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Apricoat – A Zero Compromise Jacket or How do I ruin my reputation from the beginning

apricoat failure

 

News about Apricoat here!

During the past three years I was a passionate backer of crowdfunding campaigns. There have been some ups but also some downs. Some rewards were incredible and at some campaigns I am asking myself today, why the hell did I back this. Well, that is the exciting thing about crowdfunding, you never know what to expect. Some creators know that they can build up their reputation with a well managed crowdfunding campaign. They are able to bring a new product to life and built their brand with a loyal base of customer (who have been first backers). But there are also examples when a creator is destroying his reputation so badly with a mismanaged campaign, that there won’t be any way back out of it – one of these examples is Apricoat – A zero-compromise jacket, that is basically only built on compromises. I am a backer of this campaign and I honestly regret it. The campaign started really well, was high funded and immediately after the campaign finished and Apricoat collected the money, the trouble started. But Let’s jump to the beginning see what happened since then – or Let’s call it “How to ruin your reputation with crowdfunding.”

apricoat failure

Apricoat – The new kid on the block to bring down established brands

When this campaign appeared on Kickstarter, it looked very promising.. The jacket was presented in a cute video, the marketing machinery was running. I guess I discovered it through a Facebook ad. In the campaign it was described that the team members have “a lot of experience in project management, material design, business finances and with their partners on crowdfunding and fulfillment there would be little room for errors and even ensure quick delivery.” The team also mentioned that they tested the prototype for the last three years in different conditions around the world and created the perfect jacket for adventures. The Apricoat Team announced their table to contents:

  • DWD Differential Weight Distribution Design – this should mean, no matter how or what you are putting into the jacket pockets, the jacket would always balance the weight distribution and would look great on you
  • 16 thoughtful pockets, even one for a hydration pack in the back of the jacket
  • Inflatable hood pillow to have a comfy rest when traveling or during a hike
  • Safe Anchor – A safety feature that can be used when in trouble, the anchor should have been able to hold 400 lbs.
  • ClimateShell Insulation – Should be the latest technology and enables you to wear the jacket in warm and cold conditions, is ultra thin and lightweight, breathable and waterproof

Besides this amazing features the jacket should come with a blindfold, built-in sleeve gloves and manufactured of flexi-durable materials, a jacket which should last a decade.

While the campaign was running and active, the creator was responding to backer queries quick and in a hasty manner and the excitement about this new and fantastic jacket was rising. Everyone was hoping that the Apricoat team would keep their promise and deliver the jackets in time for winter.

As the campaign was very successful and the amount of ordered jacket were much higher than expected backers were worried about the quality. Apricoat was assuring that quality control would be very important as they want to delivery an outstanding jacket. Due to the high demand they wanted to use a 3rd party company for this. Production should take place in China by a manufacturer with high experience and making high quality outdoor gear.

Campaign ended – And so did the Service

Just after the campaign ended and the money got collected from Apricoat, they started to do changes. It started off that one of the original colors, Blue Melange, was replaced by Navy Blue, because their marketing team was thinking it would be more fashionable. This happened without consulting with the backers. As the campaign ended, those who decided to take the Blue Melange, would have been forced to choose a different color without having the chance to back out and receive a refund. After some rage of backers, Blue Melange was brought back as additional color option. In total the color range was growing to 6 options. Backers were asking for pictures of the jackets in those colors to make a choice in the survey. Apricoat was not able to provide pictures of their prototypes. This fact was raising suspicion.

The next downfall was not far away. Apricoat decided to cancel the Safe Anchor, one of the key features, due to safety concerns. Backers who backed the project specifically because of the Safe Anchor had no option to cancel their pledge as Apricoat refused to process refunds. Instead, they were starting a survey and offered three options as compensation to taking away the Anchor. Backers voted that they wanted to have a Hydration pack included that should fit perfectly in the designated pocket in the back of the jacket.

More and more backers were unhappy with the project and Apricoat was not able to calm backers down. The opposite was the case. Due to obvious language difficulties information were misinterpreted and some backers were getting really annoyed and trying to cancel their pledge through the credit card company. Some might have success, some did not. Apricoat ignored the comments section completely after calling backers toxic and only communicated in updates about the progress. No surprise that the estimated delivery date couldn’t be kept.

There have been other instances that raised suspicions of a scam, f.e a photo of a Gerber Multitool which could have been ordered as add-on and turns out to be a non-branded one.

Apricoat made a huge change to the initial jacket as they added a fleece lining for bigger comfort on the inside of the jacket. The Climateshell was supposed to work in colder and warmer conditions. Adding now a fleece to the jacket would make it much warmer. Some might think this should just cover up the fact that there is no Climateshell at all. Will be interesting to see (or feel) if the jacket will be waterproof or/and breathable at all.

apricoat

Rushing to the finish line

After some weeks was really quiet and Apricoat did not provide much news, the updates were published in a steady flow. Team members traveled to China as the materials arrived in the “Assembling Center”. The Chinese New is approaching and it seems that Apricoat tries to rush the product through the finishing line as they want to ship orders to American and European backers by sea freight before the holidays are starting. I am in doubt that extensive quality controls are done as Apricoat is not mentioning anything about the results of that 3rd party company. So I am really assuming that this step was completely left out in the hope the jackets will be OK.

When the materials arrived in the Assembly Center the team (keep in mind that they mentioned that they have a huge experience in project management, material design, business finances and with their partners on crowdfunding and fulfillment) discovered all of a sudden, that they had not enough coats in certain colors and sizes and they forced backers to make a different choice through Backerkit.

Remember that I was mentioning above that Apricoat removed the Safe Anchor and as compensation they have been offering a hydration pack to be included in every jacket? Guess what…just before shipping is starting they are shooting another bomb at their backers. The hydration pack is now out of the blue to expensive and is canceled for all backers. Ahem what?? Yeah…they play the innocent virgin Mary and claim that they discovered this now…not days ago, not weeks ago, not months ago…but at the point when the packages are being packed in the Chinese assembly station.

I am really curious, if this jacket will ever arrive, if it will be anything like they claimed or just a cheap jacket bought of Alibaba with a custom “Apricoat” print on it…but wait…maybe they will realize it will be too expensive to ship the jacket all around the world and cancel the whole thing….and have then a good life down in Israel with all our spend money that we have thrown at them.

The Name Apricoat will be harmed forever

Even if the jacket will be amazing. This campaign shows how the interaction with backers can ruin a reputation forever. Whoever will google the name Apricoat, it will always appear the Kickstarter campaign on one of the first pages. If someone will research the company they will find out about the failure and mistakes this team of amateurs did. They treated their backers like garbage instead of respect, they stopped interacting with them and ignored concerns or criticism.

Unfortunately campaigns like Apricoat, Titan Note or Weatherpoint (might report about them in the future too, otherwise just google them) are ruining the whole crowdfunding scene.

Will let you know, how the jacket turns out….until then if you want to back a project, be cautious, ask questions and back out if you are not 100% convinced.

If you had issues with a different campaign, if you are also a backer of Apricoat or if you like to share your thoughts, don’t hesitate and leave comment.

Thank you for reading!

Joe

P.S.: Next time you can read about an outstanding campaign to restore faith in crowdfunding.

 

 

 

25 Comments

  1. Thanks Joe for a good attempt at the summary – There are some key things to add – Let me know what details you would like regarding these items:

    1) Changes to Climateshell/Climatshell: They added fleece supposedly for comfort. Some of us question if the Climateshell material is still under the fleece.
    2) Until Backer complaints, they wanted to overbrand their jacket with reflective tape. They abandoned this after the backlash.
    3) Some backers were not able to figure out their size from the inconsistent sizing charts. There was at one point some discussion about the possibility of exchange but nothing recently.
    4) Some backers were forced to take another colour and size when they realized when they received the coats at the assembly centre and the coats made did not match the orders. These people were offered an add-on but who knows if that will get taken away like the water bottles for us.
    6. It is worth pointing out that their website is a joke. http://www.apricoat.com shows no changes to the jacket and they even spell “Indeigogo, SafeAnchore” and their own product “Apricot”.
    7. Also I am frustrated that I was told shipping was simultaneously going to be at my door, and in Shenzhen in early Feb from two Apricoat sources at the same time.

    • Hi Jules,

      Thank you for the additional list of complaints about Apricoat. I have backed this project myself, have to say also unfortunately. Yes, the issue with the fleece inlet a huge concern. I hope the fleece will be only in the back and then you should hopefully see this miraculous climate shell at least in the front area and in the sleeves.
      The miscalculations with colors and sizes is a joke…true…especially as they claim to be experts in their fields though they prove to be worse than amateurs.
      I am really curious if the shipping will really start before the Chinese New Year is happening, honestly I doubt it. I was really excited when this campaign came up as the jacket seemed to be the perfect one…now I am only damn curious what will turn up on my door one day…
      Thank you again for your additions to my post, really appreciated!!!
      Best of luck,
      Joe

    • Hi Jules,

      Just wanted to Thank you again and just to let you know that I have added some of your points into the blog post.

      Keep on crowdfunding!
      Joe

  2. Thank you for spreading the word Joe! It is an effort to gather all of the information and this is a well-written summary.

    Jules

  3. Hi Joe – Great informative article! You covered many of the points already discussed on a thread in the Crowdfunding Scams and Failures Awareness Group that I founded in 2016 on Facebook. I’d like to invite you to join, where you can participate in the Apricoat discussion and discover other crowdfunding scams, failures, and suspicious campaigns – an endless source of material for future articles! 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/1178150862229253/

    • Hi Guy,
      Thank you for reading and for your comment, much appreciated. Will have a look at your group, guess I heard about it already. Really sad that this campaign was going down so badly, in the beginning it had really potential…lets see what will be delivered…Curious to see the end result!
      Have a nice day!
      Joe

      • My pleasure, Joe!

        BTW – did you notice how they’re hiding their updates from the public on Kickstarter, but leaving them up on their sister campaign on Indiegogo? Not too bright, these guys…

        • Hi Guy,
          Yes…I saw that…just smiling about it…all amateurs who have no clue what is going on. Lets see how the jackets will turn out, because as they were rushing through the finish line, I am assuming Quality Control was left out completely!

  4. Hiding the comments on Kickstarter while having them on indiegogo does still hide the near 100 % negative comments that were produced for one of their updates.

    • true…but on the other hand the general comment section in the KS campaign is visible to anyone…I doubt they will survive this, the reputation of their brand is ruined.

    • I know it can be frustrating to be part of such an annoying and bad campaign. But there are also other examples, crowsdfunding campaigns which have been awesome with fantastic creators. In the work of reporting about a good example how crowdfunding should work…stay tuned 🙂

    • Hi Nate,
      Thank you for taking the time for reading my post and leaving a comment.
      I dont know the campaign you mentioned about the Socrates socks and I am sorry, that they did not deliver anything. Unfortunately there is always the risk that it can happen. However it always depends on the circumstances if it would be acceptable or not.
      As I am from the UK I have received at least the two jackets I have backed and will write about my experiences with them as soon as I was able to put them to test. Backers from the US have to wait a little longer, but they will deliver, just be a bit more patient. But even if they delivered, Apricoats reputation is damaged. Would not back them again, if they ever would start a new crowdfunding campaign, in fact I would back and leave some comments there to warn new backers about them and cancel my pledge before the end of the campaign.
      Hang in there, your Apricoat will arrive…
      Joe

  5. I have been watching this campaign drama closely from the beginning. Something I think hasn’t been discussed is the marketing company Tross. They are responsible for the poor website as well as the video and campaign management. Right from the beginning of their video they claim that it was produced as low budget as possible. However, Yaniv Tross describes his company as one of the “expensive agencies”. Tross also provides pre-fund seed capitol to product companies gearing towards a crowdfunding campaign. If Tross is the principle investor for Apricoat that means they are beholden to them not the backers. This would explain why choices were made to maximize profit at the last minute even if it irked backers. After all Tross is only interested in ROI, once they have your money why would they care if your happy with the product or not. This is why they haven’t bothered updating the Apricoat website; they will probably never sell another jacket. But Tross doesn’t care, they will present that campaign as another success to the tune of 1.7 million. I think that’s what bothers me so much about the way this campaign was advertised. They promised your money would be going towards making a better jacket, when in reality most of our money went to some fancy ad agency. In fact many of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns are managed by one of these expensive agencies. Traditional advertising agencies are mostly regulated when they make outlandish false claims. Who is regulating these agencies when their campaigns are built on false promises and outright lies?

    • Hi Ryan,
      Thank you for your comment and I am sooo very sorry for my late reply but some health issues kicked me out completely.
      You have really a good point…I see it more and more that crowdfunding campaigns are driven by marketing agencies who are promising all kind of stuff…after the campaign ended and the money is collected, those marketing agencies seems to stop working and creators are trying to handle it by their own. When I am interested in a new campaign, I maybe back now, but keep a close eye on it. If I feel this is not going to be as promised, I will cancel my pledge. That is the good thing in Kickstarter as the credit card gets charged when the campaign is successful. On Indiegogo you have to pay with your pledge and to back out might be more of a struggle…might take some time until the money is returned to your account.
      A great example how crowsfunding should work was the Shape Flexer campaign, basically a one-man show with constant information provided by the creator. I am working on a post about it and hope to be able to publish it very soon.
      It is a shame, what Apricoat did…they will suffer from it when they want to expand their brand…I am not really happy with the coats we received, will leave an extensive review soon too as I want to test them thorougly first.
      Best regards,
      Joe

  6. On Feburary 12th Apricoat told us:

    “As we have already updated WE’RE SHIPPING TODAY more than 90% of the orders.”

    Nearly TWO months have passed. It is now April 10th. No one has received the jacket from the US or Canada, and many other countries around the world. I estimate about 40-45 % of the jackets (based on the kickstarter community stats and who has said they have been receiving jackets) have been received IF ALL of the jackets to European countries, Australia, and Asia have been received (which I do not believe is the case either given comments). The estimate then lowers significantly.

    There is only one logical conclusion, Apricoat has not even made half of the jackets. They would not be paying to store them, and they would have arrived long before now if they had shipped them. Apricoat never named the ship they claimed to send the US orders in or provided any North American backers with tracking numbers.

    • Hi Jules,

      Thanks again for following up on this.

      As I am located in Europe I am one of the “lucky” guys who received the Apricoat..in fact both as I have backed for two. Until now I have worn the jacket just once for a dog walk. My jacket fits well, I like the lot of pockets…but the big huge BUT is simply that the jacket is not breathable at all. It was around 5°C outside, I was wearing just a technical base layer under the jacket. The arms get quite cold, the rest of the body is steaming up in your own sweat. Really disappointing but was what I was expecting. The creators are liars, that is not even an insult as it is a fact. My wife can not even wear the jacket as the Ladies version is designed for women without breasts.
      As I wanted to do an extensive review of the coat, I am really struggling to wear it and put it to a test. So as sad as it sounds, US and Canadian backers are not missing a lot by not having the Apricoat yet.

  7. THIS COMPANY is a SCAM, they STEALED my MONEY, and 1 year later the said this.

    According to BackerKit, your item was shipped on May 23, 2018. Unfortunately, tracking information that was provided by our courier service is no longer available to view online. Feel free to contact FedEx (1.800.463 3339) in order to locate your package FDX 2907169156.

    We, sadly, cannot take responsibility for jackets that were shipped and were not received. We sent out tracking numbers and made it possible to notify us regarding any changes in address prior to shipping

    THIS PEOPLE THINK WE ARE STUPID. THEY NEVER SENT A TRACKING, NOR THE JACKET, AND 8 MONTHS LATER SAY THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE, AND THIS TRACKING NUMBER IS INVALID…. ARE YOU KIDDING ME

    REFUND OR SENT THE PRODUCT.

    THIS IS A SCAAAAAAMMMM. !!!!

    • Hi Damian,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I am not happy how the Apricoat Team was handling the campaign, after they received the funding, but we have received our jackets.
      The Apricoat Team did however mention in their updates which regions will be shipped around when. If you would have checked your Backerkit account, you could have seen the status of your order and in the best case also the tracking ID. Therefore you could have followed your shipment…and yes, it is not only Apricoats responsibility, but also yours. That a tracking ID from May 2018 is online not visible anymore, is possible and the message “invalid tracking” or “no info in this tracking ID” is normal.

      I would advise you to contact the courier and ask them what happened with your tracking ID and where the parcel was delivered. In my case I had to pay customs fees so probably the parcel was held in your country by customs too.

      The jacket itself is in my eyes an average jacket and not as good as promised. The communication was really bad of Apricoat, but they delivered at least in Europe. To check tracking is not really the responsibility of the sender, but from the receiver…and as mentioned before they provided the tracking info in the Backerkit account.

      Not defending Apricoat here, just saying fact from my point of view.

      Thank you again for your comment and I hope you will find a solution with the courier and Apricoat.

      Joe

  8. So I jump on this kickstarter and pay $165 for a jacket in like August 2016.
    The jacket comes OVER 1yr later (should have been a couple of months). Surprise! It comes with a $38 customs fee. So I pay it, and the jacket is too tight around the waist. I am not at all round, I’m 6ft tall 200lbs. Size 33 waist. Like it was designed by either a tiny Chinese seamstress for her nephew or by a person who eats only Cliff bars for life.
    Anyway, I try to contact them to exchange for a bigger size.
    They aren’t answering ANYONE, I mean they are literally HIDING! They must have just realized how many people are demanding money back or exchanges, etc.

    So I put the jacket on a tree hook at home, tags and all, and forget about it FOR ANOTHER YEAR!!! occasionally thinking ”Who do I know who has the body of Jack Skelton from A nightmare before Christmas, to give it to?”.

    Lo and behold I get a random email from Apricoat informing me that they have created a website and are taking back jackets for exchanges!!
    The catch:
    -The jackets MUST not have been worn and have their tags. They could have warned people about this, but they didn’t. Luckily, mine was completely unworn and tags intact.
    -YOU must pay to send the jacket back whereby it will be evaluated and IF there is a replacement size available they will send you one & preferable in the color you chose.

    I do exactly that, and $40 later I await confirmation that I am to teceive a jacket that fits.
    About three weeks later I get confirmation that they accepted the jacket and was issued an online voucher to redeem a jacket. So I order the same jacket, same colour, but one size bigger. Then wait, again.

    About a month later I get the jacket, (it is now January 2019) but now it’s $80 duty that I must pay. I’ve paid so much at this point I might as well see it through. It fits, still a little too snug, sleeves are 1 inch too short, or 4 inches too short for the XL that it claims to be, and just tight around everything, like a lined rubber dish glove.
    I also am missing the sleep mask and inflatable pillow that came with my original coat that I dutifully repacked and sent back to them as asked.

    All in all, I paid $318 for a coat that is too weak to even use as a shell for a Canadian winter (even IF one were able to wear anything more that a T-Shirt under such a snug jacket). It has no bells or whistles. Just lots of pockets with no instructions on which pockes are meant for what. The zippers are tok tight to zip or unzip anything with one hand. I’ve never worn mine outside, I’m too embarassed to say I bought one, but other reviews say that they also leak. 🙁

    I wrote them an email telling them how much they suck but in not such nice words.

  9. Nice article, good overview of all that was wrong in their communication and in the final product…Personnaly never used as the XL I received turned out to be more like an XS and indeed definitely not reaching the features that where announced before. Found this page when checking around a bit after receiving an email from Apricoat because they apparantly have a new crowdfunding project running on kickstarter. Can’t believe they get to launch what seems to be a new scam to me after what happened with this apricoat jacket. Never backed any project anymore since on kickstarter nor on any other crowdfunding campaigns.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! Yes, Apricoat was a ridiculous campaign. Even more strange that people still backed the new campaign. Creators like Apricoat are the worst that can happen to crowdfunding because it keeps a lot of people away from it.
      Stay safe!
      Joe

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