If you’ve ever backed a crowdfunding campaign before, you’ll know the familiar feeling of anticipation that comes after pledging for a reward. Waiting several weeks or months can test anyone’s patience, especially in the days of Amazon Prime.
But what if the item never comes?
What should you do if that amazing project you backed STILL has yet to deliver and you’re starting to feel more worried than excited?
We’ll look at some of the reasons campaigns get set back and the actions you can take.
Delays can happen
It’s important to keep in mind that the delivery date shown on a Kickstarter or Indiegogo page is only an estimate. There are many, MANY things that can delay fulfillment of a product. Every stage of development, from manufacturing to shipping is vulnerable to setbacks.
Combine that with the fact that many creators might have little to no experience fulfilling a product. It may be their first time dealing with things like overseas suppliers or international shipping among other hurdles.
While Indiegogo is piloting a guaranteed delivery program for certain projects, Kickstarter does not require campaigns to deliver by their estimate. In their words, “When the unforeseen occurs, creators are expected to post a project update explaining the situation.”
Look for updates
Whether good news or bad, keeping backers in the loop is a sign that the creator is continuing to work towards fulfillment. Project updates are automatically emailed to backers, but they can be easy to overlook. Check your inbox or account page to see if there’s any news you should know. In the event that a project can’t fulfill as promised, an update is where you’d find your options, such as a refund or alternate reward.
Contact the creator
It never hurts to reach out to the creator directly to check up on their progress. You can send them a private message by clicking their profile name, then “Contact me” on Kickstarter, or “Ask a question” on Indiegogo.
While they might be slow to respond (they should be busy after all), you’ll get any answers sent straight to your inbox.
Connect to other backers
The beauty of crowdfunding is that there’s usually a group of people just as excited to get their reward as you are. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have fairly vocal communities and it’s worth keeping up on the comments to see what others are saying.
While you might still be waiting, it’s possible someone else received their reward weeks ago and is talking all about it. Popular campaigns with international backers might have huge differences in delivery times, so make sure you’re not the only one feeling empty-handed.
Check if a refund is possible
Refunds are an area where crowdfunding platforms differ the most from standard ecommerce. If a campaign has ended after reaching its funding goal and your credit card has been charged, there’s no direct option for getting your money back. In their own words, “Kickstarter is not a store and we do not issue refunds.”
However, refunds are still possible as long as the creator is willing to issue them. You can request one by messaging them directly or through a comment on the campaign page. Refunds can take up to two weeks to appear back on your credit card.
The platforms’ stance
If you still haven’t received your reward, you might think the next step would be contacting Kickstarter or Indiegogo directly. The truth is, they can’t help you get your item.
Both websites make it clear they are only platforms and do not guarantee any creator’s ability to complete or fulfill a project.
While you can always report a project, staff typically only steps-in when a campaign violates their rules or community guidelines. Outside of things like copyright violation or prohibited items, campaigns are rarely removed.
As a whole, crowdfunding projects that don’t deliver are rare. Most creator’s do their best to create a satisfying product and experience for their backers. While the occasional dud might happen, there are many more projects that deliver as promised every day.