Jilted ATM Buyers Get Internet Justice; Robocoin Issues Apology & Explanation

On Wednesday, October 15, Andrew Wilkinson was out of patience. He and his business partner had ordered a Robocoin ATM to place in a pub in Canada. The product arrived months late and wasn't immediately operational.

Robocoin got the machine up and running but couldn't come to terms on the requested full refund of the US$20,000 paid for the machine. But before turning to a centralized, government-run legal system (and shelling out the untold dollars and hours that entails), Andrew decided to make one last attempt at getting restitution:

“We’re prepared to take legal action, but we figured we’d give Jordan a taste of Internet Justice first.”

Andrew collected every pertinent email passed between himself, his business partner and Jordan Kelley, the CEO of Robocoin. He took screenshots, compiled them chronologically and posted them on Reddit along with his story, titling it “The Great Robocoin Rip-off: How we lost $25,000 buying a Robocoin ATM.” Within a day, it became one of the highest-voted posts the Bitcoin subreddit has ever seen.

Less than 48 hours later, Andrew had cause to make yet another post on Reddit, but this time for a very different reason:

“The next morning, with the intense spotlight of Internet Justice focused on Robocoin, we got our US$25,000 back along with a hangdog apology from Jordan.”

Andrew Wilkinson is the founder of the interface development company MetaLab, and his partner Rajiv Khaneja works with the app development team Sparklit. On Friday October 17, Andrew duly informed Reddit of the success of his initial post in a second entitled “ROBOGATE 2014 UPDATE: Internet Justice Has Been Served.” He reported, “We weren't sure what would happen, but as things unfolded we learned a few things about the power of the Internet…”

In a community totally smitten with the benefits of the decentralization of money, “RoboGate” has drawn attention to another compelling use case: the decentralization of justice.

Robocoin’s Detailed Response

Jordan has since issued an apology statement and a Q&A about the details of the incident. The effectiveness of Internet justice—that is, the threat of real economic consequences due to a tarnished reputation—is evident here. This statement indicates that Robocoin is choosing to learn and change from this incident. If they make good on these commitments, everyone will be better off, and the Bitcoin community will be even more robust as a result:

“To Metalab and the Bitcoin community:

This has been an incredibly challenging experience and one that I will absolutely grow from. As I reflect and begin moving forward, I want to acknowledge and apologize for my mistakes. 

To Metalab: I was way off on your estimated ship date and I failed to keep you updated. When it finally arrived, we couldn’t get it running in a timely manner. I was disagreeable when you requested a refund and stubborn with regard to terms.

It’s easy to see how I should have handled this differently from start to finish. Above all, I should have been more proactive in my communication regarding delays. I also feel compelled to acknowledge that you offered me plenty of chances to make this right. It should not have taken Reddit’s wrath for me to realize the extent of my mistakes and take long overdue accountability. I know the refund came too late and the $20,000+$5,000 extra was not worth your time and headache