How To Report Stoic Studio to Kickstarter and the BBB

I just discovered that Stoic Studios has decided to be a language lawyer (See their comment (screenshot) on backer-only update #62) and claim that, since they never explicitly said I’d get DRM-free copies of The Banner Saga, episodes 2 and 3 for increasing my pledge to $50 (which is the only reason I did it), they’re free to offer me Steam keys (worse than worthless) instead.

(They also seem to have decided against offering the Linux version of the first episode outside Steam, though I haven’t been able to find any clear answer on that one. Turns out that it’s only GOG that doesn’t have it. While I’m still waiting for the new build that was just released to Steam users, an older Linux build with serious performance issues is available via the original backer download link which I’d forgotten about after redeeming the GOG key to spare their bandwidth costs. Possibly a bit of an internal communication issue since the person I was talking to wasn’t initially aware of that.)

I think this is, at best, deceptive advertising and, in my personal opinion, it’s a flat-out bait-and-switch tactic, even if they didn’t originally intend it to be.

I’ve already tweeted about how this makes me wary of trusting any future Kickstarter projects if it’s allowed to stand, reported them to Kickstarter, and reported them to the Better Business Bureau, but the latter two could potentially trip up some people, so here’s a guide:

Kickstarter

UPDATE 2016-04-02: Added the “Report this Project to Kickstarter” steps and a reference to Kickstarter’s terms of use.

  1. Log into Kickstarter
  2. Visit the “Campaign” tab on the project page
  3. Scroll to the bottom and click the “Report This Project to Kickstarter” button
  4. Select “Post-funding Issues” and click “Report project”
  5. Visit the Contact Page (“Support” in the site footer)
  6. Select “My pledge · X pledges”
  7. Choose “The Banner Saga” from the resulting list
  8. Select “Reward” from the “What is your question about?” box
  9. Select “Creator accountability” from the resulting submenu
  10. Click the green “Open a support ticket”

When you’re writing your support request:

  • Make it clear that you’ve already tried to work it out with Stoic directly and they told you to escalate it to Kickstarter.
  • Draw as many comparisons as possible between Stoic’s behaviour and what the “Creator accountability” text above the form says.
  • Draw attention to the fact that Kickstarter’s Terms of Use state that a creator must “[have] been honest, and have made no material misrepresentations in their communication to backers” and state that you believe this rule has been violated.
  • Be sure to remind Kickstarter that, if they allow Stoic to get away with playing technicalities like this, then you’ll have trouble trusting any Kickstarter project (since, obviously, it’d only be safe to back them if you hired a lawyer to vet the text of the Kickstarter listing.)

Better Business Bureau

NOTE: While I’m no expert, my understanding is that the BBB cares about where the business is located… so people outside the U.S. and Canada should still be able to file a complaint.

UPDATE: Stoic LLC is now in the Better Business Bureau database, so you are advised to use this direct link to the Central Texas BBB’s “File a complaint against Stoic LLC” page. The steps in the wizard will vary slightly, but it’s still the same basic process as covered in this guide.

  1. Open the Better Business Bureau’s complaint wizard
  2. Answer Yes to “US or Canada?” (They’re in Texas) and choose “business’s product or service (other than a vehicle or cell phone)”
  3. According to their privacy policy, their legally-registered business name is “Stoic LLC“, so enter that in the search field and click “Search”
  4. The BBB doesn’t yet have Stoic on file, so click the “Enter Business Information” button.
  5. Fill out the following information, which I’ve taken from Bloomberg Business’s listing:
    Business Name:
    Stoic LLC
    Online Only Business:
    Yes
    Address:
    1103 West 39th 1 half Street, Apartment A
    City:
    Austin
    State/Province:
    Texas
    Postal Code:
    78756
    Phone Number:
    512-573-2749
    E-Mail Address:
    help@stoicstudio.com (source)
    Website URL:
    http://stoicstudio.com/
  6. Click the submit button and then “Continue with this Business”
  7. Make sure the complaint type is “Consumer to Business” and then fill in your contact information. (If you have multiple e-mail addresses, I suggest using the same one entered into the Stoic forums)
  8. On the “Your Complaint” page, I suggest the following…
    Complaint Type
    Select “Contract Issues” since this is a case of them trying to unilaterally reinterpret the meaning of a prior “In exchange for $X, we will give you Y if we succeed” agreement.
    How would you like this matter resolved?
    Select “Refund” since they already have your money and there’s no “Partial Refund” option.
    The freeform ‘problem’ and ‘requested solution’ inputs
    We can’t guarantee that everyone who reads this will be familiar with Steam, so be sure to explain what it is and why you don’t consider a Steam key an acceptable substitute for a DRM-free release.
    Also, if you received a physical reward for pledging $50+, you’ll at least want to tell them you’re OK with them deducting the production and shipping costs from the refund you’re demanding.
  9. Fill out the following under complaint details:
    Product/Service Purchased:
    The Banner Saga
    Purchase Date:
    April 20, 2012
    Date Problem First Occurred:
    March 24, 2016 (When their comment was posted)
    Purchase Price:
    (How much you backed for)
    Disputed Amount:
    (The size of the refund you want)
    Payment Made
    Yes
    Payment Method
    Credit Card
    Are you willing to speak to the media regarding your complaint
    Yes
    Date of first complaint
    (When you first complained to Stoic)
    Upload a supporting document
    (A screenshot of the conversation)
  10. Confirm that your submission is correct

P.S. Regarding Twitter…

When you’re tweeting about how this makes it hard to trust both @StoicStudio AND @Kickstarter, don’t forget to actually @mention them rather than just saying their names. (I did)

Also, since the relevant update is backers-only, attach a screenshot of the comment where Stoic says they won’t honour the interpretation of their promise that a reasonable person of sound mind would settle on.

CC BY-SA 4.0 How To Report Stoic Studio to Kickstarter and the BBB by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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One Response to How To Report Stoic Studio to Kickstarter and the BBB

  1. Céline .S. Sauvé says:

    “P.S. Regarding Twitter…”
    @stoicstudio and @BannerSaga (and even their Publisher, @vs_evil) just block people on Twitter. The Publisher apparently does it when STOIC tells them to, since I’d never even attempted to contact them before being blocked by them.

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