Kickstarter Looks to Wash Hands of Broken Promises

Updates terms of service to include lawsuit clause

Less than a week after the Federal Trade Commission updated its requirements for online retailers, which must provide refunds when goods and services aren’t delivered in a timely fashion, Kickstarter today updated its own terms of service (TOS).

Now, the terms specifically state that if creators have not delivered on their promised rewards, and have not shown good-faith effort to do so, they must offer a refund. And a new clause states that "the creator is solely responsible for fulfilling the promises made in their project. If they’re unable to satisfy the terms of this agreement, they may be subject to legal action by backers."

While backers could always sue creators for undelivered items, it has rarely happened. Now, the TOS makes it much more explicit that there's a potential for lawsuits, and that when a donor contributes to a campaign, it's a contract that both parties must make reasonable efforts to live up to.

Kickstarter attempted to be clear about its own involvement in the process as well, disclaiming responsibility for damages at any point in the process.

The New York-based digital fundraising platform has long been a buyer-beware site, and some people back campaigns with the knowledge that they might not see their money again, or the promised rewards. But the new TOS makes it much clearer that Kickstarter expects its campaign creators to make every possible, reasonable effort to provide the promised perks or refund donor money.

And failing to do so might result in legal action.