Why I wish I’d never backed the Gemini PDA campaign

In December, I had my first experience with Indiegogo, and I backed a campaign to purchase a Gemini PDA. To date, the campaign has generated $2,294,143 which is 284% of target. So there’s plenty of money sloshing around.

As of now, it is May 2018 and despite promises, and a product tracker that seems to be only consistent in its incorrectness, I still do not have my device. This is despite the fact that the Gemini PDA is now available to buy now with delivery mid-June. Initially I was happy to wait until I understood that the device worked but now I’m concerned that I’ve been bypassed. So here’s a lesson in customer service:

In this world where we live in a culture of ‘now’ and constant updates, the silence is disconcerting.

There seems to a precedent where they answer emails reactively when asked about the device. There’s nothing proactive. There is a facility on Indiegogo whereby companies can send updates, but these are coming less and less; only one in May. I’d rather see companies hire a temp or an admin person to look after this and send out proactive emails to update customers. Marketing isn’t difficult and there are plenty of good SaaS offerings for cheap.

I have had no email communication since January when I will get my order; in Indiegogo, it still shows as ‘Order Placed’ which means that it isn’t ready to be shipped yet. I was relying on a Facebook page on when I’d get my device. I’m writing this on 29th May, and this means it is not likely to get here by end of May, which is officially two days away. I feel fobbed off with a Facebook post that said devices would be released, but nothing individual. As a backer, I expect to be treated like an individual; what about people who aren’t on the Facebook page? I expect more communication than this, particularly in this tech-savvy, ‘share everything’ world we live in.

I was an Admin on the Facebook page, but I have taken the decision to remove myself from it. I’ve been as constructive as I can in sending feedback, but my goodwill hasn’t been reciprocated. Now it’s on general release with mid-June date and I still do not have mine. The website says ‘Available now’.
I am disappointed by the lack of communication and I can’t continue to be associated with this situation. Being admin of the Facebook group for Gemini PDA makes me part of it. It feels like I’m endorsing it by continuing to be admin, and I’m absolutely not. People shouldn’t be joining an FB group to get information about their orders, particularly when it involves hundreds of pounds. It’s not a small amount of money. I think I’m being treated in this way because I’m letting them, and I hope that this sends a message back to them regarding customer care and treating backers.
As for my device, if it ever arrives, I’ll probably stick it on eBay, unopened.
It’s not just the poor service that’s made me write this post. I saw a post entitled The Gemini PDA, the Perfect PC for People on Low Incomes? No, no, and no again. Planet haven’t proved themselves worthy yet. Their solution is just out on general release. I was poor – achingly poor – growing up in a rough part of Scotland. Being poor is a hundred thousand humiliations and I have suffered many of those, and I remember what it’s like to be hungry and cold. I still buy second-hand clothes to this day, and I think about every penny. The PDA isn’t cheap. For the poor, being recommended a device which costs hundreds of pounds isn’t going to lift people out of poverty. I lifted myself out of poverty by educating myself, and that meant better access to good libraries, with great facilities and long opening hours. It also helped the loneliness of poverty; you can’t just go and sit in a posh cafe and mingle, for example, so a free reading group where you weren’t expected to part with cash was a great way to spend an evening and certainly better than living in a cold flat. I had this experience and it pains me that the New York Times reported yesterday that libraries have had their funding cut by a third, which is a short-term decision which does not harness the opportunities offered by bringing educational facilities to the poorest.

I don’t believe that Gemini PDAs are a good option for the impoverished, at that price range, and certainly not given the ‘start up’ phase that they are in – if you want to call it that. There can be other, more robust, long-term solutions that are proven and earned trust to help Britain’s vulnerable.

As for me, I’m not sure if I will keep the device or put it, unopened, on eBay. I regret having taken the decision to buy it on Indiegogo and I should probably have got myself an expensive Bluetooth keyboard for my Google Pixel instead. That would really allow me to ‘Type and create on the move.’

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Why I wish I’d never backed the Gemini PDA campaign

  1. Jennifer, I am sorry for your experience and I am baffled that you have had it. I received mine a few weeks ago and am pretty happy with it. Don’t know why yours has not arrived.

  2. Dat Jen,
    Normally I don’t react to chat conversations and comments in chat rooms and groups, but reading your well founded comments on the costumer service of Planet Computers on their Gemini PDA startup I had to.

    I was very move by each word that you wrote. You seem like a very empathic human being that doesn’t let succes het in her way. Microsoft is very lucky to have you on board, with no disrepect meant to this Major League player in the IT sector ofcourse.

    I have been a keen user of the ‘Psion’. Thus, I was happily surprise to hear about its remake. I have backed my Gemini PDA in februari from the Netherlands and have seen my order delivery posponed twice. Like you I would like to teach PC a lesson on costumer service by cancelling my order but feel that it would hurt me more than them. In fact we have been informend that cancelling at this stage is not an option with a refund. Recelling ofcourse is but that would mean that we wheren’t that much interessted in acquiring this product at the first place. What I mean to say (from one good person to another) is: “don’t deprive yourself from noval work tool as this that we seemly deserve tot have”!

    I am very sure that your comments hasn’t fallen on death ears.

    With kind regards,

    Cornelis Brasem
    Pixelloader (new social media startup)

    • Thank you Cornelis – I think that this is one of the nicest emails I’ve ever read, and I appreciate your time and thought in putting this together. I hope you get your device too, and please let me know what you think when it arrives.
      I don’t actually work for Microsoft and I don’t represent them here; I just do a lot of volunteer technical work for them. I love the technical community and I meet a lot of kind hearts there. Thank you once again, Kind wishes, Jen

      • Since backing the Gemini PDA (Order ID: 66XX placed February 8, 2018) the experience has become prima fascia proof that Planet Computers over-promised (on features, some of which like apps have yet to be deployed) and under-delivered appallingly on fulfillment.
        Were I to receive Planet’s email that my order is locked before June 1st, I will be gobsmacked silly with surprise. I frankly don’t expect delivery (via Hong Kong to USA) before mid- to late-June.
        Nevertheless, I expect to enjoy my Gemini PDA / phone eventually.
        Would I back the Gemini knowing what I now know?
        Yes. Now; not early, meaning as units are shipping.
        Might I back the Gemini 2.0?
        Possibly. But conditionally. My two conditions are that Planet offers v2.0 backers BOTH a 30-day “no-questions asked’ return policy AND a full refund anytime before shipping guarantee.
        This backer won’t accept anything less than that from Planet Computers (if there’s a) next time.

  3. Since backing the Gemini PDA (Order ID: 66XX placed February 8, 2018) the experience has become prima fascia proof that Planet Computers over-promised (on features, some of which like apps have yet to be deployed) and under-delivered appallingly on fulfillment.
    Were I to receive Planet’s email that my order is locked before June 1st, I will be gobsmacked silly with surprise. I frankly don’t expect delivery (via Hong Kong to USA) before mid- to late-June.
    Nevertheless, I expect to enjoy my Gemini PDA / phone eventually.
    Would I back the Gemini knowing what I now know?
    Yes. Now; not early, meaning as units are shipping.
    Might I back the Gemini 2.0?
    Possibly. But conditionally. My two conditions are that Planet offers v2.0 backers BOTH a 30-day “no-questions asked’ return policy AND a full refund anytime before shipping guarantee.
    This backer won’t accept anything less than that from Planet Computers (if there’s a) next time.

  4. Jen, I completely agree with you that the Gemini would not be a suitable device for low income people. For the list price of a Gemini, you could buy a decent laptop that would be way more practical. At best the Gemini is a productivity device (or will be) – at worst, a piece of tech nostalgia. Either way, it’s a niche product for those who love their gadgets. But I’m still hoping Planet that can make this work despite the rocky start.

    P.S. Libraries change lives. I hate that we are leaving the world a poorer place for our kids and grandkids.

  5. I totally agree with you about Planet, the level of commitment to us backers is extremely poor. An update every week keeping the excited and personally invested (both heart and cash) backers informed is critical. Even if the update would say “we need more time for batch 3 because it’s a lot more work to ship batch 2 than we anticipated” people may not be happy but we would understand.

    I hope you keep it and get the value you were originally anticipating.

    For now I join you in the long wait of end of May knowing full well it will not arrive.

    John

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