An article appears on That Retro Video Gamer called 27 days left. The article questions why there have been no updates or photos of the 10,000 devices that have supposedly been manufactured, and the subsequent account suspension and deletion of all posts by the author on the RCL facebook page.
RCL managing director Suzanne Martin is active on Twitter, but unfortunately for backers Suzanne returns to report tweets rather than to update backers on the progress of the Vega+ and refund requests.
Former RCL supporter Preston Thomas releases a 33 minute video called The Sound Off - The Spud Speaks on his channel The Tater Tuber. The video talks about Preston's mistake of supporting the scammers Retro Computer Ltd, being tagged with the #zxvega hashtag on Twitter, his final apology for assisting in the Vega+ scandal and his reason for refusing to quit the scene.
A follow up article appears on That Retro Video Gamer called ZXVegawatch - the blinded mice that RCL forgot. The article discusses the 3 main associates that shilled for RCL during the Vega+ scam, namely Lee Fogarty (Mr F in the article), Jan Saggiori (Mr S) and Preston Thomas (Mr T).
RCL file micro company accounts more than 3 months late for the year ended 30th March 2017. The figures on the micro accounts do not match the leaked bank statements, and somehow RCL claim to have increased assets by almost £350,000 in the previous year. Members of the Vega+ public discussion facebook group suggest that creative accounting has taken place by capitalizing the intellectual property, adding a huge "goodwill" figure or adding an imaginary amount owed by Cornerstone Media.
5 of the 8 updates made by David Levy's supposed Conflict of Interest rant are removed from the Vega+ Indiegogo campaign, reducing the update count from 84 to 79. On Thursday 15th February 2018, David Levy posted 8 updates, incorrectly numbered 1-5 and 7-9. Only parts 3, 4 and 5 remain on Indiegogo, but you can view the full text on the Retro Computers facebook page.
I had to have a good think over the last few hours if I was going to post this or not and in the end what will come my way then so be it. This may be a bit random here and there but I wanted to write something and be involved in this discussion if possible.
I may not be the best person to comment on this and I may get some flak which is rightly deserved.
My opinion which has been widely known on Twitter is that I did not know what RCL was playing at. I saw the news/bullshit they were pushing out and was putting it into S4E for people to know. I thought the machine would bring in some new people into the scene and maybe they would expand into the real computer and explore it further.
I also regret putting Lee into an admin role because at that time he was too close to the fire. Like I said before it was mentioned that I might be testing the Vega+ but nothing came of it. There were no deals done what so ever where I put Lee as an admin and I get a Vega+.
I put him as an admin as I was sick and tired of the way people were treating everyone about the Vega+. At that time it seemed a good idea to have 1 person to moderate that area. A stupid decision I know, but there you go. It is what it is.
I find it disgusting that RCL seems to give the backers the mushroom treatment (kept in the dark and fed bullshit if you didn't know). My own feeling on the machine is that right now RCL should just refund the backers (if they even have any money to refund) and be done with it.
The whole sordid affair has been a clusterfuck. Like I said, I am truly sorry for my own actions during this and if I had offended or even mildly pissed off anyone then I apologize wholeheartedly.
Its cost me a lot of good friends along the way and even the group I created. I have no intention of even creating another group as I know it will get little to zero chance of being successful. This is my own punishment for not staying out of the way and quite right too. It's a lesson to be learned and believe me I have.
As for the people finding out this information then I can only stand, take my hat off (showing my bald glowing potato head) and say well done. You did something good in the community and it's more than I did during that time.
Also, If I offended Paul Andrews when I saw his C64 Mini Joystick break and posted it then it wasn't meant to have a jab at you or anyone else, I am sure the problem will be/or have been fixed. It's just a design fault and with how much work goes into these things, oversights always happen. Even Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo do it and they a lot more people working on a project.
As for the backers, I fully accept the fact the I was and most likely still am an arsehole to you. Calling you fuckwits was disgusting and I regret it very much. You guys and gals are the community and to disrespect, you resulted in what happened to me above. Maybe someday you will forgive me but to be honest I wouldn't hold anything against you if you didn't.
Paul Andrews posts a joint press release on facebook to announce that current directors David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Janko Mrsic-Flogel are about to be fired as directors of Retro Computers Ltd:
Joint Press Release from Sinclair Research Ltd, Paul Andrews and Chris Smith - 27th April 2018
We wish it to be known that three of the four shareholders in the company Retro Computers Ltd, (who have a combined shareholding of 75%) those three shareholders being; Sinclair Research Ltd, Paul Andrews, and Chris Smith, have instructed the current directors of Retro Computers Ltd, today Friday the 27th of April 2018, to convene a shareholders meeting at the earliest possible date with two resolutions proposed, that being the removal of the existing directors, and the replacement of those directors with one of the choice of the majority of shareholders.
We have not taken this decision lightly, and it is taken in full consideration of the events and knowledge of the past two years of control of Retro Computers Ltd under the existing directors.
We are making this press release in the hope that the existing directors will listen to the request of 75% of the companies’ shareholders and expedite this request with immediate effect.
Paul Andrews, Sinclair Research Ltd, Chris Smith (Shareholders of Retro Computers Ltd)
(NB: Contrary to the record at Companies House Sinclair Research Ltd is not a current director of Retro Computers Ltd)
A majority of shareholders in ailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd - including Sir Clive Sinclair's corporate presence - are calling a shareholders' meeting to replace its current directors.
A statement from company shareholder Paul Andrews sent to El Reg this morning revealed that he and fellow shareholders Chris Smith and Sinclair Research Ltd are demanding that current RCL directors Dr David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel step down. Levy is the company's chairman and Mrsic-Flogel is its CTO, while Martin is its managing director.
The shareholder majority against RCL's directors sounds the death knell for the firm's current leadership, which has held control of the controversial business for the past two years.
The removal of Levy and Martin would not only give Andrews control of the company but also access to its detailed finances. The Register has seen a copy of what are alleged to be RCL's bank statements, as lodged at Luton County Court during a case against the company, the contents of which make an interesting comparison to RCL's Companies House filings.
RCL post an update confirming the April deadline has been missed and claiming the "first batch" of Vega+ consoles will be sent out between the 8th and 12th of May 2018:
It is with enormous pride that we can confirm shipments of the first batch of ZX Vega+s.
Initial Shipments are scheduled between the 8th and 12th May 2018.
What happens next?
We will email you to confirm your delivery details are correct - this will not come via Indiegogo.
Once you have confirmed, we will come back to you with a scheduled delivery date for your order and shipping details.
Please note that the colour units will not be in the first batch and we will come back to you very soon to with a time frame on these items
Our new website is live at retro.business and you can check for other updates there.
— Retro Computers Ltd
RCL rush out a new website using the "pick a template" host squarespace and choose to register a new domain name of retro.business instead of their existing domain. The previous domain retrocomputerslimited.com still shows a "new website coming soon" message. The new website contains a raft of problems:
The site is illegally selling items without displaying a physical address and phone number.
The shop page illegally makes no mention of VAT on orders.
George releases a second video called THE VEGA+ - COPY/PASTE OBITUARY SHOCKER :'( deals with the disgraceful behaviour of RCL to steal an obituary from another website and use it as an update for the campaign while tacking on a bogus copyright message.
Suzanne Martin continues to use fake accounts in the public discussion facebook group monitoring all posts and acting on them. Disgruntled backer Jamie Ball has been repeatedly refused a £5 refund for his roll of honour pledge, and posts the following comment:
SUZANNE MARTIN LOOKS LIKE A WAY UGLIER VERSION OF WORZEL GUMMIDGE.
SHE IS POISONOUS, HATEFUL AND, ABOVE ALL, PROFOUNDLY STUPID.
IF YOU HAD A LOAD OF MOULDY HAY AND CHUCKED A COUPLE OF PICKLED ONIONS ONTO IT ALONG WITH SOME TEETH AND LOADS OF SWEETCORN TO SYMBOLISE WARTS YOU WOULD HAVE A CLOSE MATCH TO HER ACTUAL FACE.
IT'S NO WONDER SHE HAS TO SPEND HER TIME PAINTING AND DECORATING HER MUMS HOUSE INSTEAD OF WORKING IN THE PR SECTOR. EVERYTHING SHE TOUCHES IS A FUCKING DISASTER. SHE'S NOT MIDDLE AGED, SHE'S OLD. AN OLD HAG. CUTTING ABOUT WITH A PAINTBRUSH AND GETTING TOLD WHAT TO DO BY HER MUM WHEN SHE'S ABOUT 70 (OR CERTAINLY LOOKS IT).
IT'S BEYOND PATHETIC.
WHAT A TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT SHE MUST BE TO EVERYONE IN HER LIFE. A SHIT THICK, WIRE HAIRED, BLOATED OLD SOW WHO'S NEVER DONE ANYTHING WORTHWHILE AND NEVER WILL.
— Jamie Ball
Another member asks about the reason for the post:
BEING AS SHE SPIES IN THIS GROUP AND RE-POSTS QUOTES OUT OF CONTEXT TO FURTHER HER POINTLESS AGENDA I THOUGHT I'D GIVE HER SOMETHING TO READ.
HAVING BEEN DOXXED BY THESE WANKERS I THINK I'M WITHIN MY RIGHTS TO SHARE THE LOVE.
— Jamie Ball
40 minutes after the post appears, the thread is deleted by facebook and Jamie's account receives a warning regarding the post.
David Levy's statement to The Register yesterday also quoted Paul Andrews from a post made only in the public discussion facebook group, indicating Suzanne Martin spends a significant amount of time monitoring social media rather than delivering the Vega+.
Twitter user isofarro advises potential buyers of the Vega+ not to invest after noticing the website has reverted to an image with faulty buttons.
I strongly advise people do not pre-order the Vega+. RCL replaced the two-colour buttons with plain colour ones in Feburary 2018, apparently fixes crucial usability issues. They've not said they've reverted back to the original buttons, nor have they released new photos. #zxvegapic.twitter.com/oang6olpsq
Despite RCL claiming the second batch of Vega+ prototypes are selling fast, the actual sales figures since the shop went live 5 days ago are extremely low:
Vega+ prototypes sold: 11
Original Vegas sold: 0
Original Vega and Vega+ prototype launch bundes sold: 0
The stock levels can be displayed by entering a bogus value (such as 9999) into the cart, and an error message will display how many remain. The shop was setup with 5000 Vega+ prototypes, 2000 Vegas and 5000 Vega and Vega+ launch bundles.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority reply to various backers stating that they are still investigating the possible illegal conduct by Teacher Stern LLP and Michelmores LLP and that they hope to conclude the investigation by September 30th 2018.
RCL publish another non-update containing no facts or no new information:
Just a tiny news nugget to let you know we are still on track for first shipments between 8th and 12th May 2018!
We will be sending an email out very soon.
It would also be helpful if you could check your email, post and contact details are correct on your Indiegogo account.
If you have moved house, please try and change your address on Indiegogo. If you have moved country you won't be able to do change your address, and we will need to do that manually, You can email email@example.com for helo
Please keep an eye retro.business for Roll of Honour, Games List, news and progress reports. We will posts links here, but we are limited by format here.
Happy Tuesday ;-)
— Retro Computers Ltd
The supposedly free shipping for UK orders over £200 on the RCL shop is either another fault with the website or another method to scam people. The only shipping choice you can make is to pay full price for a UK order:
A twitter user discovers that Suzanne Martin is responsible for the broken RCL website. The email address to login appears to be firstname.lastname@example.org:
Various backers in the public discussion facebook group that purchased black units have had their orders locked to prevent any modifications. This appears to go against the mini-update from yesterday claiming that backers should check their details are correct.
A single Vega+ is sold in the RCL shop over the previous 24 hours, with the stock level dropping to 4988 units.
— Chris - That Retro Video Gamer (@Christhacker) May 2, 2018
RCL release an Indiegogo update claiming that roll of honour name changes are still possible up until midnight Thursday (the very end of Wednesday in the middle of the night). RCL claim that the roll of honour will be on their website sometime tomorrow (Thursday May 4th), but their own webpage contradicts this stating Roll of Honour - Coming Soon. Check back for details 5th May 2018.
Firstly we are still on track.This is just to let you know that we will be posting the Roll of Honour on our website at some point tomorrow at retro.business. If you have any problems, or you want your name changed this is your very last chance before the units are programmed. The cut off time will be midnight on Thursday 3rd May 2018
Address change emails will follow shortly - thanks to everyone who has already done updated us.
Finally, big thanks for the flurry of supportive emails keep em coming we are bloody but resolute!
— Retro Computers Ltd
David Levy claims that Paul Andrews has personally been barraging RCL, suppliers and collaborators with menacing letters. Mr Levy fails to backup any of his allegations with any evidence.
Appeal for information
Paul Andrews and his fake law firm LSB INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES
It has come to our attention that Paul Andrews, our company's former Managing Director, has been pretending to be a legal advisor with a firm called LSB International Legal Services, operating from his home address of Luton.
Since September 2017, he has been using paper giving the solicitors registration number 420716 and the names Caroline Crawford. Mr Andrews has sent menacing letters to ourselves and various of our company's suppliers and collaborators, in an attempt to intimidate and disaffect them from dealing with Retro Computers Ltd along with the threats of legal action if the recipients do not comply with his demands.
We wish to advise you that there is no such law firm registered in the UK as LSB International Legal Services. Furthermore, the law firm registration number at the foot of the paper on which Mr Andrews has been sending these threats is the expired registration number of the firm Crawfords which has ceased trading some time ago.
If you have received a letter from this company, we ask you to contact us in confidence at email@example.com
David Levy [Chairman - Retro Computers Ltd] 5 Technology Park, Colindeep Lane, Colindale, London NW9 6BX.
Sinclair Research Comes out in support of RCL Board.
Alleged Joint Press Release from Sinclair Research Ltd, Paul Andrews and Chris Smith – Dated 27th April 2018
Last Friday, April 27th, Paul Andrews and Christopher Smith, both former directors3 of Retro Computers Ltd, issued a "Joint Press Release from Sinclair Research Ltd, Paul Andrews and Chris Smith", who are three of the four equal shareholders in Retro Computers Ltd. In that release, they claim that Sinclair Research Ltd is going to support them in a shareholders meeting by removing all the existing directors of the company.
For the avoidance of confusion and doubt, we are pleased to report that Sinclair Research Ltd have advised us that their company is NOT intending to vote for removing the existing directors and that the position of Sinclair Research Ltd is NOT as stated in the "Joint Press Release" of April 27th, 2018.
Furthermore, Andrews and Smith simultaneously issued a notice to the current board signed only by Smith and Andrews equating to 50% of the shareholding. And requesting to remove all of the current members or shareholders of the company and in fact not the Directors.
Since last Friday the board and our advisors have received multiple letters, legal threats and or emails from Mr Andrews, Mr Smith and correspondence forwarded from Mr Melbourne and his associates, all of which appear to be designed to distract, derail and or halt delivery of the Vega+ units to backers. This is more of the same behaviour that we have experienced from them during the last two years. We reserve the right to publish everything and anything they send to us.
Dr David Levy Chairman Retro Computers Limited 3rd May 2018
— David Levy
Mike Davies posts a reply asking for clarification and his post is deleted within 5 minutes:
The press release from Andrews/Smith/Sinclair Research you refer to states the three shareholders have jointly called on the RCL directors to convene a shareholders meeting.
Since the shareholders own the company, not the directors, can a current director of RCL confirm whether or not a shareholders meeting will be called soon, and the date set for that shareholders meeting?
If the directors of RCL are not going to call a shareholders meeting, could you clarify the reasons why not?
I'm sure you can understand, taking receipt of £500k+ of backers money in May 2016, and RCL missing every single self-imposed deadline without offering a clear explanation; and knowing, through the leaked bank statements, that RCL's account has been empty for over a year now, it's difficult to understand what is funding the current apparent imminent delivery of the Vega+. Hence a shareholders meeting will provide an opportunity for the owners of the company to see the actual state of progress and provide backers with a necessary boost of confidence that RCL's directors seem incapable of providing currently.
Statement from Paul Andrews and Chris Smith – Retro Computers – 3rd May 2018
To clarify on various erroneous statements by third parties, as to the prior press release on Friday the 27th of April 2018 which was released. With regards to the shareholders wishes to call a meeting to convene a shareholders meeting at the earliest possible date with two resolutions proposed, that being the removal of the existing directors, and the replacement of those directors with one of the choice of the majority of shareholders.
We have no wish to do anything other than clarify the facts with regards to the correspondence between ourselves, and with the representative of Sinclair Research Ltd.
On Thursday the 26th of April 2018, it was confirmed to us by said representative, that a signed proxy form supporting us in the two proposals had/would be forwarded to us. Further to that on the same day our press release (exactly as was released) was also approved by all parties. The email (followed by signed posted versions) of the letter calling for the meeting was sent to the Retro Computers Limited directors around 9am on Friday the 27th of April 2018. The approved (as detailed above) press release was also issued. Within the hour the current directors of Retro Computers Limited, announced initial deliveries of the Vega Plus V2 console to backers were to soon commence.
On Monday the 30th of April we received a letter from the Sinclair Research Ltd representative confirming that the directors of Sinclair Research Ltd wanted to reserve their position in the pending shareholders meeting, in that, the current directors of Retro Computers Limited had stated product would be shipped in the next two weeks. The outcome of this would in due course potentially affect their final decision in this matter.
On Wednesday the 2nd of May 2018, at around 10am David Levy forwarded us an email from the representative of Sinclair Research Ltd, which stated “In the light of the press statement by Retro Computers Ltd that deliveries of the Vega+ product are due to commence in approximately a week’s time Sinclair Research Ltd does not intend to replace the directors at the forthcoming shareholder meeting. The statement released by Smith and Andrews on Friday 27th does not reflect Sinclair Research's current position on this matter.” David Levy asked us to withdraw our prior press release, we declined that request on the basis that our position had not changed, and that if the Sinclair Research Ltd position had currently changed they were of course entitled to do their own press release in that matter.
For added clarity we can also confirm a one word mistake (on the call to the current Retro Computers Limited directors from us), was rectified with a replacement call letter to them on Tuesday the 1st of May 2018. While we accept this restarts the clock of the current directors to call said shareholders meeting, this meeting is still requested, and will need to take place.
I think it is important to note that all the above comments make the point it is the CURRENT position of various parties being reported, as opposed to their position when the initial statements were made, and that any final positon could change pending on events over the next few weeks.
PWT - Printed Wiring Technologies have produced approximately 50 boards running the so called Vega+ using an A20 arm processor. They're located in Welwyn Garden City.
HDTooling in Ashford have also produced tooling for D-Pad, buttons and the Vega shell - approximately 50 shells - only black produced.
Approximately 200 of each button was produced (as previously seen in an image shown on RCLs on montage), and the D-Pad has been manufactured to similar levels.
The PWT board still requires a simple GPIO board for the LCD screen to work so they're going down the route of cheap and dirty Chinese 2.5" screens. Which will have an 8-bit data transfer rate, but will suffice for the 8-bit bus they're using.
RCL's current address, 5 Technology Park in Colindale is home to Computers Unlimited, who are the technology support services division for Exertis Gem. They specialise in the technical expertise and software creation for niche gadgets supplied through the Exertis Gem network. It is suspected they will be flashing the devices since RCL didn't pay the last bill from SMS Electronics in Beeston.
RCL may choose to courier the 50 devices out themselves due to the small number manufactured rather than using Gem to distribute the devices.
The shells are all black because the number of coloured units required is so small they would have a huge cost added due to waste plastic material to flush the system and the tooling.
Backers prepare for disappointment knowing that a maximum of 50 V2 Vega+ prototypes to be sent out in the coming week.
Andrews and Smith are trying to remove Levy as a director of RCL, along with those Levy appointed as directors after the former pair quit the company in April 2016. They want to do this by calling a shareholders' meeting and voting Levy off the board. Naturally Levy is resisting this attempt to topple him.
Andrews and Smith insisted last week's statement about receiving support from SRL was accurate when they issued it.
We have asked the SRL company secretary what Sinclair Research Ltd’s position is on this squabble but have received no reply at the time of writing. SRL itself has three directors listed at Companies House: Sir Clive; his partner Elaine Millar; and Robert Freestone, the company secretary.
It appears likely to El Reg that a behind-the-scenes battle to secure the hearts and minds of Sir Clive and Millar has been taking place between Andrews and Levy.
Despite public fears that RCL would fold and deliver nothing, the company has repeatedly insisted it will make and distribute the consoles. Its latest pledge is that it will ship some of them by 12 May, though previous self-imposed deadlines have repeatedly sailed past with no action being taken.
Recently RCL has begun alluding to the delivery of a Vega+ V2 instead of the plain old Vega+, which suggests the product that will appear may not be the same as the one originally offered and paid for.
RCL are due to release the list of 1000 games for the 50 V2 Vega+ prototypes today at 5pm.
Suzanne Martin appears to be preparing backers for further disappointment by claiming to be still finalising details, and despite claiming that the Roll of Honour would "see your name immortalised forever", it now appears that it can be updated in software at any time.
RCL release a poorly formatted draft Roll of Honour. The list itself does not handle unicode characters, so many names are corrupt. Many of the most vocal supporters of RCL or names mentioned during the Vega+ fiasco are conspicuous by their absence in the roll of honour:
Jamie Ball (ordered the Roll of Honour perk for £5)
Just to pre-empt any attempt by RCL later today to say they cannot show a games list because of or, that is in some way connected to anything I, or Chris, or other third parties have done, I thought it appropriate to share with you all relevant parts of the communications between ourselves and fellow shareholders/current directors of RCL over the past few days.
Here is part (the relevant part) of an email sent the other day to them – __
Representing 50% of the shareholders of Retro Computers Limited we obviously have an eye on the success and wellbeing of the company and its shareholders. Therefore, BEFORE any units of the Vega+ V2 (or whatever its currently being called, and regardless of if 5000 odd units are shipped, or the 50 units speculated by backers to be sent out next week, after they contacted alleged manufacturing partners as seen on social media to merely pacify Indiegogo and the press) ship we insist that the current directors of RCL immediately supply us all with evidence of CE ratings (for the current proposed hardware, as opposed to the alleged V1 hardware), PEGI rating, and all other legally required documentation for such an items to also include the WEE, and Green Dot legally required registration details (and payments) to those regulatory bodies, and also all UL requirements covered as well. This should take you moments to email proof that all these registrations and legal requirements have been taken care of.
We would also like to let it be known that we will hold the current directors personally liable for any legal action instigated against Retro Computers Limited, following their failure to obtain certification and ratings approval if this was the case. Any fines will also be recovered from them as individuals and we would co-operate with any enforcement agencies or public bodies in that enforcement, quoting this email as evidence we have also bought it to the current director’s attention.
We are also highly concerned about the potential of any copyrighted materials being used without license on the alleged V2, I have already been receiving messages from concerned games rights owners, who have not had sales reports two years on…
(I go on to confirm that I am aware income for sales of the original Vega console has been paid into the RCL bank account, and make it clear this was for sales AFTER myself and Chris left, and AFTER the whole Cornerstone debacle, and that could not be used as an excuse for not paying games rights owners/GOSH, as that money was after both these events, and HAD been received by RCL. I also made it clear on that basis I was aware many games rights owners had removed their games permissions, that being from making anymore original Vega stock, or adding them to the proposed Vega Plus console.)
For clarity no one has responded to us in this matter in anyway, therefore we wish to make clear we are in no way responsible for any actions the current directors of RCL might carry out in this matter. __
With regards to the games withdrawn, again to be clear, there are games we are aware of which have been withdrawn, mostly I understand due to non-payment of royalties, or lack of reports, or non-payment of money to GOSH. I cannot, and do not speak for these games rights owners, other than I am aware of the games withdrawal, hence why I will not detail the specific games I know have been withdrawn.
I believe (but as I have no direct contact with many of these other rights owners) that other games, of both low and high consumer visibility have also been withdrawn, ‘Ultimately’, that would be down to those companies concerned to confirm on that.
A selection of the games rights owners who it is believed have withdrawn their rights for the Vega Plus, were all copied in on an email sent to me, which in turn was forwarded to the current directors of RCL (as above), and as stated, RCL has not replied to me in this matter, and not to the games rights owners either to the best of my knowledge.
So in terms of volume, we are looking at least 400+ odd games with no rights owner’s permission to go onto the Vega Plus, that total could be higher of course we don’t know for certain (but we think it could be in the region of another additional 50-100 removed being a total removal of in the region of 500 games), but of course RCL may have new games to be added to the machine we have no knowledge of. You may all recall in May 2017 they made multiple updates on Indiegogo, saying games rights owners were flooding them with new games to add.
But to be clear once more, as long as they don’t use games they don’t have permission for as above, (as we have said several times over the past two years), and as long as they provide the Vega Plus to people, us, or backers won’t care as much about how many games it has on it, just that they do get the physical machine (in an appropriate format), and it’s a legal and safe machine. So on that basis to be clear one more time, nothing we have said will, or could stop RCL from delivering your Vega Plus consoles to you all next week.
The first shipment of Vega+ consoles is supposed to go out today.
A member of the public discussion facebook group discovers further proof that Suzanne Martin setup the retro.business website when he discovers pressing Escape on the page leads you to the login screen on Square Space showing her full name: https://suzanne-martin-3ell.squarespace.com/
RCL release an saying that the leaked games list published on That Retro Video Gamer is not the final version and because of this, RCL are breaking their promises about uploading the games list. RCL also state they are still modifying the roll of honour. RCL delays the shipping schedule to the 12th of May 2018.
Firstly, many thanks for all the lovely messages and offers of support. We are a little bit overwhelmed and feeling the "Speccy" Love - keep it coming we appreciate it.
We are working our way through a few last minute obstacles, but we still plan to get the very first units out by the 12th as promised.
Also a games list has been "leaked" - this is NOT the final list, and it contains some games we removed many months ago. Because of this we have put back the release of the final list.
We are also fixing the Roll of Honour and updating the name changes you have requested. It is taking a little longer than expected but we will get to you.
That Retro Video Gamer releases an article called Vegawatch 10th May update, discussing the latest Indiegogo update followed by a number of complaints regarding missing names on the latest iteration of the Roll of Honour. The article finishes mentioning that with 2 days to go until their latest shipping deadline is missed, RCL have to update the code, flash the consoles, and pack and ship out thousands of consoles.
RCL miss their 11th deadline with complete radio silence, failing to send out the first batch of thousands of Vega+ consoles as promised. Not a single person on social media posts to say they have been contacted regarding their shipping address for the consoles.
A member of the public discussion facebook group contacts Indiegogo regarding yesterday's update. "Morning folks. After yesterday's update in which RCL said they would be communicating 'away from the Indiegogo platform', I contacted Indiegogo, showing them the full text of Update #84, and asked them if this was according to their usage rules, apart from all the previous stalling and nonsense. I got a reply..."
Thank you for your note. I've looked into your concern regarding the "The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega Plus Console" campaign. I wanted to let you know that your issue requires investigation from our Trust and Safety Team.
I've already escalated your ticket accordingly, and you should be hearing from us very soon. Thanks in advance for your patience while we complete our investigation!
Suzanne Martin posts on the RCL facebook page that the units are going out in batches by perk, and a sarcastic reply to Nick Barr about wasting time answering questions about how many units per batch and the order of shipping:
To be clear they are going in batches because we are a tiny team and most people email several times. We are fully aware you can send a mass email but we can’t answer them as quickly as people like. They are also going out broken down by perk -
Nick H Barr would you a] prefer we worked on production B] replied to this type of questioning?
It is no secret that there has been a very public dispute with Paul Andrews former MD of Retro Computers. But what some of you might not know is that whilst Andrews has publicly held himself out as a saviour of the project, he has simultaneously gone to extraordinary lengths to destroy the project behind the scenes through a series of threats, legal actions and an injunction.
One of the things we deliberately decided to withhold was the games list. This was because we believed that Mr Andrews or his business associate Darren Melbourne would seek to challenge the rights and as they had done previously, contact everyone on the list and offer either to "act for" them against RCL or to acquire the rights to and subsequently withdraw the rights from the Vega+ project.
On the 10th May we received a threat from Mr Melbourne and Mr Andrews - copied to a number of our associates and rights owners whose games we have already removed.
So imagine our surprise when we received a letter from one of our partners at the close of business on Tuesday 14th May saying the following:
"This is in light of allegations by Paul Andrews that you do not have the right to include certain games in the consoles. I appreciate that you have deliberately held off circulating a final list of games as this is changing, but you will appreciate why we need this reassurance from you."
In short, we have to resolve this issue before we can ship - there is nobody more fed up than us. We are working our way through the required reassurances and undertakings. We will be sending out the emails as promised and we hope that this will not take too much longer.
Evening all, as I've also been named in RCL's latest round of utter nonsense let me set the record straight regarding this issue.
As ever there is a grain of truth in what the PR Guru has written. However, as usual, RCL have taken that grain and chipped at it, twisted it and eroded it to such a degree that's it's now virtually unrecognisable as the truth!!
To cut a long story short a few of the games on the original VEGA belonged to my friends and I. We had allowed RCL to put them onto the VEGA as a favour to Paul Andrews. We all elected to have our royalties paid directly to GOSH (The Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital)
After Paul left RCL I wrote to David Levy and asked him to provide me with royalty statements and proof that our royalties had been paid to GOSH! This is where it all went wrong. Instead of acting like a normal decent human being and providing me with the statements (which contractually should have been issued every quarter) David chose to repeatedly attack me instead.
I won't bore anyone with the details but suffice to say RCL never sent me my royalty statements and never showed me any proof that they had paid GOSH on my behalf. Instead I was told that all payments had been made and I had to take David and Suzanne's word for it!!
Being the paragons of virtue that David and Suzanne are you would think this would be good enough for my cohorts and I.........
So, I wrote to RCL again and asked again for the royalty statements and proof of payments to GOSH. This time however I also said that if I didn't get satisfaction from them within a specified period of time that I would contact everyone that I personally knew that had supplied games to RCL and I would ask them all to start chasing their royalty payments and statements and that I would encourage anyone who hadn't been paid to cancel their license agreement, meaning the games couldn't be used on the VEGA+.
There it is, the hidden grain of truth!!
Needless to say, the deadline came and went and (this was 2016 and at that time I was still to learn that deadlines are only guidelines) to this date I've still never seen a royalty statement or proof of payment!!
Being a man of my word I picked up the phone the next day and started calling people!
To this date I think between 300 & 500 games titles were pulled from RCL. Did the rights holders do this because they are in my thrall and do as I command? Did they do it because they wanted to join my obvious nefarious plot to delay the VEGA+ indefinitely or did they do this because (shock horror) they hadn't been paid? Not the odd one here and there that had slipped through the net, none of them had been paid! None of them had ever seen a royalty statement!!
In fact the only people to have been paid at that point had been paid by Paul Andrews before he left the company.
Suzanne is also right when she talks about me representing the rights holders to get their money on their behalf. It's true! I run a licensing company and I'm working for some of the IP holders to get RCL to pay up! I will also state that this is pro bono with every penny that I manage to extricate from RCL going to the rights holders or GOSH!!
What RCL's bleating press release fails to address is that if they paid people they would still have 1,000 games on the VEGA+!! They literally only have themselves to blame!!
RCL delete more than 120 comments from their facebook page. The majority of comments were asking RCL to supply a photo of the manufactured Vega+ consoles, asking about shipping details or refund requests.
Flailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd has, once again, failed to meet yet another promised delivery deadline.
In a series of updates published to its Indiegogo backers over the past couple of weeks, RCL promised to start shipping its Vega+ device between 8 and 12 May. So far nobody appears to have received anything.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega Plus was and is still an amazing concept, but with so many false deadlines and no real evidence of production, and also an imminent delivery deadline with Indiegogo for the end of May 2018 it looks like the campaign will be shut down and backers will come away empty handed.
It is for this reason that we have created this petition site, to give backers the opportunity to inform those who are in charge and whose salaries we've paid that they need to finally resolve this once and for all and attempt to restore some faith and the good name and brand of Sir Clive Sinclair.
We are requesting that all backers of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega Plus fill in their backer details in to the appropriate fields on "The Petition" page of this site. Your information will then be inserted into the petition template email for you to review. Once you are happy to proceed and your details are correct please click the "Send" button. Your Petition email will then be sent on to the appropriate personnel at Sinclair Research Limited and other companies of relevance to inform them of how we, the backers (investors) have been let down time and time again by the current management at Retro Computers Ltd and are requesting them to legally force a shareholders' meeting in an attempt to bring about some form of resolution and potentially save this campaign.
We were advised last week by one of our commercial partners that Paul Andrews and his business associate Darren Melbourne had been contacting them frequently, making allegations about us in order to cast doubt on whether we have the rights to use all the games in the Vega+. This is very much in keeping with Andrews’ previous actions designed to bring about the collapse of Retro Computers Ltd ("Retro"). Andrews has publicly admitted (online) doing this, and his business partner Darren Melbourne has publicly admitted (online) contacting all the games rights owners in an endeavour to persuade them to withdraw their games from the Vega+.
The result of Andrews’ behaviour is that we have now been asked to provide irrefutable proof of all the licence agreements or irrevocable transferred rights we have with the games rights owners. Retro's intellectual property licensing agreements had been negotiated by Andrews himself , as is confirmed by what he wrote in his section of the eBook "Creating the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega" - an eBook that was sent to all the backers of our company's first product. :
“In due course I met David, we agreed to collaborate on the project, and we discussed the ins and outs of creating the new system. We agreed that I would handle the firmware licensing and much of the business side of the project, including the promotion and marketing, while David would work with Clive on the more technical areas.”
So Andrews has all the licences, but when he and Chris Smith resigned as directors of Retro in April 2016 he failed to deliver almost all of them in the hand-over – he delivered just 4 out of roughly 140. And as for those few rights owners who followed Melbourne’s request and asked Retro for their games to be removed from the Vega+, we did remove them, and we replaced them with other games, many of which were developed specially by Spectrum fans in order to provide us with new games.
Since we now have to prove that we have licences for all 1,000 of the games, we now have to go back and write to all the games rights owners, ask them to confirm that we still have a licence in place for using their games in the Vega+, and await their replies. If any of them now decide to jump on the Melbourne train and withdraw their games at this late stage, we will replace them with other games. But this whole process will take some time to complete, not least because some rights owners take a long time to reply to emails, and the request to provide irrefutable proof will therefore mean that we now have yet another delay forced on us as a direct result of the action by Andrews and his cohorts.
Incidentally, since the beginning of last week, when we informed our backers what Andrews and Melbourne have done, a number of you emailed us to say that they would prefer to have their Vega+ without any games already installed. This would allow them to add games they already have access to themselves. We are currently considering offering this option for those backers who ask for it, though naturally the default will be to provide the Vega+ with 1,000 games already installed.
Meanwhile Andrews has now admitted publicly that he has sent correspondence as if from a fake law firm, but using his home address, with letterheading that contains the UK's Solicitors Regulatory Authority's registration number of a law firm which is no longer trading. It is ironic that allegations from such a person has been responsible for Retro being required, at this late stage, to do something which will add a further delay to the project.
We naturally very much regret this further delay to the delivery of the Vega+. We will of course keep you all informed as we get replies from the various games rights owners.
It hardly seems worth posting a response to the constant lies from Martin and Levy, such as those posted by them today. I have already posted up the ONE (exact as sent) letter sent to their lawyer which DID NOT have any law firm on it etc. etc. as per THIER LIES - I cannot say for certain if fake documents have been created by anyone hypothetically, it has been known...
As also shown in prior posts we also posted our responses to LEVYS email to rights owners, not us…
At the end of the day Levy and Martin can shout and scream and lie to backers as much as they want, they have had the ZX Vega Plus backers money, it ALL came in after we left, they haven’t delivered, they have lied repeatedly, and so on.
Inciting backers against me, Chris and Darren and others, is all well and good. But… the paperwork doesn’t lie, so basically … whatever…
After two years of lies about me, and abuse of me, and everyone around me, it’s not that effective anymore, and again just makes them look sad. Show the proof, show the product, pay the games rights owners, pay GOSH, or refund everyone..
But for info for you all, Levy issued a notice of a shareholder meeting (as legally required) yesterday. As was expected it was left till almost exactly the last minute legally permissible on the 21st day, and the meeting has been called for exactly 28 days after that the legally furthest away date they could call it. When there is something more to tell about that we will of course. Other than the fact that as also expected it leaves one week after that meeting till Levy and Martin are unavailable as they informed the courts for three months then.
Since the beginning of last week, when we informed our backers what Andrews and Melbourne have done, a number of you emailed us to say that they they prefer to have their Vega+ without any games already installed. This would allow them to add games they already have access to themselves. And we would then issue a software update once the games are signed off. We are currently considering offering this option for those backers who ask for it, though naturally the default will be to provide the Vega+ with 1,000 games already installed.
We will be emailing out about this option and in the meantime if you would like to receive your Vega+ without the games please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the “Blankety Blank” in the subject line.
— Retro Computers Ltd
Jonathan Humphris posts on the Indiegogo comments page "Now we are able to ‘get one’ blank could anybody explain how I could add games to the console myself? Any links or explanations? I’m a novice on this games installation business??" and Lee Fogarty replies:
@Jonathan Humphris – It should be a simple process – simply put the file on the SD card, and an additional ‘keymap’ file – there will be examples around at the time, and any text editor can set them up. However this was one of the many, many items not working properly on the only FW version ever seen… It’s doubtful Janko responded well to threats to recover £50k paid to (badly) install an emulator – so where is the software?
— Lee Fogarty
Lee Fogarty posts two further times to say that loading games is not a simple task because you have to create keymap files for each game and the latest firmware is incompatible with the original Vega keymaps.
If you end up with a unit and no games, you can’t just dump games on. You need to create individual keymap files for them (RCL forgot to tell you that). And the last known FW was incompatible with the original Vega files so already created keymaps won’t work properly – if at all.
@Ian Arthur – Nobody has seen the new software (if it exists) so it’s best guess… Creating a file is easy enough, but people seem to think it’s a case of downloading a load of games and dumping to an SD card – that will never work.
— Lee Fogarty
RCL post a poll on facebook to find out what people think about releasing the Vega+ console without any games. The poll is available for those that haven't been banned from their facebook page for asking questions about photographic proof of the device, refund requests or shipping details.
Customers of Retro Computers ltd, the ZX Spectrum themed reboot firm, have now set up a website asking Sir Clive Sinclair to intervene in the non-delivery debacle.
The petition asking the Spectrum daddy to get involved was set up by disgruntled RCL customer Graham Kenny at the web address CliveHelpUs.website, with text on its homepage exhorting people who paid money to RCL via crowdfunding website Indiegogo to sign it with their order ID number to prove their authenticity.
Recipients of the petition to Sir Clive will include “relevant personnel at Retro Computers Ltd and other companies,” meaning Sinclair Research Ltd, which is Sir Clive’s corporate presence on the RCL board.
When asked to comment on the petition, RCL chairman David Levy said he would raise the matter at a planned general meeting of the company on 18 June.
On the agenda for that meeting is a motion brought by company shareholders, Paul Andrews and Chris Smith, to have Levy and fellow RCL directors Suzanne Martin and Janko Mrsic-Flogel removed and replaced with Kenneth Tointon of K Tointon Ltd, who appears to be an accountant.
An announcement on the CliveHelpUs.website informs backers the site is working again and the site has been upgraded to a secure website.
Suzanne Martin argues with Graham Kenny on twitter, and is caught lying about Graham not being a backer:
Whats this Suzanne. You're absolutely wrong about that and I've already made clear to you. My order ID's are 6393 and 6395. One being the book which was refunded. But you are correct in saying you refunded me for my first account, just not my Bobdangler account
AGREEMENT TO ARBITRATION. BY AGREEING TO THESE TERMS, USERS AGREE TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITH INDIEGOGO THROUGH BINDING ARBITRATION (AND WITH VERY FEW LIMITED EXCEPTIONS, NOT IN COURT), AND USERS WAIVE CERTAIN RIGHTS TO PARTICIPATE IN CLASS ACTIONS (AS DETAILED IN THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION, ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER IN SECTION 20 BELOW
Paul Lawrence is the first known backer to request his personal details (via email and Indiegogo) relating to the new GDPR regulations that come into force from Friday May 25th 2018:
As per article 15 of the GPDR regulations I am requesting details of any and all personal details you hold of me as well as how you are storing such data and what you are doing with said data. As per the requirement of the regulation you have one (1) month to respond to this request, the latest date of fulfilling this request would be the 25th June. I will be notifying you of this request via Indiegogo.
Today is the final day that the Vega+ consoles were supposed to be shipped to backers. Indiegogo have threatened to step in with debt collectors to recover the money if the devices are not in the hands of backers by the end of the day.
Two articles that mention Suzanne Louise Martin's criminal past are removed from Colin Rook's Real Crooks blog, but are still available in archive sites. The first post from July 26th 2017 called Suzanne Martin featured her criminal conviction details, and Suzanne Louise Martin - In Sickness and in Wealth discussed how she has hidden her wealth from her victims as well as information obtained from private investigators.
The Vega+ is mentioned in an article on the BBC website called Atari VCS throwback console attracts $2m in pre-orders. The article mentions that building consoles has had mixed results, mentioning Nintendo being successful with the classic SNES and then mentioning Retro Computers Ltd failed Vega+ console. From the article:
But on the other, there's the Sinclair ZX Vega+. It raised £512,790 and was meant to be released in 2016, but is still yet to see the light of day.
An article called The Sunday Club is removed from Colin Rook's Real Crooks blog, but is once again available in archive sites. The article mentioned that ‘The Sunday Club’ is a group of shady, shadowy figures, with a strong bond, and common interest in mostly younger women. This group has been in existence for many years and still meets to this day in one guise or another.
RCL post an update delaying the console for another 2 weeks:
We are delighted to announce that we are now estimated to ship the first batch of Vega+ units by the 15th June 2018. We will be in touch v soon with more information.
We would like to thank all of our backers and Indiegogo for their ongoing support and for recognising our perseverance.
— Retro Computers Ltd
Ethical Marketing News contacts RCL asking for a chat about about how they've run their business:
@sinclairzxvega we'd be very interested in a chat about the ethics of how you've run your business, how you can justify refusing to refund 100s of people who have asked. If you have good reasons we'd love to put your side, if not we will look to do an article on what we know.
Indiegogo has said that it is willing to extend the deadline it gave to a project attempting to make a handheld version of a classic British computer. But the crowdfunding site says that the team behind the ZX Spectrum Vega+ has yet to meet its conditions.
However, the US firm explained that the situation was more complicated. "We've taken several steps to protect our community, including demanding refunds for any backer that has requested one and banning the campaign owners from launching any other project on our platform," explained a spokesman. "We have also begun the process of sending the campaign owners to collections, which will commence unless the campaign delivers on the promises it made. "More specifically, yesterday, we sent very clear requirements, which have not yet been agreed to by the campaign owners, despite them posting a campaign update earlier today."
The conditions required of RCL are that it:
provide physical evidence of its readiness to deliver by sending a final unit to Indiegogo by 5 June
give an immediate refund to any backer who has requested one and no longer wishes to receive the console
provide contact details for a person at broadcaster Sky that is apparently delaying the consoles being sent out. The broadcaster owns some of the intellectual property involved
Indiegogo also disclosed that RCL had suggested it now planned to deliver the handheld consoles without 1,000 games pre-installed as originally promised. "If these requirements are not agreed to... we will continue with the process of sending the project to collections, which has already begun, and we will immediately notify backers, as previously discussed," the Indiegogo spokesman added.
Dr Levy alleges that much of the blame falls on an ex-director of the firm, Paul Andrews, who he described as "the vilest enemy of RCL and the Vega+ project".
Mr Andrews told the BBC that he denied this and other claims that Mr Levy had made about him, which he said had "consistently proven to be false".
Mr Andrews has acknowledged that he had pressed the company to prove the devices were "fully legally compliant", but denied he was to blame for a delay. "The RCL response was for them to write to all games rights owners... when already [many] games had been withdrawn by rights-owners," he told the BBC.
Mr Andrews is pursuing another avenue to bring matters to a head. He and another ex-director, Chris Smith, each still own a 25% stake in RCL. This has allowed them to force a shareholders meeting, which Mr Andrews said had been scheduled for 18 June. They have proposed a motion that RCL's current management be removed and a "totally independent third party" take control. "We believe it is the only way this ridiculous situation will be resolved for backers," Mr Andrews explained.
However, to succeed they need the support of Sir Clive Sinclair - the creator of the original ZX Spectrum. His firm, Sinclair Research, also owns a 25% stake in RCL. Dr Levy - who owns the other 25% - noted that Sinclair Research issued a statement on 2 May that said it did not intend to replace RCL's directors. But that commitment was based on an expectation that deliveries would take place last month, which did not transpire. Sir Clive did not respond to a request to share his current view.
Following some gentle and not-so-gentle prodding from The Register, the crowdfunding platform eventually told us that it had granted the two-week extension on condition that an example of the finished device is sent to Indiegogo HQ by Tuesday.
A company spokesman told us: "Indiegogo's Trust & Safety team has been in very close contact with the campaign owners as the investigation into the project has continued. We've taken several steps to protect our community, including demanding refunds for any backer that has requested one and banning the campaign owners from launching any other project on our platform."
He also said Indiegogo has handed RCL conditions for the 15 June extension, which are:
Physical evidence that they are actually ready to ship, in the form of a final unit being received by Indiegogo by Tuesday June 5th via FedEx
Immediate refunds to backers who have continued to request this and who no longer wish to receive the console
The name, phone number, and email address of the main contact at Sky so that we may reach out directly to understand the delay in sending units without games, as offered recently to backers
If these conditions are not met, El Reg understands that Indiegogo will refer RCL to its collections department, a process it insists "has already begun". Previously Indiegogo had promised to send in debt collectors by the end of May, a threat that appears to be weakening.
Customers of RCL, who invested in the ZX dream two years ago, recently called upon Sinclair, who has a corporate interest in RCL, to step in and save the day. No word from the legendary Brit entrepreneur so far.
RCL's latest self-imposed delivery deadline, 8-12 May, sailed by with no sign of delivery. Directors David Levy and Suzanne Martin failed to comment.
George Cropper releases a video called THE VEGA+ - THE VULTURES CIRCLE. The video discusses Indiegogo's deadline extension, the three conditions they demanded of RCL (shipping the latest unit, immediate refunds for everyone that ones one and the Sky contact) and ends with a prediction that unnamed YouTube "vultures" (presumably Kim Justice, Larry Bundy Jr, Top Hat Gaming Man etc) will be creating videos now that the Vega+ fiasco seems to be nearing the end.
A new page appears on the ZX Vega+ Shareholders Petition site allowing backers to log their refund requests so that Indiegogo has a list of everyone that has requested one. Many backers have been blocked from commenting on Indiegogo so the page allows any backer to log their refund request on a third party website where RCL cannot interfere. It appears that more than £5,000 worth of refunds have been requested in the 4 hours since the site went live.
Just wanted to let everyone know that we've updated the petition website following Fridays's announcement by Indiegogo. Due to supposed nasty trolls and other vile enemies of RCL spamming their inbox and distracting them, we at the Petition Group would like to assist RCL to help the backers, and ensure they have all the information they need at their fingertips.
We know that many backers requests for refunds have slipped through the cracks or fallen on deaf ears, so we have setup a refund page on the petition website that will not only give backers the information on how to contact RCL directly, but will also display every refund request logged with the site for RCL to see at the click of a button. All backers have to do is fill in their details and this will display their official refund request on the page. No more excuses for ignored refunds RCL, we're providing all the information for you.
As a bonus gift to RCL the page will also display the total amount of money owed to "All" backers to avoid any confusion. You're Welcome RCL, we're only too glad to help!
Retro Computers Ltd "still determined to deliver the Vega+" despite ongoing dispute with former project leads.
The company behind the crowdfunded ZX Spectrum Vega+ has just a few weeks left to deliver the console to backers before Indiegogo sends in its debt collectors.
Indiegogo has actually extended the deadline beyond the original limit, which was the end of May, according to the BBC. Retro Computers chairman Dr David Levy told the Beeb that the extension was until mid-June, a target he is optimistic about meeting.
Retro Computers chairman Dr David Levy pointed to the ongoing dispute with former director Paul Andrews as well as other previous members of the project as the reason for the delay.
"We are still determined to deliver the Vega+ to the backers and we will do so unless we are prevented by circumstances entirely beyond our control," Levy told GamesIndustry.biz in a statement.
RETRO COMPUTER CLAIMS OF SABOTAGE BY CREATIVE SPECTRUM
In April 2016, I was requested by RCL to aid in recovering their website, due to the previous directors leaving and taking the websites down. RCL had been using another company to recover the websites and were failing to do so.
It was late evening and they wanted the sites back up ASAP - the other site being Every Child can Code. That evening myself and two others restored a working version of the sites, and RCL were invoiced £1000 for the work. This work continued into the early hours.
RCL were unhappy with the site which had cost them (according to RCL) £10,000 and was a wordpress site with a free to use - and unmodified - theme. I was unaware of the amount they had paid, and when asked what my quote would have been gave a figure far, far less.
Shortly following the recovery, I received a DVD with the websites on. However, there was no database included, which would have explained why the previous company were unable to recover the sites.
I was then asked to quote for a new build of the sites, whilst charging a less than standard rate to host the older versions. So, in September 2016, a quote was sent for £2000 plus yearly hosting. The final payment for this was received in November 2016.
Following this, I was then asked to quote for Every Child Can Code, and the work commenced in December 2016, at a similar cost. The two sites were to work in tandem, and all content supplied by RCL. No content for ECCC was ever supplied, and the site stalled after code completion.
Also in December 2016, I was asked for further work on the main site. This was to create an ecommerce package to pre-sell the Vega+. Whilst the site was done, I refused to make the ecommerce pages live without assurance that the backers were receiving units. I also invoiced extra to populate the site with content as RCL hadn't started to add anything. I was repeatedly assured that the units were ready (and 6,000 had been made ready to ship), and it was just a case of adding the firmware. At that stage, whilst Suzanne Martin had complained constantly about Janko taking money and doing nothing, I was also assured that David was stepping in to force him to complete the work. I also received my first threat from RCL that I would be sued if the shop wasn't made live given that there were units ready to ship once the firmware was installed.
The shop went live in February 2017 - and to my knowledge took around £4,500 in sales before I shut the sites down in September 2017.
Section 8 of the CS contract states that:- "Electronic Commerce Laws. The Client agrees that the Client is solely responsible for complying with any laws, taxes, and tariffs applicable in any way to the Web Design Project or any other services contemplated herein, and will hold harmless, protect, and defend Creative Spectrum and its subcontractors from any claim, suit, penalty, tax, fine, penalty, or tariff arising from the Client's exercise of Internet electronic commerce and/or any failure to comply with any such laws, taxes, and tariffs."
At no point did RCL raise any issues with the work, or continued work on the website, there was a lot more added to the sites than were made live - for example there was a Vega users club whereby users register and enter the serial number for their product and could win prizes, etc. I needed an list of known serial numbers to verify accounts - never provided. So, that work had ended or stalled due to lack of content, and as far as I was concerned my work was done. However, Suzanne Martin, during a heated telephone exchange, insisted that RCL owns all software written by Creative Spectrum (and developed by myself over a period of 10yrs), and demanded a full copy of all the source code. I of course refused, despite several threats of court action. I also pointed RCL to the relevant sections of the contract stating that all software belongs to Creative Spectrum:-
"Ownership The website/software code is owned entirely by Creative Spectrum and resides on our servers for increased security."
Following that, it was clear from Suzanne that Janko had no intention of completing the software, so I agreed to act as consultant to work through the issues. This involved amongst other things, unit testing, sourcing firmware, games testing, etc.. All of my advice and work there was ignored - but again, no complaints. It was also known to RCL that my invoices were for 1/3 of my normal charges. *However* it also seems now that someone else was also invoicing RCL for the remaining 2/3 of my costs. I have no knowledge of what this other person did.
In September 2017, I was increasingly concerned with comments Suzanne was making regarding the project - she had spent most of the previous year on her personal vendettas, and had to be constantly reigned in to focus on the project. This had become an almost impossible task, so a make or break meeting was arranged to persuade me that the V2 was indeed ready to go "in two weeks" as promised to me.
At this meeting, I was shown a 3D printed case. The reasoning behind the V2 was a slight problem with V1 - if you drop it, the screen falls out. Whilst the V2 does look more like Ricks design, it was hardly convincing that delivery would commence in 2 weeks. In addition, I was informed that the guys I had in place for the firmware wouldn't be used, and a friend of Suzannes was going to write a custom emulator in those 2 weeks. I pointed out the impossibility of that happening and was told "software is easy - it's just shifting bits of code". Let it sink in there that this is from the MD of a tech company.
So, I was left in two minds as to whether to keep pushing to get the console out, or leave. The decision was made when Suzanne contacted me approximately 2 weeks later insisting that I don't use social media. It was clear she had done something again to wind the trolls up, and totally fed up with them goading each other and dragging me into it, I told her I would no longer support the project. This was around the same time my children were being targeted. This wasn't the first threat I had towards my children - a year before, Nick Humphries (YSRNRY) had threatened to make my kids homeless. I terminated the call when she started screaming at me. She immediately contacted my partner and insisted that I was one of the trolls targeting RCL, and there would be consequences to me ditching them. She insisted that my partner talk me into changing my mind - which she refused to do. She was contacted again the following day with the same threats.
RCL at that point refused to pay outstanding invoices - claiming now that they paid consultancy in advance... something which no company to my knowledge (or experience) have ever done! I pointed out to them that any payments not received result in withdrawal of all services and termination of any contracts. They continued to refuse payment, so after a period of around 30 days, all services were terminated.
What followed was several attempts by RCL to hack the software to remove their account restrictions.
In December 2017, I received an automated email from the RCL contact form - this email confirms when you have contacted them, along with your message. The email said "go fuck yourself suzanne, you are fucked now and not up the arse by david" which was an indication to me that they were once again attempting to hack the software.
At the same time, I was also contacted by Action Fraud as Suzanne had made a complaint that I had stolen their software and shut down their business. He had spent 2 days investigating prior to contacting me (and I suspect from the content of the call, he had also been in contact with CID investigating Paul Andrews). He was promptly sent copies of contracts, quotes for additional work, screenshots and other supporting evidence. He apologised for wasting my time, and stated that if they attempted anything else to contact him directly as he wasn't happy at wasting two days on Suzanne.
Since then, RCL have made a series of bizzare statements, on social media and to the press insisting I was fired, I have sabotaged their business, I have been paid by Paul Andrews, and many more. They have also stated that they aren't paying outstanding debts because they were never happy with the work, and they now have nothing to show for the websites. The outstanding debts aren't for websites - they are unpaid consultancy fees.
As you are aware, we recently provided the Vega+ team a provisional extension (June 15th) to fulfill, based on some requirements from us. These included sending us contact information of Sky representatives, and refunding backers immediately upon request, as well as providing Indiegogo with a review console.
Unfortunately, these asks have not been met and we are unable to further provide the Vega+ team an extension. This has been a challenging situation for all involved, and one we thought would be resolved with the backers receiving their game consoles.
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. 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.
We hope that the Vega+ team follows through on their promise, and that any remedial efforts on our part will be rendered obsolete.
Crowdfunding site Indiegogo has called time on a high-profile British project to create a retro handheld console.
The US firm has told backers of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ that it is appointing a debt collection agency to recoup funds from the London-based company behind the campaign. It said Retro Computers Ltd (RCL) had failed to meet the conditions it had set to be given more time.
The BBC has asked RCL to comment but has yet to get a response. But the firm's Twitter account has posted: "To be clear we offered to demo the unit to Indiegogo's London-based representative and this is how they have reacted."
Indiegogo, however, had demanded a unit be couriered over to its offices so that it could carry out its own checks. "The campaign owners have not met the requirements Indiegogo sent last week," a spokesman for Indiegogo said in a statement. "Our Trust & Safety team is now continuing the process of sending this campaign to collections in an effort to return funds to backers."
Sky does own some of the intellectual property rights involved, since it owns Amstrad, which acquired Sinclair's marketing and merchandising rights in 1986. However, a spokeswoman for the firm denied it had held up deliveries.
A statement from David Levy that was written almost a week ago (on June 1st) is published on the RCL facebook page. The statement blames everyone but RCL for the latest in a long line of failures.
Statement by Dr David Levy, Chairman of Retro Computers Ltd 1st June 2018 ===============================================
Paul Andrews, by his own admission, created our company's Indiegogo campaign and, up until very recently, and only after multiple threats to Indegogo, was his name removed from the campaign. Like a contract you cannot retrospectively remove or erase your name from such an agreement. The undertakings made by Andrews as owner of the campaign, and the campaign itself, were based on his assertion that Chris Smith's work was at a certain stage, with a working prototype ready to go into production. Andrews and Smith subsequently withheld those IP assets and some of the company's funds, depriving not only Retro Computers Ltd, but also the backers - the most important people in all of this - of the benefits of a completed project and delivery of the Vega+. He turned Retro Computers Ltd and his new company, Retro Games Ltd, into his own personal fiefdom.
As you will have seen, we are still determined to deliver the Vega+ to the backers and we will do so unless we are prevented by circumstances entirely beyond our control. We wish to thank the many backers who have been and still are fully supportive of our finishing the project. They are more than aware of the real problems we have faced, far more than we had realised, and we thank them very sincerely for their ongoing support and kindness.
Those who have been following the saga of our disputes with Paul Andrews, Chris Smith, Nicholas Cooper and Darren Melbourne, will have seen that they have done just about everything in their power to damage Retro Computers Ltd, to prevent the Vega+ project from coming to fruition, and to attack the company and ourselves by way of a horrendous, malicious, intimidating online campaign, extending back more than two years. You will also know that their efforts to kill the Vega+ project include Paul Andrews contacting just about all of our trading partners, threatening them with legal action or attempting to disaffect them from working with us on this project. What we do know is that none of our current partners is prepared to work with Andrews.
Darren Melbourne's efforts have been mainly in the direction of disaffecting the games rights owners to persuade them to terminate their licence agreements with RCL. And even acquiring rights and subsequently withdrawing them. Melbourne has also intimidated rights owners by emailing them saying that their reputations would be damaged if they did not remove their games from RCL's collection. This type of intimidating behaviour has also extended to those of our backers who have supported us online with good wishes for our completion of the project, who as a result of displaying their support for RCL received threatening and intimidating messages inviting them "politely" to withdraw their comments. This included threats of legal action by Andrews. Andrew' efforts in this direction have included using a fake law firm, LSB International Legal Services operating from his home address, using the credentials (the Solicitors Regulatory Authority registration number) of a genuine law firm (Crawfords) which is no longer trading, all of which he has publicly admitted and confirmed in another online publication. We can now confirm that he used his fake firm to intimidate not only the current board but several other supplier or partners including Indiegogo.
This information has been passed to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority who are investigating the matter.
Some of the rights owners acceeded to Melbourne's request, but we have replaced their games with others for which we have licenses from the owners. Furthermore, Andrews and Smith have consistently refused to hand over to the RCL management team the company's IP for the Vega+, which forced us to commission the development of new software, hardware and CADs for the plastics, at very considerable cost and causing very considerable delays.
When we announced shipping we immediately received a fake press release stating that 75% of the shareholders in RCL were seeking to remove all the current directors. Simultaneously we were served with a notice, to call a General Meeting of RCL to remove all the shareholders (not the directors). This was signed by 50% of the shareholders, i.e. Andrews and Smith, and not by 75% as stated in their press release. We then established that Andrews had issued the press release without Sinclair Research Ltd's knowledge, stating it to be on behalf of three shareholders (Andrews, Smith and SRL), without the knowledge or permission of SRL who then issued their own statement:
“In the light of the press statement by Retro Computers Ltd that deliveries of the Vega+ product are due to commence in approximately a week’s time Sinclair Research Ltd does not intend to replace the directors at the forthcoming shareholder meeting. The statement released by Smith and Andrews on Friday 27th does not reflect Sinclair Research's current position on this matter."
The lengths to which Andrews and Smith have gone in their attempts to kill the Vega+ project, while at the same time Andrews was professing publicly (online) to want RCL to succeed and the project to be completed and delivered, is perhaps best illustrated by their support for RCL's erstwhile sales agent Nicholas Cooper and his company Cornerstone Media International Ltd. You probably know that Cooper/Cornerstone were brought on board the Vega marketing plans by Paul Andrews, having been longtime friends (15 years or so) and having previously carried out business together (and they were still doing business together). When Andrews recommended Cooper/Cornerstone as RCL's sales agent I took Andrews at face value and trusted his recommendation, but that mistake resulted in the misappropriation of almost £100,000 of RCL's sales revenues, by Cooper/Cornerstone, and substantial legal costs in attempting to recover that money. (There is a further £225,000 approx of unexplained transfers from Cornerstone's bank account.) Cooper and Cornerstone were never permitted to receive money directly on behalf of RCL and all the money received by Cornerstone relating to sales of the Vega was received outside of the scope of the contract between RCL and Cornerstone.
Investigations by forensic accountants are ongoing, in the search to discover where various monies from Cornerstone's bank account ended up, some of which was the misappropriated sales revenues from RCL. Only today we received the first report from these forensic accountants, which I am appending below. You will already know that Cooper put his company into liquidation on January 31st 2017, and then declared himself bankrupt in November 2017. You will see from the report below that Nicholas Cooper spent a tremendous amount of money at casinos, supporting his gambling habit partly with RCL's money. Yet Andrews and Smith wrote letters for Cooper to use in his defence in Court, letters stating that they did not want RCL to attempt to recover the misappropriated sales revenues. Paul Andrews has sought to use and publicize the RCL shareholders agreement to try to stop RCL's legal action against Cooper/Cornerstone, but in fact the RCL shareholders agreement was repudiated by Andrews and Smith by their resignations as directors on April 8th 2016, so it was no longer in force. Thereafter Andrews and Smith withheld the company's IP and most of its accounting paperwork. Smith, through his lawyers accepts the repudiation.
The online campaign against RCL and against Suzanne and myself personally, had its roots in the misappropriation of those sales revenues. The day after Cooper told Suzanne in a phone call (in mid-April 2016) that money from RCL's sales to Argos would be paid to Andrews UK Ltd, a company whose sole owner and director is Paul Andrews, the online onslaught against us started. Cooper quickly corrected himself in that phone call when he realised what he had said, but by then the cat was out of the bag. RCL's sales revenues would not be paid to Retro Computers Ltd but to Andrews, who has denied receiving any of it. In May 2016 we asked Mr Andrews and Mr Smith to explain where the missing sales revenues were, but Andrews was either unwilling or unable to answer the question. Instead, he instigated a dramatic increase in the ferocity of the online campaign against us. Later in 2016 we formally asked Andrews to repay to RCL a sum in excess of £80,000 which he had paid from the RCL account to various of his own companies, without any supporting documentary evidence as to the expenditure. To date, this amount remains unpaid.
For the above reasons and others we are very clear that it is Paul Andrews, with the help of his cohorts, who has been the vilest enemy of RCL and the Vega+ project, even though he and Smith still own 50% of the equity in the company. It is Andrews and his cohorts who have been preventing RCL from delivering the Vega+ up to now. We ask ourselves why Andrews and Smith, with 50% of the company, would not want the company to recover the misappropriated money, to be successful, and to deliver to the backers. Andrews paid himself, via his companies,more than £80,000 out of the approx £150,000 raised by RCL's first Indiegogo campaign, putting RCL in a precarious position. In fact, at the time when Andrews and Smith resigned, the company was heavily in debt, with Andrews having been the Managing Director and responsible for the financial management of the company, and with the two of them having been the only people on the bank mandate and therefore the only ones who could make payments from the RCL bank account. Additionally, we recently became aware that, having paid his own company, Mikrogen Media, tens of thousands of pounds from the RCL bank account, Smith then filed dormant accounts for that company for the corresponding period, filed at Companies House where Chris Smith is an employee.
As I say, we are still determined to deliver the Vega+ unless we are prevented from doing so as a result of the actions of Andrews and his cohorts. But if we are prevented from doing so, and if there is any legal action against the company and/or its current directors, then Paul Andrews will be brought in as a co-defendant, since he was the owner of the Indiegogo campaign, and both he and Smith were the root cause of RCL's problems.
Statement by Dr David Levy, Chairman of Retro Computers Ltd ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
6th June 2018
Indiegogo have today released a statement. Contrary to what they claim in this we suggested that we demonstrate a unit to their London based representative in order to expedite one of the points they have requested us to address. Their response, without further contact or clarification, was to issue the statement from which we quote below, which is a distortion of our response. Indiegogo state:
"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. 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. "
Our current position is that we are still determined to deliver to backers and have this morning received a number of messages from backers asking us not to give up. It is clear, and has been clear to us for some time, that the vast majority of backers are very alive to the true problem, which is not the current board of Retro Computers Ltd, but the carnage that was left behind and the subsequent actions of the two ex-directors, Paul Andrews and Chris Smith, who created a rival company with an almost identical name - Retro Games Ltd - and who have themselves created a rival project ( a retro version of the Commodore 64). Their own Indiegogo campaign followed ours by only 6 weeks, but has yet to show any evidence at all of creating any of the products for which their campaign attracted some $100,000 in backing. They continued to sell those products from their corporate web site even though they knew that they woud not be producing it. Instead they have produced an alternative lower cost product, one which comes with a joystick that many backers have said breaks easily.
As we repeatedly point out, the vast majority of our backers for the Vega+ are supportive of us and want us to deliver their Vega+. Paul Andrews & Co have launched a petition for backers who wish to have a refund instead of waiting for their Vega+, and according to the web site for that petition there are only 111 backers, out of more than 4,700, who are requesting a refund, and some of those 111 had already been refunded before submitting their names to the petition. (We shall be naming them in dure course.)
Statements such as today's one from Indiegogo are, of course, highly destabilizing for our company and the Vega+ project. Indiegogo have admitted to us that they have been in frequent communication with Paul Andrews, our company's former Managing Director who has been attempting for the past two years to bring about the demise of our company and the Vega+ project, while at the same time publicly professing to wish the company and the project well. Sadly, as a result of Mr Andrews' actions, Indiegogo have seen fit to make this and earlier statements which have poured oil on the flames and made it more difficult for us to deliver the Vega+ project. Far from helping their backers to receive the Vega+, Indiegogo's statements have had the opposite effect, by worrying some of our suppliers
What has happened in the past few days is that Indiegogo asked for proof that we are ready to ship the product and requested that we send them a unit to their San Francisco office. We responded yesterday saying that we would sooner give a demonstration of a unit to their UK representative, and asking Indiegogo to request that he contact us to fix an appointment. Their reaction was this latest statement.
As Indiegogo say, the process they are trying to put in place will take considerable time, and clearly we can forestall it by starting to ship the Vega+ to backers. They point out, in this statement, that the Vega+ team still has the opportunity to fulfill on their obligations of shipping the console to backers, which is exactly what we are striving to do.
We have no doubt that Paul Andrews will continue, with the help of his cohorts, to do whatever he can to cause Retro Computers Ltd and the Vega+ project to crash. He is under investigation for various of the actions he has taken against our company and against the Vega+ team individually. A few days ago we received the first evidence obtained by a team of forensic accountants who are investigating Mr Andrews' longtime friend and business associate Nicholas Cooper, who Mr Andrews recommended be appointed our company's first sales agent, but who subsequently misappropriated a substantial amount in sales revenues which were due to our company from sales of the original Vega product. . That evidence shows that Mr Cooper had a substantial gambling habit, which we believe could have provided at least part of his motivation for misappropriating our company's funds. During the period when Retro Computers Ltd was pursuing Mr Cooper and his company Cornerstone Media International Ltd through the courts, Mr Andrews (and Mr Smith, our company's former Technical Director) attempted unsuccessfully to assist in Mr Cooper's defence, by writing letters he could use in court to show that Mr Andrews and Mr Smith did not want Retro Computers Ltd to pursue Cooper/Cornerstone for the misappropriated money. Why they should not want Retro Computers Ltd, in which they each own 25% of the equity, to recover the misappropriated money, is something which is still under investigation.
For the avoidance of doubt I wish to make it clear that the Retro Computers Ltd team is doing everything we can to start shipping the Vega+ to backers, and we expect to succeed unless we are prevented by the damage done by Paul Andrews and the latest Indiegogo statement.
London, June 6th 2018
— David Levy
Replies to both posts consist of anger and a demand for photos. Suzanne Martin refuses to reply to any requests for photos.
Crowdfunding website Indiegogo has said it will continue its process for calling in debt collectors as another product delivery deadline sailed past for flailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd.
This time the deadline was imposed by Indiegogo, which told RCL to deliver a production-ready Vega+ console to its US HQ by yesterday. The crowdfunding website handed RCL that deadline at the start of June, as we reported.
In addition to proving that the Vega+ exists, RCL was told by Indiegogo last week to give them contact details for a representative of Sky, which holds the commercial rights for the use of the Sinclair brand name. According to the crowdfunding platform, these demands were not met.
RCL chairman David Levy told The Register: "We suggested that we demonstrate to their London-based representative in order to expedite one of the points they have requested us to address. Their response, without further contact or clarification, was to issue the statement quoted from [above], which is a distortion of our response."
Reading between the lines, it appears Indiegogo has done little about the passing of another deadline – ironically, given RCL's own behaviour over the past two years, while making a statement intended to give the impression that action is now being taken. Five days ago a company spokesman assured The Register that it had already "begun the process of sending the campaign owners to collections".
A spokesman at Indiegogo told us today: "Our Trust & Safety team is now continuing the process of sending this campaign to collections in an effort to return funds to backers. During this time, the campaign owners are still able to pursue fulfillment of the project and they are not prevented from shipping any units that are ready to be sent out to backers."
The Register has seen a copy of RCL's bank account statements that were filed as evidence in the successful refund court case mentioned above. Its published accounts, as held by Companies House, state the firm had capital and reserves of £433,008 on 30 March 2017, with total assets stated as being worth £760,945. The company bank account for that date had a stated balance of £1,210.31. As a legally defined micro-entity, RCL files abbreviated accounts with very little detail.
Shortly after publishing, an amendment is made:
An Indiegogo spokesman has contacted The Register since publication to contest Dr Levy's assertion that RCL had offered in good time to show off a console to an Indiegogo rep in the UK.
"The offer from the campaign owners [RCL] to demo a unit in London came after they already missed the deadline Indiegogo set," the crowdfunding platform's PR man told us. He added: "Indiegogo does not have a London office or a full-time employee in the city."
Nick Cooper posts the following in the public discussion facebook group to inform visitors that David Levy appears to have breached the data protection act to gain information in an attempt to blackmail Nick's ageing father:
After discussing the statements released by Retro Computers Ltd CEO David Levy with legal representatives i would like the follow statement seen.
As stated in his statement Levy confirms that the IP for the original Vega and firmware on the Vega+ was not purchased although has previously stated he over paid for it and supplied a blanked out falsified invoice to justify his comments.
There are many accusations placed in this statement, but the fact of the matter is that my statement from the beginning of this saga has not faltered or been changed and is true.
He claims conversations that just did not happen and no evidence to support such claims.
The one part which he is completely right on was that I have gambled in the past, I would never dispute this but not to the extent quoted.
However how he obtained this information is more the question. Levy or RCL are not creditors in my bankruptcy. The information relating to this was supplied to the insolvency service two weeks ago relating to my personal bank account but no permission was given to hand this information to a third party who had no right to it.
In addition information he obtained was twisted and two emails last week were sent to my aging father demanding answers for. When these were not replied to in a satisfactory manner, a further email was sent on Saturday. This email which i do have, suggested a sit down meeting with Martin and him in Kent to discuss the situation and see if there was a solution to satisfy all parties. Now for anyone who doesn't know levy or martins past, this is their MO, to get a family member to pay them to stop pursuing and go away.
So I have them for breaching data protection, harassment of a member of my family and blackmail / extortion.
They would have you believe they are upstanding citizens and i and others are the bad guys.
Well all this information has been sent to insolvency service and the police so we shall see.
As you all know on Monday the RCL shareholders meeting is being held. For this reason you will all understand I am sure that till after that meeting it would be inappropriate for me or Chris to comment on posts within the group, or join in to any extent as the last thing any of us would want is any attempt by a third party to use anything said to try to derail the meeting in any way. Hence please excuse us not commenting for that reason.
However, as it's no longer the case, I can tell you all something. Levy having an excellent sense of humour, and I am sure in no way trying to troll us or backers had originally told us the meeting was to be held in a public place which was here -
I am sure most of you can work out the significance of said venue.
We did not reveal that meeting location to backers etc as we did not want any excuse to be given as to why anyone could not possibly attend.
For reasons we are not sure of, today we received an email from Levy stating that due to 'privacy and security' reasons the meeting venue had been changed to X location. Again we have not and will not reveal this location to the public.
A second email from Levy also stated they would be recording the meeting, I replied to state we would also by return.
Obviously this is an important meeting and no one should preempt the outcome of it.
We will of course, as no doubt Levy and Martin will also, make public the outcome after the meeting. Till then please excuse our relative radio silence.
As ever thanks to all of you for your ongoing support, you all know it's a two way street between us all.
The platform confirmed to us that its corporate attorney has written to RCL seeking reimbursement from the company so that it can pay back RCL’s customers, or “backers,” as Indiegogo refers to people who use its website to place orders for production-ready items.
Over the past two years RCL has consistently and repeatedly failed to deliver its product, raising questions about the viability of the crowdfunding business model and how it interacts with long-established consumer protections for the sale of goods.
Indiegogo could possibly experience some difficulty recovering the money on behalf of RCL’s customers. The Register has seen a copy of RCL’s bank statements, as filed at Luton County Court earlier this year, which showed a closing balance of £7,065.30 on 12 June last year, the latest date within the filed accounts. The funds were last topped up by a £16,000 VAT rebate from HMRC on 25 May 2017. It remains possible that the balance of the £513,000 is held in another account, or on the firm’s Paypal account.
During the period 12 March 2016 to 12 June 2017 a total of £187,928 was paid by Indiegogo to RCL, according to the accounts seen by El Reg. On its accounting date of 30 March 2017 RCL said, in Companies House P&L filings, that it had capital and reserves of £433,008. Its account balance on that day was £1,210.31, as we previously revealed.
Customers of RCL have repeatedly asked the firm to at least post a picture of the Vega+, which it has insisted for years is on the point of being delivered. RCL has not done so.
The Register has asked RCL chairman David Levy to comment on the Indiegogo lawyer’s letter and what the platform says is his non-response to it. We will update this article if we hear back from him.
A meeting of RCL’s shareholders is due to take place this coming Monday (18 June). One of the motions on the agenda is the dismissal of David Levy, company MD Suzanne Martin and CTO Janko Mrsic-Flogel. The Register understands that the key vote in the meeting will be that of Sinclair Research Ltd (SRL), which is Sir Clive's corporate shareholding presence in RCL.
Though Sir Clive is not expected to attend the meeting in person, we understand that a voting representative of SRL will do so. If Sinclair votes to dismiss the current board, a new management team may take a different approach to the Vega+.
In the meantime a group of disgruntled RCL customers has set up a petition calling for RCL to refund them at clivehelpus.website. At the time of writing it has 323 signatories totaling £37,420.
George Cropper releases his 58th video called THE VEGA+ - YET MORE NOTHING. The video features a dalek and an amusing comment that "Levy’s voice sounds like someone trying to play a recorder really badly under water, whilst another person slowly deflates a balloon on a nearby river bank" at 7 minutes 27 seconds:
The Shareholders meeting takes place, with the main agenda item being whether to fire the current directors David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Janko-Mrsic Flogel. Paul Andrews posts on facebook that the shareholders meeting has been adjourned:
Guys just to let you all know for now the shareholders meeting has been adjourned for two weeks. Past that I will answer what I can and is appropriate later upon my return.
A key shareholders' meeting has been adjourned, prolonging the Retro Computers Ltd ZX Spectrum Vega+ saga for another fortnight.
With Andrews and Smith supporting a motion for the dismissal of the current directors and Levy naturally opposing it, that leaves the one crucial vote of SRL, as discussed previously. From yesterday's two-week adjournment any onlooker might surmise that SRL's vote is the sticking point. None present at the meeting would tell El Reg details of what was discussed or the reason for the adjournment.
At this stage RCL's current management has stopped providing updates to its Indiegogo page, which was once regularly refreshed with news of imminent delivery deadlines, the repeated breaking of which prompted the crowdfunding platform to start sending them lawyers' letters asking to be reimbursed.
The Register has seen a copy of his claim form, in which he claimed Martin "insisted that RCL owns all software written by Creative Spectrum (and developed by myself over a period of 10 years), and demanded a full copy of all the source code".
Fogarty's total claim is for £870.15, a sum that includes £200 for "dealing with hacking and false fraud allegations".
The County Court Business Centre at Northampton confirmed to The Register this morning that the claim was issued yesterday and no defence has yet been filed.
More images and footage to follow vv soon - these are clips taken using an Iphone. This should give you an idea of how the fully working Vega+ looks.
You might even catch your name on the roll of honour.
So for now here she is - introducing the Vega+ V2
Thank you for being so patient and the continued support
— Retro Computers Ltd
Backer feedback is extremely negative to the video and 24 additional people sign up to the Vega+ Refund Request List over a period of several hours. Problems found in the video include:
A tube of UHU glue is present in the top right part of the video. Lee Fogarty has previously posted on social media that the screen falls out of the previous version, hence the glue may have been used to lock the screen in place for the demo.
The 1000 promised games due to be shipped out with the console have been reduced to only 18 titles.
The paint is already flaking off the buttons, particularly the top button.
The buttons appear to require a large amount of force to operate.
The rainbow sticker appears to have been manually stuck on in the wrong place.
The Sinclair logo that was prominent in the original Rick Dickinson design but is almost completely invisible.
Indiegogo tweet messages about Arrow Certification for projects, and various backers tweet replies about the certification being removed from the Vega+ campaign. Indiegogo are caught lying when they reply saying that the Vega+ campaign never had certification. Several backers upload screenshots showing the Arrow certification logo was there, and Indiegogo block the users and delete the tweet. An almost identical tweet is then posted, and once again removed when proof is uploaded by various backers.
Jan Saggiori uploads an extremely poor photo of the Vega+ but posts to say that he is loving the Vega+ already:
The video doesn’t contain all names. We can make sure all names are included when we update the FW.
— Suzanne Martin
A similar comment about having their name missing and being ignored is made when posting "My name is missing from the roll of honour, I’ve emailed you twice but no reply..." and Suzanne again admits the unit is not the final complete unit:
Apologies the roll of Honour on Screen will be updated.
It is no secret that Sir Clive Sinclair has been in poor health for some considerable time. Over this extended period, the current board of Retro Computers Limited have sought to support him at every opportunity in both his professional and private life. Having shared a personal friendship with some of the current board spanning several decades. It is with much sadness that we announce that it has reached a point where Sir Clive no longer looks after his own day to day affairs, and as his advisors have pointed out he has not been "doing much directing lately".
We ask that you do not disabuse this statement as after all without him and his incredible mind and legacy there would be no Spectrum Community at all.
The Board of Ditrectors Retro Computers Limited 23rd June 2018.
— David Levy
Paul Andrews posts a possible reason for RCL to suddenly submit the paperwork and remove Sinclair Research Limited as a corporate director:
As stated previously after the share holders meeting (held on the 18th of June 2018 from midday till approximately close to 3pm end) it is not currently appropriate to comment or discuss what was discussed or said at the meeting.
However based on the public news via backers/companies house this morning that Sinclair Research Ltd has been removed as corporate director of Retro Computers Ltd, for clarity we need to state the following facts -
SRL at the time of backing us to call the shareholders meeting stated to us they had asked RCL to remove them as directors of RCL prior to that date, hence the requested footnote in that original statement.
At the shareholders meeting RCL confirmed they had not removed SRL as director as SRL had not submitted the correct paperwork to RCL.
On that basis SRL acted as not just shareholders within the meeting but also as corporate directors, using that right to ask for information directors can request, but shareholders can be denied.
I or Chris was unaware SRL would be removed prior to the adjourned meeting being resumed.
This statement of fact is to clarify those points, which we believe backers have the right to know under the circumstances, but we will not comment further on this matter till after the resumed shareholders meeting has taken place.
Thanks for your understanding in this, and we will not comment further.
— Paul Andrews
Paul Andrews has previously posted (on April 27th 2018) stating that Sinclair Research Limited had not been a director of Retro Computers Ltd for quite some time but RCL had failed to submit the paperwork to Companies House.
RCL send a complaint to the hosting company of the Clive Help Us website, claiming that the site is illegally hosting bank statements. The site does not host any of the files, and simply links to the bank statements hosted elsewhere. Despite this, the website is taken offline with the site showing 448 backers requesting £51,140 worth of refunds.
A facebook post from the Clive Help Us website team says that they spent most of the night responding to the takedown request, and the website is restored on the condition that the bank statements are removed from the site. The original accounts page can be accessed via a link on archive.org.
The takedown from RCL backfires as a significant number of people outraged by RCL filling the Indiegogo comments about the incident and sign up for refunds.
Backer Paul Lawrence requested all his personal information from RCL on May 24th 2018, requesting that all information be supplied by June 25th 2018. RCL failed to reply, breaking the new general data protection regulations that can cause significant fines. Paul follows up his request by posting on Indiegogo:
Just a quick bit of info for you all, while as ever I can't comment on the meeting itself, I feel it's appropriate to confirm to you all, that the 'second half' of the RCL shareholders meeting will be held on Tuesday the 3rd July 2018.
Other than that please don't ask me to comment, but as most people seemed to have assumed it was going to be Monday I wanted to confirm that to you all.
Also got to get hands on with and (try to) play the atrociousness that was a Spectrum Vega + ...... if the prototypes are anything to go by, seriously I’d be glad to be getting my money back. The screen has a weird sort of refresh rate roll, the buttons feel about as responsive as a ZX80 keyboard, the thing hardly worked, build quality was shocking, and the way the on screen keyboard is implemented is terrible - to even be viable it would need to be touch screen. It completely sucks the fat one. Then you put it beside the Spectrum Next, and wonder how the hell two related projects can go so drastically different.
What an absolute pile of shit this thing is. Seriously, even if you paid for it, you don’t want it. Felt it was going to crumble in my hands, or evaporate in a puff of smoke like the vapourware it is.
Bag of shite it’s was really bad.
In response to "Was there anything good about it?": Turning it off and putting it down was good.
Most of us couldn’t get it to turn off. It crashed and/or refused to respond.
I liked the overall design, but it looks better on paper. If it had a bit of weight and some better materials it would feel nice. But it was sharp, the d-pad was weird and all the buttons felt like crap.
Yeah the buttons was bad I don’t know how you’d make them that spongey
Bright and colourful, but not sharp, and it had a weird screen refresh/roll thing going on.
In response to "That's going to be a collector's item in a couple of years with a high price tag": Doubt it’ll last that long tbh.
At the end of June 2018, the ZX Vega+ Refunds Request page finishes on 462 backers requesting £52,635 worth of refunds.
Latest Funky Spectrum RCL Videos
Confirmation of the shilling that went on from certain individuals during this absolute scandal. What a disgrace! (03/04/2019)
Well it seems justice has prevailed for once and no surprises there to be honest what a ridiculous bit of behaviour ! (15/03/2019)