Kickstarted

Backers Better Beware: Kickstarter Says No Refunds, No Way

Take it up with the project creator.
 Backers Better Beware: Kickstarter Says No Refunds, No Way

Basically. (Photo: flickr.com/benhusmann)

A series of stumbles–dead jellyfish, burned sandals, iffy iPod docks–has Kickstarter backers wondering whether there’s any recourse when they bet on projects that just don’t pan on. Their discontent finally bubbled up to NPR, which politely requested some answers yesterday. And so today, the Kickstarter cofounders–Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler–took to the company blog to clarify a few things, with a post titled “Accountability on Kickstarter.”

That mason jar desk lamp hasn’t show up? The brainwave-scanning iPhone accessory not working quite right? Concerned that brilliant poet has taken off to Tahiti with your donation? Sorry, Charlie. It’s not Kickstarter’s responsibility to make you whole:

If the problems are severe enough that the creator can’t fulfill their project, creators need to find a resolution. Steps could include offering refunds, detailing exactly how funds were used, and other actions to satisfy backers.

Not clear enough? Kickstarter does not, cannot, and will not give your money back:

Kickstarter doesn’t issue refunds, as transactions are between backers and the creator. In fact, Kickstarter never has the funds at all. When a project is successfully funded, money is transferred directly from backers’ credit cards to the project creator’s Amazon Payments account. It’s up to the creator to issue a refund, which they can do through their Amazon Payments account.

Why won’t Kickstarter give you money back? Well, it’s just part and parcel of offering a less risk-averse alternative to traditional channels for creative work, like movie studios and publishing houses:

The pursuit of these projects with a guarantee doesn’t work. A Kickstarter where every project is guaranteed would be the same safe bets and retreads we see everywhere else. The fact that Kickstarter allows creators to take risks and attempt to create something ambitious is a feature, not a bug.

Of course, the problem with that scenario is sometimes your grand ambition turns out to be a punchline–just ask the producers of Xanadu.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com