Part 5: Postmortem of a Kickstarter campaign; Camsformer

Part Five – The best stuff always happens after I leave the party 🙁

Part Four ended with me being given a refund and effectively ending my relationship with the project. Despite no longer having a chance of getting the hardware, I was still interested to see what happened to the project. Would it ever get done? Would Clive be revealed to be as honest as the day is long, or a charlatan, or merely unlucky and inept?

Well, the final promise that had been made before I walked was that the factory would definitely be making the boards “THIS WEEK (Monday or Tuesday September 21 or 22)“.

On the Friday of that week, Clive said that the boards would be made “this week”, which presumably meant the following week. So another promise not kept. He also reiterated that the Android app was 90% done. Another promise was that the survey (used to capture customer details) would be sent out that weekend. It appears it was only sent out on October 3rd. People did appear to react (in the face of still quite a lot of negativity) with pleasure to receive their surveys :

surveysFinally, perhaps I was wrong?! Perhaps there really would be a product, and soon!

Lots more people responded excitedly that they’d completed their surveys. One member (as it would turn out, *spoiler alert*) identified one anomaly though, that would prove, later, to be a rather big cloud on the horizon :

cloudonhorizonClive posted an upbeat but contentless comment :

trafficjamsWhat would you hope the two URLs in an update like that would be? Well, the video… how about a production line with PCBs on it, and workers soldering things? Yes? Was it that? Fuck no. The video was a news report about bad traffic in China. Seriously. The dropbox link was almost equally vapid and useless; some stock screenshot. Nothing evidential.

Then another case of “CliveTime” (the apparent phenomenon that time does not flow in a linear fashion for Clive Smith). Let me show you what I mean :

On October 16th :

bareboards
On October 21st boards will be shipped next wednesday :

ship-next-wednesdayBut uh-oh, isn’t this certainty rather undermined a whole week later when it turns out the boards are now complete but now shipping is “currently being arranged”? :

so-still-not-shipped-then

Along the way, some members identified questions that needed to be answered in connection with cables and different makes of camera, and also queried whether we could please see some actual evidence of the boards being real rather than imaginary:

reasonablequestions Obviously no pictures were forthcoming.

So on October 28th, the boards were ready and just needed shipping. Another entire week later, finally, at last, they had apparently been shipped to the USA :

nov5In the meantime, the iOS app had apparently hit the App store. Nobody could use it because it demanded the unit’s serial number. I couldn’t help but wonder why a maker of a Kickstarter would do this. A large manufacturer with intellectual property concerns, maybe (although I would slag them off for doing it) but not a communityesque project like this. People even commented that it was good to see the app. I downloaded it. Basically it was a web window pointed at a registration page, and nothing more. I couldn’t help but feel this was also a stalling technique at the time.

On November 13th a bitter sweet update. With an almost alarming predictability, the boards had a bit of a problem and GUESS WHAT? That was going to delay things still further. Bearing in mind the finished product was due to be delivered in June, and the date was now mid November, this was a bit of a blow; almost half a year late and with more delays projected.

nov13The “factory used the wrong connectors” again really stretches my credulity, and had I still had posting rights to the comments section I’d have very clearly said so. China knows how to make stuff. They really do. Factories are actually quite straightforward to work with, and are keen to do stuff right. If they do stuff wrong, they correct it. Photos of a prototype board would have allowed this not to happen. One thing that certainly isn’t right is manually re-soldering connectors; either someone ordered the wrong ones, or the factory needed to correct its mistake. Another backer had the same thought :

resoldermanuallyYes, they would. Absolutely so. Never mind, forward another almost HALF A MONTH :

nov27I believe a few hundred of these were sold to backers. 2200 as a number of connectors didn’t seem to quite divide down. Bluntly, I question the veracity of the claim that 2200 connectors had to be resoldered. But there is more :

  • If each connector took five minutes to replace (which is probably a fair estimate, for someone handy with a soldering iron) then that would be 7.64 days of working 24 hours a day, or roughly 15-16 days on 12 hour days. Or still proportionately more on 8 hour days.

It doesn’t seem right, one way or another. Either Clive is making the whole story up, or the factory fucked up, in which case this is negligence on Clive’s part for not making them fix it, or Clive ordered the wrong thing. One way or another, this is not good.

Finally, though, a semi vague promise that end of next week shipping might start. Or at worst the middle of the following week. So, that’s something to work towards, right? Right? R i g h t ?

Definitely won’t be almost two weeks before the next non-update will it?

Yes it will.

dec8So as at December 8th, still not shipped a single board. Once again, I am curious to know what connectors were wrong? say there were 400 boards, and 2200 connectors to re-work. That is 5.5 connectors *per board*. I don’t think the board has 5-6 connectors of the same type on it, at all. Again, no explanation really.

Then there was another period of quiet from Clive, presumably as a result of the CliveTime phenomenon, and still a little more disquiet in the ranks :

evidencepleaseFair enough.

evidenceplease2Quite. I couldn’t agree more.

evidenceplease3Oh dear, that does seem damning doesn’t it?

suspicionWitty.

badattitudesUtter fucking bullshit! Everyone has paid their money, on the strength of at least a promise of some updates. No evidentially based update – NOT ONE – has happened. There have been no photos of prototypes, no factory shots, no boards, no video of what a manual connector replacement job looks like and how long it takes, no sourcecode, no NOTHING. Just hot air. Nothing more. I utterly disagree with Bill, and it made me wonder, not for the first time, if he might be part of Team CamsFormer. I still doubt it, on balance. But who knows? Bearing in mind, it was now the 20th of December. Once again, another overrun and no updates.

And yet the pantomime / “internet theater” show (as Bruce Gaber described it above) rolls on :

pantomimeIt CAUGHT ON FIRE?! Is this Punch and Judy?! As it happens I know a little something about laser cutting/engraving. We actually have a machine in the office. This does not ring true, at all. Moreover, once again, it is yet another delay tactic. It’s yet another comedy reason for why they aren’t being shipped today.

One member clearly saw this as I did :

meltedbeltAnd one member identified something very interesting indeed that I’d not thought of as regards refunds and potential of getting one :

VERYINTERESTINGSo it would seem that because the backer’s pledge was 25th of January, the final date by which he could get a refund would be 25th December. I have no way to validate this but it is interesting.

Conspiracy theory?

Could it be that all the fantastical stories were merely to push the project over the finish line as far as potential for refunds went? If you drip-feed people stories that might possibly be believable, and you keep doing it so gradually that most of them do not notice the deadline for a refund passes, then you essentially win by default don’t you? Many of the CliveTime instances now sort of make sense from that angle, I think.

Shitting,  Shipping

liesallliesMy thinking is that the vast majority of members probably had *no longer than* the 25th of December before which to apply for a refund. Many might have had to claim earlier than that. It is interesting that these things finally (apparently) shipped just as Christmas was coming and couriers get busy and overwhelmed with packages. Very interesting.

This seems like a good stopping off point, so here endeth part Five. Please check back soon for Part Six.

 

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7 Responses to Part 5: Postmortem of a Kickstarter campaign; Camsformer

  1. Pingback: Part 4: Postmortem of a Kickstarter campaign; Camsformer | OkCheersBye

  2. A. Darmawanto says:

    …and the drama still continues… LoL
    You must be also following how he reacts to the dissatisfied backers (including me) hahahaha….

  3. Alex,

    This is sad to see, I tried to contact Kickstarter before the end of the campaign. They did not respond, I guess after they approve a project they let it go unless there is actual proof of wrongdoing.

    The only reason I looked into “Clive’s” background is because he sent out emails to photographers and bloggers asking for them to support his great project in the first week after launch. It seemed so cool but I thought, “if I’m going to recommend a product I should know who is making it and feel confident about it.” Tat’s when It started to look shady.

    I was able to contact Kickscammed and they asked the same questions many backers are asking now and found the same bogus stock video and flimsy bio. “Clive” responded by accusing me of trying to ruin his project, and not actually answering the accusations in any way. Of course there’s no way to tell people on Kickstarter that they should look closely before they back, so the campaign funded.

    When I did my Kickstarter I felt I had to set up a webpage and FB and IG account especially since I was using my middle name and it would be easy to wonder who I was. I set up a free WordPress website and wrote a explanation of why my name wouldn’t come up in LinkedIn, etc… I’m surprised “Clive” is even responding to people on the KS site and not just counting his money unless he’s trying to burn out the statute of limitations so there is no recourse. He seems like a con, but still makes videos and responds obliquely to questions.

    Being a professional photographer with a CamRanger, it just seemed that the Camsformer was too good to be true. In theory, it did too much, perfectly. It looks like you are one of the lucky ones with a refund check.

  4. raul says:

    Very interesting. Can we´ll see a Part Six?
    Thank you

  5. eileen says:

    I can’t wait for part six!!

  6. harvey says:

    Interesting, I opened up the camsformer, and the whole thing is powered by an Arduino Yun board.

    Maybe one of the purchasers is experienced with arduino, and we can use all the sensors attached to the board to make our own open source project…

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