AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bulletproof backpack promised to be weatherproof, have built-in WiFi and numerous charging batteries, but now supporters out hundreds of dollars call the backpack a broken promise.
More than a year after giving money to Austin-based iBackPack, they have yet to see the product.
KXAN found out growing complaints have risen to a new level. Four complaints have been filed with the Office of the Attorney General and several more sent to KXAN over the last six months. The iBackPack is a product KXAN first reported on more than a year ago, ahead of the campus carry law going into effect.
It was then Lindsey Henderson went to the crowdfunding website Indiegogo and her troubles, like all other backers in this situation, began.
“We had both seen it on TV when we were watching it at the same time,” Henderson said of KXAN’s story, recalling sitting with her sister who was getting ready to head off to college. “That was supposed to be her graduation present.”
Now an entire school year, hours of frustration and around 60 emails later, there’s still no iBackPack in her hands.
“They said estimated shipping was in [December 2016]. That never happened,” Henderson said, adding she paid $250 for the backpack plus shipping.
The Indiegogo page indicates the company has raised more than $700,000.
“I definitely feel cheated. Not only that, but I feel angry for my sister, because one of the biggest concerns she has is that she doesn’t feel safe,” Henderson said.
And safety is the same reason iBackPack says it’s withholding the product.
“The reason why they had delayed it so long was because of the lithium ion battery problem, but honestly they could have found a different solution for that. It didn’t have to take 6 months,” Henderson said, adding that after all the back and forth she doesn’t trust the company. “I think about it all the time. It’s a weight on my mind and on my wallet.”
The last email sent to backers, in January, told them the iBackPack has not been canceled, saying it will be delivered as soon as they feel the product is 100 percent safe — likely this fall.
KXAN emailed, called and texted the founder of iBackPack, Doug Monahan, over several days for this story but have not yet heard back. In January, KXAN spoke with Monahan over the phone and at that time, he declined an on camera interview, but emphasized the need for safety before releasing any product with a potentially dangerous battery that could catch fire.
Some things to keep in mind before contributing to projects like this:
- Read the terms of service. Know the responsibility of everyone involved.
- With Kickstarter no one is charged on a pledge until the company makes its funding goal.
- On Indiegogo, the iBackpack page shows pre-orders as non-refundable. It points out if you make a contribution to a work-in-progress, that doesn’t mean a direct purchase.
- Be sure you look at whatever crowdfunding site you check to see when money is deducted from your account. Many of these sites do monitor complaints from both visitors and those posting.
- Ask lots of questions and get information before ultimately pledging any money to a crowdfunding project.