Back in 2014, the Coolest Cooler—a high-tech, relatively lightweight 55-quart cooler with an ice-crushing blender, waterproof speakers and more-- raised over $13 million making it the second most successful campaign on the crowdfunding website to date.
But according to MotherBoard, 36,000 people (about two-thirds of the original backers) have yet to receive the chilly chest. And in yet another icy blow, the company has demanded an additional $97 for “expedited delivery” of the product, eliciting major backlash against the company.
Initially, Coolest Cooler founder Ryan Grepper blamed the delay on a strike at a blender motor factory in China, which allegedly drove up manufacturing costs of the cooler and pushed back its delivery date. But now he has publicly apologized and acknowledged that the company’s original pledge levels weren’t high enough to cover manufacturing costs.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t set the pledge levels high enough to cover the final quality of the Coolest Cooler—and of course we didn’t plan for manufacturing delays and a factory strike,” Grepper wrote in a note to backers on April 12. “This is why we need more money that [sic] we currently have to make and ship the remaining Coolest backers.”
The company says it’s working to rectify the problem as soon as possible but that hasn’t stopped angry backers from crying foul—some even going as far as posting death threats
“I know the internet is an ugly place but Kickstarter is usually somewhere people spend discretionary income,” Susan Towers, the company’s marketing director, told MotherBoard.
“I got doxxed [when your personal information is made public online] by a backer and my phone has been blowing up. I do think some of the reaction is beyond the pale. We've been physically threatened and abused and yesterday some backer threatened Ryan's family.”
Last month, Grepper said the company needed another $15 million to deliver on the company’s promise.
There are, however, enough coolers to be sold through other outlets. But the company says angry funders have made it difficult to sell the Coolest Cooler at the full retail price.
“We thought Amazon would be a tremendous opportunity for us,” Towers said. “They [backers who have yet to receive a cooler] flooded Amazon with fake 1 star reviews and have made it impossible to sell a lot of coolers.”
The Coolest Cooler currently has a 3.5 star review on the mega-retail site.
For now, funders who fork over an additional $97 have been guaranteed a cooler by Fourth of July. Though the company is apologetic, they note that this still saves buyers up to 30 percent off the current retail price.
This article was originally published on April 19, 2016