Kickstarter Refunds: The Ultimate “Hands on” Guide on How to Get Your Money Back

Backed a campaign and didn’t hear anything back? Let’s try and help… 💰

Hyperstarter
9 min readOct 13, 2021

We’ve worked on over 1200+ Kickstarter campaigns, so we know what it’s like to work with Creator’s.

Unfortunately, on Kickstarter once a project is funded you’ll see that backer’s have to deal with Creator’s on their own.

Your money is gone, you’ve wait a long time and you don’t get a reply…what do you do?

It’s a huge deal for everyone involved in reward based crowdfunding campaigns. If a Creator cannot deliver on their promise to ship their goods (aka fulfillment)…Why should backer’s return?

TB_Infidel over on Reddit came up with a solution to getting a Kickstarter refund and he kindly let me reproduce his words — thanks!

Ultimately, this guide shows you the legal process in getting your money back if you’re based in the United States, UK & elsewhere.

A little bit of background: As an established crowdfunding agency that has a great reputation in the industry, I’ve noticed many successful campaign’s that have failed to deliver to their backers.

Can you get a refund from Kickstarter directly…nope!

Taking a look at any of the most funded campaigns and you’ll regularly see this in the comment’s section:

I invoke my rights under Kickstarter’s Terms of Use…I demand a full refund for my pledge amount.

I’d imagine making this statement amounts to nothing. A quick scout on Kickstarter shows no, they don’t issue refunds.

Their advice is to contact the Creator via the platform- see Section 4 of their terms, which I guess makes sense…even a CNN article (back in 2012!) mentions that 84% of all top projects ship late.

Note: My pet peeve is that Kickstarter should research Creator’s in detail before allowing them on the platform (and taking a % of the final sales means they’re accountable too). Does that mean you can’t do anything to get your money back. Even if it’s a scam?

So what can you do, if a Creator doesn’t respond?

Well, let’s just list down exactly what a Creator/Campaign Owner should do after a campaign has ended:

  • As soon as the campaign has ended, the Creator should thank everyone via an Update on the campaign page. This way everyone will see it.
  • They should detail their next steps — Collecting payment (Can take up to 14 days), suggesting addon’s, making sure everyone’s contact details are up to date etc.,
  • Then issue a rough timeline as to when backer’s will start to receive their products. This can be via the Kickstarter page or via emails collected.
  • If a project or shipment is going to be delayed. 100% let backer’s know as soon as possible. If there’s an unexpected problem, explain it.
  • If you can’t make the product at all, then the Creator should think about offering a refund or part-refund (Sure we know they’ve got expenses too to make their dream a reality).
  • Whatever you do, don’t ignore your backers…and don’t launch on your website or Amazon later!

Ideally, as a Backer you should give the Creator time. How much time, well…that depends I guess on their responsiveness and if they’ve actioned any of the above!

Now, let’s look at the exact steps to get your Kickstarter refund.

Everyone: Issuing a Chargeback

This seems to be everyone’s “go to” option, however — A credit card company can only complete a chargeback if whomever you paid doesn’t fulfill their promise. The problem is, Kickstarter promises nothing…

In these situations, Kickstarter’s terms of service (particularly section 4) obligate the project creator to find a way to bring their project to a satisfactory conclusion with regards to their backers.

While this may include issuing refunds to backers (especially if they did not receive their promised rewards), Kickstarter has no technical or legal authority to force a creator to refund backers’ money.

Example: Someone reports a project to their credit card company to try and get their money back. They get told that because Kickstarter’s terms and conditions state that there is no physical item promised but only a service, they are unable to issue a refund.

The only way they could get a refund is to prove to the credit card company that a physical item was promised, such as by showing a screenshot of a reward that was promised for backing the campaign.

Resources:

However, if you wish, you may pursue individual legal action against a creator.

USA Based: Contacting Kickstarter, Creating a Lawsuit & Filing with States Attorney’s

Requesting a chargeback from your payment processor is a long process and preferably, if you’re looking to claim a small amount…it’s probably not worth it.

Try connecting via Kickstarter first

The first call to action should be:

  1. Visit the Kickstarter project page
  2. Click on the creator’s profile image, found to the left of the project’s name
  3. This will open up their bio page where you can click the “Contact me” link and send them a message asking them for an update of the timeline and when your product will be shipped.

Did you know a Kickstarter Creator can easily issue you a refund at any time?

Under the “Creator Tools” menu on the left, then can click Backer Report. Click on the name of the backer they wish to refund, and then click Issue a Refund. They then enter their credit card information into the form provided, and type in the amount that they wish to refund you for.

Creating a Class Action Lawsuit

One option I’ve seen is previous backers group together on Facebook and create a class action lawsuit to make it easier to file suit. However, it’s unlikely to result in project backers receiving full refunds.

Reporting to the States Attorney General

Another option would be reporting these projects to states’ attorneys general and federal authorities like the FCC.

Several US states’ attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission have taken legal action to protect consumers and force project creators to deliver rewards or return funds to backers. Additional investigations and legal cases are ongoing.

Perhaps, in the eyes of authorities, project backers aren’t simply a creator’s benefactors. They’re customers.

UK Based: The Steps of Getting a Full Refund from a Kickstarter with the Example of Star Citizen

In 2013, Star Citizen was one of the biggest campaign’s at the time. It ultimately put Kickstarter on the map as an established crowdfunding platform. It’s also one of the biggest failures too with:

  • 34,397 backers
  • $2,134,374 pledged
  • 54,000+ complaints
  • An additional raise of $400+ million!

To explain things better, see Tech In Gaming’s round-up of events.

Stage 1. Beginning the Complaint Process

  1. Start by contacting CIG directly and asking for a full refund on all purchases made due to non-delivery of SQ42/working PU/choice is up to you, but something significant that has demonstrably not been delivered according to their publicly stated release dates, delivered to a poor quality or both:
  2. State that under Consumer Rights Act 2015, Chapter 3 Digital Content, Section 34–40* you are entitled to a full refund regardless of time after purchase
  3. State that you want the refund issued within 14 days
  4. At this stage, CIG will likely stall and inform you that under terms and conditions, they will not issue you a refund.

Stage 2. Send your Letter of Intent

  1. After 14 days from their last response, send them a “Letter of Intent”, notably titled “Letter before small claims court claim”
  2. Reference the service desk number
  3. State the conversation had with the service desk and that no resolution was met within the timeframe stated
  4. For documents reference:
  • All of your orders with Order ID, date and time of purchase, and value with the associated currency
  • Pick and mix for evidence; CIG have really shot themselves in the foot with this one. I listed the help desk number, and then various quotes from Chris Roberts and CIG about release dates etc. Every time they have stated a date and missed it is a piece of evidence for the courts.
  • Contact u/TB_Infidel or u/Mazty for the ASA complaint number. This could be of benefit if any of your purchases were for concept ships as it demonstrated that their adverts for concept ships were deemed to be misleading up until Summer 2021.
  1. Set the time limit for response to 14 days as this is the legal minimum.
  2. Send the letter to CIGs address as listed on Companies House. Make sure to send the letter recorded and sign on delivery. Not doing so runs the risk that they could claim to have never received the letter of intent which would block the entire rest of the process.
  3. CIG should acknowledge receipt of the letter from their newly created Legal Department and this is where it can go one of two ways: settle before court, or Small Claims Court:
  • If CIG settles they will contact you and arrange a refund. Your journey for a refund is now over; pat yourself on the back and walk away from this dumpster fire with your wallet intact.
  • They might not respond, not respond adequately (e.g. no resolution to the refund request), or they refuse to issue a refund.

Stage 3. No response/inadequate response/refusal to refund — Small Claims Court

  1. On the 15th day, raise a small claims court request Link provided.:
  • The task takes a while, but list the same evidence and follow the step by step process listed on the site. This will cost you £35 and will be payable by CIG in the situation that you are found liable for a refund.
  • CIG may respond and you will need to factor in this additional cost to your refund

Stage 4. CCJ (County Court Judgement)

  1. If CIG does not respond after a further14 days from the small claims court request, you can raise a CCJ (County Court Judgement). Raise this at 5.01pm on the final day as soon as the option appears online. All links will have been emailed to you once you raised the initial small claims court request.
  2. The CCJ should take 10 days to issue, but can take up to 20 days. Once issued there is no going back for CIG while being a major black mark on their credit score.
  3. A CCJ is a major issue for any company. Once issued CIG WILL respond to you within a few days and offer a FULL REFUND.
  4. If CIG decide not to respond the options are as follows:
  5. If CIG fails to comply with the CCJ within 1 month then they will forever have a crippled credit score. You can hire legal firms to carry out the CCJ and CIG is liable for all costs — it gets expensive very quickly for CIG while you bear no burden of the legal fees as they will be added to the amount retrieved from CIG by any solicitor taking this on. As CIG is still an active company (i.e. not declared bankrupt), there are multiple no-fee solicitors who will take on the task of retrieving the monies owed from them.
  6. If you have spent over £600 then you/your legal firm of choice can get HCEO (High Court Enforcement Officers) to carry out the CCJ. They are expensive and almost legally unstoppable — they’re essentially court sanctioned bailiffs

Stage 5. After the CCJ has been completed

  1. Once the CCJ is completed i.e.. the refund has been issued, you legally need to mark the case as settled.

Resources:

Next Steps….

Whilst we can’t really help with legal advice, we are able to work on any crowdfunding campaigns — take a look at some direct references and feel free to get in touch!

I’d love to hear about your experience with Kickstarter campaigns, please comment below.

Also a clap or share would mean a lot to us too!

Want more? See our free guide on The Top 150+ Influencers to Promote your Startup or Crowdfunding Campaign

The Top 150+ Influencers to Promote your Startup or Crowdfunding Campaign
The Top 150+ Influencers to Promote your Startup or Crowdfunding Campaign

--

--

Hyperstarter

£20m+ raised so far! Hyperstarter is a crowdfunding analytics tool & agency that helps to make campaigns successful.