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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mantis Storage Case Kickstarter


  Well, I didn't really want to have to write this but things aren't looking so great for this Kickstarter at the moment. So this was a Kickstarter that finalised during Aug 2014 and was supposed to ship out by Sep 2014. Unfortunately, it got too successful and as of now, most of the items still haven't shipped out. Sadly, delays are becoming all too common in the KS industry now and if that was all, I wouldn't be writing about this. 
Let me go a bit more into the background of the company. The creator; Tyron, originally launched his company a few months before the actual KS and had a fair amount of success shipping out the orders he got during that period of time. This initial success is what convinced me to try out this kickstarter of his. His KS was over 3000% overfunded and had 500+ backers.

Now everything was normal until December, when Citylink UK went bust. Now, considering most of his shipments were made using Citylink, this put a damper on Tyron's plan to ship stuff. However, that was DECEMBER. Of 2014. It's April now and somehow Tyron is still hammering out the logistical side of things. 

So anyway, I think at the time, backers still weren't too upset because it was only a few months of delay. But then again, they had no idea of what was lying ahead. You see, Tyron planned on doing a second KS. Before he had finished his first. Or even finished finalising the new details of whatever logistical deal he had to ship out the rest of the first. Needless to say, this was a bad idea and many people told him so when he suggested the idea (link), stating that they were unlikely to go in any further on a 2nd KS if they hadn't received the first. However, he went ahead and did it anyway. It ran for close to one month on March till 6th April 2015. And it DID NOT FUND. 

In fact, it did horribly if you compare the numbers. His first KS managed to rake in 30+K British Pounds and had 500+ backers. His 2nd one couldn't even manage to hit 7.5K GBP and had less than 80 backers. So what went wrong there? 

Part of it could simply be because; like many others told him, they weren't going to back a 2nd KS before receiving the first. Or it could be because it was revealed at this point that the first KS was undergoing massive problems that would be detrimental to its ability to deliver the product at all. Posted in a backer-only update (link) on March 26.

Originally I was using a third party company who got me the account with City Link and DHL which was working out well until I ran into problems with them. Such as City Link folding and some other issues following suit leading to the only conclusion as of today to cut ties with the third party and look for another account.I know I originally said DHL and that's an error on my part.
 
This was causing delays with the EU/International parcels I had sent out originally and then had the returned. So for those who I said in PM's that I sent out they were but then put on hold. So for that I apologise. 
I’ve established a Yodel account to ship out the UK deliveries and while sourcing a courier to handle the EU/International shipments, I’m working with DHL to setup an account which seems promising. The shipping fees are more than I had with the reseller though and account processing doesn’t take long. 
What does this mean for EU and International backers?
At this point in time all EU and International shipments are on hold. I know this will anger some backers but this is really out of my control. As mentioned above I’m looking into couriers to handle the shipments and so far DHL seem to offer the better rates despite being more than the third party offered even though they were using DHL.
 
Unfortunately because of the price increase the Kickstarter money originally allocated to shipping it will now not suffice for the increased rates so I now need to look into other avenues to generate funds, such as;
Retail/online - which I had put off immensely because I wanted to finish this Kickstarter first. I get many requests from backers wanting to buy more but I’m only limited to what stock is available.
 
Zombicide/Myth Kickstarter – If this overfunds then that would assist greatly as I would pour the profits into shipping for the first Kickstarter.
If the above fails I will look into selling personal assets to establish funds.
 
What about the cases I paid for?
Nearly the majority of UK pledges have been shipped, there’s been a few problems where backers haven’t accepted the parcels which I’m sorting out and a few backers who I need to go over their orders with but this should be done in 1-2 weeks.
Despite the hurdles with the shipping I’m still packing pledges and will be stock piling them all packed and ready to go. When I get the additional funds I’ll do a mass exodus.
 
Backing Zombicide/Myth Kickstarter
I’m aware many of you are waiting for your cases before you pledge for my other Kickstarter, it’s a logical response. However, if you’re on the fence because you’re not sure on the quality if you read the comments from the other backers who have received their cases you will see the praises they give on the quality of the product and there hasn’t been one bad review on its virtue so far.
They don’t know me personally and have no benefit in giving false reviews and I really don’t want any of you to miss out on the other Kickstarter.
The new shipping fees for the Zombicide/Myth Kickstarter will mean those pledges will be shipped, assuming it gets funded. So if you do decide to back it you will get your Zombicide/Myth pledges. So you have nothing to worry about in regards to the above and the courier account will be set up.
 
Final thoughtsI know you’ve been waiting 6 months for your products and I completely understand your frustration with me but reading the unfounded injurious accusations towards me is very discouraging to see and is one of the contributions, along with fixing the shipping problems and packing orders that I rarely post on the main comments. This doesn't mean I ignore you because I do read the comments and work hard for you.
This Kickstarter in hindsight was never going to be a smooth ride, very few things in life are when it’s your first attempt, but the lessons I’ve learned, the hardships brought by events out of my control have made me a lot more adept at handling them and refined my work flow process so the next Kickstarter will run very smoothly.
I know you’ve put your trust in me and for that I’m forever grateful and I work hard to meet your needs I just hope those of you reading this have taken a step back to look at the whole picture and see throughout this journey that I am working to bring this to a close.
I am really hoping the Zombicide/Myth Kickstarter funds because it will really help with the above problems.
Thank for reading this,
Tyron

None of these is especially rosy for backers. Especially International backers. The more disturbing part is how he goes on to say that he hopes the 2nd KS funds because the funds would really help him solve the problems with the first KS. I know some people immediately sent him offers to pay for their own shipping just because they wanted to get their stuff (and frankly, paying and receiving is better than not paying at all). However, he never got back to me; at least, about how much shipping would be. 

Going through my delivery notes these were meant to go out but I’ll need to check the manifest to make sure but the backers will know if they got them or not;
32,36, 41, 54, 81, 106, 107, 110, 114, 118, 129, 137, 160, 161, 189, 195, 203, 247, 287, 303, 310, 312, 316, 321, 402, 422, 444, 448, 454, 474, 560, 569
 
On Tuesday I had packed several UK orders which were ready to be shipped out and Yodel never came to collect them. Then on Wednesday I packed more and a Yodel driver came but when he saw how many parcels there was he couldn’t fit them in the van but assured me he will come back later to collect them and I took him on his word. 
I spent Thursday afternoon chasing for reasons why no one is coming, they assured me someone would be there Thursday but I didn’t believe them. Their only form of customer complaint is sending them an email, I couldn’t even contact the depot they take my parcels to. So I couldn’t report the driver to anyone. Overall my experiences with Yodel was horrible and they’re an abysmal company servilely lacking in customer service. Which brings me to my own. 
I know I am not the best when it comes to it, I say I will do an update for a certain time and I don’t, I’m slow with replies, I could do more frequent updates and so on. I really don’t do any of this on purpose or to spite anyone and I know you’ve heard this before about me being a one man show but it’s the truth and I cannot apologise enough to all of you for lacking in the areas above but I do try my best and I know it will get better when I grow. Believe me I feel horrible not being able to answer everyone in an efficient time scale. 
I had one backer who came to see me and pick up his order, but he was really surprised at what I was dealing with when he saw all the foam and boxes for real. Seeing them on the screen is one thing but when it’s all there in front of you it’s bewildering. He was really amazed at how I’m handling it and he was very supportive, we spent close to an hour talking and I wish I could do this with everyone. 
I wake up at 6am, travel 40 miles to work (1.30 hours), spend the majority of the time on my feet in an ice cold warehouse packing orders with two 10 minute breaks and then finish at 5pm with another 40 mile journey home (1.30 hours). I try to read all the comments, PM’s, messages from other websites I go on and try to answer as many as possible but there isn’t enough time in a day for me to do it so I try to catch up with them on weekends. 
I was originally hoping if the second Kickstarter is funded then it would allow me to hire a worker which would take some of the load and give me more time to focus on customer service because I know it’s very important and due to my lacking it’s put quite a few people off. 
Shipping Information
Uk and eu backers can buy up to 10 cases
I am in the process of getting my account setup with Parcel Force. Going from my research they’re very reputable so you won’t have to check the bins for your parcels. They will be delivering for the UK.
For Europe I will be using DHL, their rates seem to be ok allowing up to 10 single cases or 5 double cases or even a mix so long as they don’t exceed 10 singles worth. This is good if you plan on backing the second Kickstarter and want to stock up on double cases.
 
I’ve received many messages from backers who want to help with their shipping and it really emboldens me when I see such caring people and great customer loyalty and this is who I work for, again without you none of this wouldn’t happen.
I've come up with a solution regarding the UK and European backers. The ones who have already paid for the extra case for the bonus trays will not be effected. However if the remaining backers are able to pay the shipping for the extra box (£7.45) that would ensure their orders can be sent out.
I’ll be sending out emails to the ones affected and hopefully most of you would be okay with paying the little extra, of course you’re not obligated to do this but I would really appreciate it.
 
As for the International front I’ll be using DHL also, the rates aren’t as good as the ones I had before but this is the best I can do. I need to take some time to look into the numbers on how I will ship out pledges due to the increased rates.
Zombicide/Myth
I know many of you are still hesitant about backing my other Kickstarter but I assure you if it funds I’ll use what remaining profits from it to help shoulder this burden. I know for International backers the rates are off putting but I feel the UK and European rates are palatable.
If any of you are interested in more trays from the first Kickstar you will be able to get them through backing my second one. The trays must all be either 23mm or 30mm though. If you want them please select the “Zombie Horde Loadout” with the cases you want.
I will also sell the X-Wing sets also if you select “Zombie Horde Loadout 1”.
So just to reiterate;
UK backers can get either 10 single cases, 5 double cases or a mix as long as they’re 10 single equivalents for £10 which comes with next day delivery.
European backers can get either 10 single cases, 5 double cases or a mix as long as they’re 10 single equivalents for £30 which comes with 5 days delivery.
If by some miracle the second Kickstarter got over a 500 backers it would lower the rates by a lot and everyone would benefit. So please if you or anyone you know is interested please share the Kickstarter with people you know.
 
Refunds
I have given it a lot of thought to this issue and I'm in agreement with the backers who have voiced that it would do a lot of damage to me financially, which it will. I know this will ruffle some feathers but once you get your items I hope it will change your opinion.
 
Final Thoughts
Again I know I am letting people down due to outside forces but I take full responsibility, I'm having shipping problems which I believe I've fixed it's just getting the rates down. I know when you get your products you will be happy with them so it will be worth the wait. I just ask for your patience and to keep what remaining faith you have left in me.
Thanks for reading this, we will get there in the end!
Tyron

The 2nd backer-only update isn't much better off. At this point, it's clear that there's a problem but at least Tyron seems to be trying to solve this. He in fact starts posting more regularly than he has for the last 2-3 months during this period of time, with new updates coming in every 2-3 days. His last cheerful substantial update on April 2nd seems to indicate that he does have the accounts set up and will be shipping soon. 

Some good news!
Today I have setup an account to handle the UK shipping which will be with Parcel Force and EU with DHL. These accounts will be live next week which means I can resume shipping. Because of all the delays shipments for UK and EU backers will be finished at the end of this month. If KS2 is funded then I’d be able to get a worker and bring it down a lot quicker. As for international backers I will be using DHL once I’ve sent out all the UK/EU shipments.
I know this means a little bit of waiting but now the couriers are found and there should no more problems.
 
As I mentioned in my previous update if you back KS1 and haven’t received anything yet and backed KS2 you can get a full refund on KS2 if you don’t like the products from KS1 once you’ve received them.
Progress!

However, since then? Nothing. His last post was on April 4th, a few days before his 2nd KS failed to fund. And since then, things have been dark. No new posts from him but quite a few posts from concerned backers asking 'Hey Tyron, where are my cases?' or 'Tyron, if you need help with the shipping, let me know' etc. And yet no response. And frankly, this is quite disturbing for me. Tyron had no issues replying to everyone fairly constantly while he was running his 2nd KS but once that was finished however, it quickly went back to the routine silence. 

Maybe he's shipping everything and too busy to reply? Who knows? I mean, when you start telling people that "hey, you might not receive your goods", people tend to worry until you are able to reassure them "hey, you're going to receive your stuff". As it is, there are still so many things that backers don't know. Has Tyron set up the international accounts yet? Is he still shipping EU orders or UK orders or has he finally moved onto International orders?

Honestly, I've tried to cut him a bit of slack but going dark for a week suddenly right after your 2nd KS failed to fund is generally not a great sign of character for a business owner. It makes people feel like you were only answering their questions to try and convince them that you're legit and to back your 2nd KS. Especially when you leave so many unanswered questions.