Crowdfund Insider published an article on October 11th pertaining to complaints we had received from backers of the OM/One levitating speakers. The pretail crowdfunding project had raised a good amount of money using the Tilt platform yet many backers had never received the product following extensive delays. After an email was sent to OM without a response we published what we had learned so far. Soon afterwards, we received information about the project that provided some insight;
A source has provided some additional information on the OM/One project. Apparently 3,837 shipments have been filled out of 5,143. The individual stated, “I know that Dave is working hard on fulfilling the rest”.
But having a challenging campaign does not excuse the creator from communicating with the people that funded the project. Recently we received a note from creator Dave DeVillez and we offered to publish his side of the story.
It is reproduced, unedited below:
My name is Dave DeVillez and I am the Senior Partner at Om Audio. I am writing today in response to a recent article posted on your website concerning the product known as the Om One. I think it is important for people to know all of the facts surrounding the product and the campaign so that they can form an opinion and judgment based on a complete picture with all the gaps filled in. It will take more than a few paragraphs to put all the cards on the table but I hope by the end people can judge for themselves the role and responsibilities played by Om Audio in the product and campaign.
First, I think it is extremely important that people have a clear perspective on exactly who or what Om Audio is. Basically Om Audio LLC is a very small company with extremely limited resources. Om Audio was founded in 2013 when with the backing of suppliers I had worked with inside of China since 2006, I decided to strike out on my own. Om Audio LLC was founded to bring new technology in personal audio devices and software accessories to the market. The focus of Om Audio LLC is to develop and manufacture products. For processes like Sales, Marketing and Order processing Om Audio LLC tries to team or partner with 3rd parties to provide the resources needed to bring our products to the market.
In May of 2014, Om was in China meeting with suppliers. Om Audio had just released our first Blue Tooth speaker(Mantra) and we were looking for the next generation of the product for the 2014 holiday season. It was during those meetings that the levitating speaker was conceived. I stayed on working in China to develop the prototype and showed a short video of it to some people I had met here in the states. At the time Om Audio was searching for investors in the company and together with the people I had met here in the US the concept of a crowd funding campaign was born.
I think most people can understand that a company of extremely limited resources and all of those concentrated in areas like Operations and Product Development, cannot create and conduct a campaign the size of the campaign that was the Om One without a significant contribution from outside resources. In the case of the Om One campaign, Om Audio LLC teamed with a 3rd party. The roles and responsibilities each party played in the campaign are defined in a document signed by both parties called a Memorandum of Understanding. Om Audio LLC was / is responsible for the development and manufacturing of the product. Om Audio LLC is responsible for the delivery of the product to the fulfillment center. The 3rd party was / is responsible for the Sales, Marketing and customer support processes related to order and payment processing along with the administration and management of the website and social media outlets. The 3rd party also has a controlling interest in a fulfillment center located in Atlanta Ga. At the time it made sense to allow the 3rd party to also have responsibility for the fulfillment process. It is important to stress that people who purchased the Om One through the Tilt Campaign or through the e-commerce site www.omone.com purchased those units through the 3rd party. The 3rd party took the orders processed the payment and in turn paid Om Audio LLC what it determined to be Om Audio’s share based on the terms of the MOU.
From August of 2014 to December of 2014 I stayed in China working on the product. Our original plan was to start production in October, but we ran into serious issues with the supply chain and material availability. We also had to settle legal issues with the licensing rights to magnetic levitation. Those issues caused a major delay in our ability to start production. On December 23rd I returned home with samples that were representative of production product. Om Audio reviewed those samples with the US Team and all parties agreed to start production based on the samples. At the end of December 2014 Om Audio issued orders to suppliers to start the production of the Om One.
By the middle of January the factories had completed the first 1000pcs of the Om One. Those units were shipped to the US via air freight and delivered to a customer in the bay area. In February just before the Chinese New Year the factory delivered another 2,600pcs to the fulfillment center in Atlanta. In the middle of February the factories inside of China shut down for the Lunar New Year celebration, basically China is closed for about two weeks during the CNY celebration. At the end of February the factories started running again but they did not restart production on the Om One. I returned to China at the beginning of March to settle the issues holding back production.
Prior to leaving for China in March there was a meeting between Om Audio and the 3rd party. Om Audio asked for the balance of funds owed to Om Audio from the sales of the Om One. Om Audio wanted the funds so that if necessary the suppliers could be given some “incentive” to work faster and make the delivery as soon as possible. The 3rd party countered by taking a position that said we should not trust the suppliers, who had already shown the inability to deliver on time. Instead the 3rd party wanted to hold onto the funds to pay to customers who wanted to cancel their orders due to the delivery issues. Om Audio agreed with this decision and returned to China to push the suppliers to fulfill their commitments for delivery. At the meeting it was also decided to cease all sales of the Om One until such time as the suppliers fulfilled all of the open orders for the product. Through the months of March, April and May the suppliers produced a total of 7,300pcs. At the end of May a container with 6,000pcs was loaded and shipped to the US. That container arrived at the Atlanta fulfillment center in the 3rd week of June.
In June when the container arrived a dispute between Om Audio and the 3rd party started to develop over the actual numbers of units ordered and the number of outstanding orders that needed to be fulfilled. The reports from the 3rd party were that Om Audio still had not delivered enough product to fill all of the open orders. Om Audio requested details on the number of units sold and to whom they were sold to. To date those details have never been provided to Om Audio. Om Audio has no way of telling who bought units from what channel. All of those records reside with and are maintained by the 3rd party. In the middle of July Om Audio did receive a report from the 3rd party, but again it was only summary data and did not include any details or support documentation. Through the month of July the relationship became more and more distant.
At the start of August Om Audio asked for the detailed records on the sales again. After this request was made the 3rd party decided to cut off support for the Om One. They wrote to me and said they would transfer responsibility for the support emails to my personal email address. Om Audio was never given a chance to setup or coordinate the transfer of the service responsibility. It was dumped on us in the blink of an eye. Up to that point in time all messaging and communications with customers had been crafted and coordinated by the 3rd party. It is not hard for most people to understand how abandoning the service responsibility and dropping it on Om Audio without a coordinated transition will impact the effectiveness of the service provided. During the month of August Om Audio struggled to setup and implement a process for service to customers. We are doing the best job as we can and all of the Om Audio LLC resources are currently working on these service related issues.
At the end of August Om Audio started to receive a large amount of email traffic from customers that had not received their orders. Om Audio also started to receive emails from customers that wanted a refund or wanted to return their units. Without the detailed sales records we have been requesting since July, we have no way of responding to these people. How do you process a return for an order you did not take and have no record of? We tried to steer these customers to the 3rd party to process their requests, but the 3rd party scolded us and told us not to send disgruntled customers to them. They have even forbid us from mentioning their names in correspondence with customers and they have published a “No Return, No Refund, No Warranty” policy on the Om One website.
In September we made an offer to the 3rd party to sever the relationship. Our offer included Om Audio LLC taking over all responsibilities related to the fulfillment and order processing for the Om One. We asked for control of the websitewww.omone.com and a detailed list of all orders fulfilled or unfulfilled. We asked for the balance of the inventory to be shipped to a destination designated by Om Audio so that we could proceed to fill all of the open orders and provide service support to the former customers of the 3rd party. Our offer was declined.
Before closing this response we wish to acknowledge that we are aware of some technical issues with the product based on the customers we have been able to provide service to. We have been able to in some cases provide support in the form of replacement parts or products. We have worked with the factories to fabricate fixes for the bigger issues being reported such as speakers that do not charge or charging cables that do not work. Unfortunately we are prevented from rolling out these fixes to people who have purchased the Om One because of the issues detailed above.
Since our offer to take full control and responsibility for the Om One was declined we find ourselves in a very peculiar position. We can no longer continue to provide direct support to people who have purchased the product through the 3rd party outlets. We cannot verify who these people are or how they came about to having the Om One. Going forward these people will have to contact the 3rd party directly for processing their requests for support. This way verification of their purchase can be obtained through the source used to purchase the product. Currently Om Audio is blocked at every move to provide support to people who purchased the Om One.
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