(Summary timeline follows post)
I first discovered Backertree here on KickstarterForum.org at the end of January. Jake had left some really helpful commentary on a question that I had asked. He was advertising his company in his signature. I did some digging, liked what I saw and ultimately sent him a message on Feb 1st with some questions and the statement that I'd potentially be interested in purchasing his services through Backertree.
After a few more exchanges in which he responded within about a day, sometimes even multiple times in a day despite the large timezone difference between California (me) and Australia (Backertree). Jake and I worked out a slightly customized crowdfunding package for my project Flickerstrip. I paid $270 in full on Feb 5th. At which point he promised to provide me some advertising samples:
What I can do over the weekend is put together a few examples of advertising budget breakdowns with different ad spend options for you to look through so you can better understand the paid promotion side of things. I can have this finished on Monday morning
On Monday (Feb 8), I sent him another quick email asking a question about keeping my same Kickstarter account or rebranding it. I didn't mention the advertising budget, but he concluded the email reassuring me that it would be done soon:
I am working on some advertising options and a list of potential opportunities as well as a list of places that I have partnerships with that I can get a better advertising deals on for Flickerstrip. I am actually out of the office today but I will try to have everything finished off tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.
On Thursday, Feb 11th, I've still not received anything from him, but I sent him another email with a request for a quick, preliminary read of the campaign page (a part of the package we worked out). I didn't mention the promised advertising budget, my plate was full enough that I wasn't just waiting around for it to fall into my lap.
Five days later, on Feb 16th, I emailed a followup asking about the campaign page and the advertising bundle. He responded that they were ready and that he would send them over "in a few hours"
I do actually have the advertising documentation as well as some notes and a short review on your current campaign page. I can send these through in a few hours time (as I am going to head to the office soon).
Nothing until two days later when I get a strange email:
I am just getting in touch to let you know that I sent through an email a couple of hours ago but I am not sure if it has gone through. Please confirm you received the campaign review as well as the advertising examples documentation.
Of course, I hadn't gotten any emails and responded in kind. On Feb 21st, I send another email asking nicely what's going on and where those files are.
On Feb 24th I sent a long and somewhat scathing email summarizing what I've written about so far and requesting a refund for the package.
On Feb 25th, I finally receive an email (7 days after his last correspondence). It's a long and somewhat profuse apology that attributes the miscommunication to technical difficulties associated with migrating to a new system. He's contacting me from email@example.com where previously he was contacting me from firstname.lastname@example.org and says that emails to email@example.com have not been working.
Furthermore, he's included both the advertising budget and the campaign review that I've been waiting for. (Now 20 days and 13 days after they were respectively requested)
We set up a phone chat to discuss the campaign preparation as a whole for Monday, Feb 29th. At this point, I also send him my main press release for review. (sent on Feb 25th in a reply)
Fine, seems reasonable.. I've migrated things before and I know that it never goes as smoothly as planned. I decline his offer to refund me and opt to continue working with him in the hopes that correspondence will go smoothly hereon out.. but it was not to be.
Monday rolls around and when I ask about our scheduled phone call, I get this response:
I am actually getting behind on some of my crowdfunding work as Backertree has began to expand quite quickly. To combat this I am bringing in another crowdfunding consultant who is going to be taking over some of our clients, thus I will have more time to communicate and work with you and everyone else individually without the need to rush or delay any work.
He goes on to promise that he'll return the press release (among other things) to me by the next morning (by 9am):
I am going to get started on all of the required work tonight and I should be able to have the press release review, the website review, and the advertising suggestions to you by approx. 9am my time (GMT+9:30). If you would like to lock in and schedule a time to discuss your project in a live chat, I will be available to do so tomorrow at any time between 9am and 9pm (or alternatively, any day after that).
On March 3rd, he sends over one of the promised items (a day late). A more detailed Ad breakdown. A two page document with just a list of numbers pulled from the previous advertising document he provided me. There are a few additional numbers associated with some social media advertising.. but overall it's pretty unimpressive.
Three days later on March 6th he sends me the same document with a comment attached that makes it sound like he thinks it's new or different or has some added value. It's not, they're identical to the T. I replied mentioning this and asking about the press release that I'm still waiting on, but didn't get a response.
I sent him a few more things for review in the days following and finally, on March 8th I receive the following:
I must apologize for my availabilities over the last few days mate. I will be finishing off any outstanding work as well as the work that was sent through in your most recent email in the morning.
Not very helpful, but to his credit the next day I receive the first accurately predicted email on March 9th. It's long and to further to his credit, it has some useful answers to some of the questions I've been asking him. It seems like he's looked over the landing page I sent him previously, but his only comment is a minor visual fix. Regarding the ever-elusive press release that I've been waiting on for about 2 weeks he had this to say:
The first press release is on the right track as well. Yesterday, I sent through a copy to our media manager as he is more experienced with press outreach, press releases, and media relations based work but I am still awaiting his thoughts on that.
I read through the document several times and feel that the title, as well as the opening sentence could be better versed. I would try replacing 'up's the ante' with something more professional. Regarding the first opening sentence, I feel like it says too much (which can be fixed by either breaking it into 2 sentences, taking something out, or rephrasing how it is said.
I won't go too into detail until I hear back from someone more experienced as they can provide some more solid feedback but I will make sure to pass any information through as soon as it is received.
Okay, so he read it.. but needless to say, I was fairly disappointed as the review on this press release was holding up writing of all the remaining press releases.
Between the 9th and the 18th, he answers a few more questions for me, but skirts any inquiries about the status of the press release.
Finally, on March 19th I get this email along with a Dropbox link:
I'm just getting in touch to send through the press release review, Headtalker campaign update, an advertising update, a giveaway guide, and additional Flickerstrip project information. For ease of access, I have uploaded this information to a private dropbox folder which will be updated as more work is completed from my side.
Finally my wait is over! I click the link and eagerly wait as it loads, excited to finally get back on track with my campaign preparations.
When the page finally loads, however, it does so with only a lonely message in the middle of the screen: "This folder is empty"
I respond, saying as much and the response from Jake later that day (March 19th) is the last thing I've heard from him since.
I've just checked that link and it looks like it is empty as you said. I'm not quite sure what has happened but I will get back to you as soon as I get into the office. I apologize for any inconvenience Julian.
In the two weeks since, I sent him another long email, sternly criticizing his lack of responsiveness and failure to keep his own deadlines. For Flickerstrip, however, the campaign preparations are going great. Once I finally decided to no longer rely on any feedback from Jake, I've continued refining everything on my own steam and getting some feedback from friends and family.
In brief summary:
Feb 5th: Signed up for $270 package, advertising package is promised by Monday
Feb 11th: Requested quick read of campaign page (ad package 4 days late)
Feb 16th: Campaign review and ads will be sent "in a few hours" (ad package 9 days late)
Feb 25th: Finally receive review and ad package which is now 20 days late
Feb 29th: Promises press release review by 9am the next day
March 19th: Sends Dropbox link to empty folder (3 weeks after promised)
March 19th: Last correspondence from Jake