You’ll remember last week when I posted about the state of the LIMITS power meter that was crowd-funded via Indiegogo. I expressed extreme skepticism at their ability to deliver a project next month (as soon as 12 days away), given their lack of evidence thus far. Virtually every commenter to that post agreed with my position, and nobody questioned the evidence I had put forth.
Some questioned the tone, which I accept was sharp. That was my intention, for which I will not apologize. When a company takes 1,951 people’s money ($432,656 worth) and lies to people on the state of the project, then I’m going to be sharp about that.
However, one such group that’s especially upset about that is LIMITS themselves. Instead of responding to my concerns with data or results to show I’m wrong, they’ve sent over a nasty letter. Some 1,831 words worth of angry panda. And, threatened me that I must post such letter within 48 hours of receipt:
“We would kindly request you to consider the points raised in this document and we request that, within two days, you do the following.
1) Publish the attached letter in full on your blog.
2) Remove from your blog, the defamatory comments outlined in the letter.” – Chairman of LIMITS, Nov 17th, 2015
The above being from the letter I received. Thus, I’m doing as they required.
(Side note: Do they really not realize how the internet works in search engine optimization? This post, and my previous post, will last for years for anytime someone searches about their product. They’ll show how the company conducts itself, that they’d rather send litigious-looking documents than just show simple results.)
So, that I shall. Now as much fun as it would be to tear about every line of their letter (because I could), I think I’m just going to pick a few of my favorite parts. Quite frankly, I’ve got reviews to publish and this is wasting time doing so. At the end of the day, all they’re doing is distracting you from the fact they still haven’t released any data on it. Still! If you’d like you can download the letter here, as well as the attached e-mail to me here.
Let’s start off with one of their first rebuttals about why they shouldn’t provide data to me or any other media:
“Very few if any, technology companies would hand over products using their latest technology to bloggers when the product is only part way through its development stage.”
Odd – the following technology companies have shown me products during development stages, and offered testing as such: Garmin, TomTom, Adidas, Polar, and Suunto, not withstanding pretty much every other company. In the power meter segment though (since that’s the segment we’re referring to), the following companies have shown me development units and/or data over the years: SRM, PowerTap, Power2Max, Stages, 4iiii, ROTOR, Brim Brothers, Ashton Instruments, Quarq, Polar/Look, Dyno Velo, and PowerPod.
As I noted in my post, I’m happy to oblige by any specific NDA/embargoes around testing of those products, as I often do. Once release occurs however, I don’t do partial results.
“You criticise us for not having a major presence at Eurobike and Interbike.”
No, I criticized you for not actually being at your booth at Eurobike. For it being non-staffed during the show. I also noted concern that most power meter companies that were so close to launch would be at both shows.
Now in my post itself, I actually didn’t raise concerns about their experience. Rather, someone had asked me in a follow-up comment about that. So, I responded at the time that I didn’t actually discuss it in the post since I gave them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they did have someone on staff even though they failed to list that in any bios.
Turns out, they don’t have anyone on staff with power meter experience. Next time, I’ll be sure to add that to my concerns.
“The design team have the necessary package electronics, communications, software, mechanical statics and dynamics, project management and manufacturing technology skills which they have successfully applied to other applications. They do not need to be power meter specialists as you imply. Apple had never made a telephone before when they launched the Smart Phone.”
Instead, they pulled out the Apple card. A company with ~115,000 people. A company that sought out and recruited new employees with phone experience prior to launching. Now however LIMITS more directly states they don’t have experience with power meters. That is a major concern of mine. They’re free to differ on the importance of that, and I’m free to see how well the product handles. Personally, if this were an airplane, I’d prefer at least someone at that company had experience designing an airplane before.
They then got upset about me repeatedly asking for data to prove they had a working product. Heck, I even said they could pick whichever data they wanted that made their product look functional. They didn’t oblige.
“Your one sided reporting of the LIMITS company, our development programme and our crowd funding campaign seem to be the result of pique based on our reluctance to provide you with privileged access to our confidential data before the product was fully ready. This is an unfair abuse of a powerful position.”
In actuality, my initial post in April was quite fair and mostly positive to them. In fact, even after a conference call with their team in late April, I only went as far as updating my existing post with a supplemental section regarding your implying that you had a prototype, when in reality, you didn’t. You are correct, this was wrong. I should have created a separate post to make it more clear to future followers that you were already misleading folks. I’ll be sure to increase my communications about your project in the future accordingly. My bad.
Next, there’s a whole slew of comments in the document that didn’t like about my calling them out that they implied their team was on the LIMITS power meter back in April. After all, they showed the team riding around on their power meter. And they showed the team using them:
“The messages in the video, including all the comments by the cycling team, were all about the value or utility of power meters in general and not an endorsement of LIMITS in particular. There was never any claim or even implication, that a LIMITS power meter had ever been used on a bike by the racing team or anyone else. The comments and the demonstration in the Indiegogo video were about the <<<concept>>> of the LIMITS power meter and what it promised. The comments in the video however mentioned the capability of LIMITS concept without specifically distinguishing whether this capability was available in a product, now or in the future, and this could unfortunately have been considered to be ambiguous, but certainly not a deliberate lie.”
No, that’s a lie. LIMITS was not ambiguous, here’s the exact phrasing included in the initial campaign, but also in your current FAQ on your own site (still as of Nov 18th, 2015):
“LIMITS has been used by a number of the Spokes Racing Team and Club Members generating positive feedback with many of the cyclists reporting an improvement in foot position leading to an improvement in comfort, especially over longer rides. Analysis of this feedback highlighted that many cyclists knees track outward at the top of the pedal stroke adding unwanted stress on the knee and splaying the power outwards on an inefficient vector relative to the pedal travel.”
Here’s the copy directly from the LIMITS Indiegogo page as it stands today (still!), and has been since launch:
Here’s also some free imagery on the LIMITS website (again, as of today):
Just for the awesome sake of internet awesome, here’s a sampling of places where this very specific wording, which is littered across the internet (perhaps it was part of an initial press package). The dates for virtually all of these show the April timeframe.
LIMITS representatives also responded back with similar language during that timeframe as well. Here’s one message from a backer that asked about LIMITS and whether the team was using it:
So no, I didn’t make that up. LIMITS was very clear that between the written text on their own page, as well as the visual imagery on the video showing people using it, that it was real. Heck, so real that they were already learning from it. Dang!
(Side note: At this point, most would say: “I rest my case”, but I’m just getting warmed up. Which takes a lot when I’m currently sitting in the Arctic Circle.)
Next, they straight up admit that the things we saw in the video weren’t real:
“Showing dummy products or “space models” before the actual launch of new products is common marketing practice for major corporations as well as start-ups and is typical of many crowd funding projects. We showed dummy products in the Indiegogo video and at Eurobike and at the T3 awards. No claims were ever made in the video, or elsewhere, that working products with this capability were available.”
Now, I prefer to use another more exacting word for those things you showed: Fake. Fakes. Illusions. Not real.
All of which would actually had been perfectly fine if they’d simply stated that. But alas, nowhere on their page did they state that. In fact, they stated (and still do) on their own launch page and site that they were real, as the team used them. Yet, then they’re fake per this document. I’m so confused:
“Fortunately you also state “They didn’t have a unit then: Period. They said directly so much to me in the final days of their campaign way back when.” This statement actually confirms that we were not claiming to have a working product and you knew it.”
So again, LIMITS lied when they said the team was already racing with it and learning a bunch of cool stuff.
In closing, they note:
“If you have any credible evidence of deliberate lies, deceit and scams you should produce it. If you don’t have such evidence then you should withdraw your defamatory comments.”
I presented said evidence above, in the form of your own words saying you were using it when it didn’t exist. Nobody was using it, it didn’t exist. That’s lying. And deceiving (with extra pretty imagery of team members riding it). Thus by extension: Lying and deceiving to gain peoples money is the definition of a scam, from our friends at Merriam-Webster:
With that, my job here is done.
(All imagery in this post courtesy either LIMITS’ own page, or the interwebs at large and notated per image where it came from)
(P.S./Update – Just to be clear to folks, I really had no desire to post on this topic again. And I wouldn’t have, had the company not forced me to post their letter (just added that snippet into the post). I don’t plan any further posts until they release a product – or delay substantially, in which case I’ll review it just like any other product.)