The 'Fyre Festival of French Press' Crowdfunded $3 Million But Never Delivered
After three fully funded campaigns, Rite Press says it's running out of money and just needs a little more.
Screenshot via Kickstarter
To be honest, the main reason I buy so much of my coffee is because I don’t want to clean the French press. No matter how quickly I try to dump out the grounds, they inevitably stick, only sliding out when I add more liquid, which becomes risky when I then have to empty the the trash. I could scoop them out with my hand, but I’d rather not. It’s lazy, but also, the French press is a pain.
Of course, I’ve been intrigued by ads for Rite Press, the “‘No Mess’ French Press” meant to solve the problem of coffee cleanup via its screw-off bottom. My morning annoyance is apparently shared by at least 24,000 people, who raised more than $3 million for the Rite Press. But almost a year after the product was promised to backers, it still hasn’t arrived. Now, the “#1 coffee product on crowdfunding of all time” is being called a “trainwreck” and a “scam,” with upset backers comparing it to Fyre Festival. (“New company tagline: ‘The Fyre Festival of French Press,’” one person wrote on Kickstarter.)
As reported by Business Insider, Rite Press quickly met its initial goal of $20,000 on Kickstarter, where it eventually raised over $1 million. By May 2018, Rite Press had also funded two more separate Indiegogo campaigns, which raised $1.2 million and $1.3 million respectively. Estimated delivery, according to the campaigns, was between March and July 2018. But judging by comments on both platforms and on social media, this hasn’t happened.
After throwing money at a product they expected for Christmas presents, for example, backers are pissed. Not getting your French press is objectively not as bad of being stranded on an island in the Bahamas with no food, water, or accommodations—but they’ve got a point. “I'm pretty sure that if I was given 4 million dollars, I could figure out a way to get everyone their plastic and metal coffee pots,” wrote a Kickstarter commenter earlier today.
Judging by other comments, people are filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, and recommending that others dispute the charges with their banks. Some users are annoyed at the crowdfunding sites for a lack of action on their end. Backers told Business Insider that they don’t plan on backing campaigns ever again.
When the Fyre Festival organizers ran out of money, they convinced wannabe-attendees to load more money onto wristbands, even after they’d already spent thousands on tickets. In true Billy McFarland fashion, Rite Press is asking for more, too. “Right now, our biggest challenge is funding,” founder Sargam Patel said in a video earlier this month. If everyone waiting for their Rite Press donated $30 more, Patel suggested in the video, they’d get their coffee pot. (This idea, he said, was “kind of a non-starter” for Kickstarter’s legal team.)
Given that backers were promised a press if they put up $30 or more, that would put the total cost of a Rite Press at $60, minimum. A standard French press might be annoying, but you can pick one up for around $30. If you’re one of the crowdfunding suckers currently hunting for an alternative, a $50 plastic version of the Rite Press can be found on Amazon; however, some users have speculated that it was made when Rite Press couldn’t deliver on its metal versions. And while according to Amazon I could get it tomorrow, the reviews say it’s not great.
Seems like the Rite Press might have gotten it all wrong.