Use this space to cheer the creator along, ask questions, and talk to your fellow backers. Please remember to be respectful and considerate. Thanks!
Hey Seth - have you come into any money yet - i'd be nice if you'd pay your debts.
What a rip off that was. I have since backed over 200 projects and have experienced only one other significant swindle.
@Anthony V. Nope, never received the eBook but that shouldn't really surprise you here.
I wonder if the 37 backers who selected the eBook received their award. No excuse for failing to deliver that reward.
After all of this...what a guide it would be for the young, broke, and determined.
Yep, I got the bankruptcy letter too. Super confusing for awhile as I had not remembered any "Seth Quest" previously. Anyway, super disappointed in this scam. It was a cool idea. Too bad he gamed the system and stole our money. Well, be careful who and what you back I guess. This is the only Kickstarter project I haven't actually gotten though, on the plus side. Everything else was on the up and up it seems.
Seth Richard Quest
Seth Quest Designs
81 Pearl Street #3A
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Seth Quest is "discharged and discharged and relieved of said trust," for those who have not received the letter.
Merry Christmas you scammer.
I did not. Was too busy. If anyone wants the documentation I secured through my lawsuit that shows how poorly managed this project was, feel free to contact me. Otherwise, I am done with Seth Quest.
Any news? Anyone here attended the creditors meeting?
Very well said Neil and thanks for your help/advice. I think this has been an important lesson for all of us.
To Seth... it's important for you to know that I support Neil's statement in that I don't hold "ill will towards you". You will get past this. Thanks again for your initial desire to manufacture a great product. Here's to a positive and more fruitful future for you in all of your creative and business endeavors.
John and all: Thanks for your comments. I don't practice bankruptcy law so I'm still digesting the process but have made some progress.
First, there really is no difference between those of you who've taken no legal action, and people like Chris T. and myself who have. We're still all in the same boat.
Second, I have now reviewed Seth's specific bankruptcy schedules (anyone who wants to do so can email me at neils at asu dot edu). His financial affairs are a mess, he has no real assets, he has debts in addition to ours, he's been sued by multiple credit card companies, and he has very little monthly income. This is something each of you should think about as you try and assess your chances of recovering anything. In my personal opinion and speaking for myself only, my chances of recovering anything are zero. You can't squeeze blood from a turnip.
Third, each of you may be interested in appearing at the creditors meeting that has been scheduled on October 16, 2012 at 10:30am (US Pacific time) in San Francisco. Seth is obligated to attend this meeting and answer questions about his financial status from the trustee. Creditors may also be allowed to ask limited questions, although I'm not totally clear on that procedure (as I said: I'm not a bankruptcy lawyer). If you are not in San Francisco, you MAY be allowed to appear telephonically, but you must make the request to do so in writing well in advance of the meeting. I do intend to make a request to appear by phone.
The bottom line is that Seth is not a millionaire, and he appears to have squandered the entirety of our funds, presumably on the Hanfree project but I can't know that until I have his bank records. For me the last "fruitful" step of this process, if you can call it fruitful, is to learn the truth. I want the bank records to learn what was done with our funds. If they prove misuse, that still won't render Seth a millionaire with which he can pay us back. But at least I and all of us will finally know what really happened and draw whatever lessons we choose to learn from this experience.
And as for Seth, if he or anyone he's associated with is reading this: I don't have personal feelings of ill will toward you, young man, but I do assume you've learned some very harsh lessons from all this. When entrusted with the money of other people, extreme caution and professional advice for how to handle it is warranted. And when confronted with a crisis situation in your life, being forthright, honest, upfront, and prudent is the best course forward. You didn't really follow any of those points in your handling of this situation. Hopefully you can recover from this and become a better person from it in the end.
Incredible. Thanks for keeping us abreast Neil.
What would your advice be, at this point, for backers who received the "Notice of Chapter 7" and who have not pursued any formal legal action? Is this something that we should sit and wait on?
Neil, thanks for all you hard work!
Thanks for all that you are doing!!
Below is a copypaste of the letter I sent to the bankruptcy trustee earlier today:
I am a creditor in the bankruptcy action initiated by Seth Quest on September 6, 2012. Having previously obtained a default judgment against Mr. Quest in Arizona state court, which is now stayed, I am well-situated to report to you a number of facts relevant to this proceeding.
In short, I have reason to believe that the debt of $35,004 incurred by Mr. Quest in connection with his Kickstarter.com Hanfree project ("the Hanfree project") may be nondischargeable. Attached to this letter is a copy of a check Mr. Quest issued to a project designer for the Hanfree project. As you can see, the check written on a Wells Fargo account owned personally and individually by Seth Quest, as opposed to the name of any corporate entity he would have created. The date of the check, June 2, 2011, is subsequent to the receipt of $35,004 in funds he received that were intended by consumers, such as myself, to apply to the manufacturing process of the Hanfree product.
If Mr. Quest simply took those funds and deposited them into his personal checking account, it is possible that he intermingled funds, failed to segregate or set them apart from his personal funds, and used consumer "Hanfree" funds for personal expenses.
Retrieving copies of Mr. Quest's Wells Fargo monthly bank statements will shed light on whether my suspicions are substantiated. I therefore request that you obtain such copies, and also ask Mr. Quest to identify all banking institutions where he has opened accounts from 2009 through the end of 2011, including accounts opened in the name of any business entity he has been a part of. If these records show that no project funds were spent on personal expenses, my position is that the debt is likely dischargeable. Conversely, any expenditure on personal expenses would render the debt nondischargeable in its entirety.
So, Seth's lawyer obtained the entire list of addresses from this page and issued notices to everyone.
In fact, it appears to me that submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court may have made it easier to decide whether 440 backers will get refunds or not. The "trustee" identified in your notice is now in charge of deciding what funds to pursue or not to pursue, on behalf of creditors (i.e., backers). I am preparing a letter to the trustee now requesting her assistance to obtain bank records that will determine whether our funds were improperly used or not. If they were improperly used, the debt may not be dischargeable.
Got mine, in Barcelona, today
Got mine (to Germany) today.
Hi folks, just checking in to state that I, too, received a bankruptcy notice. I am Neil's co-plaintiff in the suit against Seth, et al., so I will be working with Neil in evaluating what our options are.
I'm still reviewing my options. They include the right to conduct a deposition of Seth Quest and obtain bank records reflecting his treatment of our funds (which I was on the verge of doing in my court action), so that I can determine whether his debt is dischargeable or not. Debts are not automatically dischargeable in bankruptcy. And being in bankruptcy court may just make it easier for me to obtain these records.
Holy crap, the court just sent me notice that I'm a creditor for Seth Quest because he managed to swindle me here on Kickstarter. After they grant his bankruptcy request, I suppose he's free and clear. Live and learn.
Same here, today.
Just got notice of Seth's chapter 7 filing.
And why is Kickstarter communicating with you about offers or non-offers? Are these emails? What else has Kickstarter said to you? What have you said to it?
Why are you randomly volunteering to give away $210 or more of your own cash for no apparent reason, if you are merely "a backer with no business relationship with Seth"? That makes absolutely no sense.
Post in May. The offer was limited to three (3) specific backers only.
Kickstarter informed me that someone called/wrote and complained about the offer and that I should no longer make offers on the forum since I am simply a backer and have no business relationship with Seth. I have concurred with Kickstarter's request and will make no further offers.
Anyway, none of the three took me up on it - which obviates the fact some folks are simply more interested in vengeance and vitriol than actual damages.
Are you admitting in writing that you assume the debts and liabilities of Seth Quest and his partners? Identify yourself so 438 individuals can access an additional source for their refunds. Barring an explanation for your statements, I am issuing a subpoena to reveal your proper identity.
You sound more like a taxi cab operator than an attorney. Don't pat yourself on the back too much for your uncontested layup; the court was merely checking your box so they could move on to the next box...no drama there.
Was the judge informed that an interested 3rd party provided you notice in writing that they would gladly make you whole regarding your original investment, as well as two of your close additional backers on this forum? If not, then your complaint was neither genuine nor authentic, i.e. something often frowned upon.
Or, did you decide to perpetrate a fraud on the court and waste valuable public resources in pursuing your paltry investment in a simple luxury product. You need to let the judge know you were offered full repayment.
Take care of the details, they matter.
Very good work Neil! This is wonderful news!
If you want it, you are free to retrieve it from public records as you claimed you would eons ago (oh, another promise by John Shook that he failed to follow through on?), or obtain a copy from someone who has it. As for "the total damages," every minute I spend on executing this judgment will now accrue toward the attorney fees award I will seek from the courts, so there is no sense in giving you a number in the first place. I suggest you advise him to stop evading the legal process and thereby making things worse for himself. Nor am I finished with the discovery process entitled to me by the rules of civil procedure.
Don't be shy fellas, what's the total damage.
The court has entered default judgment against Seth Quest in favor of myself and my co-plaintiff Chris Thompson. Seth now has a judgment against him in an amount reflecting both of our Hanfree unit purchases, and our court costs and expenses, plus interest. The judgment was signed by the court on August 22, 2012 and mailed this past Friday.
I spent the last year of my life on this project, I am not going to give up just yet and will continue to pitch Hanfree to larger iPad case companies, distributors or angle investors, though only time will tell how much Hanfree is worth. Last month I was in negotiations with a Taiwanese distribution company though it fell through. I think they needed to see the stand in person, though it’s a little to valuable to just mail over to them and who says they wouldn’t just copy the design if I did. If I successfully close a deal, I would immediately refund all of my backers in full, and be happy just to have total closure on the project, at this point in time I am not interested in profiting any from it’s sale.
The lessons I have learned from this project, will help me forever in the future as I embark on producing new designs. I have meet so many incredible people, received invaluable advice from renowned designers, entrepreneurs, inventors and business people. There are several things that I will always do in the future. Having the contracts signed, with crystal clear disclosure of what everyone is receiving for their efforts and contributions, within my team before starting a project is paramount. I will do substantive research on the manufacturing side and develop manufacturing relationships prior to publicly launching a project. I will do a thorough cost analysis and set a realistic target budget. Moreover, I will absolutely have a highly skilled business person on the team to head the project management and oversee the logistics and complexities of manufacturing and distribution.
Finally, I want to personally apologize to you all. For many of you I meet in person, and I am sure you supported me in part due to my zeal and passion for the iPad and the concept of Hanfree. I really thought we had developed something that could be incredible fun to use and even help people. I also need to apologize here for not having updated more frequently and know that has been a severe weakness in my overall kickstarter project. I know that many of you will be very unhappy with this news, and I expect a wave negative comments, though what I really need is everyone to take a moment for this to sink in and send me a constructive message as far as your feelings about the project ending, partial repayment, and any other thoughts, criticisms or feedback. This way I can grasp the situation as a whole and discuss my closure strategy with my lawyer. After digesting all of this I will be able to respond to you individually and move on in my life to design simpler and more meaningful products that positively contribute to the world.
My most sincere apologies,
[END OF DRAFT]
On November 28, 2011, Seth Quest published his Update #16 that we have all seen. I am now in receipt of an earlier draft of that update, which I have decided to copypaste here for backers to review.
It needs to be noted that Seth's partners in this project disagreed with several facts and statements contained in this draft, and in fact, they objected to what they believed were misleading and inaccurate "facts" Seth wanted to include. The point being: this draft was very much a Seth-only draft, and it should not be attributed to the beliefs or assertions of anyone else.
I have performed a document comparison of the two versions -- this draft and the final Update #16 -- which is interesting to look at. If anyone wants to see that they can email me, neils at asu dot edu. Of course, you are capable of performing that task yourselves as well, now that both versions have been published.
Dear Kickstarter backers,
Everyone is wondering one thing. What has happened to Seth? and will Hanfree ever become a real product? At this point I am saddened to say that the answer is no. I started designing an iPad stand 12 months ago, I was so confident in the idea, I wanted to align myself with this exciting new piece of technology, I saw a need in the marketplace and had a strong desire to create a new user experience. I risked everything to launch this idea, I even sold my beloved VW golf, and a Breitling I had inherited from my father to get this idea off the ground. I put my heart into this project, we hired videographers and marketed the idea like crazy, reaching thousands of people through blogs and television. We hit the streets of San Francisco and New York handing out hundreds of flyers on the day the iPad 2 was released. I had no idea of the challenges we faced, just the blinding zeal of a first time entrepreneur. My attitude was so optimistic I felt as though we could figure out any challenge, and solve any design problems. So what went wrong? How could we have failed to deliver when it seemed like we had plenty of funding, a smart design team, and a functioning prototype. I am embarrassed to admit this failure completely falls on my shoulders.
There are multiple reasons; This project was way beyond the scope of what my experience and my teams experience could execute on... With the main issues being the technical engineering complexities and just too many parts.... The Glif (http://kck.st/bb6Tuu) was one piece of rubber and metal nut, that was genius. Our prototype of Hanfree seemed simple at first, it consisted of a base, bent bar, socket joint and case. I oversimplified it in my head and with the design of our initial prototype. The final design contained 11 distinct components, and only 3 standard parts (the bolts). Ultimately designing each of these components took much longer than anyone on the team had anticipated. Another shortsighted mistake was due to my gross underestimation of the real cost to bring an idea to market and mass produce a product. If we reflect upon that for a moment here are some numbers for a bare minimum 1000 unit order to give you a better understanding of the scope of our project. After reading this keep in mind that in the manufacturing world, no one even wants to talk to you, unless
your order is for 5000 pieces.
Kickstarter & Amazon payments fee 3,500
Packaging 4,000 (Thats for XXL pizza boxes and bubble wrap, seriously.)
Stainless Steel bar components 12,000
Screws and hardware 1,700
Die cut metal base 8,000
Plastic tooling cost for ball and socket and pivot point 35,000
iPad cases 3,500
Assembly and sonic welding 4,000
Avg USA and International shipping 17,000
So we came to this sizable total, and Juan and I continued to blaze forward thinking we would split the difference we needed to make up with personal and family loans. I was sure that with the amount of interest we generated from the project it would be easy to get an investor on board, especially if we could have the product before Christmas. As the weeks passed we continued to miss our own design deadlines. We kept on saying, Ok we have to order this ball and socket joint in two weeks from the plastics manufactures and we would get the 3d printed prototype parts and be devastated to find they still weren't working correctly. The iPad would sag, the tilt angle would be to shallow, the part would flex and wiggle, the parts would be too thick and take to long to cool for manufacturing... The complications went on and on and on. We would resolve one issue that would in turn create another. The parts continued to need adjustments and the manufacturing estimates continued to increase, as the parts became more and more complex. Then our September 1st goal to order our plastic parts from the manufactures past, and it started to feel like we were on a giant sinking sailboat bailing water with a tiny pale. The daunting reality of this project being too expensive for us to finance personally and the potential of this project failing started to creep into our minds. Just like a floundering tech startup, the moral of the team sunk like a submarine to the bottom of the ocean. The individual team members level of commitment to the project clearly hit an ultimate low. I was criticized that I acted completely different when I received the funding, and I admit that was partially true, because my friends in some sense became my employees, rather than my partners. I made the mistake of paying one member and not another, without openly discussing it among us and this eroded our trust, started to break down our communications, and ultimately dissolved our ability to function as a powerful team. I can assure you my intentions were 100% directed to solving the issues in the design and moving the project forward, though good intentions are not enough on their own, it takes good business strategy, and a rock solid plan and better leadership than I could offer.
Then about seven weeks ago came the final blow, the internal issues mainly around who was getting paid and who was volunteering their time, the contracts between team members and the percentage of ownership each of us were entitled to within the company started to erupt like a volcano. I really wanted to help out my friends, and I was trying my best to allocate money to them fairly while at the same time tightening the reign on the quickly dissipating kickstarter funding. The contract negotiations were drawn out and sadly completely froze further development of Hanfree. Unfortunately they ultimately broke the team apart and damaged our personal friendships. I was willing to share the profits of future sales but certain members of the team wanted considerable chunks of equity in the company. I wasn’t in a place to give away equity because I was in the middle of negotiations with foreign investors who would assumably take a large stake of equity because they would essentially be swooping in to save the project and fronting the much needed capital. I know it sounds like a movie, and totally preposterous, because we didn’t even have a real product yet, but its all true... and after six weeks of agonizing frustration and zero progress, the damage was done and our team parted ways. I want to quickly admit that this was ultimately all my fault. I kept thinking to myself it was shortsighted of me to launch an idea rather than a fully resolved design, I shouldn’t have paid my friends, it was my lack in experience, leadership, or project management, I should have hired a professional engineer; but I was charging forward with this idea; that this experience would benefit us all and we would share this amazing process and gain the knowledge of taking an “idea” to a fully realized mass produced product. I had been struggling with all of these issues and the weight of failing on all my backers began to press down upon my shoulders and I felt like I was slipping into a mild depression. I started to do Yoga, twenty eight days of consecutive classes and a short visit to see my family restored my attitude and helped me glean perspective from the project as a whole. I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to disclose all of the details to my bakers because it is very personal and sounds like a ridiculous soap opera. But I feel like I owe it to you, this is Kickstarter and you were generous enough to support me and my idea.
So where are we at today? Well now that the dust has settled from our breakup, the team has made some sort of amens, and acknowledgment of our personal failures. I need to figure out some sort of repayment plan, though a considerable portion of our kickstarter money has been spent on engineers, my design team, lawyer fees and prototyping. I have a feeling that the biggest question my backers will ask is how much is left, and I’ll be be completely forthright, not much... [CONTINUED IN PART 2]
An update on my progress for everyone: Through my legal action I have now received a collection of records, mostly emails, that reveal much of what happened behind the scenes on this project from Juan Cespedes, who has been more than cooperative with me in trying to resolve the extent of his very unfortunate involvement in this matter. There is still work to be done in my record-gathering though. I want to prepare an extensive narrative of my findings for all of you once I have everything, but I'm not there yet.
The new records identify additional individuals who were involved in the Hanfree project. While these individuals are probably liable for the project as a matter of California partnership law, the pragmatic (i.e., setting aside the legal) reality here is that Seth was in charge, Seth controlled the finances, and Seth made the primary decisions. It does not appear to me that he utilized a treasurer, an accountant, or so much as a project manager with any financial expertise to properly handle our funds.
It is also clearly established, as many of us have long suspected, that he improperly used our funds to pay his "team members" for their time and services. I have accounted for a small fraction of our funds that went for these payments. The mystery I am particularly interested on is where the rest of them went. Subpoenas to a few banks should provide those answers.
One other interesting tidbit I have learned: as of the end of January, 2012, Seth did an accounting of how many of us backers had sent him individual complaints demanding refunds in response to his ridiculous and unreasonable request. According to his tabulation, the percentage of backers who did so was: "about seventy percent." What we don't and can't know, of course, is whether that 70% is from the total number of 440 backers (308 people), or whether it's from the backers who paid $50 or more (i.e., $70 or more when including his bogus "shipping" charge that he tacked on). The number of people in the latter category is 386. If 308 people demanded refunds, that's closer to 80%. Either way, the majority spoke, and the majority want their money back, and Seth knows that.
My email is neils at asu dot edu, for anyone who has other questions.
Let the record stand that this Hanfree scam was started by none other than...
Seth Richard Quest
623 Webster St
San Francisco, CA 94117-2617
415-516-7405 (old phone number)
I wouldn't be surprised if Kickstarter removed this whole project from the site!
Can you believe that? More than a week passes and not even a damn word from Kickstarter. Total scamming assholes!
What a little bastard! According to Kickstarter's FAQs "Projects remain accessible on Kickstarter, even if funding is unsuccessful or canceled. Transparency is important." I think this applies to keeping the starter's name associated with the project. I think Kickstarter is in on this. I believe that they are trying to cover up this $35,000 mess. I have contacted them days ago in regards to their policy about project starter name removal and "transparency" and they have failed to respond. I wasn't surprised.
As has been pointed out to me, you will note that Seth has now modified his identity on kickstarter to remove his name, and changed his "location" to New Mexico. It looks like he did this on August 8. I thank him for doing that because the changes, which I have preserved, are continued proof that he is aware of the court action I have filed and served upon him. The judge will see it. I called the clerk last week, by the way, and she confirmed that default is about to be entered.
@Seth: Haven't received any refund yet. Please let me know what's happening here. Thanks!
Great work Neil!
Nice work, Zachary. Hopefully everyone who made this purchase through a credit card will have the same luck.
As for my legal action, I want everyone to know that it seeks 3 things from the court: (1) a judgment giving me and Chris our refunds back (plus court costs etc.), (2) an order commanding Seth Quest to provide documentation so the true facts behind how this project was handled can be known, and (3) a judicial declaration that we, as backers, were simply customers who purchased a pre-ordered unit, as opposed to the fuzzy "backer/pledger" nonsense that has been peddled here in the comments by various individuals.
Once I obtain this judgment, in addition to any documentation underlying this project, I will be happy to share it with anyone who wants to see it.
Good job Neil! As a note for everyone, since the date for Amazon refunds had passed, and Kickstarter refused to assist, my credit card company investigated and due to lack of response from Amazon and Kickstarter, they defaulted judgement to me and I'm getting a refund. The documents from this site as well as Amazon receipt were all that I needed.
After failing to protect our money, failing to finish this project because of "equity disputes" that had nothing to do with us, trying to remove Hanfree's Facebook page so we wouldn't have it as evidence, failing to follow through on promises to communicate with us, failing to have a plan to issue refunds, failing to service of my complaint voluntarily thereby forcing me to serve him personally, and failing to answer my complaint as the law obligated him to do...
... Seth went into his settings on gmail.com and essentially destroyed his gmail account. The reason he did this is obvious: in addition to my mailing him things by regular mail, I have also been keeping him informed on the legal action against him by email, at his two known email addresses. I have received emails from him in the past, which serves as proof that he was checking his accounts as of those dates. Further, I was able to send him emails as recently as July 11, when I informed him that I was going to default him. At some point between July 11 and July 25, 2012, he destroyed both of his gmail accounts. Of course, he appears to be unaware that the bounce-back emails I got as a result of his doing this will serve as further evidence of his inappropriate and self-defeating efforts to evade the legal process.
Sorry, Seth, but it won't work. I highly doubt you have an accurate understanding of how the rules of civil procedure operate, when it comes to a defendant who is attempting to avoid default. I filed for an Application for Default to the court today. I will soon obtain a default judgment against you for my full refund, my court costs, interest, and a declaration from the court ordering you to comply with its commands. I am putting you on notice that the consequences of ignoring a lawful court order can be very severe. Good luck.
You do make me chuckle. Thank you.
Just for the record, Seth's legal strategy appears to consist of ignoring court rules and having his friends google the Internet for quotes about butterflies.
“The joy about chasing butterflies, is not the satisfaction that comes at the end, but the path that takes you there;
The irony about chasing butterflies, is that sometimes you'll get so lost in the chase, you won't realize that you're left chasing thin air;
But the agony about chasing butterflies, is that sometimes you will keep on chasing, hoping, that a butterfly would materialize out of thin air.”
― Richie Singh
Seth's so scared now he changed his number. Only a matter of time...
Nope. Seth is in default in Arizona court. Other than having some Internet surrogate of his post pictures of British sit-coms and send us Gandhi quotes, I haven't seen anything from him and am therefore seeking a default judgment. The judgment will not be the end of the story, because it will include an order for him to turn over the documentation of this project that he possesses, to me and (Arizona) Chris.