Open Legend Kickstarter Rewards

Finally, the physical Kickstarter rewards for the Open Legends Kickstarter have arrived.

(Note: There’s a new video at the end of the article.)

I’m both excited and relieved they are finally here. I’m excited because I can finally hold the books in my hands. It’s much more easier and enjoyable for me to read the physical copy of a book. I’m relieved because the series of unfortunate events has finally come to an end.

I didn’t cover anything that happened for the EU backers because I wasn’t interested in generating drama. Now that things are back in order, I’d like to share a few of my thoughts.

So, what seems to be the problem?

Shipping of the physical rewards of the Kickstarter started some time around late April of 2018. That was mostly for the US backers because international ones would have to wait a bit more for their packages to be shipped. Especially for the EU backers, since the project was EU friendly there would be a two point shipping process in order to not impose a huge amount of customs fees on them.


Lastly, for those who have been unclear on this, the EU friendly shipping guarantee does in fact mean that shipments will go to an intermediary facility to be shipped again once in your country. If you are in neither an EU nation, nor the US, I believe shipment will go out directly. 

Quote from the Kickstarter update of
April 25th 2018

That was fine by me. That EU friendliness was one of the reasons that made me decide to back the project. I’ve had some serious problems with shipping companies handling my customs fees and I didn’t want it to happen again.

As for all the waiting, I had no problem with it. I knew the process was slow but at least the process was there, so there wasn’t a reason for me to complain.

Trouble?

Signs of possible issues started appearing in early June, when the Kickstarter update mentioned the inability to get a status report on the international packages.


Update for International Backers
We are still working on finding out the status of International orders, sadly there are multiple communication layers and this takes longer than I wish, but we hear your requests for updates and we’re working on ascertaining status of these.


Quote from the Kickstarter update of
June 5th 2018

However, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes you can’t get updates for your shipment for some time, and a few days later you have your update. Well…


“I’m International, Where Are My Books?!”

To be honest, they are on their way to you. They’ve been shipped from the warehouse 1 day after the other orders left the warehouse. But here we are many weeks later and still you don’t have your books. Yes, that’s very frustrating. I’m frustrated as well. 

Our printer had outsourced the fulfillment / warehousing of the books to a 3rd party. Despite contacting him almost-daily, I’ve still not gotten a response from the warehouse regarding international shipping status. The last thing I heard was that they needed to speak to the various International Customs departments to find out. My printer contacts the warehouse daily and they continually refuse to provide updates. This is unacceptable obviously, but your orders have already been shipped, so I can’t do anything to fix this right now. Replacement books would probably arrive after the (admittedly long delay) of the initial order that has already been shipped.

It’s entirely possible that International customers could be facing the same very long delay that the initial shipment faced coming into the US from Taiwan. If that’s the case, then you could possibly have months more to wait (just as the initial hold-up for Customs coming into the US was multiple months long). 


Quote from the Kickstarter update of
June 27th 2018

I’m no publisher, nor a Kickstarter entrepreneur. Which means I have no idea how things are usually handled. From what I understand from the update above is that the printer had outsourced the fulfillment of the books to a 3rd party company. The books were printed in Taiwan. So you can see the chain of responsibility is already getting quite long.

And the situation where the warehouse refused to give updates on the status of the shipped books, I wouldn’t call unacceptable. I’d call it shady at best. Would I be wrong to do so?


Greetings UK & Canada backers,


This is Brian, I’m handling all of the Project Management / Customer Service stuff myself now. So no more extra layer between you and me.
Sadly there are still layers of complexity on the shipping side of things, but I come bearing good news! The reason you haven’t gotten your orders is because the US warehouse (they have been fired and the inventory will be at the new US warehouse in a few days) did a poor job of labeling the orders. The good news is they have been found! They are currently at the Canada and UK warehouses respectively and they will be re-shipped from there to each of you soon. We’re just sorting things out.


How did this happen?!
When the shipments left the US warehouse, they did a bad job and did not label things properly in order for them to be re-shipped when they arrived in the UK and Canada, respectively. As a result, they have been sitting in the UK and Canada warehouse awaiting re-shipment. I’ve been trying to move this forward and locate them, but there are multiple layers of communication. Not 2 or 3, more like 5 or 6, so it’s taken a month or 2 to finally track down the people that we needed to talk to and the packages themselves. I had been doing everything I could but I just didn’t have access to the people I need access to in order to resolve this.
Thanks for your patience, I’ll send another update when the re-shipments have left the UK and Canada warehouses.


Quote from the Kickstarter update of
July 23rd 2018


International Shipping

So, when we last spoke, the International orders had been located (previously lost in limbo at their respective International warehouses). They’ve been shipped I think 3 ~ 4 weeks ago now. Many folks in Canada received their orders shortly after. As of yesterday, I’ve heard from a UK backer who received their order a few days ago. That means that UK orders (and I suppose, just non-Canada orders in general) are now making their way to backers mailboxes. We still need to give some time to verify that your order is indeed LOST and not just DELAYED. But you can let us know over the next few weeks if you’re International and still haven’t received your order. We won’t ship a replacement immediately and we ask you to please let us know ASAP if you wind up getting your order, but we’ll hold those orders that are suspected as lost in queue and then ship replacements some weeks later. 

Just know that while it does suck for those who have had to wait so long, people are getting their orders, so those who still don’t have them will only be those tragic victims of shipping loss. 


Quote from the Kickstarter update of
August 20th 2018

Then these two updates came and I was a bit confused but hopeful that somewhere in that lost and refound shipment were my books. I’d be getting my books soon. 


Hey Everyone,

So, it’s taken a while but I anticipate this week I’ll finally have a spreadsheet with tracking numbers for International orders, for those who haven’t received their shipment yet. If you’ve emailed to say that you haven’t gotten your package, then hang tight, I’ll respond to your email once I have that tracking number. I’ll also probably post a follow-up Kickstarter update and link to a public spreadsheet where you can look up your name (I won’t post email addresses) since I figure everyone’s names are pretty much all publicly viewable in the acknowledgements of the books. Then we can find out what happened with any lost shipments and get anyone who’s in that unfortunate position squared away.

Until then, as always, thank you and my apologies,
Brian


Quote from the Kickstarter update of
September 9th 2018

At least with that update I got a better idea of what was happening. The books were still somewhere out there but the Open Legend team was trying hard to get an idea of where they were. But then, this came.


I’ve gotten quite a few emails from people wondering where the tracking numbers I mentioned in my previous update are? 

Sadly, the company in possession of them is withholding them and lawyers have now had to be brought into the situation to bring legal force to bear in order to force the production of those tracking numbers. 

Apologies for the delay. By all means, if you’re an international backer who received their shipment, please post in the comments to let others know. 

For the record, I had a backer in Germany report the arrival of their package just 10 days ago. So if you’re in a European nation that’s a bit more “off the beaten path” so to speak, where perhaps mailing is a bit slower, it’s still likely that your package is going to arrive soon. 

Due to the volume of orders which I’m receiving word have not arrived, I have to wait for the shipping numbers, I can’t afford the expense of shipping duplicate orders out for those International backers who have not yet received their shipments. They will definitely be replaced once they’re proven lost and the shipping numbers help bring clarity to the situation.

Apologies, I want this to end FAR more than you do…

Brian


Quote from the Kickstarter update of
September 21st 2018

Well that wasn’t expected. Having to get lawyers to make a company give you the tracking numbers of your shipment is insane, at least in my eyes. I can’t imagine what it must have felt for the Open Legend team.


Hi Folks,

Brian here. Apologies to all who were promised replacements for their lost orders and have not yet received them. When you last heard from me (likely via email), it seemed that there was no longer hope for the orders to be recovered and I would be taking a huge loss in shipping replacement orders for nearly all EU backers. 

THEN, out of nowhere, the day after my emails to backers, it seemed that the lawyers may have located the lost shipments and were working with the abysmal and shameful shipping company to get them sent out after all. Hence, the orders didn’t go out as planned and I was stuck yet again in the purgatory of not knowing whether or not it were possible to not lose the massive amount of money I’m faced with losing in replacing a large number of orders. 

That was about 2 ~ 3 weeks ago now. I’ve given up the hope of getting those orders back. I’ve submitted all lost EU orders to the new (reliable, competent) fulfillment warehouse to be sent out. You should get a notification in the next few days when your order is shipped out and it should have a tracking number this time.

On the bright side, replacement orders have been submitted to the warehouse (not the same one that lost all of the originals) as of today.

Apologies, I can’t begin to express how frustrating this is for me. I just want this nightmare to end. I know those of you who haven’t gotten your books feel the same. If you’re an EU backer who still hasn’t received your order, please keep in mind that all correspondence should go to info@seventhsphere.co, we will get you a replacement order sent out. All other communications channels will make it much more likely that your inquiry will get lost.


Quote from the Kickstarter update of
November 8th 2018

And here we are, almost 2 months later, with some good news. The tracking numbers were found. In the meantime I had to send the team an email with my shipping address in case they had to send me new copies. That would have been faster but it would cost the team a lot. Again, I didn’t mind waiting.

Then what’s my problem? 

My problem is that when the tracking numbers didn’t help with my case, they sent me the books directly from the US. So? Well, this makes the Kickstarter project no longer EU friendly. 

The shipping company could have charged me any amount it wanted as “customs handling fees”. How do I know that? The last time I ordered some books from Amazon.com, my packaged was handled by UPS. They decided that, since I wasn’t able to go to the customs at the airport at the capital, they had to hire someone to clear the customs on my behalf. The whole process, including the relatively low amount of taxes I’d had to pay for books, would cost me twice the amount I had already paid for the books I had ordered. I didn’t have that money to spare so I refused to accept the books being imported. Thankfully, after sending a support ticket on Amazon, I got a refund for my purchase.

After some research, I found out that UPS has done much worse to other people.  And this is the reason I do not back Kickstarter projects that aren’t EU friendly. 

I didn’t mind all the waiting. It’s part of the whole Kickstarter idea. I’ve been waiting for 2 years to get my hands on these books. If they told me I’d have to wait another year it wouldn’t phase me at all. But the fact that the project wasn’t EU friendly anymore was a whole other issue.

I contacted the Open Legend team and asked them what would happen in case of customs fees. They responded quite fast and told me I would get a refund in case I’d have to pay any customs fees. At least, that was a bit reassuring. 

Thankfully, the packaged arrived and was handled by the Hellenic Postal Service. They can be slow sometimes but at least they don’t decide what to charge you by rolling dice. The customs fee was a single digit number so there was no need for me to ask for a refund (even though, technically, I had to pay customs when I was promised I wouldn’t have to).

Let me be clear. I hold no ill will towards the Open Legend team. I believe they did what they could based on the situation they were in. The books have arrived, they are in very good condition, and the way they were packed was superb.

And I do believe Open Legend is a very good system with a lot of versatility. I will keep on suggesting it to people looking for a versatile system and, of course, keep using it myself.

Then why are you complaining?

I’m not complaining. This is more of a summary of what happened. You can see it as a note to other creators of Kickstarter projects to make sure the companies they’re hiring, and possibly their partners, can be trusted with such an important task.

And now for something fun

If you’ve come this far, you have my respect. This wasn’t meant to be that long so it must be tiring to read all of it. As a reward, here’s a video of me and my friend Anastasios trying to do an unboxing of the Open Legend books. Enjoy.

And until next time, have fun!

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