Conned on Kickstarter (Update)

in Reviews | 14 minutes read

Kickstarter is an exciting website that enables people to crowd fund big and small projects. Projects are posted by creators that range from films, games, music, art, design and technology. It is a great way to invest in a product or an idea and help bring the project to life.

I have been a member of the site since June 2013, and since then (as of this writing) I have backed 12 projects. Each one has come to life and fulfilled their original concept into a working product that has been shipped to thousands of backers all over the world. Every product that I have received has so far delivered on their promises except for one.

The one that did not deliver on their original promise is called the eleMount.

What is the eleMount?

Meet eleMount. This universal mount raises the bar, allowing gadgets to be placed on a premium pedestal that matches their beautiful design and quality. One of the most user friendly mount ever designed, eleMount sticks to any flat surface and doesn’t care if you prefer Apple or Android or like to keep your case on. eleMount works just as you’d expect. No suction cups, no locks, no instruction manual. You only need one hand to mount your device. This premium, high quality mount is CNC machined, carved from the finest solid aluminum and complements a sleek, minimalistic style. After all, shouldn’t your spectacularly designed device rest on an equally eye-catching pedestal?

Sounds and looks awesome right? That was my initial reaction anyways. I wanted to use this product mainly in my vehicle to elevate my phone properly while driving so that I could interact with it easier. If you watched the kickstarter video above you can clearly see it being demonstrated with the use case that I wanted this product for. So I pledged $69 which got me a silver eleMount with free shipping, and an estimated delivery of January 2014. The project creator is JR Sanchez.

eleMount

The projected received an overwhelming response and was funded October 4, 2013. The final project funding money came in at $225,347 which was well above their goal of $10,000. I received my eleMount on March 21, 2014 almost two months after the initial estimated delivery date. Which is not a problem; if you have ever backed a project most of them typically run a little over the initial delivery dates due to some things out of their control in the manufacturing process.

Opening my eleMount Package

Most definitely not a good first impression right out of the box. The eleMount was shipping in this tiny box.

eleMount Shipping Box

Upon opening it you see the eleMount is wrapped in bubble wrap with nothing else to protect it.

eleMount Shipping Packaging

It had little plastic sheets covering both ends for the sticky pads. It would of been real nice if the product was built to include caps for both ends to protect the sticky pads when not in use. Later on JR made some caps for the ends, but added them as an extra charge for backers at $10 for a pack of two. Thankfully I did not buy them and waste anymore money than I already had.

After initially inspecting the product I was excited because this thing is certainly beautifully made. The matte finish and smooth curves look sharp and contemporary. As I first rotated the eleMount I noticed a hard grinding noise. Turns out the ball joint he was using in the mount had absolutely no lube on it and it was metal on metal. It was scratching the finish off the mount it was so bad. I took the mount apart to see what was going on. My suspicions were right and there were metal shavings inside the joint, scratches, and no lubricant to aid the joint movement.

eleMount Scratches

eleMount Scratches

eleMount Taken Apart

I could deal with the minor scratches around the joint and the tough movement of the joint. I thought at least the joint was stiff enough that it will not slouch and move on its own when in use. So I went out to my car to test it out. JR described the best way to use the mount in his last update right before every backer received their mount.

Tip: One thing that we found to be useful is to stick the mount/pad without a phone or anything and let it settle for a couple of minutes. This will ensure a strong bond with a ton of surfaces.

Remembering this tip I stuck the mount to my car window. Pressed it firmly against the window. Put my phone on the end of it and the complete unit stuck for maybe 60 seconds max. Then fell down. Just long enough for me to grab this picture to show you what it was supposed to do. If you look closely you can see the sticky pad starting to come off the windshield in the picture. Look at the top of the sticky pad and you can see the separation from the window.

eleMount Working for 60 seconds

I thought ok maybe I just did it wrong or maybe it was meant more for the dashboard instead of glass. So I pulled my phone off the mount, and stuck it on my dashboard. It would not even hold its own weight up. I did not even have time to stick my phone on it this time. This product is nothing other than a $69 paper weight.

I immediately went to the Kickstarter project page for eleMount and began to express my concerns. I was the first person to express concerns about the product not performing as it was advertised.

Got mine today. I have a concern for the joint. Should there not be a little lubrication on this thing? It literally grinds metal every time I try to rotate it. It’s scratching the joint area, and I feel like the friction it makes when I move the joint just can’t be good on the product. Is this normal?

JR replied with:

@Ryan O. Hicks: Don’t worry. You could just wipe away the marks. There’s something to lubricate it inside the ring area.

I replied with:

Ya the marks can not be wiped away. It’s literally scratching the finish off… Anyways I could deal with that, but the real problem here is the fact that the sticky pads do not work as advertised. Just tried to use it on my car windshield with my phone. Seemed to stick to my plastic back of my phone pretty well (LG G2), but it couldn’t hold it’s own weight up and fell off the windshield twice. I also tried to stick it on my car dashboard which means it wouldn’t be hanging off something; it’s is a textured plastic/rubber feel. Same thing with no luck there (it kept falling), and yes I let it settle for awhile. Extremely disappointed that I can’t even use it regardless how it works. And I just dissembled the unit. There is definitely no lube in there.

It did not take long for other backers to start pouring in with their frustrated comments. There are a lot of comments and every single person except for one guy says the product was not performing as advertised. I think the guy was lying personally, and was put up to it by JR to break up all the negativity he was receiving about his product. In fact a few people still haven’t received the product at all.

A lot of backers are trying to rally and take JR Sanchez to small claims court over this. He is not responding to emails, he’s refusing to refund money for a falsely advertised product, and he is telling everyone the reason the eleMount is failing is because of us and how we are using it. So now JR is trying to offer some odd vinyl sticky pad that we have to stick to our vehicles that the eleMount pad sits on so it will even stick to anything. It is a complete joke.

Here is the kicker though. After I sent my complaints in another creator on Kickstarter sent me a message about JR that a lot of other people was not aware of. Apparently this is his second project, and second attempt at making a mount. JR changed his name, and started using ele as a new Kickstarter account so people would not recognize his name. His first project was also a complete fail and mis managed. It is called the MobileMount. You can go through and read some of the backers comments about the project. It is the same exact situation that is happening to all of the eleMount backers. In fact even some of these backers on his MobileMount project still have not received their products even after almost 3 years since the project was funded! Had I known about this other failed project and experience people had with JR I would of not backed the eleMount.

I sent JR an email to hopefully resolve my dissatisfaction with the product. You can read the correspondence below.

On Mar 22, 2014, at 11:11 AM, “Ryan O. Hicks” wrote:

If this product will not perform as advertised I’d like a refund; this thing wasn’t cheap. I realize it’s your first go at making these and they can be finicky as first time products, but it’s not even close to what was described in the campaign. It can’t even hold it’s own weight let alone an object. I have all original packaging to ship back.

JR replied:

On Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 1:17 PM, ele Support eleproblems@icloud.com wrote:

Hi Ryan, We apologize if you’re having trouble with your eleMount. As for the joint on the silver mount, from several prototypes we thought wiping away the marks it leaves wasn’t a deal breaker. Yes our fingers got a little dirty but we thought it was better to have dirty fingers and make it much easier to use. There were alternatives on designing the mount but they would require knobs much like tripod mounts. We wanted to make it as simple as possible. By no means did the joint get scratched it just left kind of graphite color dust, which was easy to wipe away. If you’re saying the joint is actually scratching the ball it may be because there is a very small tolerance that we allow or else the ball would just pop out. These are precision machined and anything even a hair more of thickness could cause that. Not every joint is exactly the same because it’s not a molded part. If it was a molded part then every joint would be exact the same. We included a little ring inside the joint that helps it rotate better and helps the joint rotate better. As for the pads, we made them as sticky as we possibly could. If your ever used any other car mounts they work in some cars and not others. The reason is because every windshield has a different angle. While the mount worked perfect on the windshield of one car (carolla) it didn’t work in our honda. When it didn’t work in our honda we just used it on the dashboard. We actually preferred using it on the dashboard because it didn’t create any blind spots. And again every dashboard is different so it’s expected to work differently in every car. We tried to show everyone with how many surfaces it worked but again we said you have to test where it works best. If you want we could swap out your silver one for a black one which doesn’t leave any of those marks. Again, we apologize for any trouble that you have had. We tried to make the highest quality product. ele Team

I replied:

On Sun, Mar 23, 2014 at 1:45 AM, Ryan O. Hicks wrote:

Well I’m not the only one. It’s been everyone that has received theirs. I don’t think you understand. Pull one of the mounts out on your end and go test it. It does not remotely work. It can’t even hold its own weight. No it does not even stick to the dashboard of a vehicle. Beautiful product no doubt and I can get past the scratches, but what I can’t get past is the fact that the product simply does not perform the intended task that it’s been designed for. That’s a problem; the pads need to be re-engineered. I’ve used mounts that have cheap rubber suction cups on them that has performed better. I don’t want to swap products. At this point it’s 70 dollar paper weight and I’d like my money back.

2 days later I replied again after no response:

On Mar 25, 2014, at 6:26 AM, “Ryan O. Hicks” wrote:

So are you going to honor a refund or not?

10 days later he finally responds after I leave more comments on his Kickstarter page:

Hi Ryan, We should have the website up by Friday so you can receive free vinyl. This will help the mount work better in the car. We’ve been testing this solution out for about 2 weeks now and it seems to be working pretty well. We apologize for the delayed response. ele Team

At this point I have given up on trying to remedy the situation and accepted that JR is a thief and con artist. This has only been a short look into the problems that JR has created not only with the eleMount backers, but on Kickstarter as a whole. If you go through some of the comments on the eleMount page you can see an enormous amount of issues from other backers. From lack of response by JR, no customer support at all, JR telling us we are all wrong as to why the product is faulty, refusing to give refunds, refusing to find a solution to the problems, admitting that the mount did not work as intended from the start and not telling the backers, to backers wanting to get a class action lawsuit or take him to small claims court over this. There are some backers who backed the eleMount as their first project on Kickstarter. Some of them even say in the comments section that this has ruined their experience on Kickstarter, and they will never back another project again.

I want to give JR the benefit of the doubt, but after I found out about his last project and how it was handled the same way this was. I am pissed off that he would screw everyone for a second time. Both of his projects were over-funded by a significant amount, and he basically pocketed that money and ran with it. He clearly put time into designing this product because it looks great, but there was no engineering into the actual use of the product just like his first project. Some simple quality control by pulling his product out and trying it would show that it did not work as he advertised it. I have a feeling that JR knew that the eleMount was defective before he sent the products out to all of his backers and did it anyways. I got that feeling when he sent out this update before he shipped them all out. At the end of the update he has a whole paragraph about how to get in contact with him if the product is defective. To me that screamed a red flag when I read it, but I did not want to make assumptions without trying the product. Obviously my gut feeling was confirmed when I received the eleMount.

Do not buy an eleMount, and do not support JR Sanchez in another Kickstarter project. He has less than a 10% success rate at not only his products performing correctly, but also getting you the product you paid for and he promised to deliver.

Update

As of May 1st, 2014 I received an email from Amazon saying my money was refunded from the eleMount campaign. I did not receive any emails from JR just a refund email notification. It was nice of him to own up to his mistakes finally, but unfortunately it took a bunch of complaining and fighting to get it. He did not ask for the product back, but I will be shipping it back to him in a couple days to hold up my end of the deal. So if you happen to read this again JR thanks for the refund at least. Re-engineer the pads, work on your customer support, and this product would be great.

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  • Court C. Hoyle

    So Jose Sanchez and Kickstarter have had me removed from this project. It no longer shows up under my “backed projects” section and I no longer able to comment in the comment section.

    I was always respectful and spoke without being aggressive. However Kickstarter and Jose Sanchez must not have been a fan when I said I was going to take him to small claims court and that kickstarter shouldn’t allow creators who have had another failed project change names and host another.

    Please spread the word as we should group together to make sure Jose Sanchez and kickstarter do not keep scamming people.

  • Court

    Ok, so as it turns out that shortly after I checked and saw I was removed from the KS campaign for trying to stage a coup, I actually received a full refund through Amazon from Jose Sanchez.

    The email came in probably as I wrote my previous comment here. So as it seems, JR doesn’t want to tarnish his image too much but isn’t ready to make right by every backer. Only the ones who are vocal and actually seem like they may hinder his further attempts at scamming people.

    • Ryan

      Seems pretty shady. Glad you were able to get a refund despite having to threaten him. Most creators I’ve encountered will do a lot to accommodate their backers. After all we are the ones that has given life to their product(s) financially. I’ve accepted that we won’t be getting refunds although it’d be really nice to get one. It sucks because it’s not like 70 bucks is a small amount of money for anyone. At least I hope this article or others with experience from backing his items will get the word out about his bad habits and shady practices to prevent this crap from happening in the future.

    • Ryan

      As of May 1st JR refunded me as well. Which also removed me from the project, but left my comments on the project. I’m going to ship the product back to him sometime this coming week. I had another person send me a message on facebook that said he ordered an eleMount through his website, and is trying to get a refund through his government by applying for something legally.