to funding from more traditional sources and should use those sources rather than dilute the CF pond

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I think there’s a typo here because that math seems a bit off.

I wouldn’t spend three figures on anything tech-related on any of the major crowdfunding sites. Too much room for this sort of vaporware nonsense. I really only back board games on KS, and that’s if I’m familiar with the designer/publisher/artist from previous campaigns, whether I backed those or not. Sometimes it takes a year longer than expected, but to date, I’ve always gotten what I paid for. In quantity, maybe not quality, but that’s another discussion.

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From the linked article:

“We are so, so very sorry,” he concludes.

tenor

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