back to article ZX Spectrum Vega Plus backers complain of months-long refund delays

Backers of the troubled ZX Spectrum Vega+ handheld gaming console have told The Register of long delays and seemingly ignored messages when requesting refunds from the company behind the project, Retro Computers Ltd. A year ago the public was invited to pledge money towards creating a modern reboot of the venerable 1980s ZX …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    21st century update of an old saying ...

    Never crowdfund more than you can afford to lose.

    1. Apple2

      Re: 21st century update of an old saying ...

      I Posted 3 TIMES concerning the PSION/Gemini project citing the fact that one of the key people in that project was on this project.

      All three posts (or was it 4) were rejected.

      In the end some of the salient points from my posts were posted under the name of Timnevins - OK my posts were longer but they could tell me to cut them down.

      Lets see if this get's through the censors

      1. Sam Liddicott

        Re: 21st century update of an old saying ...

        such warnings by you and/or others influenced me to stay my hand.


    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: 21st century update of an old saying ...

      Never crowdfund at all. It's just a bad idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Never crowdfund at all. It's just a bad idea

        Bit dogmatic, no ?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop bitching

    Crowdfunding is just a hipster term for an unsecured online loan. You took a gamble you'd get something earlier and cheaper than the masses and you lost. Tough. if you gamble or speculate then expect to lose occasionally so suck it up,l learn a valuable life lesson, move on and FFS stop whining like children.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Stop bitching

      "Crowdfunding is just a hipster term for an unsecured online loan. You took a gamble you'd get something earlier and cheaper than the masses and you lost."

      While this may be true, it doesn't follow that everyone should just suck it up and stop complaining. If you lend £10 to a friend and they don't pay you back, you're well within your right to nag them about it even though there is no contract and no legal recourse. If you borrow from a loan shark, again there may be no legal contract but you shouldn't be surprised if they come around and threaten to break your kneecaps. Unsecured loans don't mean no complaints and no consequences. In this case, both the people who took the loans and the people who facilitated it are still active in communication (to at least some extent), so why should everyone who paid out money be expected to just pretend nothing ever happened?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stop bitching

        "Unsecured loans don't mean no complaints and no consequences"

        I'm sorry, but they do. If you want to get your money back or equivalent collateral then have a legally binding contract. If you just send money to some bunch of strangers in the hope of getting a toy 6 months down the line and it doesn't pan out then thats just tough luck. Complain all you want , it will make the square root of bugger all difference.

    2. CaptainBlack

      Re: Stop bitching

      I took that risk, knowing full well that there was a chance I may never get my "perk".

      What myself and other backers are finding objectionable is being lied to, and misinformed at every turn. If they intended to ship the product at the end of Februrary, why are they only today posting an update showing box designs in Photoshop?

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Stop bitching

      Crowdfunding is like angel investing except getting a cut of the profits you get a discount off a crappy gadget, or bitter disappointment, or both.

      The only people who really profit from crowdfunding are the site operators who get to skim cash off both ends. From the donators who give money, and from the money they eventually release to the people begging for it. I wonder if I can crowdfund a rival crowdfunding service.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Slightly ironic that the first time I tried to post a comment, I got a 404 from El Reg.

    I still think the Vega Plus will turn up in some shape or form - one day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 404

      And I like to hope Donald Trump might turn out to be a decent human being, unfortunately it's not looking good for you or I

  4. Joefish

    Given that a crowdfunding is an investment...

    Exactly what is anyone telling their credit card company is grounds for a refund?

    1. GingerOne

      Re: Given that a crowdfunding is an investment...

      It's not an investment though. It's buying a product like any other purchase. The only difference is that you are buying the product before it's been made, knowing that your money will pay for the manufacture.

      Crowdfunding is the wrong term really.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Given that a crowdfunding is an investment...

      It's not an investment. It's cash for hype. Sometimes the hype is realised. More often than not it isn't.

    3. bobmajors

      Re: Given that a crowdfunding is an investment...

      The credit card companies and Paypal are viewing it as failure to deliver. It seems that as they have given multiple failed delivery dates it changed the deal from being an "idea" to a tangible product.

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first


    They seem to be going for a total simulation of "Uncle" Clive's business model.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Uncle" Clive's" business model.

      More like the Ferengi...

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: "Uncle" Clive's" business model.

        I remember ordering one of the original ZX Spectrums with a whole 16KB RAM. So delayed that they gave me a free ZX Printer (worth every penny).

        At least it turned up though!

        1. Zog_but_not_the_first

          Re: "Uncle" Clive's" business model.

          Ah, the ZX Printer. I love the smell of ozone in the morning.

        2. BugMan

          Re: "Uncle" Clive's" business model.

          Hang on! You got a free ZX-Printer? That's just not fair, I still have my serial number 403 ZX-Spectrum (complete with cockroach) and got nothing in compensation for the wait, not even an apology. Where do I appeal? Is it too late?

          1. Michael Strorm

            Re: "Uncle" Clive's" business model.

            @Bugman; "I still have my serial number 403 ZX-Spectrum (complete with cockroach)"

            Strange, I thought it was the QL that was notorious for bugs in the ROM.

    2. Jess

      Re: a total simulation of "Uncle" Clive's business model.

      Damn, beat me to it.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Amazing

      Tradition. Something Britain always was very good at.

  6. msknight Silver badge

    I don't think this will ever come

    I was an early backer, but got a refund when it was clarified that the video output was composite and not digital. However, I'm still getting the campaign e-mails so my nose is firmly embedded in the drama.

    So far, the little YouTube videos showing the product are low-grade amateur (even lower than my pathetic YouTube efforts) which leaves me to suspect that they've spent all the money already... I mean, they can't even afford a tripod. Nothing of any significant substance is shown. One of the Horace games loading and that's about it. They should be in a position to deliver a video containing something of serious substance by now.

    The promised list of confirmed games still isn't presented and the mention of completely having to re-write the firmware... well... the quality coming out of them... I just don't buy any of it. I've got a nasty feeling they'll go to the wall before this product sees the light of day.

    I have memories of a certain Acorn advertisement which presented a graph of reliability and failed units of popular machines at the time....

  7. stephanh

    Why I wouldn't "invest" on IndieNoGo

    Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo doesn't even require that any campaign has something of even a half-way sane business plan. That's explicitly one of the "advantages" that Indiegogo is touting to its potential campaign owners.

    In addition, Indiegogo will assist campaigns in their PR, thereby making even the most amateurish campaign look good.

    Recall that Indiegogo gets their money if the campaign reaches its funding goal. If any "investor" ever gets anything out if it is irrelevant for Indiegogo's bottom line.

  8. RhoganJosh

    I really wanted one of these devices, but due to my natural tight fistedness I decided to wait until the finished product is released...doubt that will happen now.

    Another unfortunate side effect of these schenanigans is that if someone ever wanted to pick up the idea in the future, and have a serious attempt at doing it, it will be forever tainted by association to this calamity. And that will always hinder future crowd funding efforts.

    Bad show all round.

  9. James Hughes 1

    "Invested 0.5M"

    Hmm, 0.5M doesn't buy you an awful lot nowadays.

    Just design and injection mould for the case would take most of that.

    Those people complaining of non-delivery and where has the money gone has no idea of the cost or timescales required to make something like this. Unfortunately, neither do the makers of the damn things. 0.5M was never going to be enough cash to do this, and the timescales are clearly hopeless.

    Seems to be a thing with crowdfunding - lots of people thinking they can do better and cheaper, then finding out is not so easy to take a product to production.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've only even seen pictures of this thing with Skool Daze plastered on the front. Always wonder how difficult it would be to type all the teachers names.

  11. Spartacus Mills

    The Indiegogo page clearly states on this project that for a £100 contribution a backer will: "Own a first production run Vega+". It's there in black and white. That's a clearly defined incentive to part with cash, is it not? According to most repliers above, RCL should be within their rights to turn around and say 'ah well, bad luck folks...that's the risk of crowdfunding!' and not deliver anything. To me it just doesn't sound right.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one thinking.....

    This website is a tech website and based on the comments i have seen over the years there is a fair few of us who know about some computer type things... the rest of us at least think we know about that stuff.

    So.... while reading just about every story on this, i am thinking;- Isn't it just an emulator running on a raspberry pi... couldn't i get that up and running in about a week or so. Ok, for the casing, i have no real idea about that, but i do know people in China who could probably tell me where and how much.

    Write off the crowd nonsense and build your own.

    1. Michael Strorm

      Re: Am I the only one thinking.....

      Indeed. That's pretty much the point I made too, a couple of weeks back.

  13. steviebuk Silver badge

    Never fund anything on Indiegogo that has the option "Flexible Funding". It means if they don't meet their target they get to keep your money anyway. I believe this was on "Flexible Funding" so I avoided it. Glad I did.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shocking Treatment to good folk.

    Isn't it time that instead of posting videos of handheld devices sitting in a Pile On youtube that they just hurry it up and box and post to those who were kind enough to back such a project.

    Instead of thinking ahead and not making the whole debacle so public they chose to include the backer in a soap opera that will set crowd funding trust back years. should be royally ashamed of yourselves. [SAD FACE]

  15. Horaced

    A delightful romp with stupids

    I was an early supporter of this device, having successfully backed the previous Vega. When a change in directorship occurred last year there was also a sharp change in the politic. Removed were milestones and technical prowess - a sharp blow. In their place came delaying tactics and a trickle of subpar information, including poorly edited videos, missed self-imposed deadlines, a policy of slow refunding (you had to hassle with a threat of legal investigation to get something moving), and baffling communication to backers in the official comments section on Indiegogo, using a "we'll show the world how great we are" (sans evidence), yet in the other instance taking backers to task for questioning their abilities at all, citing it as interference directly attributable to a delay in product delivery!

    Somewhere in the backstories of the current directors lies a kernel of sensibility, that in the multitude of storied failures they achieved in a lifetime of running businesses into the ground was that seed, that nub of doing the right thing, and no doubt in the early days these efforts drew delights, the optimistic meetings sung in new offices, the fine manifestos caught from the copier, praising coffee rounds and the long telephone conversations about what could be done and how much they would do. Yes!

    In the middle phases the meetings came to stalls, concerning a precise detail; A placement of a button, a supplier and their claim. But more and more the meetings were about the campaign itself, the backers and the previous directors, and there followed numerous legal processes. So that the real business was between lawyers, and the politic had moved on from being in control of a technology business to being the administrators of a well worn practice; Delay, draw salaries, claim and defend legal actions.

    There is no real obligation to deliver under the current terms of the Indiegogo contract. Although it has been closed now, the nature of an 'in-demand' campaign affords additions of money in excess of what was originally required. Without an umpire outside of mainstream media - or costly legal advice - it's fair game between the suits and the consumers in what has become a very rotten business.

    And that has been the Vega+ game.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A: Stay true to Sir Clive's legacy.

    B: Drop the egos. Your fighting over true fans money. If you all work together and stop the backstabbing this product will be a success. Half your battle is won having ownership of such an iconic brand, the damned thing will sell like hot cakes, get it out there. The young me would have had his mind blown at the possibility of a handheld Spectrum with so many games on board. The biggest selling point is that sentimentality. Then the youngsters will take an interest seeing their dads playing it.

  17. Joefish

    This affair is older and more childish than you can possibly imagine.

    You do realise that this whole fudge cluster kicked off at exactly the point where someone tried to follow up on the ZX Spectrum model with a Commodore 64 equivalent?

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