Customers tell 7 On Your Side they're still waiting for Coolest Cooler

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Customers tell 7 On Your Side they're still waiting for Coolest Cooler
One of the largest Kickstarter campaigns in the company's history has backers of the Coolest Cooler still waiting for their product.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It was one of the largest Kickstarter campaigns in the company's history. Tens of thousands of people thought they were getting a steal when they backed an innovative new product. 7 On Your Side found out more than a year later, they're still waiting to get their deal.

Thousands backed the Coolest Cooler to be among the first to get an ice chest with all the bells and whistles. However, many of the backers are still steaming hot over the Coolest Cooler.

In a promotional video, creator Ryan Grepper promises it's not the same as an old fashioned ice chest. It has many features like a removable bluetooth speaker for music, an 18-volt rechargeable blender, a waterproof USB charger and more.

In all, 62,642 consumers would back the project on Kickstarter, raising a then record $13.28 million in 2014.

Pacifica resident Kevin Kuenstler said, "It's a very cool product."

San Mateo resident Bob Stine said, "What I like about it most is the ease of moving it around."

Coolest Cooler backer Tim Trainum said, "It would be fun. We go to the beach a lot."

But taking the Coolest Cooler to the beach would have to wait. Trainum says 50,000 backers paid at least $185 and were promised delivery a year ago, but problems with the motor and then a factory strike in China caused delays. Many became angry when the product began selling on Amazon.

7 On Your Side obtained this audio the company sent to backers in November. Grepper said, "I'll tell you that this decision was not made lightly, but ultimately, we want to make certain we keep the lights on."

When Trainum heard that, his patience ran out. He said, "The straw that broke the camel's back was when they said, 'But we're running out of money and we do have a bunch of coolers, so we are going to sell them on Amazon.'"

He launched this petition demanding the original backers get their coolers first. Pacifica resident Kevin Kuenstler was among the signers.

"I'm definitely upset about it. I wish they would take care of their backers," Kuenstler said.

Bob Stine of San Mateo signed it too. He told 7 On Your Side, "Not only had we not gotten ours yet, but somebody was going to get them before us."

The company declined an on camera interview, but says a deal it signed before the delays required it to sell on Amazon. The delay doesn't surprise researcher Ethan Mollick. The University of Pennsylvania professor found the more money raised, the more likely a Kickstarter project will be delayed.

"They try and add features in, they try to make things more complicated, that also delays production," Mollick said.

Shortly after the petition, Stine and Trainum received their coolers and love them. But Kuenstler is still waiting.

In a written statement the Coolest Cooler told us, "While we do have a ways to go before we fulfill all the backers, everyone will get their Coolest."

Kuenstler said, "Now it's just a sit and wait game."

The company won't answer how many of the 35,000 coolers it says it has made have gone to backers, but expects all the backers to receive coolers by the spring.

If you have a consumer concern, contact Michael Finney here.