Hey! I’m Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab. In December, my friend Rajiv, founder of Sparklit, and I started getting really excited about BitCoin. We both have full-time jobs running our companies, but we think Bitcoin is super cool, so when we heard about the Robocoin bitcoin ATM we bought one for our hometown, Victoria, Canada. We figured it would be a fun little side project and a good way to help move Bitcoin forward.

10 months and $25,000 later, boy were we wrong. Here’s what happened:

Dec 13, 2013: We wire Robocoin $20,000 for our ATM, with an expected delivery date in early March.

Jan 5, 2014: We secure a lease to put the ATM in a local pub starting in March, at a cost of $250/month.

Jan 30, 2014: Rajiv goes on local radio and announces our March delivery date.

Mar 11, 2014: Weird. Still nothing about a ship date. We follow up with Jordan Kelley, Robocoin’s CEO, asking for a status update:

Mar 20, 2014: We follow up again, asking for a firm ship date so we can coordinate. Jordan responds:

Mar 25, 2014: Still no shipment. We start getting annoyed:

*Cost of kiosk was actually $20,000

Ok, fair enough.

April 15, 2014: Jordan emails my CFO with this update:

May 4, 2014: Still nothing.

May 7, 2014: Jordan refers me to someone from Turnkey, the company who is shipping the ATM and we’re given an expected ship date of mid May:

June 9, 2014: We emails Robocoin and Turnkey for an update and hear nothing. We email Jordan:

June 13, 2014: We’re told that another Robocoin has arrived in Victoria (where ours is headed), yet ours has been rejected at the border.

June 14, 2014: We find that Robocoin has dropped the price of our kiosk by $5,000, and we won’t be getting the new price, despite having still not received our unit.

June 16, 2014: We pay an extra $2,000 to get our own customs broker to clear it. Total cost to date: $20,000 for kiosk, $2,000 for shipping, and $1,000 on rent for a space we can’t use.

June 20, 2014: 6 full months after ordering our kiosk, it arrives. We’re elated, and spend hours trying to get it setup. Due to security concerns, Robocoin requires that you book an appointment with them to put it into production mode. We reach out to support and are told that we’ll need to schedule a time 24 hours out. Suffice to say, we’re frustrated. We have a huge ATM sitting in a pub with a flashing screen that just says “checking for updates” over and over again. It’s 3 months late, and we just want to get it turned on and start making our money back. I send Jordan a frustrated email:

June 22-July 14, 2014: We spend weeks on the phone with Frank Clark, their super agro support guy, just trying to get a single transaction to work successfully. Unfortunately, Robocoin is built on Windows XP (CORRECTION: Windows 7) and a complete nightmare to configure. First, the ID scanner doesn’t work. Then the webcam keeps going black. Then the palm scanner refuses to work.

For anyone who wants to see, here’s the logs of some of the frustrating conversations that we had with Frank: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rk4rj398jdli6h4/Robocoin%20Support%20Logs.zip?dl=0

I share my frustration with Jordan:

 

He sends me a nice email back. Progress!...or maybe not.

July 17, 2014: Their support guy, Frank, tells us that the machine is defective and we’ll need to file a warranty claim:

July 21, 2014: We once again email Jordan expressing our frustration:

July 24, 2014: Three days later, we hear back from Jordan:

August 4, 2014: We hear from one of Jordan’s operations guys informing us they will be charging us a $5,000 “restocking” fee:

Wat... We immediately email Jordan:

And hear nothing…

August 19, 2014: Still nothing… We go ahead and ship the machine.

August 27, 2014: Then, 23 days later, we hear back from Jordan with great news!

But wait…our machine was still in transit and hadn’t arrived yet.

No response.

Sep 5, 2014: We confirm delivery of the ATM and ask for our refund to be issued immediately:

Sep 9, 2014: Jordan emails us informing us that our kiosk was apparently returned with “a lot of damages”. Strangely, the shipment was insured, and no damages were reported on the waybill that his team signed.

Sep 15, 2014: Jordan reassures us that our refund is on the way, and he should have it to us in a week:

Sep 29, 2014: Still no refund. We start going public:

Jordan emails us:

Oct 13, 2014: So here we are, 10 months later. To date, we’ve received no refund or further communications from Jordan. We’re prepared to take legal action, but we figured we’d give Jordan a taste of internet justice first. So far we’ve spent $20,000 kiosk. 6 months of rent at $250/mo: $1,500. Shipping both ways: $4,000. Total cost so far: $25,500.

We wanted to share this story in hopes that we can dissuade anyone who’s thinking about buying a Robocoin. We’d also love to hear from any other Robocoin operators about their experiences, so we can share them here. We’ve already spoken to a couple, and it seems like there are bad experiences all around.

Buyer beware! Please share our story on Reddit and HackerNews, or retweet my tweet on Twitter.

Here’s a nice photo of Jordan showing us how to wave goodbye to our money!

And another of him having a night out on the town on us:

And here’s Jordan sharing his own negative customer experience on the internet: