San Francisco headphones startup KANOA shuts down

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017
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7 On Your Side's Michael Finney helped consumers file a complaint after they bought earbuds from a San Francisco that closed abruptly.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The sudden suspension of a San Francisco start up is leaving consumers both frustrated and angry.

Some waited as long as 18 months for wireless earbuds that they pre-ordered and paid to get.

The closure came without warning. In fact, days earlier the company had announced it was finally shipping their product.

John Simpson enjoys his workouts and Joanne Berbower describes herself as leading an active lifestyle. Both saw an ad on Facebook from KANOA early last year for new wireless earbuds designed for the athletic.

"I wanted the headphones as mostly as a distraction for when I'm working out, just to play tunes," Simpson said.

"It looked to be a cutting edge material for next generation," Oakdale resident Joanne Berbower said.

The product can be seen on the gadget news site Gear Live.

Joanne pre-ordered three of them for a total of $448 and John bought one.

The estimated delivery date was April 2016, but instead Spring marked the beginning of a number of technical delays.

"It was going to be delayed until July," Simpson said.

"No, there's another stall. It's going to be most likely November," Berbower said.

"June or July came along and there was another shipping date that said the middle of August," Simpson said.

When August came, both received notice that shipments had at last begun.

"Yay, we were excited," Berbower said.

Two days later, the bubble burst. The announcement came on KANOA's website that the company hit a roadblock. Some investors had pulled out and the company posted a notice on their website that read: "Unfortunately without that investment, we do not have enough capital to stay operational while we find a solution."

"I should have had enough sense to have backed out of it and they should honor their commitments," Simpson said.

Customer support and social media had been shut down.

"There's no way to get hold of these people. You don't have a way to get your $458 back," Berbower said.

Seven On Your Side's Michael Finney went by KANOA's office in San Francisco to get answers, but it was locked up and the drapes for the most part were closed, and mail sat waiting to be picked up.

So, 7 On Your Side then went to the home of CEO Cival Van Der Lubbe, who lives on the top floor of a San Francisco high rise.

In an earlier interview, he told 7 On Your Side via a security guard he was not interested in talking with us.

"I really don't know what to believe," Simpson said.

"What do I do, that's a lot of money. To me I want my money back," Berbower said.

If you were one of those who pre-ordered the earbuds, you can file a complaint with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office as they have a consumer mediation unit that can help.

Click here to file a complaint.

Click here to contact Michael Finney and 7 on Your Side.