Pebble, the tech company that had launched its first-generation smartwatch back in early 2013 amid much fanfare, eventually failed to find a sustainable business model in a world where smartwatches are losing ground to cheaper wearables by the day. Following a number of theories, rumors and speculations over several days in late November, Pebble filed for insolvency earlier this month. Fitbit stepped in to take over the software assets of the beleaguered company, although, unfortunately for Pebble fans, the purchase did not include any of the company’s hardware offerings. That being the case, plans for the Pebble Time 2 and the Pebble Core were shelved, and backers of either device on Kickstarter were said to receive full refunds over the coming weeks.
However, reports now seem to indicate that the company is only offering partial refunds, instead of the promised full amounts. Some tech journalists have also chimed in with similar anecdotal tales from their own experiences. According to one such account narrated by tech journalist Ben Schoon, Pebble reportedly refunded him just $70 instead of returning the $179 that was originally charged by the company for one unit of the Pebble Time 2 (including $10 shipping), which Mr. Schoon had backed on Kickstarter earlier this year. There are others making similar claims on the Kickstarter comments section as well, with some even saying that they got back anywhere from $109 to $131 in spite of pledging $249 for the cause.
Neither Kickstarter nor Pebble have said anything on the matter up until now, and Fitbit has chosen to maintain a studied silence as well, given that they really don’t want to have to deal with this unseemly situation. While people losing money in crowdfunding campaigns is no longer a surprise for anybody, many are upset that a company once thought to be upright and trustworthy is now failing to honor its own commitment. With no clarification coming from any side and no apparent resolution in sight, it’s no wonder that many are feeling betrayed by the whole situation. It remains to be seen how this turns out in the end, but backers of the two devices will be hoping that between Pebble, Kickstarter and Fitbit, somebody would listen to their grievances sooner rather than later.