The POP charger, a portable station designed to power iPhones and iPads, exceeded its funding goal on Kickstarter earlier this year. Now the company behind the project will have to turn to a Kickstarter competitor to refund that money after Apple reportedly prevented the project from moving forward. In an update posted on Kickstarter, Edison Junior CEO Jamie Siminoff wrote that the company wouldn't be able to create the device because Apple was unwilling to approve products that would use Lightning connectors alongside the recently-deprecated 30-pin connector (initial plans called for two Lightning and two 30-pin connectors).
Siminoff then writes that Kickstarter "did not have a mechanism for refunding everyone their money" — so as a result he will be taking the project over to Kickstarter competitor Christie Street in order to return the $139,170 the project raised. If that name sounds familiar, it's because we've covered Christie Street before. It's an alternative crowdfunding site that was built with the notion of audits and refunds as a key differentiator. It was also founded by Siminoff himself, providing the entrepreneur a unique opportunity to both redress the problems arising from the POP snafu as well as raising the profile of his new venture.
Kickstarter's TOS don't prevent a direct refund
However, it's not entirely clear just what's preventing Edison Junior from refunding the money on its own immediately. While Kickstarter itself does not provide refunds, according to its terms of service Edison Junior would be well within its rights to do so. "Project Creators may cancel or refund a Backer's pledge at any time and for any reason," reads the Kickstarter TOS, "and if they do so, are not required to fulfill the reward." Siminoff says that users will have to wait until mid-January to receive their refunds via Christie Street, and that refunding the money manually "would probably have gone even longer" — but forcing individuals to engage with an entirely new service just to get back the money they pledged in good faith is an interesting choice. Aside from a reference to a "crappy product," there's also no mention of why Edison Junior simply didn't offer backers a version of the charging station with a smaller selection of connectors.
As it stands, all backers of the POP project will be set up with Christie Street accounts and will be need to get their contributions refunded in full from there. Siminoff notes that Edison Junior had to pay both a 3 percent credit card fee and 5 percent fee to Kickstarter, and will end up losing money by processing the refunds (it has contacted Kickstarter to receive that fee back if possible). We've reached out to both Apple and Edison Junior for further comment.
Lightning adapters were too expensive to include
Update: We just spoke with Edison Junior's Jamie Siminoff, who told us about the problems the company had with Apple when trying to get POP approved. "They said 'we will not allow Lightning to be on any product that has any other adapter. We don't care what it is, including 30-pin.'" When asked why the company didn't just ship POP with 30-pin ports and include adapters, Siminoff pointed to cost: the adapters run $25 wholesale, he said, and adding $50 to the total cost of the project didn't make sense.
Siminoff also admitted that using Christie Street to refund Kickstarter donations had created a "delicate" situation, but that manually contacting 1,000 users to refund their money directly would have been difficult from a logistical perspective (he also made clear that the Christie Street accounts in question will not be populated with any payment information unless it's provided by the user). Edison Junior will be reevaluating POP's future after the coming holidays.