Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is taking drastic steps to try and refund backers of a seemingly doomed project.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ promised to be a handheld version of the classic ZX Spectrum from the 1980s when the campaign launched in February 2016, with an estimated shopping window of September of the same year. After taking over $688,000 in funding however, the console has yet to materialise.
Indiegogo stepped in in March 2017, preventing the project from taking more funding towards its flexible goal, and has been attempting to get answers for backers ever since. In February 2017 the BBC reported that no units has been shipped—a revelation that the company behind the Vega+ said "might put people at risk of physical harm."
In February 2018 Indiegogo first made the threat of sending in debt collectors to try and get backers their money back if the console didn't ship by the end of May, but offered a week's extension. The conditions set by Indiegogo, to refund any backer who wanted to pull out and to send Indiegogo a final production unit, were still not met.
Indiegogo is therefore taking the highly unusual step of sending in debt collectors to Retro Computers Ltd, the London-based company behind the project.
"This week, we will be working with a collections agency to attempt to recoup funds disbursed, in an effort to be able to refund backers." Indiegogo said in an update on the project's page. "Please note that, while we are pursuing collections, this process can take considerable time and the Vega+ team still has the opportunity to fulfill on their obligation of shipping the consoles to backers. We refer you to the Vega+ team for any updates on shipping. The campaign is still open to the Vega+ team, and they continue to have the ability to update you all via our platform."
RCL chairman Dr David Levy told the BBC that the intervention was "highly destabilizing" and claimed to have received messages of support from backers. Levy also claimed that the console had been "selling fast" on their website, and that the first units would be sent out on June 15.