Crowdfunding Fraudsters Redux: Return of the ZX Spectrum Vega+

If Retro Computers Limited wants to convince me that the Vega Plus is going to be released, they need to prove it. For those of you who haven’t seen the original Crowdfunding Fraudsters regarding the ZX Spectrum Vega Plus, you can read it here. Today we’re revisiting the ZX Spectrum Vega+, a handheld device slated for release in September 2016. It still hasn’t launched.

1. Retro Computers Ltd Breaks Out The B-Team

Where the previous Crowdfunding Fraudster article focused on figures like RCL Managing Director Suzanne Martin, founder David Levy, Chris Smith, and Paul Andrews, Darren Melbourne, and more, the follow up is going to focus on three people whose opinions are entirely present despite being exponentially more immature and irrelevant than people we’d actually like to hear from: Tamara Thomas, Lee Fogarty, and Jan Saggiori.

Thomas and Saggiori are volunteer administrators of the unironically named “Democracy” side of the  Retro Vega+ Facebook group, a title which gives superficial authority along with a ban hammer and delusions of respect. You also get gems like comparing waiting for photos of a video game console to a donated kidney and people dying:

Thomas and Saggiori’s unofficial job is to act as bullies on behalf of RCL, berating frustrated backers so when RCL pushes another delay, they can point to the people that Thomas and Saggiori have deliberately provoked and claim that the delays are due to complaining. Evidently RCL’s systems operate on juju, because people getting angry that Thomas showed up to tell them to “get over it” causes the internet to stop functioning and, thus, prevented RCL from posting photographs and video on Facebook for well over a week a few months ago, rather than RCL’s own incompetence at meeting deadlines. The group has mostly replaced Managing Director Suzanne Martin, whose primary job appeared to be selling photographs and video footage as a multi-million dollar effort.

Fogarty, meanwhile, is the web admin and definitely not the spokesman for Retro Computers Ltd, as despite his name appearing in the author box on what appears to be every news piece over at the RCL website, or constantly posting pictures with the test devices on the Facebook page, we can only assume that an actual spokesman wouldn’t be making jail rape jokes in regards to the other side of ongoing lawsuits.

Much like Thomas and Saggiori, Fogarty’s job appears to be primarily antagonizing the slowly dwindling number of backers from the relative safety of not being an employee, while simultaneously claiming complete ignorance on why anyone would be so hostile toward RCL when clearly all they are guilty of is providing a positive atmosphere with a channel where correspondence has completely died and no one posts due to the overanxious ban hammer.

Otherwise the team has pretty much moved on to the elementary school tactic of “I’m not touching you,” posting photos of beta testers and describing how much testers are enjoying their units, and then acting surprised when backers get frustrated. Why? We’re only eight months past deadline for a piece of hardware that was so much on track that it may have had the potential to launch early.

2. The Breach of Security, or, Lying to the Public

Late April, Retro Computers Ltd announced that a security breach had occurred on their domain names:

We have been made aware that late yesterday afternoon a security breach occurred on a number of domains belonging to Retro Computers Limited. This includes the zxvega.co.uk and retro-computers.co.uk URLs

Except there ultimately was no security breach, and this lie has been repeated numerous times from parties both within and outside of Retro Computers Ltd. What happened was that domains were released to the public and picked up and redirected to domains criticizing Retro Computers Ltd.

3. The Perpetual Victim Complex

It should be of no surprise that RCL’s habitual lying and perpetual status as victim often intermingle, either that or this is the first product in the history of Indiegogo to be derailed by people complaining in the comments section. After months of pointing fingers at the “hate mob,” a mostly non-existent entity that seems responsible for RCL’s self-inflicted PR wounds, was responsible for coercing developers into pulling their titles from the Vega Plus, an expose from The Register (with an increasingly immature response from RCL with each new article) shows that the reason actually may point to a dead beat dev. Turns out that, rather than by virtue of internet trolls, RCL hasn’t been paying royalties and rights holders are pulling out.

4. The Continued Refusal of Refunds

Last time we checked out Retro Computers Ltd, the company made a statement that they have never refused a refund, an idea that took all of ten minutes to disprove thanks to the dozens upon dozens of comments on the Indiegogo page claiming numerous refund requests with no response. Unsurprisingly, the Indiegogo page is still filled with complaints of unfulfilled refunds and users resorting to filing fraud claims via Paypal and through their credit card companies to force the refunds through.

5. Cooking Minute Rice In A Week

One big thing I pointed out in the last Crowdfunding Fraudster was that Retro Computers Ltd is completely incapable of performing even the most benign tasks within a reasonable time frame. The company has gone completely silent as of late, with its last announcement being on May 9.

The Roll of Honour email is coming at you this week Please log into your account to confirm all of your details are up to date as we cannot be responsible for wrong ones. And if you have chosen a ‘rude’ name, or you no longer go by a name previously chosen, give this some thought as once it is locked it is locked, and it’s very difficult to change.

Incidentally, I started writing this redux back in early June, and with it now being July and RCL still having not released the roll call list, we’ll be surpassing two months with the company unable to complete simple tasks like publishing a list of backers.

The Vega Plus is supposed to launch this Summer, but we still don’t have a game list (we don’t even have a roll of honour), and we don’t even know if the device has begun manufacturing. In standard RCL fashion, the company’s habitual lying has turned out a new low: The news announcement on May 9th ends with an apology and a promise to “update more regularly from now on.” In promising more updates, the company has gone completely silent.

6. In Plain English, But Not On This Website

I’ve received a few emails asking if I’d be doing an In Plain English in regards to the lawsuit(s) between RCL and its founders, and the answer to that is a tentative: Maybe. There hasn’t been an In Plain English piece about these lawsuits because right now all I have is information from the insanely biased sources of both sides, which contradict one another, and I don’t have the confidence to report on any of it as a result. The United States has Public Access to Court Electronic Records, allowing lawyers and press (like yours truly) to gain access to dockets. The UK doesn’t have that, to the best of my knowledge.

So it’s something I’m working on but can’t make too high of a priority because, as ridiculous as this project is, I’m hesitant to dedicate too many resources to something already outside MMO Fallout’s “scope.”

7. In Conclusion (again)

Barring sudden access to court records, this is the last that MMO Fallout will cover on the Retro Vega Plus. I had a few comments on the last piece about treating Retro Computers Ltd with kid gloves, but I stand by most of what I said. While I’d like to hold out some hope that the Vega Plus will be released, but right now RCL seems to be doing a live reenactment of the I Love Lucy candy factory scene, quickly losing whatever control they had on the situation as the conveyor belt just gets faster and faster.

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