Reassuring yourself about the repeated delays


#1

Let me start by saying that I am extremely excited about the prospect of my Glowforge and I really hope the delays result in the best product possible. I’ve also worked with enough start-ups to know that a company can very easily spend $31 million in venture capital before a commercial product even sees the light of day, particularly if they are still struggling to develop a reliable product and burning through $1 million a month. This should give us all pause over the viability of this project.

I also realize that the delays may be causing tangible financial damage to some customers beyond the purchase price, but they are continuing to believe in the project due to the temptation of the advertised Glowforge features and the stream of reassurances from Dan and other Glowforge insiders. Unfortunately, some of the reassurances have resulted in seemingly contradictory statements. The videos and marketing material of the original 30-day promotion suggested a product ready for market with the first email from Dan stating that “the first units would ship in December 2015”, and not crowdsourced vaporware. Then the February announcement, promising shipments in June 2016. The next delay announcement in April, according to Dan, was due to failures in the power supplies, but in the December 1st video (nearly 8 months later) by Adam Savage’s “Tested” indicated the Glowforge was missing key advertised features such as the center camera functionality that controls the auto-focus and ability to etch curved surfaces. Now we’re being told there are a large number of failed units in the office due to unspecified reasons. I can imagine the discrepancies and lack of complete transparency are giving people further pause in the viability of this project.

Luckily for the Glowforge customers, we are simply that - customers. We are not investors that have taken on a risk for future dividends in company profits. We have given Glowforge money with the promise of receiving the advertised product, and as such, we fall under consumer protection laws. Although incorporated in Delaware, Glowforge operates out of Washington and falls under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Attorney General’s consumer protection team: http://www.atg.wa.gov/consumer-protection. I’m certain Glowforge would welcome any inquiry by the Attorney General to alleviate fears that the product we’ve purchase will be delivered and that our money is safely protected. If anything, perhaps the Attorney General could help Glowforge setup a trust to insure our money is protected until shipment?

I would strongly encourage any customers with doubts to reach out to Washington’s Attorney General’s Office and let them know your concerns. Calling would be best, but you can file a complaint online here and discuss the repeated delays and apparent lack of features in the publicly presented units: https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx. I would recommend discussing the following items:

  1. Glowforge has raised $31 million in venture capital and as of September 2016, they have sold $45 million worth of units but have not shipped any products since the first sales in September 2015.
  2. If you feel the initial 30-day campaign didn’t clearly state the product wasn’t ready for market, you need to let the AGO know
  3. Supply copies of the emails indicating shipping dates starting in December 2015, the April email indicating the shipping date of December 2016, and the latest delay email with the statement “Depending on your order date, your Glowforge will arrive between March and July” [2017].
  4. Let the AGO know that the unit shown on Adam Savage’s Tested video as of 12/1/2016, lacked the advertised features from September 2015.
  5. You should also make it clear that Glowforge is offering funds to customers that wish to lose the promotional pricing offered in their original purchase.

Many of us simply want the product we purchased with the features that we were advertised. Steps like involving the Attorney General will also help protect individuals that are trying to continue supporting the company and minimize the risk if financial backing leaves the company en masse.

Although I’m sure the leadership at Glowforge are excellent, this product is their “baby”, and it may be difficult for them to see the forest through the trees. The current leadership simply may not be in a position to make the hard decisions that will bring a working Glowforge v1.0 to the marketplace. That by no means indicates they should step down, but it might be worth pointing out to the venture capital behind the project that they need help to make the March-July 2017 dates a reality. I realize many smart people work in the VC’s involved, but with 30 years in high tech, I’ve seen even the most promising companies implode and the VC’s simply write it off. It may be worth your time to reach out to the various backers and let them know your concerns regarding the recent developments in the Glowforge. You can contact them here:

  1. Foundry Group - http://www.foundrygroup.com/team/
  2. True Ventures - https://trueventures.com/contact/
  3. Bre Pettis - http://brepettis.com/
  4. Jenny Lawton - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenny-lawton-09278410

Once again, I’m really hoping that my Glowforge will finally be delivered in the next few months with all the amazing they’ve promised, but I also feel a little more comfortable about initiating oversight on this process myself.

Cheers,

Grant


#2

What exactly do you mean by that statement; that they are willing to refund in exchange for a customer canceling their pre-order?

What exactly do you hope to accomplish by involving the WA attorney general? The end goal.

Sounds very counterintuitive and counterproductive that you want to see your Glowforge ASAP yet introduce an AG investigation at the same time.


#3

@dan …Tagging you because this one is for you I believe.

(He might feel more comfortable if the lawyers contacted him since he seems to be concerned with the legalities of the situation. They might be able to explain it to him better than we can.)


#4

Wow! Always very wary when someone addresses something with a sweetly candy-coated hammer.

When a nice little phrase is followed by a huge BUT and a long diatribe with the suggestions of AG office involvement and veiled suggestions of incompetance on the part of GF, it definitely makes me take a step back. It doesn’t read as innocent concern, it doesn;t read as wide-eyed helpfulness, it doesn’t read as a “golly-gee-whiz interest in helping out all of us poor disappointed customers and the poor overwhelmed GF management”. It reads as bullying. Couched in “I’m only concerned for the well being of all of us, but…” terms, but bullying none the less. Plain and simple.

The way I see it, you can re-read the legal document you legally agreed to when you bought your GlowForge with reference to delivery of the product, you can get an immediate refund of your money, or you can take all the steps you mention above which are within your rights. The last seems to read as the actions of an angry customer who is disappointed and feels he has the right not to be,


#5

Given that we can get a full refund at any time I would be surprised if the AGO would be interested, they probably have more pressing cases where customers have lost money or been supplied with faulty goods.

At the point where shipping is offered, if it doesn’t have all the advertised features then I presume we will be able to either cancel, take delivery and trust that the features will be added by software updates, or postpone delivery until it does have all the features.


3D Engrave Leather
#6

I’d much rather be an investor, unfortunately I don’t have millions of dollars to toss around. Investors know it’s gonna be a long game, so product shipment times aren’t the end all for them. It’s going to be pretty hard for glowforge to not be successful at this point, and I’m pretty sure investors are first on the ‘getting lasers list’


#7

I may be cynical (ok I am absolutely cynical), but I think someone is positioning themselves for a class action suit or has some motive other than concern for Glowforge customers. I don’t think the VC’s or AG need to hear from us.


#8

You might be hard pressed to prove this. The video doesn’t ever make claims or promises about delivery. It does show features we can expect with normal operation, but there’s no finished product to compare to dispute whether those are accurate or not, and there’s no law against preordering. Plus, the promotional video links directly to the site, which clearly outlines that the item is pre-order, which is further explained by the Terms & Conditions before purchasing.

That’s not the arena of the attorney general. Glowforge setting our money aside is generous and much appreciated, but it isn’t a requirement. Per their T&C, which we all agreed to, they will offer a refund, but there should be no expectation on our part that our money won’t be spent doing what we paid to have done. The fact that they aren’t is really above and beyond. In the event you’re promised a refund that you don’t receive, that’s the arena of the attorney general. But so far, I don’t think that applies to anyone.


#9

I think that all those big names OP mentioned might take one look at the Terms & Conditions everyone agreed to and decide not to waste any more time on this.

Please Note especially:

These Terms provide that all disputes related to these Terms will be resolved by BINDING ARBITRATION. YOU AGREE TO GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO GO TO COURT to assert or defend your rights under this contract (except for matters that may be taken to small claims court). Your rights will be determined by a NEUTRAL ARBITRATOR and NOT a judge or jury and your claims cannot be brought as a class action. Please review the Arbitration Agreement in Section 18 for the details regarding your agreement to arbitrate any disputes arising under these Terms. (See Section 18)

Moreover we have access to the Pre-Order at the discretion of Glowforge:

By submitting your pre-order, you are offering to purchase a Product from us. We may reject your offer and refund all amounts paid by you. (See Section 1)


#10

You should get a refund now and invest in a Glowforge once the product has already come to market. If history is any indication, you’ll have no trouble getting your refund.


#11

You just want to go one place higher up the queue…


#12

Ok, maybe I should take a second to step back because I want the Glowforge to succeed, I can wait a few more months for a quality product, and I have not personal reasons in any kind of class-action. I also accept that we are early adopters that the v1.0 will not be perfect. My interest is simply in 3rd party oversight and getting traction on a project that has lost its way. It appears from what I’ve read in the forums, that many others share similar feelings. If you do not, then this post isn’t directed towards you.

As for the AGO and the Terms & Conditions, the AGO does not care about arbitration agreements and such, as those are civil matters. There are many posts on this forum of from people fearing that they are participating in a scam. What better way to clear Glowforge of any maleficence than having the AGO review their advertising and sales practices? True people can request a refund, but at what point is that not an option for those that choose to stay. People have to legal right to object to how their purchase has been handled, whether or not anything comes of it. I’ve never been a fan of crowdsourcing and if this product is any indication, it needs strict regulations.

Involving the VC may help provide assistance to the Glowforge team to get this product to market. There are clearly feature missing that were present in the marketing materials, but it looks like the Glowforge team is spending resources on interchangeable heads, coatings, and perhaps other “bolt-on” functions. If you consider the following statement from the last email:

One morning early in November I arrived at the office. On my right was the row of Glowforge printers that we use every day. On the left was the row of printers that were not working, waiting for troubleshooting.
The row on the left was longer than the row on the right.

Comments like that don’t exactly inspire confidence that the engineering problems are being monitored and addressed in a systematic manner. Only the VC could step in and correct such a problem by keeping the team focused on bringing the Glowforge to market.

Once again, I want this company to succeed and I definitely want my Glowforge, but I also see a pattern arising and this is perhaps the only options we have to make sure we are protected while keeping something great, a product we all want, bear fruit.


#13

It’s not counter intuitive. There are people on the forums insisting that Dan run around the factory taking pictures of Glowforges being assembled. What good is that? Or the collages of images they’ve been posting?

The only people that can make sure the consumers are protected are those that regulate such commerce. In this case, the AGO.

As for the refunds, it has been well documented in the emails and this forum, that you can get a refund if you wish, but you will lose the early adopter - ie, promotional pricing - of the product. Which is completely fair and above the board, assuming a complete run on the refund offer doesn’t tank the company.

I’m sure if people were to see the AGO isn’t concerned and perhaps a statement from the Glowforge board showing a new direction of the company, there would be less FUD and more faith in the reassurances being issued.


#14

Have you read the following thread? It gives a decent summation of the current status of a number of things:


#15

Those are civil matters, and not a subject the AGO pursues


#16

I think you will find that there are many many more from people who do not believe it is a scam.

The flood of negative posts recently is due to the recent disappointment over the latest delay.
If i may though:

  1. A decent proportion of these complaints... especially the strongest worded ones are from people who do not regularly contribute to the forums.
    
  2. I would also suggest that a fair proportion of these people have little experience backing/supporting/investing in new technologies.
    

I do have experience backing new ideas… i am VERY comfortable with the way Glowforge is moving forward. As i noted elsewhere the projects i have backed that focused on delivery generally fell short on quality. Dan and the team are obsessive about quality whilst obviously feeling the pressure to deliver in a timely manner.
Again, i have been active on the forum since we started this journey, i have seen more than enough evidence that the project is ‘real’

Lastly, we are not stakeholders… we are not ‘part of the team’… Glowforge owes us diddly-squat apart from the Forge we ordered… We are Consumers of a Product that may be delivered within 6 months, it may be longer…
Do you call in the AGO each and every time you order dinner in a restaurant and it comes late?

The fact that Dan, who is insanely busy, is spending so much time trying to apologise to each and every person, read each and every post is WAY above the call of duty.
He does not OWE that to us
Glowforge does not OWE that to us.


#17

Sometimes attorneys general of states do concern themselves about civil matters, but if this isn’t a civil matter, then the only alternative is that it’s a criminal matter. I think that anyone trying to convince a state attorney general to spend resources investigating a claimed criminal conspiracy to hold onto the interest that pre-order customers would otherwise have earned before asking for a refund would have a tough row to hoe.


#18

Grant,

I’m going to kindly suggest that perhaps encouraging other customers to contact the venture capitalists and state AG in order to cause trouble for the company trying to develop the product that you want to buy might not be the best idea.


#19

If you already have a bias against crowd sourcing, that says something about your protestations regarding this particular project – and you really might want to think twice (or even 3 or 4 times for that matter) before you actually participate in one. Get your money back, and then buy one when it is no longer part of the crowd-sourcing cycle so you will feel better.

As for bringing in the AG’s office to prove GF’s “innocence of wrong doing” – that is how the Inquisition worked but not modern society (“If they drown, they obviously aren’t witches”).

Read your Agreement for your purchase. The read it again, THOSE are your legal rights. They tell you what you can expect. They tell you how to address issues you feel are in violation of that thorough document. And they tell you how to get out of this purchase with a full refund – a purchase made through a crowd-funded project (a system you freely admit you don’t trust in the first place).

Projects that are allowed to fully develop in spite of nervous, impatient, suspicious customers often come in beautifuly,amazingly, exceeding expectations. Those that are rushed to market often break, burst into flame at inopportune moments, or fall from the sky…


#20

The AG typically pursues criminal acts. Yes? By contacting the AG and reporting deceptive practices and other violations of consumer protection laws means that you feel that at this point in time Glowforge is in violation of those laws. One doesn’t proactively file complaints with the AGO - they file AG complaints when they feel they have been wronged and the company is in violation of the law to some degree.

It sure feels like the point of your entire post was to proactively search out any disgruntled customers to act in concert with you and simultaneously provide complaints to the AGO and VCs, while camouflaging your intentions with statements like, “I am extremely excited…”, since your complaint alone will hold less weight than if you recruit a class of people unhappy with the delay.