The potential Class-Action Lawsuit against Soylent


#1

When Soylent ‘loses’ or ‘misplaces’ a customer’s order, and the customer has forgotten about the purchase they made so many months earlier, what does Soylent plan to do with the revenue generated from these orders that they can’t find?

In reading the messages here in the forums, judging by the number of ‘misplaced’ overdue orders that are suddenly found and quickly shipped after a customer complains in the forums (after getting no viable response by email…), it is my opinion that Soylent is currently not reliably looking for or finding the orders they misplace, and instead of having an effective system of auditing their orders are instead relying on the customer to notify Soylent of the lost/misplaced order.

Where does this leave the customers who have forgotten about their purchase made so many months earlier? Is this considered ‘accidental theft’ or actual fraud on the part of Soylent, knowing that Soylent is aware of and has previously acknowledged their problem with orders “falling through the cracks”, yet Soylent has no reliable or timely plan in place to locate the missing orders, other than to wait for the customer to notify Soylent of the unfulfilled order.

Shipping an overdue misplaced order quickly after a customer complains should not be confused with offering good customer service, and is not an acceptable alternative to auditing the orders daily to find orders which have become lost, or having an effective system in place to prevent lost orders in the first place. Some may consider Soylent’s current method of dealing with lost orders to be good customer service, but after having arrived at that point, providing good customer service is no longer a possibility, instead, at that point, Soylent is only providing varying levels of bad customer service.

Some may say you can’t find what you don’t know you’ve lost, (hence the need for regular audits) but knowing the ‘lost order’ problem exists and choosing to wait for the customer to notify you of a lost order amounts to ‘intentionally’ never finding and never fulfilling the orders where the customer doesn’t contact you, and quite frankly, in the mail-order industry, smells of fraud. I’m reminded of the con-man’s catch-phrase: “I’d rather owe it to you than cheat you out of it.”.

I’m no lawyer, so I wonder how a class action lawsuit could be pursued against Soylent on behalf of customers who have completely forgotten about their orders, and subsequently never receive their purchase or a refund? Perhaps a court could compel Soylent to find and fulfill/refund all their lost/misplaced orders…


#2

Tagging @Soylent in case they haven’t seen this. I have no feedback here.

The overall lack of communication lately has become a little disheartening; there was a brief period of time where multiple RL employees were regularly participating on the forums here but since the introduction of the generic “Soylent” admin user I feel like the only posts I see between version updates are responses to the sorts of issues you mention in this post. I have faith in the product but this community is probably in need of a community manager; it’s impressive that the community is as vibrant as it is without RL’s active participation.


#3

I am very sure it isn’t fraud that is happening here. That being said, of cause they should fix this problem. But it may be a matter of perspective, you just see what is happening here on the forum. You can’t see if they are activly tracking down lost orders already. A @soylent comment would be wise on their part to avoid the above scenario


#4

In other words, your title of this thread was completely misleading since it talks about a class action lawsuit that doesn’t exist.


#5

I think that was the point, to get people to look/take it seriously. Sensationalist, yes, but probably pretty effective


#6

It would be really effective for me to say that your house is on fire and would get lots of immediate attention, but you wouldn’t trust my subsequent utterances, and rightly so.


#7

in a class-action lawsuit, only the lawyers win. Everyone else loses.


#8

Perhaps, but if you told me that my house was on fire and then, on noticing that it was not actually on fire, you proceeded to explain that it was moments from catching fire due to the open flame near my curtains, I might be inclined (if not annoyed) to pay attention


#9

Kind of the feeling I got from this post, actually. Who’s honestly to gain from a CAL against Soylent? What’s at risk?

quickedit: @nwoll27 That is unreasonably alarmist. Here, let me sell you this whistle that keeps lions away.


#10

I’m just saying that an alarmist thread title shouldn’t discredit the point that this is some of the most consistently flawed customer service I’ve seen (in spite of the fact that they’ve done a good job of giving me, personally, a good experience). “Class-Action Lawsuit” is probably not the outcome here, but there’s a difference between a snake oil salesman and a member of the community who is actually trying to help.

Probably I’m making a mistake in giving OP the benefit of the doubt, but the revolving door of “Where’s My Shipment?” threads hasn’t shown any signs of stopping in the months since I’ve been on Soylent, and the communication has only slowed down. It’s a valid topic of discussion.


#11

This scenario for a class action lawsuit is totally unrealistic, it seems to me. If someone has been financially ripped off by this company, the first thing they should do is write a letter to this company and demand to be compensated. This imaginary class action lawsuit is from cloud cuckoo land. I haven’t noticed any claims that this has happened to any customer. If there has been a barrage of claims and this company has ignored them, that’s when a class action suit might be appropriate. Where is the barrage of claims?


#12

You obviously didnt even read the post…


#13

Did so. (twenty characters)


#16

I suspect that any legal action directed towards RL will NOT speed up delivery of my Soylent… So please, let’s put an end to this discussion of lawyering up… As pointed out above, only lawyers win.

With that said, the number of “oops, just found your order, shipping now” responses is a tad alarming… but we don’t have much context (how does their tracking system work? What percentage of total orders are misplaced? And why?) In the end though, customer beware. If you get a gift card and don’t use it, that’s not the vendor’s problem.


#17

I was discussing the idea of one forgetting that they ordered something as novel as Soylent seemed ridiculous. My girlfriend then pointed out I have received packages in the mail and said, “I don’t remember ordering this.” Those items were usually something ordinary like socks or beer soap (only mildly novel). So maybe there are customers who placed an order a long time ago for a revolutionary product (total food replacement) and then subsequently forgot about it. Still, all they need do, once they remember they ordered, is request a refund. RL may be slow at delivering products, but it seems they are on the ball when it comes to cancelling an order and providing a refund.

Having worked in a complaints department, talking about lawyering up is hot air. Have your lawyer send a letter if you are so inclined, but until then, no one should pay any attention.


#18

You’re presuming the customer’s eventual recollection of the order. The customer’s eventual recollection of an order must not be a prerequisite for Soylent to fulfill an order, lost or otherwise. Regardless of a customer’s ability to recall their order, there exists a reasonable expectation on the part of all customers that Soylent will fulfill their order, even if that order becomes lost, and even if said customer completely forgets about having placed the order several months earlier.

The point is not what Soylent does with a lost order ‘if’ the customer recalls having placed their order, but what Soylent does with a lost order, period.

Presently, waiting for the customer to complain about the overdue lost order is ‘apparently’ Soylent’s method of resolution, else their method of resolution would have found the lost order and obviated the need for the customer to complain.

This begs the question of what Soylent plans to do with the revenue generated from the ‘accidental theft’ of funds from customers orders which they have lost, and the customer has forgotten about placing. How they handle this issue is what is being observed.

To some, a $75 to $250 purchase is a big hit to their pocketbook, and hard to forget about, but to others, $250 is literally nothing, and easy to forget about.
To some Soylent is a revolutionary new product, and hard to forget about, and they count the days 'til it’s arrival, to others it’s a novelty purchase, made during/after learning of Soylent’s existence over conversation at a restaurant.

I’ve been in the mail order industry my entire adult life, almost 25 years. I started my own in '98 at the age of 28 and retired successfully at the age of 35, having been the first in my niche to wholly embrace internet sales. It’s easy for a start-up with no experience to make all the usual mistakes, and not comprehensively understand the methods to resolve and prevent them. I’ve seen it all, and to those with experience, the nature of this problem can be identified from afar.

Soylent has access to the emails that were used to place orders. It is this email list that they use to send out their ‘additional delay’ emails. When a customer complains in the forums, Soylent has the user’s account email address and uses it to research the order status. Upon verifying the lost order, the now standard-issue 2-3 day shipping reply is posted as a reply to the customer complaint. So we know they know who placed an order by virtue of at least the presence of the emai list, but it’s likely a huge list, perhaps 250k+ orders. Absent a software system, (thank you, perl) that would take alot of time to manually audit completely for unfulfilled orders without a starting point (the complainants email address), and currently in their youth and inexperience in the industry, Soylent finds a suitable alternative in waiting for the customers to complain about their lost order, giving Soylent a starting point to find the order they lost. This method of resolution is a common occurrence in the mail-order industry, with characteristics easily identified by an external ‘observer’, especially with as much documentation as this forum provides. Unfortunately this method of resolution is not viable in the long run, barring the intent to defraud. The only resolution is to audit the orders, one… by… one… been there, done that… then you devise/implement a system whereby lost/unfulfilled orders bubble up on their own. If Soylent is not now convinced that people will forget about having placed an order, they will once they audit them and notify customers of their unfulfilled order.

At ~$75 to ~$250 per order, thats a sizeable amount of ‘accidental theft’, considering the potential number of lost orders. I’ve seen investigations starting in just the 5 digit $ range. Look at all the litigation over unfulfilled bit-coin mining hardware orders. Soylent would be well-advised to offer assurances that no order will go left unfound, and that they are in fact actively auditing the orders in a timely manner, despite all appearances in the publicly available and well documented complaints and Soylent’s responses to them in Soylent’s own forums.

No one, No court, No judge wants to see a suit brought against Soylent, (lawyers yes…) but Soylent must act reasonably and in good faith to fulfill these lost/forgotten orders, and waiting for customers to identify those lost orders does not qualify. Soylent cannot simply keep the money they ‘unintentionally’ acquired through lost/forgotten orders. If Soylent does not comply and act reasonably, then the court system must be used to compel Soylent to do so.

All that being said, I think these incredibly wicked Soylent farts are hilarious, especially when their release is strategically timed.


#19

I assume the point of your posts is not actually to make Class-Action Lawsuit happen, but to urge Soylent to step up their game to prevent one. Am I correct? :slight_smile:

If it is alright with you, I am going to edit the title to reflect that this is not actually a lawsuit that is happening, but that could happen.

  • “The Class-Action Lawsuit against Soylent” has now been changed to “The potential Class-Action Lawsuit against Soylent” and moved to “Feedback”

#21

This seems improbable. How would one go about creating a class of people who don’t know they’re missing something? When the class is formed and it gets taken to be certified and Rosa Labs offers to make them all whole why would it be certified? There are things to be concerned about in life, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them…


#22

They’re taking the first steps towards litigation, by continuing to go well past their promised 3-5 month delivery times and the problem not being resolved completely. Some orders are shipped apparently at ‘the last minute’, looking at the shipping calculator. The backer stage is long done with, they’re now many months into the public order stage, and still there are numerous lost order complaints. They’ve had several months to devise a system which precludes the possibility of lost orders, yet they still happen, and the apparent method used to find lost orders after the fact is non-viable. The powers that be may turn a blind eye to a wildly popular startup that promises to improve, but after many months and still all the same complaints, plus the addition of a very real potential for a sizeable amount of funds misappropriated as a result of lost/forgotten orders, more scrutiny is applied.


#23

Soylent would be compelled to audit their orders to find the lost ones and make whole the customer. Something Soylent should consider doing now, before they are required by the courts or trade commission to do so. The misappropriation of funds by way of lost/forgotten orders is not a new or uncommon form of mail-order fraud.

We all know the lengthy amount of delays experienced by the backers, well over a year in some instances, which can perhaps be viewed as a special case with inherent and known risks, and without specific consumer protections. And it can be assumed certain special consideration was undoubtedly given to Soylent, upon having shown an effort to deliver, and having eventually done so, albeit very delayed.

But now, not regarding the backer orders, but real-live general public orders placed on Soylent’s own public-facing website… to each fellow customer of Soylent, ask yourself…
How many months should be allowed to elapse beyond the original promised delivery-date and the notified delayed-delivery-date, where Soylent retains their customer funds without fulfilling the order, before a finding of misappropriation of funds would be appropriate?

Keep in mind, that it has already been established that a customers recollection of having placed an order is not a pre-requisite for that customer to remain lawfully entitled to that order. “We lost their order and they forgot about their order so we kept their money” is not valid justification to keep a customer’s money. Whether or not Soylent is intent on doing this, it is what the end result is.

For a while, Soylent was providing order delay emails, prior to missing promised ship-dates. Now customers dont even get a delayed order email, into the seventh month of delay. Soylent presumably isn’t sending the delayed order email because they don’t even know the order is delayed, because they’ve lost it. Regardless of their explanation for the cause of the undelivered order, there are specific trade-industry regulations and requirements of Soylent in delayed order situations, and as long as Soylent follows those regulations they can avoid legal problems. But when they stop these delay notices to their customers, it can appear to an observer to be an attempt to let forgotten orders remain forgotten, unfulfilled, and unrefunded, and that’s where the legal problems start.

Despite how difficult it might be, or how much work it would be to audit Xhundred thousand orders, Soylent would be very well-advised to thoroughly audit their orders, find the orders they have lost, and make their customers whole. Waiting for a customer to call and remind them of the lost and overdue order is not a sufficient remedy.