Over the last year we’ve covered on numerous occasions a company called Cobblebot Inc., as they launched two different 3D printers on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Over the last year, the company has been a mess according to many of the earliest backers of their first crowdfunding campaign. Whether it’s been lengthy shipping delays, missing parts within shipments, the refusal to refund backers who have been waiting over 7 months for their machines, or legal threats towards the people who helped them launch in the first place, there certainly is no lack of drama surrounding this company.
While threatening legal action against backers is nothing new to the company’s ‘delay and deceive’ tactics, things may have hit yet a new low for those still waiting on their $299 3D printers. While the machines which were expected to ship approximately 7 months ago finally begin trickling out to backers, numerous problems are being reported while other backers simply have lost confidence completely in ever receiving the 3D printers they paid for.
One particular backer of the company’s original Kickstarter campaign, who wants to be referred to only by his Kickstarter and Cobblebot forum username, ‘L3f7y,’ emailed us this morning with yet another bit of disconcerting news involving the company and their threats.
While most companies looking to fulfill orders which have been delayed by months would be spending all their time doing just that, fulfilling orders, Cobblebot seems to get a little bit too involved in extracurricular activities such as threatening their supporters with legal action. L3f7y, who backed the project approximately one year ago, has remained relatively patient waiting for his order. Like many of the backers still waiting, he has continued to follow along on forums such as CobbleFlop (perhaps aptly named) as he looks for an inkling of hope that his machine may eventually arrive. He explained his frustration to us this morning:
“My experience has been absolutely horrid. According to their [Cobblebot’s] own words the January backers will start to receive shipping invoices this week. That is 458 backers according to Kickstarter. They have also completely stopped shipping wheels around a month ago. They told the backers that they had found that someone had forgotten to put them in the boxes and that was corrected. Backers receiving kits this week still have no wheels included. So most of the backers cannot even assemble their units without buying 3rd party equipment.”
During his usual search for answers, he stumbled upon a quick 1 second video clip yesterday that John Hobgood, a co-founder of the company, posted. The short clip, posted to both Vine.com and Hobgood’s personal Facebook page, was removed in short order without a stated reason. It showed a partially assembled Cobblebot, which appeared to be in someone’s garage, along with what looked like some boxes in the background (perhaps printers ready to ship). L3f7y along with a few other backers copied the clip prior to its removal and posted it elsewhere so that other backers still waiting on their machines could view it
Soon after, L3f7y received an email from Cobblebot with the following threat:
“As the original content was not posted by someone with authority to do so, Terms of Service of Vine cannot strip the copyright protection afforded to Cobblebot Inc. So any point you were trying to make is well..pointless. We also see that after we had the video removed for copyright violation that you posted it again, meaning you violated our copyright AGAIN.
Given that you backed our first Kickstarter campaign, we’ve tired to be very reasonable despite your obvious ethical short comings. We could have reported your admitted hacking of our security features, but we didn’t. We could have hit you with a defamation suit, but we haven’t. And it seems that our patience with your illegal actions has made you believe that you can keep doing whatever you like. You just seem like one of those people that is going to keep on pushing past the limit and force us to take legal action against you. We’re also sure that [redacted] University has ethical standards and expects their employees and/or students to not be performing illegal actions. Such things things reflect poorly on a University. Maybe we’re wrong though and they don’t care, but we’re going to find out.
With best regards,
I don’t know about anyone else but if I personally had owed hundreds of people 3D printers I’m be working my ass off trying to make right on all these orders rather than wasting valuable time making threats to individuals who are the ones who helped the company launch in the first place. Members of the CobbleFlop forum point out that the legal threats sent to L3f7y have in fact violated Cobblebot’s own Terms of Service by threatening to turn over details of the user to his university.
Regardless of this email’s threats, we do hope that the company gets their act together and makes right on the hundreds of printers they owe their backers. We will continue to follow this story and hope that it ends happily for all those involved. It may be that the team behind Cobblebot truly does intend on making good on the word, but the way they are dealing with some of these issues is at least a little bit aggravating to backers I’m sure.
Let us know if you’ve backed either of Cobblebot’s Kickstarter projects and if you have or have not received a printer yet. Discuss in the Cobblebot forum thread on 3DPB.com.