The Coolest Cooler was once the most successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. More than a year and a half later, most backers haven't received their cooler, and the company has asked backers if they'd be willing to shell out more money to get their Coolests by the summer.
Ashlee Clark ThompsonAssociate Editor
Ashlee spent time as a newspaper reporter, AmeriCorps VISTA and an employee at a healthcare company before she landed at CNET. She loves to eat, write and watch "Golden Girls" (preferably all three at the same time). The first two hobbies help her out as an appliance reviewer. The last one makes her an asset to trivia teams. Ashlee also created the blog, AshleeEats.com, where she writes about casual dining in Louisville, Kentucky.
It's been a year since Coolest Coolers began heading out the factory door, but only a third of the folks who backed this project on Kickstarter have received their coolers. Now, the manufacturers of what was at one time Kickstarter's most successful campaign has riled up its backers even more.
Motherboard reported that the Coolest Company asked backers if they'd be willing to pay an additional $97 (about £68.24 or AU$126.64) to receive their coolers by July 4, according to a project update the company sent backers Tuesday. The additional fee would cover the remaining cost of producing and shipping the remaining coolers, Coolest founder Ryan Grepper said in the update.
"Right now we are just gauging interest as the suggestion initially came from backers," said Susan Towers, Coolest's marketing director. "It is just an option -- if a backer doesn't want to do it, we will still get them their Coolest."
Kickstarter backers were excited about the Coolest Cooler when it appeared on the crowdfunding site in 2014. Manufacturers planned to include a built-in blender, Bluetooth speaker and USB charger to create "a portable party." In just 52 days, 62,642 backers pledged $13,285,226 make the Coolest a reality.
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Units began to ship nearly a year ago, but about two-thirds of backers still haven't received their Coolest. The company blames the delays on a combination of underestimating how much it would actually cost to produce the cooler and a worker strike at a facility that produced parts of the Coolest. In December, early Coolest supporters were upset when the the product became available on Amazon before they received their coolers, a retail effort the Grepper now says will help "keep production up and running." In March, Grepper wrote in a letter to backers that the company is looking for investors to help complete outstanding orders.
"Why would I pay 95 more dollars to receive my cooler when my friend in Chicago got his 6 months ago for the agreed upon price?? I only pray there is a lawyer in this forum who's lining up a class action lawsuit for all the investors who have clearly been defrauded," a backer named Chris Salvado wrote.
"We believe we are on the right side as we continue to make best-faith efforts to fulfill the project," Towers said. "I would say to any backer considering (a lawsuit) that we at Coolest are incredibly grateful for their support when they backed this project on Kickstarter, and we share their frustration with the delays that we have experienced."