A young Ottawa firm’s mission to create an affordable phone for the masses has hit a major setback after Indiegogo suspended the company’s crowdfunding campaign for what it calls a violation of the site’s terms of service.
Frank. Phone generated social media buzz on its brash claim that it could mass-produce a quality smartphone to retail for US$180. But sites such as Android Police called out frank. Phone for its marketing campaign that referred to chief technical officer Moe Omer as the designer of the phone, which was in fact an existing model manufactured in China.
Earlier this month, Omer and CEO Fahd Alhattab told Techopia Live that while the company would not be building its own phone from scratch, the existing product aligned with what frank. Phone was trying to accomplish.
“We designed what we thought would be a good phone, and then we looked … to match it with manufacturers and who can help us to make it into a reality. To build our own mould would’ve cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Alhattab.
In response to these critiques, the team says it attempted to set the record straight on the campaign page and through media interviews. This, frank. Phone says in an email update to backers, was not enough to avoid being suspended.
“Let’s be frank: our team made a mistake in our choice of language and design presentation, leading to misconceptions and serious consequences that we tried to rectify by cleaning up our campaign and in interviews with the media. But we didn’t do enough,” the team writes, then apologizing for letting down frank. Phone’s fans.
A spokesperson for Indiegogo tells Techopia that frank. Phone’s campaign was subject to an investigation after reports surfaced calling the product’s validity into question. Indiegogo determined through that investigation that terms of services were violated, but Indiegogo won’t reveal specifics as to how or which terms were breached.
A tweet posted to the frank. Phone Twitter account on Sept. 8 says the crowdfunding campaign had reached 23 per cent of its $250,000 goal. Indiegogo’s spokesperson confirms that frank. Phone has received none of the funds raised to that point, as the platform holds back funding until campaigns are completed. All backers will receive refunds for their contributions.
Other complaints arose from the team’s switch from using Kickstarter to using Indiegogo for its crowdfunding campaign. The company claims its campaign was “poached” by Indiegogo through promises of “free promotion and expert consultations.”
The frank. Phone team writes that it was “shocked” to see its campaign removed “without fair notice.” Frank. Phone has declined to comment further as it is currently seeking legal counsel to address “Indiegogo’s claims, process and damages.”
The email goes on to say the company will not give up on its mission and offers supporters a discount when and if the phone eventually does go live on an online store.