Yes, you have seen this “Field & Crew” Kickstarter Watch Project before.
Just over a year ago, a Kickstarter project was launched with what appeared to be blatantly photoshopped images of a formâ€¢functionâ€¢form button stud watchband on a J. Crew Timex Andros. The logo on the dial had been changed, the Horween markings on the interior of the band were swapped out, and… that was about it. It didn’t take that keen of an eye, or nose, to see and smell how fishy the project was:
The guys at formâ€¢functionâ€¢form were understandably pissed, notified Kickstarter, and the project was suspended. Done, right?
Oddly enough, no.
Six months after the first kickstarter campaign was suspended, a second campaign by the same creator was launched and it somehow slipped past anyone who had watched the previous campaign capsize. This time, it looked like he had an actual(?) functioning prototype. Perhaps. The estimated date of delivery was September 2013, a mere two months after the project was funded on July 29th.
With most individual contributions hitting the $199 or $299 mark, over $25,000 came in via Kickstarter. That’s almost 3x the amount originally set as the goal for funding. The creator, “Chris,” was interacting with backers and sending out updates. He even managed to dodge a question about why his first project was shut down. Then, in mid September, he disappeared. After a few weeks without any updates, the backers started to get restless:
Backers began contacting their credit card companies to dispute the charges. Some commented that they considered their contributions lost and gone. But what about Kickstarter? Couldn’t the powers-that-be help out? Turns out Kickstarter isn’t obligated to help out in any way. Their Terms & Conditions state:
Kickstarter is not liable for any damages or loss incurred related to rewards or any other use of the Service. Kickstarter is under no obligation to become involved in disputes between any Users, or between Users and any third party arising in connection with the use of the Service. This includes, but is not limited to, delivery of goods and services, and any other terms, conditions, warranties, or representations associated with campaigns on the Site.
Five months have passed since the creator estimated the rewards would be shipped.
The Field & Crew website is dead.
Backers continue to update the comments section on Kickstarter with how their credit card dispute claims are going, and/or with any information they can dig up about the creator.
Did this guy set out to rip people off from the start? Or was he a design-loving dreamer who hadn’t the foggiest idea on how to actually execute the production of wristwatches, then gave up and pocketed the money when it all turned to dust?
It’s all speculation at this point, and finding out the facts would be quite the task.
Maybe we should launch a kickstarter to fund an investigation.
Postscript: Shawn from formâ€¢functionâ€¢form (who had his photos plagiarized in the first “Field & Crew” campaign, complained to Kickstarter, and got it shut down) wants to offer those who were ripped off some consolation. If you ended up getting screwed by this campaign, and you can prove you were one of the backers, send the proof to firstname.lastname@example.org w/ the subject: “KickInTheAssStarter”. If you can prove you got screwed, he’ll send along some honest to goodness FFF product. At least a button stud watch band for your troubles.