On 06 March 2019 I backed a project on Kickstarter, initiated by Martin Andersson using the name "Norrland Parka". The option I funded was described as a "Dream Trip" including 2 Norrland Parka's as well as a trip for 2 to an Ice Hotel in Kiruna Sweden.
Initially, I was contacted at regular intervals by Mr.
Andersson with questions and updates regarding our purchase (sizes, colors, trip dates, flight information etc). Eventually communication from Norrland Parka diminished and then ceased entirely around May 2019.
On 19 August 2019, I was advised by Mr. Andersson in an email that he would not fulfill the purchase I made on Kickstarter. Mr.
Andersson further advised that I pursue a "chargeback" against my credit card company (Citibank) for reimbursement of my purchase. This seemed odd. I wondered why Mr. Andersson didn’t simply refund the money to my credit card.
Kickstarter refused to refund my purchase citing the terms of their user agreement, a labyrinthine document comprised of indecipherable legal jargon similar to any agreement one is forced to sign in order to do anything on-line, use software, buy a phone etc.
Since I am not a lawyer, it is impossible for me to decipher this agreement. As such, the Kickstarter agreement essentially amounts to coercion. Kickstarter directed me to language in the agreement that states they do not accept any accountability or responsibility to customers who use their web site to purchase good and services from the 3rd party.
After additional research, I learned that when a project is funded, Kickstarter takes a 7.5% commission but accepts no responsibility for guaranteeing that the goods and services purchased through its web site are delivered. Kickstarter offers a sophisticated web site with numerous good for sale.
I assumed that Kickstarter, like Amazon or Ebay, vetted people or companies selling through its web site to ensure they were capable of delivering the promised items, and that if they were not delivered, Kickstarter would assume responsibility to protect the consumer and guarantee the item was delivered or facilitate a refund.
I paid $4336.08 for 2 parks and a trip for 2 to Sweden. I presumed that Kickstarter vetted the company and would act on my behalf to ensure the product was delivered or the money returned. However, they have done nothing at all to assist me in obtaining the item I purchased or to recover the purchase price. They will not even provide contact information for the seller so I can contact them directly.
They are literally blocking me from pursuing the seller. Since I have relatives in Sweden, I asked them to help me find Mr. Andersson, but unfortunately, that is a very common name and they found 16 Martin Andersson's in the area of Kiruna alone. I can go no further without having some additional information about him which Kickstarter refuses to provide.
Today, Kickstarter went one step further which was to cancel my pledge.
So, now they have guaranteed that I will not receive the items I've purchased, nor can I access the Norrland Parka comments page to reach out to other people who were defrauded. Yet, they have not issued a refund or provided any means by which I might obtain one, either by Kickstarter or the "Creator" Norrland Parka. This is blatant theft.
I’ve now learned of many other people who have had similar experiences with items purchased on Kickstarter. What I’ve learned leads me to conclude that Kickstarter is essentially a slick imaginary storefront, that uses its name to lend the appearance of credibility to people intent on committing fraud.
This is really no different than the Nigerian Wire Transfer Scam, which I did not fall for. What is dangerous about Kickstarter, and what overwhelmed my defenses, was that the company had credibility via Kickstarter who provided a very polished and detailed web site describing the items I purchased. In the end, they are the same, just another means by which to commit fraud.
I'm a savvy consumer, I've purchased many things on-line during the last 25 some years. This is the first time I've ever been swindled.
I'm angry about the money I lost, but I am also shocked that Kickstarter continues to do business this way, apparently unimpeded by conscious or law. They allow any scam artist to use their site to promote any product, fictional or real. Potential consumers (called "backers") are drawn in under the premise of safety and security presumed by doing business through a large, well-known company like Kickstarter, as well as the polished presentation of the fictional products.
In exchange, Kickstarter takes a percentage of the take. Kickstarter, should be barred from doing business and the officers in the company should be arrested and tried for fraud.
Product or Service Mentioned: Kickstarter Crowdfunding Service.
Reason of review: Poor customer service.
Monetary Loss: $4336.
Preferred solution: Full refund.
KickStarter Pros: Slick advertising.
KickStarter Cons: High likelihood of fraud.