back to article 'Clive, help us,' say empty-handed ZX Spectrum reboot buyers

Customers of Retro Computers ltd, the ZX Spectrum themed reboot firm, have now set up a website asking Sir Clive Sinclair to intervene in the non-delivery debacle. The petition asking the Spectrum daddy to get involved was set up by disgruntled RCL customer Graham Kenny at the web address CliveHelpUs.website, with text on its …

  1. Lee D Silver badge

    I'd be much more worried about Indiegogo than I would be about any board meeting that happens AFTER.

    Honestly, if you only discuss such things in board meetings, one every so-many-months, it's no wonder that the project is mismanaged.

    You could see debt collectors come and take things on Friday/Monday. And you're pushing major issues to a month from now?

    I doubt Clive will do much, if anything. He probably gets paid whether or not they go bust, and it's not like the Sinclair name suffers being tarnished 30+ years after they sold off everything interesting.

    Just give it up already. The company will be bust before that meeting is held.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      But we need to claim our salaries before we go bust.

      Not long now.

    2. HmmmYes

      'Sinclair name suffers being tarnished 30+ years '

      It didnt suffer whne he was actually selling stuff!

      Taking money money then not delivering spectrums.

      Shagging strippers.

      The QL microdrive ... eurgh.

      That death trap go kart.

      Sir Clive is nontarnishable.

    3. Velv Silver badge
      Headmaster

      "You could see debt collectors come and take things on Friday/Monday."

      You can't just "send in debt collectors". Indiegogo will first need a Court judgement that the debt is owed, something that is likely to take months. Collection of the debt can then be attempted, and only if that fails can they apply for a writ in the High Court for enforcement, at which point the Sheriffs can be engaged to remove goods.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        The process isn't that drawn out, and Indiegogo are ahead of the game.

        (debt collectors != bailiffs).

        And even court-order -> bailiff can be less than 7 days now. It wouldn't be hard to take it to court and get an order on the basis that they can't deliver...

        But Indiegogo's threat was a collection agency if nothing delivered by the end of May. You can do that one phone call and have someone hassling your business for payment. To get from there to a court doesn't take long. From there to forcible removal is just 7 days.

        As I said, they "could see debt collectors come and take things on Friday/Monday" if they co-operate... and they could see bailiffs take even without co-operation before that meeting.

        And most of the people involved could claim on small-claims, too, and follow the same procedure. It can get real messy real fast.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        You can't just "send in debt collectors". Indiegogo will first need a Court judgement that the debt is owed

        And for that they will need to prove it is a debt owed to them, that they can recover the money investors put in, or they are empowered to act on behalf of investors.

        I am not convinced Indiegogo have any legitimate grounds to "send in debt collectors" or do much else beyond recovering any fees RCL may owe them but I guess we will all find out when their deadline arrives.

        If nothing else, when this sorry affair eventually ends up in court, it might clarify what obligations and responsibilities each party has in a crowd-funding arrangement, including the facilitators who get rich off that while usually distancing themselves from, and washing their hands of, any problems which arise.

        I suspect it is fear that the whole house of cards is about to come tumbling down which has Indiegogo presenting a pro-active front.

        I need to buy some more popcorn.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. wolfetone

    It looks like Sir Clive has already had £10,000 out of the Indiegogo pot for "consultancy fees". http://88.80.20.3/bank/rcl_bank_20160513-20160610_p1.jpg.

    What's more surprising is that, in a month, Mr.Levy needed a total of £35,000 from RCL for consultancy fees in the first month alone. http://88.80.20.3/bank/rcl_bank_20160513-20160610_p3.jpg.

    Basically, the biggest amount of funds that have left RCL have gone to Sinclair, Levy, Jako, and two solicitors. It does not look good.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Consultant to a crowd-funded hardware startup: nice job if you can get it.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Well, to be fair to him, Clive Sinclair is definitely an expert on missing deadlines on new hardware that's been pre-ordered...

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Not even the QL was late by two years.

          1. HmmmYes

            They are working hard on a drive that is worse than the microdrive ....

            1. RancidRodent

              Microdrives.

              The microdrives on my 34 year old (purchased new) QL still work perfectly well.

              1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

                Re: Microdrives.

                As do those on my ICL OPD

              2. Michael Strorm

                Re: Microdrives.

                @RancidRodent; Yes, I heard that the Microdrives were quite good once they got the flaws ironed out, but I assume that by then their reputation had already been sealed.

                Unfortunately, Sinclair has no-one to blame for that but themselves for rushing the QL out way, *way* before it was ready. (Prompted, no doubt, by the fact that when it was launched and they started taking orders- for claimed delivery within "28 days"- they apparently didn't even have a complete working prototype(!)).

  3. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    For reasons El Reg hasn’t been made aware of, it will also be sent to us

    Likely because of the coverage you've provided and there are probably more than a few commentards as signatories.

  4. DNTP

    Just disappointed

    That they didn't go with CliveHelp.us

  5. Stuart Halliday

    IIRC Clive was famous for delaying his products.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Moral of the story...

    Don't pay up front for something that doesn't even exist yet. Not unless you're really, really, really, REALLY sure. And if the project is hosted on IndieGoGo reconsider your options once again.

    Seriously though, I can't believe how many would fall for this sort of thing. Even in this day and age. All it took was a close look at the comment section of several totally random IndieGoGo projects: most of them all shared a disturbing aspect: customers complaining about delayed project(s) and no delivery. And not just a handfull of projects: nearly every (random) project I looked at would feature a noticeable amount of unsatisfied followers who complained about those issues.

    I can understand this to happen on a few projects, and I also fully recognize the aspect that people are generally more inclined to respond when they have a complaint than if they're satisfied. All true.

    Yet even so... so many complaints about non-delivery can't be good either way.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Moral of the story...

      Indiegogo is designed for the projects that are too speculative or obviously fraudulent for Kickstarter.

      That's why they still allow projects to set-up where they'll take your money even if the project doesn't achieve sufficient funds to hit its goal.

      And of course why they use the lying sack of shit weasel word "perk" for what you get when if the product actually ships. In this case, they worded their emails as "order accepted", which meant the judge wouldn't let them rely on the Indiegogo weaseliness (if that's a word).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moral of the story...

        @I ain't Spartacus; "Indiegogo is designed for the projects that are too speculative or obviously fraudulent for Kickstarter."

        Which category do you think Bleen falls into?

  7. adam payne Silver badge

    Indiegogo has promised to send in debt collectors if RCL fails to deliver the Vega+ console by the end of this month.

    Not without going to court first you aren't.

    The end of this month is going to come and then go just like every other deadline they have had.

    It's time for them to refund whatever is left.

    1. wolfetone

      "It's time for them to refund whatever is left."

      There's about £300 left. If that.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The court might be in a position to siphon back the money that Levy siphoned off to his other companies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can send in a debt collection agency to go after them before a court order is issued. You just can't force entry to a property and cease assets without a court order.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...and on and Ariston

      "It's time for them to refund whatever is left."

      As someone noted last time (or was it the time before?), what they're likely concealing at this stage is that there *is* nothing left except an old button and a moth.

  8. karlkarl Silver badge

    The world was a different place back then

    Nowadays a somewhat trivial piece of hardware is impossible to put out because of greed, idiots and bureaucracy.

    If it was like it is now way back then, we would probably still not even have calculators.

    Us plebs are only allowed to *CONSUME!!!* not make.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: The world was a different place back then

      Always been that way.

      The 80's were rife with software publishing houses that put out titles, raked in the money, didn't pay staff or suppliers, paid their shareholders and CEOS, then declared bankruptcy, shut up shop, started a new company, hired the same people, bought the assets back, continued trading with no debt.

      The whole of the Speccy era was like that, ironically. It's not a new tactic at all. And it's been done a LOT. The OpenPandora project a few years back was basically identical.

    2. RayG

      Re: The world was a different place back then

      "Us plebs are only allowed to *CONSUME!!!* not make."

      I beg your pardon?

      Cooking up your own devices is easier than ever with lower-than-ever cost barriers to entry. Custom circuit boards are down to a few £, FPGAs even let self-taught hobbyists develop new processor architectures - equivalent to custom chips - or process signals at amazingly high data rates and bandwidths. At the "because we can" end there's even a surprisingly thriving scene of people building entirely new computer designs from the ground up with logic chips. Frankly the Spectrum clone IS trivial compared to the stuff that crops up every week on the electronics makers' blogs. Just because YOU didn't make anything this week didn't mean nobody else did. Now stop whining and go join them.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'm convinced they'll deliver.

    Please reply below with your offers of bridges and perpetual motion machines.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: I'm convinced they'll deliver.

      I'll have your garden up to RHS Gold Standard and your driveway resurfaced next Tuesday for just two grand but you'll have to front-up £500.

      'Take the money and run scams' have probably been around ever since anyone had anything which could be taken.

      We need to take a serious look at what part crowd-funding facilitators play in misleading investors. Too often it seems they take a bold 'you can trust us that things won't go bad" stance with "but, when they do, that's your problem, not ours' only found in the small print.

  10. msknight

    Software problems now

    The latest delays are said to be because they've been forced to produce a license for every game being put forward on the platform. And yes, they should already have this, but no, there's a long story behind why they don't.

    Chatter now, is that they'll release the hardware without any games on board. But anything can only be believed when it's seen.

    I've gained two stone from all the popcorn I've been eating.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Software problems now

      @msknight; "Chatter now, is that they'll release the hardware"

      That sounds optimistic.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Software problems now

      What they're saying is that a former-director ran around all the rightsholders and is convincing them to withdraw the rights.

      This is a big allegation which requires some big proof.

      But that aside - if you have a right to use a game, then you have a right to use a game. Worded anywhere near sensibly, the rightsholders can't just unilaterally revoke that right for no reason.

      My guess is that they never had the rights at all, ever, never sought them, and now someone's going around going "You know your games are being sold over here, don't you?" and that's gaining them EXPLICIT refusals to use the property in that way from the rightsholders.

      For all the bluster, they have no answer - they didn't have the rights. Then they claimed they did. Now suddenly it's all the fault of "some other guy" that they don't any more.

      Either you have them, or you don't. If you don't, you can't distribute that thing (abandonware has no basis in law - no ability to gain permission does not mean you have permission). So unless they had 1000 signed, sealed pieces of paper on their desk for all the games they wanted to distribute, and somehow someone has not only stolen those bits of paper, but returned to the rightsholders, convinced them a contract doesn't exist, torn up all evidence of the bits of paper, and then all 1000 of them colluded to keep that quiet... then it's a nonsense.

      At the very least, if they have ONE signed contract with a rightsholder, they could tell you the name of the game it was for. They haven't. They were just hoping to slap out all the devices, stick a copy of World of Spectrum's archives on it, sell it for profit and be gone before anyone noticed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Software problems now

        @Lee D; Questionable practices over the rights to games? I'm shocked- *shocked*!- to hear such accusations aimed at such a reputable company.

        You must be thinking of the dubious types who were involved in some shady practices over the games in a *totally* unrelated console known as the "Spectrum Vega".

        Yes, I know the names are similar, but the "Vega+" has a "+" in it that stands for "plus, you can totally trust us this time!", so you know they're good for it.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Software problems now

        It seems they had gained the rights for the Vega but nobody (or nearly nobody) was paid, so now programmers are explicitly stating RCL don't have rights for the Vega+ just in case RCL claim they have the rights for the Vega line of consoles.

        Maybe this is part of the reason for a Vega+ V2.

      3. SeanR

        Re: Software problems now

        the best part was when RCL admitted to only having licencing deals with 4 of the 140 rights-holders, for the original zx vega collection of 1000 games, in April 2016...

        they admit they had to replace games, that have been withdrawn, over the last two years. They knew permission had been withdrawn for 400 games.

        if they found 400 replacements, they're licenced

        if the other 600 hadn't been withdrawn, theyre still licenced

        because of the licencing deal for the original zx vega

        Anyway this all started when some reposted the original games list as a "leaked zx vega plus games list", they panicked when they realised that we knew they didn't have licences for some or all of them

        if that's not true

        why did RCL miss the announced delivery date of 8th-12th of May?

    3. SeanR

      Re: Software problems now

      release it without games?

      they cant even take photos of it...

    4. John70

      Re: Software problems now

      Chatter now, is that they'll release the hardware without any games on board

      Very doubtful that the hardware even exists. They will not release any new photos of the device or packaging or a new video of the thing working.

  11. werdsmith Silver badge

    RCL have now delivered some perks (Roll of Honour listings on website in return for backing a Vega+ or giving them a tenner.

    So they will be telling IndieGogo that they have met their requirements.

    I don't believe they are able to complete this project, all funds have been squandered.

    As I was working close the the factory that was doing the PCB/SMT for the the 50 prototype run when it was being done. I was very tempted to have a look in their skip.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Given that a court has already ruled that the Indiegogo part constitutes an order?

      Highly doubtful they'll be able to get away with that - Indiegogo will screw them to the wall just to avoid the lawsuits from the consumers.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Next perk

      They'll ship boxes.

      Empty of course.

    3. John70

      Roll of Honour listings on website

      Wasn't the Roll of Honour supposedly to be on a chip in the device itself?

      The website just seems to be a cop out to be seen as "delivering" something.

  12. x 7

    I don't understand why anyone went into this expecting a usable product. These delays shouldn't be any surprise.

    In his heyday, Sinclair's products were all at least one of:

    late, badly designed, hare-brained, faulty, unsafe, unreliable or just plain crap.

    Why did anyone think this would be different?

    1. G R Goslin

      Oh, I dunno!

      Sinclair's digital calculator, was, for it's time a wondrous piece of kit. I bought one for the drawing office I worked in, and it took hours off the time it used to take calculating the figures which we were to put down on paper. True, the battery life was pretty awful, but this was all down to the LED tech, of the time. It's only recently that I discovered the the mechanical pin wheel calculator that had been invented a hundred years before, would have done the same job, without batteries. But then, the accountants of the time would never have sanctioned the purchase of one of these marvellous machines, anyway. Even though the chief accountant probably had one of these, unused, on his desk, for swank.

    2. ThomH

      I guess people expected a better result because the same company had already managed to produce a Spectrum console with the same funding model, and a portable version really shouldn't be very hard.

    3. SeanR

      fiat lux:

      https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-sinclair-zx-spectrum-vega-plus-console#/

      "Development of the product is complete, and a fully-functioning prototype is ready to go into production."

      "Our Indiegogo campaign is to raise funds to manufacture the first 2,500 or more units of the Vega+ in the UK, and to prepare us for the second production run."

      do you see?

  13. Spartacus Mills

    too much confusion now, too many internal squabbles and sub-squabbles for this to ever reach a proper conclusion.

    solution: download spin emu and play Ivan Ironman's Off Road Racer to your heart's content on a laptop. - on the rumoured 2.5inch vega+ screen those little cars would've been too small to see anyway.

  14. cat_mara

    "Please allow 28 days for Sir Clive's response"

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If certain persons are using this as a test case to disrupt the goodwill of crowdfunding (empowering the wealthy who don't need crowdfunding), why not use crowdfunding to deliver justice? This would dissuade crooks from abusing public trust, and restore faith in the crowdfunding model.

    For this to work, those delivering said "justice" (within the law) need to have earned trust, to avoid bringing the system into disrepute.

  16. Grease Monkey

    TBH I can't believe it's taken so long for things to escalate this far. It's been pretty clear that they unlikely to deliver for quite some time.

    1. DrBed
      Devil

      Why so long? It's a chess game.

      Just look who stands behind this swind.... project.

      David Levy is International Master of chess.

      Beside: "He has functioned as literary agent for the escaped Great Train robber, Ronald Biggs and claims to have masterminded his escape from British justice." (wiki)

      Backers had to be scrwd, because they are just bots for him - other main project of Mr. Levy is "Love and Sex with Robots". :D

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Levy_(chess_player)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Help me ThreeWheeledOne

    ...you are my only hope!

  18. Diziet Sma
    Flame

    Should just backed the spectrum next. :D

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    future episode of cant pay wont pay

    dave and earl get out of the white van and approach the locked warehouse door.

    "what this one for dave"

    "its some weird thing , something about vega , £150 grand "

    "alright lets look inside, even tho it looks empty"

    "EARL EARL ! shine you light over here , there all bit s of dead alien flesh"

    "Yeah, ....look its weird , they got strange alien symbols printed on them"

    "lets get out of here , this is too crazy"

    A strange wizened red headed man stops them "are you backers ?" it cackles ......

    TBC

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