We’ve all made mistakes. Sometimes they’re truly accidental, and sometimes…more on purpose, or covering your tail, or greed. Hopefully, we notice before someone else does, but when we’re the second to know, we apologize. Sometimes, apologies aren’t enough, and amends must be made. Either that is fixing the issue (or at least addressing it) and maybe doing a bit more to quell the issue. That’s when you need to address responsibility, respect and refunds.
In the past few days, I’ve seen 2 remarkable instances of drone creators actually admitting defeat, apologizing and offering refunds. The fiasco that is OnagoFly and their ‘backer’s solution’, which is basically selling some people another new untested drone at the same price it’s advertised continues. But these 2 brave companies, and the people that run them, put a smile in my heart.
First, Rook. I honestly don’t know much about this Indiegogo project, but from a distance it seems people have cooled to the idea of ‘backing’ something that doesn’t exist yet (thank you ARI Robot and OnagoFly). The video was polished, but not too polished; the footage looked real, not faked. For whatever reason, it didn’t ‘take off’. Despite being over 250% of funding threshold, they decided to call it quits. Here’s a nice change though; they offered 100% refunds on a January 17 2017 post. Rather than ship something they knew wouldn’t work, or knew to be defective or missing a selling feature like, I don’t know, maybe Obstacle Avoidance or Follow Me, they gave in. Money that was already spent or withheld will be coming straight from the CEO’s pocket. Jackie Wu should be commended, and proud of himself.
Then there was Lily. This was a much larger endeavor, raising close to $50 MILLION DOLLARS (!) in presales and investment (compared to OnagoFly’s $3.2 million in sales and $3 million in venture cap). Again, they couldn’t get the full features they promised and acceptable quality they knew they needed, along with escalating costs because of it. They chose not to ship out defective units; instead, they chose to close shop, AND offer full refunds. FULL REFUNDS. FULL. NO WITHHOLDING OF FEES. FULL. Again, Antoine and Henry should be proud that they did the right thing and didn’t screw over the people that trusted and believed in them.
The drone marketplace is rocky, to be sure. GoPro had a spectacular recall with it’s Karma drone; but they recalled AND refunded those who purchased, because people’s safety meant something to them. Parrot laid off close to 300 people (over 1/3 of their team) because they think the money is in commercial drone applications versus hobbyists. That said, it’s been my experience that Parrot does a good job marketing lower quality drones at higher price points with slick packaging, and a robust brick-and-mortar and online presence.
So where does that leave OnagoFly and ARI Robot? They have been pushing the ‘backer’s solution’ which just sounds ridiculous. They have stated that they are focusing on the 1Plus, so don’t expect any further app or firmware updates any time soon for your original dust collector; the support window will close on that model soon as well. In short, they’ve moved on to trying to pull the wool over more people’s eyes. They actually were pushing a newer model at CES this year…while 1Plus has yet to be ‘officially’ released. BTW, you can’t blame Natey for not being able to keep up with the constantly evolving incorrect specs like having image stabilization or 8 mp camera (that’s a no on both).
ARI Robot and OnagoFly could learn from people like Jackie, Antoine and Henry; respect your customer, accept responsibility and when you fail, fix it beyond expectations or refund.