We’ve talked before about how Kickstarter can be a great way to raise money for a project. But there are also some potential dangers, for campaign fund-raisers and backers alike, that you should be aware of before you get involved with any projects.
Kickstarter problems for fundraisers
The first is that Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform. This means that if you don’t reach your fundraising goal, you don’t get any of the money that has been pledged. This can be a problem if your project isn’t well thought out, or if you haven’t done your marketing homework.
The second danger is that you may end up with more money than you need. This might sound like a good problem to have, but it can actually be quite difficult to manage. If you raise too much money, you may have to refund pledges, which can be a hassle.
The third danger is that you may not be able to deliver on your promises. This can damage your reputation and make it difficult to raise money in the future.
So, while Kickstarter can be a great way to raise funds, there are some potential pitfalls that you should be aware of. Be sure to do your research and plan your campaign carefully to avoid these dangers.
Kickstarter problems for buyers – Scams
While the biggest problem for fundraisers is the risk that a campaign either does not get funded or swells to such proportions that it might prove unmanageable (for example, if your project was to create handmade items), for buyers the risks are equally substantial.
When you find a campaign you do so while accepting the risk that the campaign might fail to deliver. You are not buying a product, you are backing an idea. That said, the vast majority of projects are successful and delivered, but this doesn’t always happen.
When a project fails, there is nothing you can do about it, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make a credit card claim for the lost funds – you take your risks.
This has led to an explosion of high ticket scam products on the platform. The campaigns are run in a slick manner, with the end product already visible – beautifully designed items that anyone would be pleased to have. The campaigners are friendly, responsive, and eager to answer questions… until the campaign is completed and Kickster hands them their money.
At that point, they begin stalling for time. The longer they can hold off the masses with problems outside of their control, the less likely any chargeback attempts will be successful.
Sadly, I speak from personal experience, having recently backed the Ergoplax sit-and-stand desk. I write professionally and wanted to ease the pressure on my back from always being sat at my desk. The Ergoplax desk was everything I wanted and was not available anywhere else. And I wasn’t alone, with the campaign easily hitting its target. Over 2000 of us forked out between £300 and £500, depending on upgrade options. I was at the top end of that range, and I was eager to receive my desk.
Of course, when you’ve invested in something like that, you want to silence the nay-sayers. People were appearing, quoting warning signs. Some backers (ex backers, after they quickly canceled their pledges) warned us that the alleged Chinese suppliers knew nothing about the campaign. There were red flags aplenty, yet still, I laughed it off, I was obviously going to get my desk.
Well, here I am months later. The scammers went silent after the deadline passed for most companies to perform a chargeback. My credit card company refused my request to reclaim the money, citing Kickstarter’s response, that all pledges are at our own risk.
Sadly, Ergoplax is far from the first scam on Kickstarter, and unless things change, it won’t be the last.
It is clear that Kickstarter takes no responsibility whatsoever for the projects it facilitates. It is a platform, and that’s all. They know scammers use the platform, but if one manages to slip through and fleece the funders, they do not intervene. If you choose to back a project, do so in the knowledge that there is a possibility you will never see your money again.