Daily BlogJump to latest blog entry
The Vega+ debacle has gone on for more than a year now, and there are so many places to keep track of information that a number of people are fed up with the whole thing. I will attempt to keep a daily summary of anything of interest from the following sources:
- The Retro Computers Ltd Vega+ public discussion group (uncensored discussion). Please note: If you wish to join this group, ensure you have a real photo as your profile photo, and answer the 3 questions when you join the group. This helps us weed out spammers.
- The original ZX Spectrum Vega Facebook group
- The ironically named Retro Computers Ltd Vega+ "Democracy" group (that deletes posts, bans members that say anything negative about RCL and is run by a couple of dictators)
- The Retro Computers Ltd Facebook page (that deletes posts, bans members, ignores anything negative, and posts mainly 80s trivia and legal disputes)
- The official Retro Computers Ltd website that seems to specialise in posts about legal disputes
- The comments section of the Indiegogo campaign
There have been so many missed deadlines, delays, excuses and lies that it's hard to keep track of what backers are supposed to getting next.
Please note that due to the timezone differences (New Zealand is 13 hours ahead of the UK during our summer and 11 during out winter) that some dates and screenshots may have been grabbed in a different timezone.top
Sunday 3rd January, 2016top
Monday 15th February, 2016
The Vega+ Indiegogo campaign opens, hoping to raise £100,000.top
Sunday 27th March, 2016
The Vega+ Indiegogo campaign closes, having raised £366,655 (367% of the product’s goal).top
Friday 8th April, 2016
Directors Paul Andrews and Chris Smith resign from Retro Computers Ltd.top
Saturday 9th April, 2016
Lady Angie Sinclair resigns as a director from Sinclair Research Ltd.top
Wednesday 13th April, 2016
Andrews UK sends a notice out to games rights owners informing them to contact RCL for payments and questions.top
Wednesday 27th April, 2016
Lee Fogarty posts on World of Spectrum, confirming that the Vega+ is in production.top
Tuesday 24th May, 2016
The former directors Chris Smith and Paul Andrews are given a bank statement for the month after they left showing that within a period of nine days (16 to 24 May 2016) consultancy fees of £42,056.40 were paid to Mr Levy, £10,000 to Sir Clive Sinclair, £12,000 to Mr Mrsic-Flogel, plus £1,176.68 to Ms Martin. So in just 9 days, a total of £65,233.08 was paid out.top
RCL post the following message to re-assure backers that everything is going well for the September delivery:
"We delivered last year, and we will deliver in September as promised to you and 3500 happy customers, and we plan on keeping them that way. We are sorry we haven't updated you, but that is because we are busy working with Rik Dickinson and in fact we are further ahead than we were at this point last year. We have a great team of programmers, and they are doing a cracking job. And the best bit of news - we have some new games - ones that we didn't have last time."top
Tuesday 21st June, 2016
MCV (the Market for Computer and Video Games) publish a statement from Chris and Paul. The article is called Chris Smith and Paul Andrews step down from Retro Computers and confirms the pair stepped down from the firm due to "irreconcilable differences" between them and the last remaining director, David Levy.top
Wednesday 13th July, 2016
George Cropper releases the ZX Vega+ Scandal video on Youtube, suggesting the project is heading into troubled waters and that backers should start applying for refunds.top
A backer asks for something of substance from RCL:
"With under a month to go to shipping the 1st units you must have something of substance to show us by now! If you are, as you say "are further ahead than we were at this stage last summer". Don't get me wrong I think this will be a great product and clearly so do a few thousand others, but all you have is a prototype with a cracked screen and some painted buttons?"
RCL re-assure everyone that shipping is still on track for September:
"We are due to ship mid to late September. Next week we will be at Games Con and will have something to show then."
Later on during the month when RCL are called up on not being at Games Con, RCL say: "We are sorry that you misunderstood or misinterpreted our comment that we will be at Gamescon to mean that we would have our own stand."top
Tuesday August 2nd, 2016
RCL announce a Vega+ Game Coding Competition, "designed particularly to stimulate the growing interest in coding amongst the current generation of schoolchildren, and thereby to create a similarly enthusiastic generation of coders for the UK in the coming years." There are 2 age categories (under 16 plus an open section) with prizes offered in both categories and "the best games will be available for free download for owners of the ZX Vega+ and its predecessor the ZX Vega". RCL promise that "the software utilities necessary to create games for the Vega+ (and the Vega) will be available from the Retro Computers Ltd web site at the beginning of September, together with full rules for the competition."top
Monday August 8th, 2016
RCL tweet that "We are in production and very happy to be..."top
Tuesday 9th August, 2016
Dr David Levy, Chairman of Retro Computers Limited issues a statement on the RCL website claiming that RCL are investigating financial irregularities and that RCL are pursuing legal proceedings to recover funds.
(This statement turns out to be completely untrue, as the BBC will later investigate and find no proof of any of these claims. The statement is later deleted from the RCL website, but the original post has been archived).top
Thursday 25th August, 2016
RCL announce the "bar of soap" update with "Rick Dickinson Designed Vega+ Model Images Revealed For The First Time".top
Thursday 1st September, 2016
The software utilities promised for the Vega+ Game Coding Competition fail to materialise.
Lee Fogarty tells George Cropper "they are still on track for shipping to backers end of sept"top
Friday 2nd September, 2016
Confirmed reports that the BBC remove the lies from David Levy that legal action in progress to recover funds from Paul and Chris, as BBC investigated and no proof of these lies/claims are offered by Levy or RCL.top
Friday 30th September, 2016
The September shipping date is officially missed.top
Saturday 1st October, 2016
Lee Fogarty posts saying that the Vega+ is now going into manufacturing:
"Busy few months ahead. Vega+ moved from production to manufacturing, new software to be released in the new year, and some funky new clients on board! So I take a night off lol"top
Tuesday 11th October, 2016
Lee Fogarty posts the final date available for having your name added to the honour roll. RCL also confirm that they plan to have the Vega+ in online retail stores in time for Christmas. Highlights from the post:
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ to give our product its full name, comes complete with 1,000 licensed games built-in and is currently available via the InDemand phase on Indiegogo, will launch on the 20th October. Shortly before that, on the 19th October, the Roll of Honour will be frozen, and you will no longer be able to pledge to have your name or the name of a loved one permanently etched in retro computer gaming history. You will still be able to purchase a Vega+ via the IndieGoGo InDemand phase, but from the 19th October onwards we will no longer be adding names of backers to the list.
The team behind the hugely successful Vega+ also plan to launch on selected online retail sites in time for Christmas 2016 and will soon be announcing their new sales and marketing partner who won the account after a lengthy 4-way selection process.top
Saturday 15th October, 2016
The campaign receives "Arrow certification":
Thursday 20th October, 2016
Launch party. People that attended had to sign a non disclosure agreement, and many people that paid for this perk were not invited.
RCL release (and later delete) the following update:
Well what a day - we've had a manic week and yes today IS our launch day for the much anticipated Spectrum Vega - we've posted twice already today and for some strange reason none of our posts made it. We don't know why or what happened - but we're trying one more time - so fingers crossed we are third time lucky. Here we go!! Today IS our big day and we cannot believe we had computer issues today of all days, we have to see the irony in this. We have a few of our brand new consoles with some specially chosen celebrities, not least the very lovely Dermot O'Leary who was a huge fan of the original Spectrum, and we're hoping he likes his new one (with his name on) just as much. Re the practicalities many of you have been posting and messaging about, we will be contacting backers directly about the delivery schedule, so please hang fire for that. If you are a backer, please make sure your address is up to date and accurate. We are about to switch off the Roll of Honour, so make sure your name is correct on lndiegogo too. More than anything, thank you one and all for joining us on this journey which has been exciting, sometimes challenging, but always worth it - as all the best journey are :) And apologies for it taking so many attempts to get today's message out to you all - and those of you never waivering in your faith, the biggest thank you of all. We would not be here without you.top
Thursday 27th October, 2016
As shown in the camera metadata, photographer A.J.Levy takes photos of the Vega+ components that will be used over the coming days to pretend these were taken at the launch party, 7 days earlier.
RCL post a tweet, claiming to have been filming the production line and to ignore the clueless trolls!top
Monday 31st October, 2016
The October shipping date is officially missed.top
Wednesday 2nd November, 2016
RCL publish a news article on their website confirming that their lawyers received a request from Darren Melbourne to remove his game Hades Nebula from the Vega+.top
Thursday 3rd November
The RCL team are at Wired 2016. RCL release a short 17 second video of the game Cray 5 running on a Vega+.top
Friday 4th November, 2016
Paul Andrews uploads a series of photos from the original ZX Spectrum Vega launch party to Flickr.top
Saturday 5th November, 2016
The RCL team post that they are at the one day Wired 2016 Next Generation event, where 12-18 year olds will be able to try out the Vega+. RCL say that "the big surprise hit of the day so far has been our very own Spectrum Vega+ and right now we are staggered and moved to see the powerfully positive reactions from a whole new generation of Spectrum fans".
This is the day that RCL will later claim that children found a problem with the Vega+ buttons.top
Wednesday 9th November, 2016
RCL release an update saying that they intend to release the highest quality Speccy product, and they were invited to be be part of the Test Lab with Telefonica - "one of the most exciting and innovative elements of WIRED2016 and WIRED NEXT GENERATION 2016". RCL also say "WE WILL come back to you with our more precise delivery plans very soon".
This update fails to mention the faulty button problem.top
Wednesday 16th November, 2016
RCL contradict themselves by claiming they haven't given Vega+'s to anyone before backers. On October 20th they claimed they had given one to Dermot O'Leary at the launch party. This was their exact message:
"We were really lucky to be invited to #wired2016 but we haven't given Vega+'s to anyone before backers. The Vega+ got a lot of love..."
Friday 25th November, 2016
Almost 3 weeks after the Wired 2016 event, RCL release the following news regarding the button:
Assembling and playing with these first units we identified an improvement we believed was essential to the Vega+ gaming experience. An improvement that would make the feel of the product far better, including a correction in the design of one of the buttons making it more robust and able to withstand the rigours of extended game-play.
This change has caused a brief delay while we improved the product and we have now completed the necessary revisions. We have also produced the first batch of custom made modified buttons and will be spending the next few days manufacturing units, using the already completed electronics and the newly modified buttons. As soon as we have completed the necessary tests to ensure that the revised Vega+ is now perfect, we will be able to announce our delivery schedule.
So to be clear the product and gorgeous designs that you have already seen remain unchanged. It is purely to do with the response time and durability of one of the components. We know that you all want to know a delivery date and we really want to ship to you - but the most important thing to us is making sure that the Vega+ is as brilliant as you deserve it to be.top
Monday 28th November, 2016
Chris Merriman posts an article called ZX Spectrum Vega+ production is delayed but RCL 'hopes' for pre-Christmas rollout in The Inquirer. Chris talks to Suzanne Martin asking to clarify some of the burning questions from backers. The article explains that there will be a further delay to the Vega+ after playtesters had identified a problem with one of the buttons. RCL can no longer promise Xmas delivery, but confirm that backers' money has been ringfenced. Suzanne also confirms that they have been deleting comments on the Indiegogo campaign, and that they will not be giving any delivery dates unless they are 110% certain. Suzanne also says that the project is a "labour of love", which is interesting considering they have half a million pounds from backers. Quotes from the article:
Retro Computers Limited (RCL) has confirmed that there is to be a further delay to the ZX Spectrum Vega+, the handheld version of last year’s ZX Spectrum Vega, a recreation of the iconic 8-bit computer.
The problem was revealed on Friday night on the project’s Indiegogo page. The team explained that playtesters had identified a problem with one of the buttons in the small production run that had already taken place, which led to the decision to pause the full-scale production, pending a change to the component. RCL will also retroactively fit the new button to consoles already manufactured.
Does that mean Christmas delivery is off the table?
"We still hope to get some units out before Christmas, but being completely honest, we can’t promise that until we get the test results back this week."
But what about customer money?
"It’s safe. It was ringfenced from the beginning and anything you hear otherwise is completely untrue. The disputes are about the proceeds from the original Spectrum Vega. Retail of the Vega+ will happen after all the backers have their machines."
One other matter of concern is that when there have been problems, comments have been deleted from your Indiegogo page. Generally, that’s not the done thing.
"True. It’s not something we do lightly. Much of what has been deleted is rude, multiple posts (sometimes over 100), attacks on other backers and offensive. Some of it comes from elements that are not only known to us, but to Indiegogo as trollers and spammers."
"We’ve worked closely with Indiegogo over what we should do and are only deleting posts that break their community guidelines, after confirming with Indiegogo that it was the right course of action."
The main complaint is the lack of communication over a delivery date. What do you say to those people?
"We've opted to stop giving delivery dates until we are 110 per cent certain that we are going to meet them."
"We will deliver. It will be brilliant. In the meantime, don’t believe everything you read elsewhere on the internet. This remains a labour of love for all involved and we are passionate about exceeding your expectations."top
Thursday 8th December, 2016
RCL force-refund backer Peeto against his will. Peeto had been asking questions about the campaign, and to remove him from the comments section, RCL simply marked his contribution as refunded to silence him.top
Wednesday 14th December, 2016
RCL release an update called A Pain in the Buttons, featuring a video of a Vega+ being assembled and the infamous "labour of love" comment:
We had hoped to post an update a few days ago. Unfortunately, we have been swamped working on the improvement to the Vega+ we previously told you about. The testing has proved to be slightly trickier than previously suspected and the new buttons caused all sorts of additional issues - they really were a pain in the buttons!
We now believe we have finally solved most of those problems and we have a series of production meetings between now and next Tuesday to confirm this, once we have attended all of those meetings, we will be able to come back to you with a clearer delivery schedule.
We have faced a number challenges over the last few months, and each time we have overcome whatever challenge has come our way, and we will continue to do so no matter what anyone puts in our way. We have said it before, and we will say it again "We will deliver. It will be brilliant. In the meantime, don’t believe everything you read elsewhere on the internet. This remains a labour of love for all involved, and we are passionate about exceeding your expectations."
A 1 and a half minute video is released which includes footage of a Vega+ being put together. At crucial spots in the video (47 seconds), the footage is suddenly sped up, and when the technician attempts to screw the screws down, they do not seem to be grabbing onto anything. As the second screw is being screwed in, the first one pops completely back up!top
Tuesday 20th December, 2016
Backer Richard Ratcliffe releases a 41 minute video The Evidently [Vague-A] Plus on YouTube, detailing how he was forcibly refunded after RCL confused him with somebody else. The video contains screenshots from the campaign, an email trail, a look at the company house records and much more. Suzanne Martin refunded Richard's pledge without his permission, then as a gesture of goodwill for their cock-up, RCL said that the "refunded" status of his order would be undone (meaning he would be sent a Vega+ unit anyway). He was also told he would be invited to the launch party. (The launch party invite never materialised, and he has been abused for months in the Indiegogo comments, saying that he is not a backer.)
Paul Andrews and Chris Smith release a statement to confirm that they left RCL before any funds from the crowdfunding campaign was received. The statement confirms that the remaining directors and employees of RCL have been creating a smear campaign and spreading lies. The full statement is available but a part of it has been reproduced here:
Sadly we have been forced once more to issue an immediate statement with regards to the company we founded but resigned from on the 8th of April 2016. To confirm we still remain joint 50% shareholders of Retro Computers Ltd.
Once again we have to draw people’s attention to the fact we left the company before any of the money from the Indiegogo crowd funding campaign for the ZX Vega Plus console was received by the company.
We have issued this statement as it has been drawn to our attention in both documented and verbal evidence that the current directors and employees of RCL (Mr David Levy, Ms Susanne Louise Martin, Mr Janko Mrsic-Flogel, and Mr Lee Fogarty) have been spreading lies and disinformation about us. This includes false allegations as to (non-existent) unaccounted funds, missing stock and also claims of fraud, allegedly prior to our resignations from RCL. This misinformation has been given to multiple people and companies, including employers, business contacts, and online social media outlets and so on, in what appears to be some sort of smear campaign, to what ends we do not know. For clarity RCL have been unable to actually identify any such unaccounted for funds or missing stock: all stock was held in high security and tracked storage facilities of a major distribution company which we had no physical access to and no stock was authorised to be sent (under our watch) to anyone but company approved retail agents.
On a personal note we wish to make it very clear that had we known of the past business records or interconnections of the current directors of RCL neither Paul Andrews nor Chris Smith would have become involved with them at all. We also wish to be clear that prior to our departure Mr Janko Mrsic-Flogel was not involved with the company in any way and Ms Suzanne Louise Martin had been no more than a part-time contractor PR consultant, not an employee or director. We also wish it to be known that they were appointed as directors of RCL without our consent and in breach of the Shareholders Agreement by Mr David Levy and that neither of those parties own any shares of RCL.
Vega+ backer Peeto posts on the Indiegogo comments section to say that he was force-refunded against his will:
Peeto: At least some honest update. But I am out/not by my wish/
Retro Computers: Peeto... do you want to come back? RCL
Peeto: yes. I know, what to expect and still answer is yes. What should I do? I would like to have same pledge with same amount. thx
Retro Computers: We'll contact you by email and see what we can sort out. RCL
Friday 23rd December, 2016
The "In time for Xmas" deadline is missed. A VentureBeat article is published called Retro Sinclair ZX Spectrum handheld console to ship in February after series of delays. The final few lines of the article says:
In short, the company is now confident it will be able to dispatch the first units in February. How many that will be still isn’t clear, but if it fails to deliver this time around, there could be more than a few people asking for their money back.
George Cropper releases RCL's Christmas Carol - A Radio Play on his Funky Spectrum YouTube channel, a satirical look at the current state of the project.top
Saturday 7th January, 2017
Lee Fogarty was caught shilling for RCL today (7th January, 2017). Lee paid £5 to sign up a brand new Indiegogo account in the name of Nick Roper. Several eagle-eyed people spot that Nick Roper happens to have the exact same photo as Lee Fogarty's profile:
Lee paid the minimum tier level of £5 because only backers can post comments on the Indiegogo campaign, so in order to post positive comments about RCL, he had to pay.
Once Lee realises his shilling has been exposed, he alters the comment so that now it appears that Lee has answered it:
Lee posts an excuse that he registered to add an old friend to the honour roll. He then claims that he's spoken to them and had his name added anyway, so that he can post as himself. (In private messages later in February, Lee changes his story and says that Nick Roper has in fact been dead for 20 years!)
Sunday 8th January, 2017
RCL ramp up the 1980s trivia on their Facebook and Twitter pages. People begin to ask about the state of the project and why "useless garbage is being posted that has nothing to do with retro computers". Their posts are deleted and users banned from being able to post on the Facebook page.top
Monday 9th January, 2017
George Cropper uploads a video to his Funky Spectrum YouTube channel exposing Lee Fogarty's shilling as Nick Roper.
George highlights several points in his video:
- Lee works for RCL, so there was no need for him to pay £5 to sign up a new account just to add a "life long friend" to the honour roll.
- There is absolutely no instance of a "life long friend" called Nick Roper on any of Lee's social media accounts.
- RCL have claimed that the device is in manufacture already, so shouldn't the honour roll be closed already?
Tuesday 31st January, 2017
Concerned onlooker Jamie Ball donates £5 to the Indiegogo campaign so that he can post in the comments section. After posting comments that ask serious questions and do not show RCL in a favourable light, RCL remove the £5 pledge option to prevent anyone else from doing the same. If you wish to ask sensible questions and raise pertinent issues, it will now cost at least £10 to have them ignored.top
Wednesday 1st February, 2017
An RCL shill account is created, called "Jamie _Ball" (with an underscore to prevent a duplicate name). The fake shill account ends up posting 4 times, and here are the messages in order (oldest at the top):
@Peeto, MY KEYBOARD APPEARS TO BE STUCK IN THIS MODE
WELL ITS TEATIME SO I WON’T BE HERE FOR HALF AN HOUR – I THINK MUMS DONE FISH FINGERS AGAIN.
BLEEDING CAPSLOCK – NOT ALOUD TO HAVE MY TEA UPSTAIRS ANYMORE. I WAS PLAYING WITH MY JET SET WILLY AND MUMMY BURST IN – DROPPED MY FISH FINGER SANDWHICH ALL OVER MY KEYBOARD, NOW NOT HAVE TO HAVE TEA AT THE TABLE AND I SWEAR THERES BREADCRUMBS BEHIND THE CAPS-LOCK key ooh wait a minute OH BUGGER…BACK TO TROLLING
GRRR – I’M STILL TROLLING – WE ARE ALL GULLIBLE IDIOTS, NO WAIT, YOU ARE ALL GULLIBLE IDIOTS – THATS BETTER…I AM THE ONLY PERSON IN THE UK WITH MY NAME. ANYONE ELSE WITH MY NAME IS CLEARLY A FAKE….
Friday 3rd February, 2017
As of today Friday 3rd February, Suzanne Martin is shown as the owner of the campaign when contacting Indiegogo:
Campaign Owner’s Name: Suzanne Martin
Campaign Owner’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 4th February, 2017
After a week of replies on the Indiegogo comments page saying that RCL have something that "everyone was going to love", RCL release a 37 second video of a keyboard plugged into a USB port, then an obvious cut to a close up of the Vega+ that is supposed to show the keyboard working. The video has been carefully edited so that you cannot actually see keystrokes on the keyboard typing anything on the console. RCL also say there will be photos to follow:
"Kicking-off the final countdown with a tiny - Saturday Night Update... and the first chance to see the keyboard in action... Stills to follow...."top
Monday 6th February, 2017
The stills from the "keyboard being plugged in" update over the weekend fail to appear.
In a private message, Lee Fogarty claims "police have 20,000 screenshots of abuse from andrews, george, family, etc"
Thursday 9th February, 2017
A High Court Injunction is granted against Retro Computers Ltd, David Levy, Suzanne Martin, and Janko Mrsic-Flogel, in the matter of the unlawful attempt to remove the share of Paul Andrews owned in the company Retro Computers Ltd. Final judgement sealed 28th Feb 2017.
Out of frustration at not being able to comment to warn other people about the project, I create the Retro Computers Ltd Vega Plus Public Discussion Facebook group. To begin with there are just a few polls asking people what they think of the project, but the group begins to grow rapidly! The description of the group says:
Public discussion and polls for the recreated ZX Spectrum Vega+ project. This group was created because the company RCL ban people from their facebook group/Indiegogo campaign/Youtube channel, they delete comments if they disagree with them, so they cannot be trusted to run an independent forum. This group was created to try and find out what the entire community (including those that have not made a financial contribution to the campaign) really think about the project.top
Friday 10th February, 2017
The infamous "after" shipping date! A blog post on the RCL website (with Lee Fogarty shown as the author) titled "First Vega + units will ship after the 20th February 2017" is posted. The article blames the previous directors, and ends with the line "We are, however, delighted to say that the first units will ship after the 20th February 2017."
The Indiegogo campaigns lights up in fury as this post is nothing but a "guaranteed not supplied before" date. Hundreds of comments are posted to the Indiegogo comments page.top
Saturday 11th February, 2017
When asked whether Lee Fogarty regretted inventing his shill account Nick Roper, Lee says that is a disgusting allegation and that poor old Nick Roper actually died 20 years ago. Lee claims that Nick's daughter (who was a baby at the time of his death) just happened to be scrolling through the comments section of the Vega+ Indiegogo campaign and saw her Dad's name being dragged through the mud. She apparently knew he was a big ZX Spectrum fan and thought a great way to remember her Dad was to scroll through the comments section of an obscure webpage.
Lee also claims that he posted as Nick Roper, realised it was the wrong name and changed it within minutes, but "trolls" captured it:
Evidence refutes Lee's claim, as a screenshot was captured 20 hours after his Nick Roper post. A second screen capture 20-and-a-bit hours after the original post shows Nick's name suddenly replaced with Lee's, so it had to have been 20 hours later, not "within minutes" as Lee claims.
Friday 17th February, 2017
Paul Andrews and Chris Smith issue an open letter to RCL and its directors, asking for answers for both them and the backers. (RCL has never responded publically or privately to this open letter).top
Friday 24th February, 2017
Indiegogo close down the Vega+ campaign due to missed delivery deadlines and a lack of communication to backers. The perks options are all disabled, meaning nobody else can contribute money towards the campaign.
RCL immediately post an update that the honour roll has now been closed.
RCL end with the hilarious Terry Pratchett quote "A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on".top
Saturday 25th February, 2017
A store is added to the new RCL website, with links at the top of the page allowing you to place an order for Vega and Vega+s.
The Vega+ costs £129.99 + £5 shipping, and payment options are PayPal or Store Dummy. At the end of filling in the form, the website throws you back to the beginning, so this carries Lee Fogarty's usual seal of quality!top
Sunday 26th February, 2017
Friday 3rd March, 2017
Several backers on Indiegogo ask for RCL's address, and backer Bryan O copies it from the RCL website and pastes it. In one of the most bizarre and suspicious responses ever, RCL reply with:
"That is not Retro Computers Address RCL".
Rather than being responsible and giving an honest answer, RCL simply say that it's wrong and leave the conversation!
Bryan comes back with: "You're alive! Thank goodness, I thought you might be trapped under a heavy piece of furniture and unable to reach the keyboard. I got the address from your website btw, so let's say that it's as accurate and correct as the rest of the info found there!"
Please note that this comment (and the 2 replies) have since been deleted from the Indiegogo comments page despite RCL claiming they do not delete comments.top
Wednesday 8th March, 2017
Holly Brockwell publishes an article on Gizmodo UK at 1:30pm with the title "Will the ZX Spectrum Vega Plus Ever Materialise?"
Within hours of the article going live, it is suddenly pulled from the website. All that author Holly Brockwell is allowed to say is "it is being reviewed", and RCL maintain radio silence about the whole thing.
As a trap for RCL, a backup of Holly's article is uploaded to codetapper.com and the link published on the Indiegogo comments section. I wrote a post saying that the page was online to see who was sending out takedown notices, and if I received a reply that I would publish it for everyone to see.
At 10pm, Lee Fogarty springs the trap and sends an email directly to the web host Mythic Beasts with the subject "Illegal article on one of your websites". Lee Fogarty's ramblings are complete lies, but no immediate action is taken due to the 13 hour time difference between the UK and New Zealand.top
Thursday 9th March, 2017
The awesome guys at Mythic Beasts send a copy of Lee Fogarty's email complaint to me, and I informed the Facebook group that Lee Fogarty was responsible. As promised, I published a follow-up article Lee Fogarty issues takedown request of Gizmodo article on my site along with my response saying refuting Lee's lies. It is clear Lee is working for RCL to issue takedown notices, and the proof has been obtained!
The BBC publishes an article Sinclair ZX Vega+ funding campaign halted by Indiegogo. The BBC were due to publish the article in December 2016, but were threatened with legal action. RCL claim there The BBC delayed publishing the story to give Suzanne Martin time to provide evidence, but when she failed to do so, the story was published. Highlights of the article:
- Indiegogo halted further fundraising because of delivery delays and a lack of communication to backers.
- RCL's lawyers Michelmores LLP say they are concerned that the BBC is in fact supporting and participating in a malicious campaign intended to denigrate RCL's reputation. They went on to request that the BBC show them its report at least 48 hours ahead of publication so they could identify any false information, which the BBC refused to do.
- The BBC delayed publication of the report to give RCL managing director Suzanne Martin time to provide evidence of the threats RCL claimed, but she did not do so.
Friday 10th March, 2017
A landmark day, as RCL come out with one of their biggest lies of all time on the Indiegogo comments page! Nigel Malin asked "When backers ask for a refund, why don't you give them one" and asking if they will delete his question.
Suzanne Martin replies "We aren't deleting any comments - but we are aware of a number of bugs. Some people can't post. We have never refused to refund a backer."
Lee Fogarty is also active on the Indiegogo campaign, when replying to Jonathan Boyd about the shop on the new RCL website. Lee replies:
"I am well aware I have set the shop up on the website. But there is no direct link to it. I am also aware that Joe Larkin - Paul Andrews employee has been trying to get into the server for some time and regularly looks for new directories and stumbled upon it."
This is yet more lies from Lee Fogarty, as the website had the shop link added on February 25th, 2017. Lee must have some incredible software (that the rest of the world do not have), as he claims he can reverse lookup website accesses back to the actual name of the person! Pure fantasy from Lee...
To absolutely nobody's surprise, David Levy posts yet another excuse/delay on the Indiegogo campaign. This time they discovered that the software for three of the user features had not yet been implemented. They claim to be taking immediate action to rectify this situation but realistically now expect it to take a few weeks before they will be ready to ship the first units. The post also goes on a rant blaming the former directors. RCL also claim they will provide updates to their progress as and when they feel it is appropriate.
Several months earlier, children had apparently discovered the button problem that the RCL testing team hadn't noticed. And yet while they were fixing the buttons, nobody at RCL happened to notice that three user features were missing? Backers ask what the missing features are, but their questions are ignored.
Another update is posted on the Indiegogo campaign that clarifies that RCL have not changed the specifications and are committed to a British product. The full update says:
Very Much Red, White and Blue.
Fact Check - Over the last few days, there has been some speculation that we have changed our technical spec for the Vega+ - we haven't.
It has also been reported that we have switched manufacture to China - we haven't.
We are still committed to a British product, and we have some great new team members who are helping us reach that goal.
We have a planned retail launch this summer - but as previously promised we would deliver to backers before we launch to retail.
Tomorrow we will show you the first Red, White and Blue units....
In a Facebook post, Lee Fogarty replies to a backer asking about when he can buy one by saying "June".top
Sunday 12th March, 2017
Dave Barron (one of the admins on the so-called "democracy" group) posts to Suzanne saying "I think when you get red white and blue on Monday it might be nice to post videos of them working and booting up, not just still images."
Suzanne Martin replies "That is what we always planned to do."
Another backer also asks for the units to be videoed, and if they are working units, to show them starting up. Suzanne doesn't seem to know what she has even ordered and says "As far as I know I have been sent working units. They are spending the weekend in a depot."
Dave Barron foolishly posts that he will quit the "democracy" Facebook group if the images do not materialise the next day. He has obviously not remembered that RCL are terrible at keeping their word and miss deadlines as if they are guidelines!
Monday 13th March, 2017
Accounts for RCL are due today, and become overdue as the clock strikes midnight.
RCL post yet another excuse on the Indiegogo campaign, blaming the courier company Parcelforce for sending the units back to the depot despite Suzanne Martin claiming they paid extra for a Saturday delivery:
"On Saturday we planned to post some images and footage of the Red, White and Blue units. Unfortunately, they were sent back to the depot by the courier company. They are back out for delivery this morning, and if they are successfully delivered we can collect them this evening, and we will be able to post some footage and or stills tomorrow."
A number of people found this latest excuse utterly bizarre because courier companies deliver the parcels to you, not serve as a post office where you have to collect them from!top
Tuesday 14th March, 2017
Lee Fogarty posts a small update containing 2 photos on the RCL website:
Rose are Red, Vega+'s are Red, White and Blue.....
So a day later than planned but here for the very first time a sneak peak of our red, white and blue baby Vega's. We will post footage, better stills and another up-date of the screen booting up and playing a game tomorrow...but for now, we couldn't wait to share these beauties with you.....
We hope you agree that they look pretty fine....
The post claims that the photos are "a day later than planned", yet the cases were supposedly going to be photographed and videoed on Saturday - 3 days ago! This time RCL have made sure to strip all properties from the images after being caught out over the fake launch party photos.
David Counihan on Facebook asks for dimensions of the Vega+, and Suzanne Martin (as usual) says they will be supplied tomorrow:
"Can Suzanne or anybody else in the know tell us all the actual size of the ZX Vega Plus? What is the dimensions and also the size of the screen. Thanks in advance."
Suzanne Martin replies, "I'll set up some shots tomorrow and confirm the dimensions....."
Lee Fogarty confirms he works for RCL when asked "Do you work for the Vega people?" and replies "I work for the vega people on different projects - they have their hands in many pies!"top
Wednesday 15th March, 2017
The backer that was promised the dimensions of the Vega+ by Suzanne Martin posts another message in the "democracy" group:
So yesterday I asked Suzanne Martin "Can we have dimensions of the Vega+. Her reply was and I quote "I'll set up some shots tomorrow and confirm the dimensions....."
So my guestion is where are the dimensions and where is the shots / video?
It doesn't take long to edit a 5 minute video or even to glam it up "Hollywood" style.
Come on Suzanne
As Ronan Keating sings "IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES"
There is also some comedy gold in this screenshot (contains swearing so I won't re-type it out, but click the image to see it!)As it turns out, none of the photos or video of the Vega+ materialise, and it seems that pulling out a ruler to measure the dimensions of the Vega+ is just too difficult for Suzanne Martin.
Suzanne Martin then posts the following about another delay while they give the video "Hollywood" treatment:
We have just up loaded some footage to edit.... this will take time. Our Vega+ babies look great... but please give us a chance to give them the Hollywood treatment they deserve...
Suzanne replies to a couple of people saying she "will keep you informed" and "will update you later" and doesn't. I've included a huge screenshot here of this latest mess, but some of the more amusing responses from frustrated forum members to this latest delay are:
- Probably would be better to upload after editing, I know that my editing software is a bit sluggish trying to reference HD footage across a network connection. I find editing it all locally first is a lot easier.
- Hollywood treatment? That's brilliant. I'm super excited for the video. Are you gonna open the video with a nice slow motion pan shot? That would be the bees knees
- Wonder if the extra time is being taken up constructing a bullet time camera.
- The longer the wait, the better the video!
- Am I dreaming or do posts keep vanishing. It sure ain't Memorex on this Facebook thing.
Thursday 16th March, 2017
An article by Gareth Corfield appears in The Register titled Why is the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ project so delayed?
In the article, Suzanne Martin denied that the £500,000 from backers had been spent on legal fees, and said that the money had instead been spent on "starting from scratch".
Also in the article, Lee Fogarty is named as part of RCL. The article says, "Speaking on behalf of RCL, Fogarty, has since posted pictures of what he said is a Vega+ onto the company website."
Lee Fogarty complains on World of Spectrum that Gareth's article is biased as he supposedly spent a week with Paul Andrews researching the story, and only a couple of 30 second calls with RCL. Gareth shoots this down with the following tweet:
@majorrobbb I have just short of an hour of recorded phonecalls with RCL spokesmen, including Mr Fogarty.— Gareth Corfield (@GazTheJourno) March 16, 2017
Photo of ZX Vega units (3 in boxes) are finally shown.
The video is finally put online, but after all the delays and hype about giving it the "Hollywood treatment", all it shows are the scuffed prototype units that were manufactured several weeks ago. There are suspicious fades, no boot-up process, the button presses seem to require a huge amount of force and even then do not seem to match what's happening on the screen. One of the units that is shown turned on seems to have developed dead pixels already. These are clearly not the finished units.
The "Arrow certification" that has been present since the 15th of October is revoked.
Preston absolutely loses his rag and posts a blog article on his website spectrum4ever called Vega+ News - Mic Drop. He proceeds to call people that have expressed concern about the Vega+ project as "fuckwits", and another is an "asshole mouthing off like a 2p whore doing blowjobs all day on Indiegogo". The backlash from the community is swift and brutal, and he deletes his entire website within 24 hours. The original article was captured before the site was deleted.top
Friday 17th March, 2017
RCL date RCL publish "Just a pile of Vega+'s..." Been hanging out with these beauties...
An article is published by Connor called Crowdfunding Fraudsters: The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+top
Saturday 18th March, 2017
Four days after Suzanne Martin promised the dimensions of the Vega+ (and failed to deliver), Mat Recardo posts an image with his estimates:
Mat calculated the dimensions based on the size of the USB ports. Suzanne was either too lazy or incompetent to pull out a ruler and measure them herself, and only after Mat supplied the figures did she post to say they were correct. She then asks for permission to use the image herself, but the information is not dispersed to the 4780 backers that might also be interested. If you were not looking in the "democracy" Facebook group, you would not even know about this. (Some people speculate that RCL do not want to give any specific details because if they differ in the final product, they could be pulled up on this. Hence they specialise in vague information).
Somebody else asks how much the Vega+ will cost, and James Waller confirms that the price was £129.99 on the RCL website before it was pulled. Lee Fogarty pipes up to say that "the site was not pulled and the store was in testing and never public!" An awful lot of people seem to have seen the store that supposedly wasn't there. In good old fashioned RCL tradition, Lee finishes saying that the store is coming soon.top
Monday 20th March, 2017
RCL regurgitate last weeks video footage and release a second video called "Vega Loading Screens and Music" that shows pretty much nothing that hasn't been seen already. Three Vega+ units are seen already turned on - one appears to be working properly, one has developed dead pixels, and one seems to have crashed on a white screen. Like the previous video, the button presses do not seem to match up with what is happening on the screen. There are multiple fades to black whenever you would expect to see something interesting such as navigating a menu or loading a game.
CEO Janko Mrsic-Flogal (CEO of Planet Computers and one of the directors of RCL) releases an update to the Gemini PDA Indiegogo campaign. He takes the unusual step of clarifying that backers are donating to the project, and that there is no guarantee of a product. This seems very strange considering the campaign is still acquiring funds!
"We just wanted to remind our backers that under Indiegogo's Terms, all contributions are donations to help us create the Gemini PDA keyboard mobile device, and not purchases where you're guaranteed to receive an item. We have every intention of sending your perks out to you, but like many crowdfunding campaigns there might be some bumps along the way."top
Tuesday 21st March, 2017
A concerned backer asks about blue marks on the inside of one of the boxes that the blue Vega+ shell has been stuffed into. In the photo, the box insert has been hacked with a craft knife to make it bigger, and looks like it contains blue smudge marks. Suzanne Martin is on Facebook during work time and posts a sarcastic comment about it.
Suzanne Martin replies, "no that is a photoshopped blue line - well done for spotting it"top
Thursday 23rd March, 2017
Lee Fogarty leaks a PDF file he created called creepy.pdf which is full of paranoia, photos of motorway sliproad signs and nonsense claims. According to the file properties, it was converted to a PDF on Tuesday 24th January, 2017.
One of the most interesting claims by Lee Fogarty is the following on page 5 of 7:
"In the summer of 2016, Deidre Harris was showing an interest in the Vega+ on facebook, and claimed to be a backer. She then sent a friend request to myself to initially question the product. It quickly became clear that she is a call-girl as the email address she registered with is also her log-in to several escort sites."
The immediate question that springs to mind is how on earth would Lee Fogarty know that the email address is a login to several escort sites? Which escort sites? Would you care to tell us how you know all this Lee? You seem to know an awful lot for someone that supposedly only hosts the website.
RCL post Well we have some really positive news... on their website. The article claims they've been overwhelmed with offers for games, but they're reaching out for more games. They also state "We’ll have games details coming soon too….. stay tuned". In other words, they're nowhere near the 1000 games mark and to keep waiting. Hardly what I would call "really positive news" then, more like another empty update.
RCL have no time to respond to backers refund requests, product specifics, emails etc, but find time to post a response called Gareth Corfield of The Register published an “investigation” into the Vega+ crowdfunding campaign, desperately trying to discredit him. Despite treating the backers like dirt, they claim "Our sole mission is a happy backer - so with that in mind, your support means more than you know."top
Friday 24th March, 2017
Gareth Corfield asks for backers that have been refused refunds to contact him in confidence.
Are you a #zxvega+ customer of Retro Computing Ltd? Have you asked for a refund? Contact me in confidence - email@example.com— Gareth Corfield (@GazTheJourno) March 24, 2017
Saturday 25th March, 2017
Paul Andrews releases a statement that backs up Gareth's article saying that it's all supported by facts.top
Tuesday 28th March, 2017
Gareth Corfield contacts RCL giving them warning about an article he is about to publish:
A number of Vega+ backers have contacted me saying they have been waiting, in some cases, months for refunds despite repeated requests. They have shown me evidence of these repeated requests; copies of messages sent to you that they say have gone unanswered. Is RCL ignoring or withholding refunds from Vega+ backers who ask for them? Why are backers going for months with repeated messages to you not being answered? I intend to publish at 1245 today. Your response, as the RCL company spokesman, would be appreciated before then.
Lee posts a rather abusive message back to Gareth, but as courtesy Gareth delays publishing the article a day to allow RCL time to respond. As is the case when the media are about to publish an article about RCL, there is a flurry of activity, and today is no exception. Suzanne Martin rushes to the Indiegogo comments page, not to acknowledge anybody that has asked for a refund, but merely to fob them off.
Suzanne replies to a backer asking about their refund and posts "We haven't refused - but this isn't the place to request a refund. If you have requested a refund through the legitimate channels we are working our way through those."
Suzanne claims "We have nearly 20k worth of spammed emails from the last 21 days - we are very small team and we will get to people. We are just working our way through them to respond to people with genuine concerns." If Suzanne has been able to identify 20,000 emails as spam, why can she not just delete them? Or is it possibly because RCL are classing refund requests as spam?
An ex-backer points out that there is a disparity between the number of comments shown on the phone app and the website. It appears that 2172 comments are missing. Suzanne Martin avoids answering his question (probably because she has admitted to deleting comments in an article in the Inquirer) but instead claims that he is being asked to post comments by Paul Andrews and Darren Melbourne.
Suzanne Martin posts on the "democracy" Facebook group saying that within 14 days (by Tuesday 11th of April), RCL will have worked through their backlog of emails, including the spam and refund requests. If you believe this latest post and you have requested a refund by email, you should have your refund within 2 weeks.
"We posted earlier today about several of our email accounts being spammed - We are working through them and estimate this will take up to 14 days. For those saying we should just delete those messages - that isn't an option."
Another backer posts a comment on the Indiegogo page to confirm that RCL are lying about refusing refund requests. The person had emailed them multiple times without any acknowledgement. They paid by Paypal and went through the resolution centre. Paypal contacted RCL who refused the refund.
Lee Fogarty posts absolute nonsense about a plan by the former directors to bankrupt the company, but ends by saying it is all guess work on his behalf.top
Wednesday 29th March, 2017
Gareth Corfield publishes a follow-up article on The Register called ZX Spectrum Vega Plus backers complain of months-long refund delays. The article goes into detail about a large number of people that have been ignored regarding refunds. We learn that Lee Fogarty had asked to be attributed to "an RCL spokesman" in the previous article, and denies that he works for RCL. The article was delayed by a day to give RCL time to respond, which they failed to do. From the article:
We asked a company spokesman for comment. That person had previously given The Register a half-hour interview on 9 March this year, in which they asked not to be named and for their comments to be attributed to "an RCL spokesman". Their full response to our latest request for comment on the delays in refunds and poor communication with backers was: Another 'fact check' Gareth? As you well know, I am not employed by RCL nor am their official spokesman, and I don't receive emails or any correspondence for RCL. Do some homework ffs.
RCL release update #56 on the Indiegogo campaign showing a preview of the proposed Vega+ box design, and a couple of bizarre photos of a monitor showing a sleeve design for the box:
Boxing Clever... So here we go.....first preview of the proposed Vega+ box design. We have tried to stay true to the original "Speccy" designs principles and we hope you like it. We plan to make the box a similar size to an iPhone7 Plus box and the reverse will feature a quick start guide.
A backer posts "My only question is that how was the vega going to be delivered previously promised on 22nd Feb if the boxes weren't even a twinkle in a graphic designers eye?" Suzanne Martin replies "We have had the box design(s) for months."
Chris Matthews posts on the "democracy" Facebook page, suggesting that the image of the Vega+ is such low quality that the graphic designer should be sacked. He suggests that it must be a mockup only and that they must have a finalised version to show. Chris also points out that there is an on-screen tell indicating that RCL are not using a genuine version of Adobe Illustrator. Suzanne re-iterates that the design "was finalised months ago". (As is standard in the "democracy" group, this post has since been deleted):
The entire box design looks like it's been cobbled together in 10 minutes or so, and a lot of people immediately spot a major problem with this design. See if you can spot it on this close up:
Thursday 30th March, 2017
Vicki Leeming (who was one of the people mentioned prominently in Gareth's article from yesterday) is finally contacted and refunded by RCL. 2 others that have been vocal in the comments section of the Indiegogo page are also refunded. The backers count drops by 3 to 4771, and the funds raised drops down to £512,690.
RCL prove they cannot even check the most basic of facts before posting nonsense on the Indiegogo campaign. In a reply, RCL write:
"Almost everyone posting negative comments here on a daily basis or in the closed Vega Plus Group set up by Richard Ratcliffe and George/Jamie Cropper have never been backers or they have already had a refund. Richard Ratcliffe is posting here on Paul Andrews orders. We have screen grabs to prove this...."There's 4 mistakes/lies in their post, which goes to show how little attention/fact checking they do. Anyone posting on Indiegogo must have been a backer at some point, as only backers can post. The people posting what RCL call "negative comments" (asking for refunds, asking for updates, asking for the truth) are mainly wanting refunds!
The second mistake is who set the group up - it was me, on February 9th!Next up, they say it was setup by Richard Ratcliffe and George/Jamie Cropper. George Cropper and Jamie Ball are 2 different people, yet RCL think they are 1 person!
Their final lie is that Richard Ratcliffe is taking orders from Paul Andrews regarding posting. The truth is that Suzanne Martin keeps switching the campaign owner back to Paul Andrews so that if anyone on the Indiegogo campaign has a complaint, they are shown his name as the project creator. As Paul Andrews is not a backer, he has no ability to reply on the campaign. Here is the actual message Paul posted, directed at any backer that read the message:
I would be grateful if any of you could occasionally write in the comments section on indiegogo that I am not the campaign owner to flag this to other backers.
We first noticed over Xmas 2016 that strangely my name had appeared as the campaign owner. Our lawyers wrote to indiegogo and 'someone' changed it to the real owner of the campaign and the person who has controlled the RCL bank account since we left back in April 2016. That name being Suzanne Martin.
Once more for clarity myself and Chris left before ANY of the Vega Plus backers funds hit the RCL accounts.
We noticed about a month ago that strangely enough my name had replaced that of Suzanne Martin (again) but this time all in capitals. We have sent many lawyers letters to Indiegogo and will continue to do so of course. Indiegogo as you all know are not very responsive but we will persist maybe using USA lawyers if need be.
Putting my name on the campaign as the owner does not mean I am legally responsible, whoever had the money is, but to use Levys words back on him, 'you would have to ask them why they would do such a thing.'
So as above I would be grateful if at intervals on that comment section backers are reminded who has had their money and who is responsible and answerable to them both morally and legally.
Lee Fogarty claims that the Nick Roper shilling fiasco from January was caused by him putting his (20 year deceased) mate's name in but pulling out when he saw the campaign owner. According to Lee, when he decided to back the Vega+, Nick Roper's name magically appeared. Here's his post:
@Daniel. I registered on indiegogo for the FIRST campaign. It was my understanding the role of honour was for the registered name. I put my mates in. I then saw the name of the campaign owner, and knowing his history decided not to back it. I have backed the Vega+, and made ONE comment - someone asked for a video - before realising it was the same name and immediately changed it. It was screenshotted within a minute and since then his daughter has been hounded off fb. But you knew that anyway…
There's 2 huge problems with Lee's version of events:
- The screenshot showing "Nick Roper" as the author was captured 20 hours after Lee posted it, and a short time after that, Lee realised his shilling was exposed and changed the name. I would not say that "20 hours later" is "immediately changing it".
- Assuming anybody actually believes that Nick Roper existed, Lee has never mentioned the name of Nick's daughter. Nick Roper has only been ever mentioned in 10 comments on Indiegogo (over the last 3 months, up until today 30th March 2017). Lee would have people believe that backers somehow tracked down this unnamed daughter down and hounded her so much that she shut down her Facebook account! It's absolutely preposterous, and also a complete 180 degree U-turn on his other version - that she happened to be reading the Indiegogo comments when she saw her Dad's name being dragged through the mud and shut down her account. It's all very convenient for Lee that Nick Roper is now 6 feet under pushing up the daisies and his daughter has shut down her social media account.
Friday 31st March, 2017
Yet another deadline missed with complete radio silence. David Levy's statement on Friday 10th March, 2017 saying that they "expect it to take a few weeks before they will be ready to ship the first units" ran out today 31st March, 2017.
SMS Electronics may not find this quite so amusing, but somebody managed to link a joke photo of the Vega+ to the SMS Google Maps entry. The fake Vega+ unit appears as the cover photo for some viewers!top
Sunday 2nd April, 2017
The Daily Mail publishes an article called Clive Sinclair, 76, ditches lap dancer wife 36 years his junior - and rekindles his romance with his 69-year-old former secretary.top
Monday 3rd April, 2017
The number of comments visible on the campaign varies wildly depending on the device you are using. As of 6:35pm today 3rd April 2017, the Indiegogo phone app shows 8180 comments, while the website comments section shows 7261 - a difference of 919. Where have the missing 919 comments gone?top
Friday 7th April, 2017
After multiple attempts, Lee Fogarty eventually manages to release a 20 second video showing the Vega+ being turned on (click the link to download it) and a static photo.
The video is extremely low resolution, and after pressing the power button, it takes approximately 10 seconds to boot to the Retro Computers logo, then another 8 seconds to bring up the first menu. Due to the low resolution, the menu text can not be made out, but Lee says this is a deliberate ploy to prevent the games list being exposed.
Several people post on Indiegogo and point out that the video has only been uploaded to the sycophant "democracy" group where a couple of hundred people can view it, rather than a proper update for the 4770 backers. Lee replies:
@alasdaircat - no it’s not the same thing, and I haven’t published any data. I posted a video. And I did check what can & can’t be posted, which is common knowledge anyway - no video of the games list. But you’re probably right, so no more videos from me.Lee also posts the dimensions in the same "democracy" Facebook group. The unofficial dimensions mentioned in that group so far are:
- 160 x 78 x 22mm (estimated by Mat Recardo and confirmed as correct by Suzanne Martin on 18/04/2017)
- 153 x 74 x 21mm (estimated by Mat Recardo, Suzanne confirmed as incorrect on 18/04/2017)
- 155 x 75 x 20mm (measured by Lee Fogarty today 07/04/2017, almost identical to Mat's supposedly incorrect guess)
- 160 x 80 x 20mm (according to Suzanne Martin today 07/04/2017)
George releases a response video to today's boot-up video called The Vega+ - Can people just get refunds now?top
Saturday 8th April, 2017
At the Dizzy 30th Anniversary celebration, Lee Fogarty turns up with some of the prototype Vega+ units. In a live video recording of the event, it shows Lee interrupting the Oliver Twins just as they are about to begin:
At one stage one of the units is left unattended, and Will Woodvine and Ant Harper take photos and a video of it. Will Woodvine posts the following review in the Spectrum for Everyone Facebook group:
Will plays with a Vega+
Disclosure: I backed the Vega+ Indiegogo campaign but requested and received a refund over the Christmas period. I asked for a refund due to what I perceive to be the appalling lack of information provided to backers.
The opinion below is my own and is not influenced by inducement or coercion by any parties. It is written as a fan of the ZX Spectrum. I attended the Dizzy event with no knowledge that the Vega+ would be present, so was unprepared.
Like any true retro-gaming fan I spent today, the sunniest and warmest of the year, in a darkened room with no windows looking at computer games. The event was the Dizzy 30th anniversary in Nottingham. This took the form of a presentation by the Oliver Twins which covered their early years, mentioned the ZX81 (huzzah!) and gave me a greater insight in to the Dizzy world.
At the start of the presentation a gentleman (who I think was Lee Fogarty) came down to the front and handed one of the Twins a white box. Inside was a Vega+. This was shown to the crowd, causing a slight stirring, and then placed on the podium. At the end presentation the Vega+ was left unattended so I took the opportunity to grab it and have a close look. At no time was there any interference from anyone or any attempt made to stop me from using it or Ant Harper, Simon Williams or Simon Osborne from using, photographing or videoing the device.
I believe the device to be the pre-production device that has been seen previously.
Physical: The device feels good in the hands, fitting well - I have medium sized hands. Stuart Williams has a photo of the Vega+ lying on a rubber-key ZX Spectrum also pics of the intefaces on the top.. I gave the unit a torsional twist and the unit did not flex, which reinforced the positive feel of the device. The screen is bright and clear, easily read by someone who normally needs glasses to read and wasn’t reading them. The buttons were an issue being unresponsive - you have to press them precisely for them to react. This maybe the “switch re-design” referred to by RCL. Simon Osborne has reported that he used a corrected production unit and the buttons were much more responsive. The spectrum flash is a sticker (peeling now) and the Sinclair logo feels raised on the clear plastic covering the screen and lower-middle section. My personal opinion is that these would look better and be harder wearing if they were under the clear plastic. The video showing me using the Vega+ does show me pressing keys with no response - this is down to the unresponsiveness issue mentioned above and also not knowing what key does what during game selection, start and play.
Use: The Vega+ was turned on when I picked it up. By accessing the menu, it can be switched off. Doing so caused slight concern as I could not figure how to turn it on (no user manual was present) - I also feared being cited by RCL as cause for further delays by breaking the working pre-prod unit. The unit turned on by pressing a key on the front (possibly two) which caused the boot sequence seen in the video. This was repeated several times through use of the reset key (top left of the unit). Several games were tried - Alien Destroyer, Hall of the Things, Jetpac and The Boggit. All loaded fine and played except The Boggit - is seemed stuck in a tape loading loop. There appeared to be many no-name games on there, plenty known and some randoms such as a Driving Test thing? It does feel very similar to fuse, as you would expect, albeit with custom menus suited to the Vega+
Opinion - I was impressed, although it was obviously a pre-production unit. For me, the buttons need sorting and to make it a truly superb product, the Sinclair logo and Spectrum flash need to be rethought to be robust.
I’ve no idea why/who/when the Vega+ is released, I’m just a bloke who was in the right place at the right time. Apologies for the grammar/spellings, I banged this out quickly.
It speaks volumes for the contempt RCL seems to have for their backers that a completely independent person is able to record and upload a video of one of the prototype Vega+ units booting up, navigating the games menu, selecting a game and playing it. Backers have been asking for this for more than 6 months, and someone recording it on their phone can upload it within a few hours!
Darren Melbourne's request that RCL remove the game Hades Nebula from the Vega+ was posted in a news update on the RCL website on November 2nd 2016, yet the video footage from the Dizzy 30th event shows the games list and Hades Nebula is still present.
In the Spectrum4Ever Facebook group, Suzanne Martin confirms that the Vega+ is not yet in production when she uses the future tense "it will" for her response.
Chris: Is it a prototype Jarrod or does it work?
Suzanne Martin: It works :)
Paul: It's probably one of the working prototypes - looks bigger than I thought as well, hope it goes into production
Suzanne Martin: It will....
Sunday 9th April, 2017
The Daily Mail uploads a follow up article called The desperately frail millionaire, his jealous ex and a VERY unladlylike war that left Sir Clive Sinclair's pole-dancer wife pole-axed.
A video showing Crystal Kingdom Dizzy game played off the SD card on one of the pre-production Vega+ consoles is uploaded, and re-posted on YouTube. The video is called A quick play with the ZX Vega plus.top
Monday 10th April, 2017
Lee Fogarty argues with various people on the Indiegogo comments section when they ask what is going on, and why is he all over social media gloating about "his" Vega+. Lee claims that launch party attendees were getting the pre-production units and that Suzanne Martin was at the event:
Someones a bit sweary this morning! It was well known that launch party attendees were getting the pre-production units. Several of those members were handed units at the weekend and have been extensively testing them since. They were also shown to other backers that happened to be at the event, some of which have reported on them. And they are sending feedback too. BTW - Suzanne was also at the event with the coloured units.
And of the c**** that received theirs on Saturday, you have two veteran developers that played some older titles, one veteran/current developer that play a hell of a lot of spectrum games, probably the most prolific spectrum developer that is still writing now, a blogger that knows the spectrum inside out, and the owner of World of Spectrum. On display for anyone to use unrestricted were the version with the button issue and the version that was fixed. Some got to photograph the coloured units.The coloured units were played with. There were several bloggers there that had unrestricted access to the units and left to do or write whatever they want. There was a lot of smiling people by then end.
When asked for evidence that Suzanne Martin was there, Lee avoids answering the question. There seems to be no evidence that anyone from RCL other than spokesman Lee Fogarty was there:
@Lee Fogarty - Any chance of posting a photo of Suzanne there with a ZX Vega+ on Saturday? You know, to show the appreciation of your generous backers and to show them that they still matter?
@Federico - no - there was the Dizzy 30th event on Saturday and several of the original launch party backers were there, so they got the promised pre-production units. The rest are being posted. In the meantime, they have played the hell out of them and sent reports to RCL - and some to me for comments - and kindly handed their units to anyone that wanted to see them on the day. There was an ex indiegogo backer there that has posted videos and an unbiased review online.
It seems awfully strange that if Suzanne Martin was at the event, why did she not hand out the Vega+ pre-production models to the Oliver Twins? Why would RCL delegate this particular task to an RCL spokesman that claims he doesn't work for the company? Moments after this, Lee disappears and non-backer James Waller appears (right on schedule) to start his daily ritual of defending and supporting RCL.
I asked the Oliver Twins if Suzanne Martin was at the event. Their reply confirms they did not see her, only Lee Fogarty:
"I heard she was planning on being there... but it was so busy and so many people I (Philip) didn't personally see or talk to her. Lee obviously was there."top
Tuesday 11th April, 2017
RCL had targetted today as the day to have gotten through all their emails and processed all refunds. Suzanne Martin said the following on Tuesday 28th March, 2017:
"We posted earlier today about several of our email accounts being spammed - We are working through them and estimate this will take up to 14 days. For those saying we should just delete those messages - that isn't an option."
RCL have ignored all communication channels, so there are no updates and no refunds as promised.
Two generous backers that have had repeated refund requests ignored post comments on Indiegogo to say that they will donate their entire pledge to charity:
@Rcl Hello there. Isn’t it a lovely day…isn’t it?! The Sun is shining, the birds are chirping. Why the only thing that could make this day any better would be getting a refund. Think about it, it's a great idea, you know it, I know it, James Waller definitely knows it... its all gravy baby! And... wait for it... if you refund me I’ll even donate the money to Great Ormonde Street Hospital! I cant be any fairer than that. My order ID is 6010.
@RCL – I have requested on many occasions that I want refund. I see Graham has made a generous offer of donating his refund and, as this is not about the money for myself, I shall too offer to donate my £105 to charity. In my case I would donate it to Guide Dogs for the Blind and I am happy to provide proof of such donation once refund has been confirmed. My order ID is 2109 – please contact me to arrange.
Richard Ratcliffe asks Indiegogo to confirm who is responsible for deleting comments on the Indiegogo campaigns. Brian from Indiegogo replies:
"Campaigners are solely responsible for managing the comments on their campaigns."
The accounts for RCL are now more than a month overdue (having already been granted a 3 month extension in December), so they now fall into the £375 fine category.top
Wednesday 12th April, 2017
The store on the RCL website was re-activated today, and the Vega+ is now available for pre-order for £129.99. Strangely enough, the shop claims that it is currently "in stock" and the units will be shipped in Summer 2017. Summer in the UK is considered the 3 month period from June to August, so they will probably intend to ship on August 31st, 2017:
Rather worringly, the battery specification has yet to be finalised, so presumably RCL have not even ordered the batteries for the 4770 units that David Levy had said were going to ship "in a few weeks" more than a month ago on the 10th of March, 2017:
The "Store Dummies" payment option from shop earlier in the year has been removed, and the only payment option is now PayPal. The previous iteration of the store had a £5 shipping charge, but this has been reduced to 1p.
The form to buy a Vega+ does not perform basic email address validation, so a completely bogus value like "a" will be accepted. All the address fields can also be bypassed with a single character. Even more concerning is when purchasing in bulk, the total doesn't make sense - the total is always £130 (including shipping) no matter how many Vega+s you order. If you order more than 13,000 in a single transaction, they will cost less than 1 pence per unit. Perhaps Lee has studied some alternative mathematics course that I'm not aware of:
Many people had wondered why Preston Thomas and his wife Tamara (both non-backers of the Vega+) were so vocally supportive of RCL in spite of the shambles the campaign has been, and in a thread on the new Spectrum35 Facebook group it suddenly became clear why. While Preston and George were having a heated discussion about a possible charity boxing match at the Spectrum 35th event, Preston admitted that he was going to be a tester for the Vega+. The vital part of the conversation was:
Preston Thomas: you spread lies about me getting a vega +
Preston Thomas: i was going to be a tester but it never happend
George Cropper: so, Preston, tell us some more about this vega+ testing unit you were going to be getting ?
After George called him out on the Vega+ testing unit, Preston suddenly stopped replying. Preston sent Lee Fogarty and Jim Bagley private messages during the conversation, and accidentally posted these on the screen dumps he uploaded. After posting links to the rival The64 campaign, he tried to warn Lee and wrote:
Preston Thomas to Lee Fogarty:
why is george and ian in your group ?
lee this is really kicking off
About 15 minutes later, the entire thread was deleted, but not before it was captured:
Reporter Gareth Corfield tweets to say that David Levy's email address is now bouncing. I'm no Nostradamus, but one can assume that if Gareth is contacting RCL, another article will be published in the Register over the next few days and therefore RCL will be scrambling to put out another nano-update to the backers or at least answer a few questions on the Indiegogo campaign.
David Levy's official RCL email address bounces. Four weeks ago he was emailing me from it. Curious. #zxvega— Gareth Corfield (@GazTheJourno) April 12, 2017
Later in the day, Lee Fogarty realises his broken store on the RCL website gives the impression that it must be "amateur hour". Rather than fix the calculation, Lee takes the store down. The store has now been put online, then subsequently taken down twice in the last couple of months. Third time's a charm perhaps?top
Thursday 13th April, 2017
Lee Fogarty must fancy himself as a betting man, as he uses the "bob each way" methodology. If you write something down enough times, eventually one of them must be spelt correctly:
Would you really trust your personal details to a company that can't even spell the most basic words correctly?
Gareth Corfield publishes an article on The Register titled ZX Spectrum reboot project's Great Ormond Street charity cash questions. The article suggests a £20,000 donation was received, but sales suggest more was due. An excerpt from the article:
Tens of thousands of pounds destined for Great Ormond Street Hospital from ZX Spectrum Vega firm Retro Computers Limited appears not to have been paid.
Retro Computers Limited (RCL) had promised to pay 10 per cent from proceeds of sales of its Vega console to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, England, under the terms of its licensing agreement with the owners of games bundled with the machine.
RCL did pay £20,000 to GOSH on sales of an initial 4,000 units but proceeds from the apparent sale of a remaining 6,500 devices were not made to the charity.
“I can confirm that we received donations totaling £20,000 from Retro Computers Ltd between March 2015 – October 2016,” a GOSH spokeswoman told El Reg. She confirmed no more donations were received after October 2016.
As I correctly predicted yesterday, David Levy has broken weeks of radio silence and issued a typical response on the RCL website claiming the information on which The Register article is based is out of date.
Someone at RCL has been busy deleting comments on their Facebook page relating to the story.
A new website address post is added to the RCL Facebook page, pointing towards their store page.top
Friday 14th April, 2017
A "shop launch offer" is added to the RCL website, offering a Vega and Vega+ for £199.99. The teaser text only mentions the Vega and "this item will ship in 3-5 days", and it's only when you follow the read more link and scroll down that you see that it's still the same old pre-order as before - with the Vega+ shipping "Summer 2017". One hopes that RCL mean the UK summer and not New Zealand summer (which would mean shipping December 2017).The more cynical readers of this blog may see this as a desperate cash grab to get enough money to produce the Vega+ consoles, and it is no doubt a wiser investment to hold off until the console is actually produced before parting with your hard earned cash. For anyone wishing to invest with this company, I would advise you to try and contact them before purchasing and see how open their communication channels are, otherwise you may end up with a single £199.99 Vega console for your troubles.
On the comments section of Gareth Corfield's latest article, someone posts that 8-year old Amelia Russell Green (a cancer sufferer) was promised one of the developer units, but has literally died waiting for it to arrive. Instead Lee Fogarty used one of those prototype units to gatecrash the Oliver Twins Dizzy's birthday event. A snippet from the post:
I'm even more disappointed that we were promised 1 of the 5 developer units to aid a girl with cancer, we still haven't received it over 6 months later and it only supposedly needed a button changing. She's fkin dead now so that worked out splendid.
The Retro Hour release podcast number 66, which features the Vega+. Host Ravi attended the Dizzy 30th event and had a play on one of the prototype Vega+ units. The Vega+ section starts at 14:44 in the podcast. A few points from the podcast:
- Ravi confirms that nobody from RCL was at the event. This is the complete opposite to what Lee Fogarty said, as Lee claimed that "Suzanne Martin was at the event" in a post on Monday 10th April. (Ravi must be under the impression that RCL spokesman Lee Fogarty is not an actual employee).
- Ravi was instructed not to take photos of the games list because it was confidential.
- The device he tried out was definitely a prototype unit, and featured unresponsive buttons.
- There were 4 or 5 Vega+ prototypes at the event.
Meanwhile on the "democracy" group, one-time RCL advocate Dave Barron posted a question for Suzanne Martin, asking for a truthful update of the product. (Dave had been skating on thin ice the day before when he posted a comment suggesting "RCL will fall by the wayside"). The moderators swooped in to prevent any further commenting on the thread, so Dave started another thread simply saying "Refund please". A moderator wrote "Bye bye Dave", deleted both threads and banned Dave from the group. There is no screenshot of the final act unfortunately as my browser refreshed the page as I was about to grab it - you have to be very quick in that group as posts vanish faster than a David Copperfield magic show. Kim Jong-Un would have been proud to witness this style of democracy in action! :)top
Saturday 15th April, 2017
More bugs found in PHP developer Lee Fogarty's RCL store. It is currently impossible to remove any products from the shopping cart with the trashcan icon. Step 1: Add some stuff to your shopping cart:
Step 2: Press the trashcan icon beside each row so that your shopping cart "appears" to be empty:
Step 3: Press the Update cart button. Note that all the products are still in it. So the Update Cart button is broken, but perhaps the Go to Checkout button works. If you press that, you end up on the final checkout screen:But once again, all the products are still in the cart. Does anyone at RCL test anything? Children found button issues in November, nobody noticed the packaging designs used a watermarked image, three user features were found to be missing in March, and the third version of the store still contains bugs!
Despite RCL having well over 100 refund requests outstanding, owing Paul Andrews over £80,000 (as part of the court settlement) and having failed to pay funds owed to Great Ormond Street Hospital, RCL apparently have funds available to setup Facebook advertising campaigns to presell consoles:top
Sunday 16th April, 2017top
Monday 17th April, 2017
A question sent to Indiegogo asking about the campaign received a generic reply, but at the bottom of the response it shows Paul Andrews as the campaign owner.
Paul Andrews has contacted Indiegogo multiple times to have his name removed, and back on February 3rd the name shown was Suzanne Martin. For some reason, Suzanne Martin keeps restoring Paul Andrew's name as the campaign owner.top
Tuesday 18th April, 2017
The accounts for four companies run by the RCL directors (Retro Computers Ltd, Erotic Chatbots Ltd, Intelligent Toys Ltd, Private Planet Ltd) have accounts overdue and fines, and several will be struck off (and all assets returned to the crown) if they are not submitted soon:top
Wednesday 19th April, 2017
Gareth Corfield releases an article Game authors demand missing ZX Spectrum reboot royalties on The Register. The article states that many games rights holders (including Mark Cale/System 3) have had their software used without permission, they have not received any royalty statements to prove charity donations were handed over, and there are a string of broken promises by Suzanne Martin to supply documentation. David Levy (director of RCL) continues to blame the former director Paul Andrews, who left the company more than a year ago! RCL also continue to insist they never refuse a refund request - another obvious lie.
All too predictably after media coverage, Lee Fogarty publishes a statement by David Levy claiming the article is another fake "news story", blames Paul Andrews for any problems with the rights to games, and that the former directors are trying to damage "a great project":
We are aware that a number of known associates of the former Managing Director Paul Andrews and his business partner Darren Melbourne have been in touch with another fake "news story". Yet again, The Register is simply being used by Mr Andrews and Mr Melbourne in another attempt to damage a great project.
Lee Fogarty also claims (with absolutely no evidence to back up his claims) that Paul Andrews, Chris Smith and Darren Melbourne have been modifying documents and posting them online:
Would you work with Andrews/Melbourne/Smith knowing a disagreement leads to emails, accounts, etc being modified and posted online? Also, why didn't Gareth name the other developer? Everyone knows its Mel Croucher (currently raised £936 on Indiegogo with Andrews)
Lee Fogarty's post states that Mel Croucher was the other developer and has also pulled his games from the Vega+. Lee has failed to mention how a lowly website operator knows all this insider information.
In response to David Levy, Paul Andrews wrote the following:
Dear Mr Levy,
Thank you for your statement today on the website that you seem to forget is the company website that myself and Chris own half of. In response to your statement full of misinformation and nonsense, don't worry tomorrow when it's all to hand tomorrow, I will post a nice selection of your emails for the world to see, just to help them understand how you must have forgotten you sent them, and what's in them.
For example, the one when you replied to Mark Cale saying YOU had sent him the letters to his house but he never replied for instance. The many many emails about how you acquired the Rare games from Microsoft. The ones about you setting up the deals for the Spanish games, I could go on and on, and tomorrow I will of course, but you get the idea.
Then we can move onto the ones about how you wrote the games contracts, you know the one which was used for all the games, the one with the digital watermark with your name and computer software details, you know word register to mind sports ltd, that one. Then we can move onto how in that contract you wrote, it got a bit mixed up, and net and gross income got muddled which made our lives so much harder. Then in that same thread your suggestion which I rejected on how to alter things, that's tomorrow.
Then the emails about how you confirmed your agreement for Cornerstone to sell and collect money, from the various retailers, all those ones.
So don't worry you might have forgotten all those, but I can jog your memory tomorrow on those matters.
Based on your continuous misinformation, under these circumstances I will take legal advice tomorrow also if it's appropriate to publish the bank statements we have of the period after we resigned.
Please stop pretending the company did not have income prior and after we left from sales of the original Vega, and stop implying that money is missing (during the time we were involved with RCL) when the only money in question is the £50k odd in dispute with Cornerstone, which was held back due to an IP issue.
Once more as we all know myself and Chris resigned before £513k of backers money for the Vega Plus was given to RCL, before other original Vega sales money was given to RCL from Cinram (as per the bank statements) and the £250k or more worth of original stock was 'moved'.
PS can you please submit the company accounts, and supply us with the full audited versions we legally requested from you.
Developer John Pickford also posts the following, confirming David Levy was the point of contact he dealt with regarding the games rights:
For what it's worth when the original Vega was announced I contacted RCL via their website requesting that none of my work was included. I got email response from David Levy asking for a list of games to make sure they weren't included.
I think that confirms he was involved in signing up the games.top
Thursday 20th April, 2017
Paul Shirley (author of Spindizzy and Confuzion) confirms that he was never asked about donating his royalties:top
Friday 21st April, 2017
In a bid to assist the large number of people contacting me about being refused refunds by RCL, a cut-down version of this blog has been created. The cut-down version shows all the missed deadlines and the link can be forwarded to financial institutions to assist with section 75 style chargeback requests.
RCL are now wasting money sponsoring Facebook ads regarding legal action against Nick Cooper. If that wasn't alarming enough, RCL are deleting all negative comments on the post (click the link and notice it says "view X more comments" but when you click, very few will appear as they have all been deleted):top
Saturday 22nd April, 2017
RCL are now wasting money sponsoring Facebook ads that include "alternative facts" about Paul Andrews and also deleting comments on the Facebook post:John Pickford has already confirmed that David Levy (and not Paul Andrews) was his point of contact when he refused allowing his games onto the Vega on Wednesday 19th of April:
For those of you that don't know what Paul Andrews looks like, here is shown here on the left at the original ZX Vega launch party along with an SMS director and a PR consultant. You can view more photos from the launch party on this Flickr page, along with a statement regarding the video/photos taken at the event (where cameras were in plain sight, and nobody declined to be filmed). Thanks to Paul for releasing these photos from the event into the public domain.
A backer that has been trying to obtain a refund confirms that David Levy's email is still completely full:top
Sunday 23rd April, 2017
The ZX Spectrum Next kickstarter campaign has finally been launched. In a single day it has reached more than 80% of its funding goal of £250,000, and the console should be delivered in January 2018. This is a testament to the honest people behind the campaign, a complete contrast to the current Vega+ directors.
Presumably in response to the Next being launched, RCL are sponsoring ads that direct people to their store. Perhaps they have finally worked out that sponsored ads for legal disputes don't bring in the large volume of sales they need to manufacture the device?top
Monday 24th April, 2017
The ZX Spectrum Next kickstarter campaign has hit it's target of £250,000 on its second day!
Meanwhile over in the Vega+ camp, 4 refunds seem to have been processed. The campaign has dropped by 4 to 4766 backers, and the total amount raised has dropped to £512,145. If you're wondering if you are one of the lucky 4, the names that have been marked as refunded are nathan41, Stefan Andersson, eusebioas and Martin Mackay.top
Tuesday 25th April, 2017
The old domain retro-computers.co.uk is no longer forwarding visitors to the current RCL site. A message greets visitors saying:
This Account Has Been Suspended
To reactivate your account please contact billing on 01202 237027
By examining the WHOIS record for the domain, it shows that RCL have never even bothered to change the registrant's details. It still shows Andrews UK as the registrant and address:
Andrews UK Limited
UK Limited Company, (Company number: 4047099)
Andrews UK Limited
The Hat Factory, 65-67 Bute Street
It is an ICANN requirement that these details must be regularly verified and be accurate. Domain name companies are required by law to send out reminder notices to customers to ensure the data is correct. I quote:
"ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (and/or the associated ccTLD authority), requires that we ask you to review your contact data and make any changes necessary. Under ICANN and ccTLD WHOIS rules and the terms of your registration agreement, PROVIDING FALSE CONTACT INFORMATION CAN BE GROUNDS FOR DOMAIN NAME CANCELLATION."
The Metro newspaper has an article called Celebrate the Sinclair ZX Spectrum’s 35th anniversary with… yet another retro console. The very bottom of the article suggests that the Vega+ will never be released:
The ZX Spectrum Next is scheduled to be released in January 2018, to anyone that backs the Kickstarter for £175 or more. It already looks like the new hardware will do better than the Spectrum Vega+ portable, which now seems as if it will never be released.
There's a small mention of the Vega+ in the latest article by Gareth Corfield on The Register called Another ZX Spectrum modern reboot crowdfunder pops up. The part mentioning the Vega+ is:
RCL was the company behind the ZX Spectrum-branded Vega and Vega+ consoles. The Vega+ has failed to appear, despite repeated promises from RCL over the last year, and game authors who contributed to the original Vega have yet to be paid. The company’s accounts are overdue at Companies House and it is facing questions about money it pledged to Great Ormond Street Hospital that has not been paid.top
Thursday 27th April, 2017
There's not much news to report at the moment, RCL seem to have gone into hiding again. The only action is on the Indiegogo comments section, where there's more and more people demanding a refund. Fall guy and RCL spokesman Lee Fogarty is the only one making comments on the campaign.
PayPal confirms to backers that RCL are refusing refunds:
In just over 4 weeks, Retro Computers Ltd will receive its first striking off notice if the accounts are not filed by then.
At this time, I would like everyone to stop praying for your Vega+ to be delivered and instead pray for Tamara who informed me that she is stuck in hospital, unable to sleep and on Facebook at midnight. At this stage we don't believe it's anything terminal like a kidney removal. Get well soon Tamara!
Friday April 28th, 2017
Paul Andrews releases an email chain between David Levy and himself which shows:
- RCL had received income which was due to GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital).
- RCL has not paid this income to GOSH, as all that has been paid (as confirmed to the Register by GOSH) is £20,000.
- RCL in emails to games rights owners directly and also via their first lot of lawyers confirmed 100% that GOSH had been paid money owed to them (both on behalf of games rights owners and other third part IP owners) - this is incorrect.
- It shows that David Levy was involved in writing the original games contracts, and made it harder to fulfil obligations in terms of running the company and also Levy’s ideas which Paul Andrews would not go along with.
Saturday April 29th, 2017
A backer posts in the "democracy" group asking for an update. Programmer Jonathan Cauldwell posts that he is contacting rights holders and still finding bugs in the firmware. This suggests any console release is still a long way off:
All I can report is that I'm still contacting rights holders for more games, testing the unit I have and reporting occasional firmware issues to RCL. I know RCL are working flat out to iron out some minor problems but I don't know exactly how close they are at this stage. Be patient, I guess it'll be ready when it's ready
Sunday April 30th, 2017
The people at RCL clearly do not read (or take notice of) this blog, as they would have been alerted almost a week ago that at least one of their domain names were failing with a "this account has been suspended" message. It appears that two of their domains have expired and been purchased by someone else:
Registered on: 29-Apr-2017
Expiry date: 29-Apr-2018
Last updated: 29-Apr-2017
RCL post update 57 on the Indiegogo campaign claiming a "security breach" has taken place, rather than what appears to have been a simple case of not paying their hosting bills and/or setting up automatic renewal of their domain names. Based on the language used and the fact it occurred in the weekend, I would guess Lee Fogarty wrote this update as he loves mentioning the metropolitan police in his allegations:
We have been made aware that late yesterday afternoon a security breach occurred on a number of domains belonging to Retro Computers Limited. This includes the zxvega.co.uk and retro-computers.co.uk URLs
We do not currently have control of these domains and an unauthorised third party has taken over these accounts. We we are working to recover our property from this person or persons whom we have identified and reported to Action Fraud and the Metropolitan police.
For security reasons please only contact us through the Indiegogo portal and not via emails that contain either URL We will provide a new email address for team members in the very near future.
Do not send any personal details via email and this information may not be secure.
RCL choose to reply to one of the pro-RCL supporters on Indiegogo claiming:
The good thing is they are pretty incompetent because before they made the settings private we obtained all the evidence.
So RCL are saying the they have all the evidence of this "security breach", yet on the update they say they are working to recover "their" property from this "person or persons". It sounds like they have their very best forensic digital detective Plod Fogarty on the case, and he has narrowed it down to either "1 person or more than 1 person". The case sounds like it's practically solved!
Since RCL have mentioned ActionFraud, perhaps RCL could share the case number/contact point as I'm sure there's hundreds of backers that would love to give their evidence in this case.
Claiming an "incompetent security breach" is also ironic considering RCL had the domains transferred a year ago, never bothered to update the contact details with real data (which is a legal requirement and was also mentioned on this blog), never setup automatic renewal, never setup a reminder, ignored all "your domain is about to expire" warnings that ISPs send out, and let the hosting package and domain expire. So who is incompetent here? RCL claim they paid for them until 2018, but if that was the case, why was their hosting package cut off sometime on or before Tuesday 25th of March. Let's see the invoice RCL (and while you're at it, your overdue accounts please):
RCL have also claimed that they paid a 3rd party. Since Lee Fogarty is the "webmaster" for RCL, it sounds to me as if they're throwing him under the bus and blaming him for this latest problem:
Another interesting point is when Paul Andrews transferred the assets to RCL in April 2016, why did David Levy register a brand new domain name retrocomputerslimited.com under his own name until 2018 when RCL already owned the existing two domains? Perhaps when Lee Fogarty failed to restore the website from the backups he thought they needed a new domain name?
The Indiegogo comments section lights up in fury with a large number of people saying they are fed up with the "scam" and demanding refunds. RCL post only 7 replies to more than 150 comments while ignoring every comment regarding a refund. Their entire set of replies for the day consist of:
- No we have no intention of doing that.
- Please don't leave potty mouth comments... keep it clean
- Err no we didn't we paid a third party....
- The good thing is they are pretty incompetent because before they made the settings private we obtained all the evidence.
- We did not let them expire we paid for them up to 2018 - but thanks for the feedback
- That is not what happened
- You aren't a backer Peeto.
Another backer posts to say he has also been banned from commenting on the website, so has to use the phone app to post.
An interesting Freudian slip from RCL was also posted on the Indiegogo comments page today where their comment reads as if they have no intention of shipping the Vega+:
Paul Martin: please don’t tell me this shall effect the shipping of the vega+!!!
Retro Computers: No we have no intention of doing that.
Meanwhile on the Retro Computers Facebook page, RCL confirm Jonathan Cauldwell's post from yesterday that they do not have the 1,000 games they are insisting on releasing with the console. RCL have not mentioned this in any official Indiegogo update or indicated the current number of games they have currently licenced:
A backer asks if there will be any update regarding the project, and is told "Not today I am afraid". RCL only seem to respond when forced to respond due to bad publicity about the project:
A backer asks for the procedure to obtain a refund. RCL reply "Any request should go through the Indiegogo Portal - using your registered address."
On the World of Spectrum forums, Lee Fogarty posts his latest theory with absolutely no evidence to back any of it up:
"AndrewsUK invoiced RCL for the domain names until 2018. He didn’t pay the bills so when it went down this week, RCL claimed the domain - rightfully as they had paid in advance, and it was another company asset not handed over. This would have alerted him, so he got Cooper & Cropper to also claim them, then approved their claims. This then shows on the registry as a new purchase."
How does Lee know about this invoice as merely "the web guy" who doesn't work for RCL? Even if this nonsense was true, it's a moot point because due diligence should have been carried out by RCL when they took over the domains (and clearly wasn't). Perhaps Lee can upload the invoice, or is it like all his other baseless claims that supposedly have to be "cleared" and never seem to get clearance?
In other news, Lee Fogarty leaks a screenshot from a preview article that was only sent to Tamara to pass on to Preston Thomas for his comment. Preston was given just over a week to comment, but chose not to and instead passed the link to Lee Fogarty who released the image. Lee has claimed:
"There is a fake account set up in my name - I've seen several conversations recently I'm supposed to have had."
Lee's choice of words is very interesting here. He wrote that "there is a fake account" rather than "I suspect a fake account" - so presumably Lee has some evidence to backup his words and he can show everyone.
From what I can tell, Lee's explanation seems to be that someone has setup a fake Lee Fogarty account (presumably with copies of most/all his details) and then contacted his friends. Lee has posted on Facebook asking for people "he doesn't frequently message" to send him any messages from this fake account. If they didn't notice there were two Lee Fogarty accounts with the same image, would they be bright enough to respond appropriately?
A Facebook search reveals no duplicate Lee Fogarty account with his photo, and surely somebody would have noticed a duplicate by now and alerted him, so Lee's protestations of innocence are about as watertight as a colander.
On the "democracy" group, administrator Jan Saggiori purchases the georgecropper.com domain name and redirects it to the Retro Computers website. He also purchases the bumfungaming.co.uk domain name and brags about redirecting it to an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) website:top
Monday May 1st, 2017
The article detailing the deal between Lee Fogarty and Preston Thomas that involved a Vega+ testing unit in return for facebook admin rights is released.top
Tuesday May 2nd, 2017
Gareth Corfield publishes an article on The Register called Forgetful ZX Spectrum reboot firm loses control of its web domains. RCL were offered their chance to comment, but refused. Instead they posted on the RCL Facebook page (and deleted most of the comments) saying "No surprise that we declined to be part of this article. Alas expect another very anti-RCL and biased article."
The post also says "We know any true backer of the Spectrum would prefer updates about the Vega+ release dates (and we'll have some news on that this week)". Another member of the group asked for clarification of the date, but they have been ignored. Their full post was:
I'm sure we are all looking forward to your announcement later this week. I guess we'll get it before the close of business on Friday, is that correct?
Lee Fogarty's memory seems to be failing, as he posts that he has never mentioned George in relation to stealing domains:
"Don't rely too much on anything published over there - you'd be amazed at how many things I am supposed to have said, or people I've spoken to. I was asked tonight if I ever accused George of stealing domains - no I have never mentioned him in that regard. Duncan/George isn't that smart. He can just about use photoshop."
Only 2 days ago Lee posted this on World of Spectrum regarding the domain names: "This would have alerted him, so he got Cooper & Cropper to also claim them, then approved their claims".
Lee also claims that Gareth Corfield has been changing his articles after publishing:
"This article appears to have changed since it was first published. Why would Paul Andrews accountants refuse to hand over RCL documents needed to file accounts without a court order? What are they hiding?"
Someone asks him what has been changed and he replies:
"I don't recall seeing the comment about the accountants. I could be wrong and it was there before, but he's edited articles before so it wouldn't surprise me"
Lee is once again wrong, as an online archived copy is identical to the current version.top
Wednesday May 3rd, 2017
Gareth Corfield publishes an article on The Register called Former RCL director: It was me who cancelled their domain names. Both Suzanne Martin and David Levy were offered the chance to comment, but both refused.
Paul Andrews posts a series of emails to Nominet (the UK based domain registry company) showing that on Friday April 28th he contacted them about having his name removed from the domains. Nominet replied saying he had the ability to cancel the domain names, and Nominet later reply to say the domains are set for cancellation. Paul Andrews states that RCL (via their lawyers) have not been responding for weeks.
Another series of email screenshots are also shown that show that RCL were well aware of the domain names being transferred to them back in April 2016 and it beggars belief that RCL never updated the domains with their own details in the following year. Lee Fogarty posts yet another lie:
"Stating he spoke to nominet who said the only way to change the details was to transfer to Cooper is total bull."
A member calls Lee up on this "total bull". Paul Andrews never posted anything of the sort. Lee responds with:
"He did. Several times. He stated the websites were showing in his name and nominet told him if RCL wouldn't change it then he had to do what he did. RCL had no control over them whatsoever."
An open invitation is offered to Lee Fogarty and Jan Saggiori to join the discussion, but both decline. Lee posts the following in response (talking about Paul Andrews):
"yeah that won't happen. I've had his lies, threats, bullshit for a year. I might visit him in jail though with a Vega+ bar of soap."
Thursday May 4th, 2017
In reply to a backer asking about refund requests, RCL have posted saying that the original target was completely unrealistic and once again are blaming the former directors:
The original target was a completely unrealistic "finger in the air" figure set by the previous management. There was no formal budget or bill of materials produced before the campaign was started. Even on the basis that RCL had purchased, owned and already paid for a number of assets that should have been used to create the Vega+ , these assets were subsequently withheld by Paul Andrews and Chris Smith, even after Mr Smith was paid a significant sum following his resignation - this figure is under budget. As a consequence we had to commission and create the Vega+ from scratch paying for a number items twice and causing the delay you are now well aware of. We have issued a refunds to a number of backers - we have also had a significant number of people change there minds and in particular following the recent hijack.
RCL can't even seem to get the figure correct, as the original goal was £100k not £150k as they have stated! Questions relating to ignored refunds and whether the funds have been ringfenced have been ignored or deleted. The following question regarding the "Arrow certification" is also posed and as yet has no response:
When the original goal of £100k was launched the project had Arrow certification. From my understanding, getting Arrow certification requires a bill of materials. But you are claiming this was never done? It can't be both ways. Are you now saying you didn't have a bill of materials and the Arrow certification was fraudulent?
If you look at the original thread link, you can see the numbers do not add up, and someone even mentioned this in the post:
It would seem "RCL can be really excited" about getting investigated for fraud now that they've admitted everything they said about being "on schedule" and "in production" was a lie. The spokesperson for RCL that claimed to have seen the Vega+ units in production in April 2016 should also hang his head in shame.
Another concerned member of the public that has been seeking a refund has rung Action Fraud and reported the following:
"Based on the latest information and after talking to Action Fraud, the best course of action now is for backers to contact Citizens Advice and lodge individual complaints as they are unaware of the scale of the issue. I've spoken to them, and they outlined a number of courses of action they can take and are passing all complaints to Trading Standards who in turn will investigate if enough people call in and raise this issue. 0345 numbers are free from most mobiles I believe..."
Paul Andrews releases a huge set of emails that detail more of the falling out with David Levy. The email trail shows funds were tight and to complete the Vega+ for the backers, PR should be dispensed with. David Levy threw his toys out of the cot, insisted Suzanne Martin stay on.
The other comedy nuggets from today involve quotes from David Levy to the former directors where he claimed what a great job Suzanne Martin was doing and would do moving forward. (I have corrected a couple of spelling mistakes in the email):
As you say, Suzanne has done a superb job for us and the result is all the money we have raised on Indiegogo. We absolutely need to have good PR services going forward, and Suzanne will be far less expensive, and almost certainly much much better, than anyone else we could have handling our PR.
Furthermore, under the shareholders' agreement we cannot dismiss any staff earning more than £10,000 per year without the agreement of three of us, and I certainly do not agree to do so.
And a follow up (in relation to dispensing with PR services until RCL could afford to do so) also sings her praises:
I am definitely not in agreement with your proposal re Suzanne, for various reasons.
We absolutely do need continuing PR services to maintain our profile. That is most definitely in the best interest of the company.
And it is ludicrous and highly disloyal of you to suggest, immediately after Suzanne led our campaign to raise more than £350,000, and having also been very successful with her work on the first campaign, that we should dismiss her. I don't think you understand the importance of PR. We should be paying a good PR person before we take any money ourselves. Having someone as good as Suzanne in our team, at a fraction of the normal day rate for someone with her capabilities, is a must.
RCL's communication, PR and technology skills since Paul Andrews and Chris Smith left can be summed up beautifully in the following video that was uploaded to the public discussion facebook group in March. I take no credit for creating it:top
Friday 5th May, 2017
Paul Andrews releases a series of emails detailing the initial falling out between himself, David Levy and Suzanne. It goes back 8 years and relates to a vapourware idea for a game.
Lee Fogarty continues to post lies on World of Spectrum forums. Lee repeats his claim that the previous accountants are holding back documents preventing RCL from handing in their accounts. Lee says:
Instead of quoting the trolls, why not ask them how RCL are supposed to do that when crucial documents needed are in the hands of the previous accountants appointed by Andrews, and have refused to hand them over without a court order?
Evidence in the form of several documents sent to both Paul Andrews and David Levy from the previous accountants state that they never started any work on the accounts during that period, and Lee seems has been caught out lying yet again:
Earlier in the week, RCL claimed they would update backers this week. If you assume a Monday to Friday week, that means there should be an update sometime today. I'll just leave this image here (from 2 and a half months ago) in the meantime as it seems to be history repeating itself:
Saturday 6th May, 2017
The prediction from yesterday that RCL would not provide the update they promised came true. A poll on the public facebook group about whether RCL would post the update had the most popular vote as "no update provided".
After losing the domain names a week or so ago, it would have made sense for RCL to put their contact details on documents. A backer proves they are happy to leave the details incorrect, when an Indiegogo comment says:
Further reply from indiegogo stating that they see RCL are not communicating sufficiently with backers & that they will contact them. They’ve also encouraged me to do the same & given me direct contact details. Judging from alot of comments here I shouldn’t hold my breath!
One hour later, a follow-up response is posted:
Oh my naievety – indiegogo state Paul Andrews is responsible for the campaign & the website they provide is the codetappers blog. This whole thing is a bloody mess & for the umpteemth time just tell us how to get a refund!top
Sunday 7th May, 2017
On the World of Spectrum forums, Lee Fogarty claims that the devices that he and Jonathan Cauldwell have are the final units:
No final hardware shown by end of May?
No final hardware show by end of June?
As we both have a Vega+, I crossed the first two off for you. Not that timelines are decided by anyone other than RCL...
Less than 2 hours later, Lee changes his story - they are no longer the final units. Lee writes:
"what we have are the final pre-production units; There is one component different from the production units that we knew about at the time."
Monday 8th May, 2017
After missing their "delivery update" deadline the previous week, RCL issues a brief update followed by a second containing four old photos from the Dizzy 30th event weeks ago. Although the update contains sections for games, the roll of honour and delivery, the update itself is a puff-piece, with several spelling mistakes and no concrete details about anything. The entire update as originally posted:
GAMES: We are powering forward with old, new and replacement games – as well as finalising the boring but very necessary paperwork. It’s been time consuming but we promise you’ll all reap the rewards of your patience.
ROLL OF HONOUR: The Roll of Honour email is coming at you this week Please log into your account to confirm all of your details are up to date as we cannot be responsible for wrong ones. And if you have chosen a ‘rude’ name, or you no longer go by a name previously chosen, give this some thought as once it is locked it is locked, and it’s very difficult to change.
If you have more than one pledge, or you purchsed a bundle, you can have a different name for each Vega+ you have chosen.
DIZZY: A few weeks ago the Vega+ team went to Nottingham to celebrate 30 years of something very special called Dizzy. Back in 1987, Philip and Andrew Oliver unleashed Dizzy upon the world, a lovable egg that would go on to become one of Europe's most popular videogame characters. After thirty years, millions of sales, and countless number one selling games later, the Oliver Twins teamed up with the National Videogame Arcade to hatch plans (you see what we did there ) for a special new exhibition and aseries of events to celebrate the 30th anniversary.
Whilst at Dizzy’s celebration, we gave Vega+ consoles to some world-class games developers we’d arranged to meet, as well as to some of the launch party backers who also attended our own Vega+ launch and factory visit in Beeston last October. Feedback was consistently overwhelming - and we have no doubts at all that you’ll be more than happy when your Vega+ (finally) arrives.
DELIVERY: The red hot question on everybody’s lips (and fingertips). We’re working towards a new delivery date. For everyone upset that we’ve been unable to give a concrete date yet, we’ve been holding off as we don’t want to do is give you a date which might move again. And we cannot give a release date that can be sabotaged by those very, very, very busy third parties no longer attached to the project Just stay tuned here and please keep the faith. We all want the same end game; you get your Vega+ and we all win.
We are sorry we didn’t update you last week as planned – we will do our best to update more regularly from now on.
Basically, the number of games remains unknown, the roll of honour email was supposed to have been sent out months ago but now will be coming out this week, the Dizzy games are owned by Codemasters so are extremely unlikely to be on the Vega+, and RCL are working towards a new delivery date.top
Tuesday 9th May, 2017
RCL release update #60 on the Indiegogo campaign regarding how to update the shipping address.
Ex-Crash magazine journalist Gary Liddon tries to match up reference numbers to a press release and Lee Fogarty contacts him on Facebook messenger. Gary informs Lee that it would be fair of him to assume the conversation would be shared online. There was no objection from Lee, and a long conversation began.
Lee uses the term "we" rather than RCL when chatting to Gary. At the start of the chat, Lee says "We also won't be giving any crime reference numbers for obvious reasons!"
Lee also says "Sales of the Vega didn't stop" to which Gary replied "the royalties and charity contributions did".
When discussing production of the Vega, Lee states that it is coming out in summer and "there will likely be little left from the backers money, but shop sales are huge":
In the same conversation, Lee also states "I have never pasted anyones conversations anywhere".
Six hours later on the World of Spectrum forums, Gary Liddon (gazaxian) is banned and a member asks if that is because of his strong views on the Vega+. Lee Fogarty replies "No. It's a private matter and not up for discussion."top
Wednesday 10th May, 2017
On the World of Spectrum forums, a member asks if the procedures regarding banning members (Gary Liddon yesterday) were followed by the moderators. The moderators reply that procedures were correctly followed, and a follow up message is posted. The message was edited by the original author 3 minutes after being posted, and remained 29 minutes later:
But 34 minutes after the original post, one of the moderators alters the original post, adding the line "The WoS mods are mindless wankers".
Because the last edit timestamp has not changed, it seems that the only way to alter the comment would be to open the database, locate the record and insert the extra line into the post. There are very few people that would have access to the World of Spectrum database so one of the 4 moderators must have altered the post.
The original author has stated "It's my WoS account, so I know exactly what I wrote, and I certainly didn't write "The WoS mods are mindless wankers"; I have more class than that."
Based on this extra abusive line being inserted, the member is banned. Hours later, a tweet regarding the ban appears, including screenshots of before and after:
When asked to confirm what is going on, Lee Fogarty claims "Looks like codetapper has been busy on photoshop again." (For the record, I would like to clarify that I have done no such thing).
Another member backs up the original tweet by stating "No, I saw that happen as I was reading at the time. One of you deliberately edited that guy's post to insert that slur, then banned him."
Lee Fogarty then goes on to blame Paul Andrews and Darren Melbourne for various things:
Andrews sabotaged the websites owned by Clive & RCL. The previous devs hired by RCL struggled to recover the site - after it was mailed on DVD rather than just zipped up - so after a few days I offered to help. 4hrs later the site was recovered onto the new domain.
On the same day, Darren Melbourne started defacing the WoS page on wikipedia, stating it's a commercial venture, and contacting devs. He has also contacted the hosts directly - they stated it was clearly a witch hunt. Andrews then went on to tell anyone and everyone that I am an employee of RCL. Then he took me to court with fabricated evidence and lost - so he's bitter about that too.
That's about it really. The rest is just noise.
I didn't take a side - I offered to help RCL with their website. Andrews decided it was a war.
Meanwhile on the public discussion Facebook group, Paul Andrews removes what RCL states is their most problematic barrier to sending out Vega+ to backers:
Just for the record RCL keep claiming that they have to supply the Vega Plus with 1000 games or I will kick off in some manner or bring them to task.
Let me publicly say, while I will take them to task for everything else, (non payment of gosh, rights owners and so on), but IF they state right now production will start right away, (and prove it) so backers get the consoles ASAP, it's the one thing I will not take them to task for!
So what's the excuse now Martin/Levy/Janko/other non employees?top
Thursday 11th May, 2017
Lee Fogarty closes the Vega+ thread on World of Spectrum, effectively banning all talk of the Vega+ on the site. A new message at the top of the forum is also added, stating:
"Due to the increase in fake accounts using VPN in order to disrupt the forums, we have installed software to alert us when users post via VPN. If you are a new user or have less than 25 posts you will be banned immediately."top
Friday 12th May, 2017
The roll of honour email that was supposed to be sent to backers this week fails to arrive. On Monday 8th May, an RCL update stated "The Roll of Honour email is coming at you this week".top
Tuesday 16th May, 2017
Suzanne Martin attempts to send Nick Cooper a PDF file via Facebook messenger. Suzanne claims she can see Nick has opened it, while Nick claims the PDF is corrupt and states that any files must be sent to him via solicitors.
Given the recent ransomware outbreak that has affected hundreds of thousands of computers over the weekend (including the NHS), sending documents via Facebook Messenger would not seem to be a reliable way ensure the recipient has received the file. It begs the question why is RCL trying to send legal documents via social media instead of via the court or lawyers?
A poll on the public discussion facebook group "Do you think the Vega+ will come out" currently has the votes at 129 (no) to 25 (yes).top
Wednesday 17th May, 2017
Paul Andrews receives a default costs certificate (order) for £52,520.12 to be paid by Retro Computers Ltd within 14 days. Paul posts the following message on his Facebook page:
Today we received a default costs certificate (order) for £52,520.12 in the matter of the injunction (we had no choice but to bring) against Retro Computers Ltd, and its three directors David Levy, Suzanne Martin, and Janko Mrsic-Flogel, for the unlawful attempt to remove our shares. As you may recall this action (which could have been one simple hearing or acceptance by RCL) was actually dragged out (not on our part) over four High Court hearings, with three separate High Court judges and one High Court master coming to this verdict in our favour, back in February 2017.
In simple terms, this default certificate was issued to us today on the basis that RCL and its lawyers had not raised any points of dispute, as per the certificate wording.
For clarity these are our costs which they are, if you like ‘refunding’, and are separate to their own costs which we were told is in the region of £98,000 as well for them to pay.
This sum is due of £52,520.12 to be paid to us within the 14 day period mentioned in the certificate.
For obvious reasons I cannot comment on many specifics of this matter other than the obvious self-explanatory images attached.
This document is now public record at the High Court’s hence why we can show you it.top
Thursday 18th May, 2017
Gareth Corfield publishes an article in The Register called ZX Spectrum reboot firm slapped with £52k court costs repayment order. Highlights from the article:
- Troubled ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd has been ordered to repay two of its shareholders’ £52,000 legal fees by the end of this month. The costs order was made by the Senior Courts Cost Office on Tuesday (16th). It relates to an injunction that former RCL directors Paul Andrews and Chris Smith took out last year preventing the current directors from stripping them of their shares in the company. Andrews and Smith jointly hold 50 per cent of the company's shares.
- RCL itself, its chairman David Levy, managing director Suzanne Martin and fellow director Janko Mrsic-Flogel must pay Andrews and Smith - £52,520.12 by 30 May. Levy, Martin and Mrsic-Flogel are jointly liable for the debt. Sir Clive Sinclair’s firm Sinclair Research Ltd, which is also on the RCL board, has not been named in the costs order. If the named four parties fail to pay, the order warns, “your goods may be removed and sold or other enforcement proceedings may be taken against you.”
- RCL has not filed its accounts for the last financial year, though the filing for financial year 2014/15 revealed debts of £9,700 and assets of £131,000. Since those accounts were filed the company has absorbed £513,000 in crowdfunded cash for its ZX Spectrum Vega+ handheld console, which is now more than a year overdue.
- Levy and Martin said they were unable to supply a statement by the time of publication.
A backer visits Hamleys in Regent St and notices several of the original ZX Vega consoles for sale in the basement. If the store has made any sales of the units, GOSH (Great Ormond St Hospital) and games rights holders should have received payments for them.
George releases a video called Vega+ hit by court costs demand that features a burning potato!top
Friday 19th May, 2017
With a number of people recently having success issuing section-75 chargebacks against RCL over failure to deliver the Vega+ or process refunds, I would like to re-post this information here. There are close to 150 people that have requested a refund on the Indiegogo comments page, let alone the many others that have only tried via email. Here are the suggestions from a successful ex-backer:
- You need to specify the latest delivery date when requesting a chargeback as it works on a 120 day window.
- You may also need to supply additional details to support your claim and I'd suggest using the following word for word: http://codetapper.com/zxvega/refunds/
On the World of Spectrum forums, Lee Fogarty re-announces an old competition that no longer mentions the Vega+ as a prize. The original competition entry from 2016 was:
<@fogartylee> We will be looking for a game inspired by a prominent developer that I'm not announcing until new year. They will be judging the entries. Teams of up to 5 can work on the game, and the winning team will win a vega each. Clearly we need to exclude professional developers :)top
Saturday 20th May, 2017
Vega+ backers are horrified to learn that various plants/shills have been capturing comments made in facebook groups and passing them to RCL to use in court proceedings against various parties.top
Monday 22nd May, 2017
A conversation worthy of a "mic drop" comes to light after a backer is contacted by Lee Fogarty on May 5th. Lee began posting propoganda, and when pushed for answers, Lee blocked him. Highlights from Lee's mic drop moment (and please let me re-iterate here, all of this stuff is directly from Lee Fogarty):
- Suzanne has to plan quiet days for updates because it results in thousands of emails.
- Refund requests are difficult because they result in multiple emails, people are putting them in every hour or so, and Lee claims many change their minds after asking for a refund and no longer want the refund.
- Reporter Gareth Corfield is now ringing almost daily.
- The Vega+ is going out in a few weeks to the backers.
- Lee doubts there's much money left as they paid off Andrews debts and put the rest into manufacturing.
- Lee guarantees RCL will be squeaky clean when it goes to court. They have no fake accounts, no hidden group, not posted edited emails etc.
- Every update has been ripped apart, every date sabotaged, so no dates will be given now until there is nothing that could be done to sabotage the date.
- RCL can prove in court they own The64.
- By the 24th of May, everybody will know when they're getting their Vega+. He offers a slight hint that the date on the website is for pre-orders, and that all backers will have theirs by then.
If anything, this seems to prove that RCL are refusing/ignoring refunds as Lee has stated that Suzanne Martin is receiving them hourly. A sensible approach would surely be to process the refund requests as they come in, so that you don't have to deal with up to 100 further emails from the same person. If one or two people change their mind but have already been refunded, then that person can re-purchase the Vega+ when it hits retail or from the store.
On the new game competition thread on World of Spectrum, Lee Fogarty amends his original post by adding the following section to include Vega+ prizes:
We have had confirmation of the prizes and can confirm that all winning team members in each category will win a *very* limited edition WoS branded Vega+ each.top
Tuesday 23rd May, 2017
Lee Fogarty tweets a tick tock image on Twitter, as tomorrow (Wednesday 24th of May) is the date he has predicted would be Nick Cooper's last day of freedom before going to prison. Lee has tweeted numerous times stating that Nick Cooper has stolen money while Paul Andrews was in charge, along with various posts on facebook groups. Here is a selection of from Lee Fogarty:
Michael Barnes: Is the man who Lee Fogarty says stole the money in here then Lee?
Lee Fogarty: Nick Cooper? No
#zxvega Being 25% shareholder, I assume Paul Andrews supports the action to recover missing funds from his friend Nick Cooper?— Lee Fogarty (@FogartyLee) December 7, 2016
#zxvega Wondering if Nick has my house bugged? How else could he hear slander? Which is only slander if not true. Same with libel.— Lee Fogarty (@FogartyLee) December 7, 2016
#zxvega Bit awkward for Paul Andrews when his mate Nick Cooper take cash on his watch - not interested in the 25%? Or is it now 50%?— Lee Fogarty (@FogartyLee) December 9, 2016
#zxvega Closely followed by Cornerstone that takes money then claims they can keep it because another company might have internal dispute?— Lee Fogarty (@FogartyLee) December 9, 2016
#zxvega Could be worse. Could be a distributor stealing units and money then claiming another companies internal issues lets him.— Lee Fogarty (@FogartyLee) December 9, 2016
Wednesday 24th May, 2017
Gareth Corfield attends the 1 hour court hearing involving RCL vs Cornerstone releases another article on The Register Costs v sales agent? Not just yet, judge tells Retro Computers Ltd. Highlights from the article:
- ZX Spectrum Vega firm Retro Computers Ltd has had its attempt to force former sales agent Nick Cooper to hand over extra information in the ongoing court battle between the two postponed today by the London County Court.
- RCL had applied for a court order that would have forced Cooper to answer a series of questions designed to make him disclose extra information the company believes he holds about the firm he used to be MD of, Cornerstone Media International. It would also have forced him to identify the sources of payments he passed along to former RCL director Paul Andrews’ company, Andrews UK Ltd.
- Andrews and fellow former RCL director Chris Smith had written to RCL’s legal team explaining that the monies under dispute at this hearing were for sales of goods unrelated to RCL. A copy of the letter was handed to Judge Lightman this afternoon by Cooper.
- The letter also said that Paul Andrews’ name and contact details had been wrongly added to the RCL website and to the company’s Indiegogo (crowdfunding site) page, and made various allegations about police involvement.
- The next hearing in RCL v Cornerstone will take place later this year, when the issue of costs will be considered. Last week a £52,000 costs order was awarded against RCL and three of its four directors in unrelated litigation between Andrews and the firm.
Intelligent Toys has been struck off the companies register, which is yet another business failure that includes three of the current directors of RCL (David Levy, Janko Mrsic-Flogel and Sir Clive Sinclair).
David Levy was notable by his absence at the Artificial Intelligence: Living and Working in an AI world conference in London, where he was scheduled to give a talk (followed by brief questions) at 3:40pm about sex with robots.
Lee Fogarty's claim (made on the 5th of May and uploaded to the public discussion group on the 22nd of May) that backers would know when they would be getting their Vega+ by today comes to nothing.
RCL spokesman Lee Fogarty has upgraded his personal "Vega+ anxiety meter" from "It's definitely coming out, the trolls will all have egg on their faces" to "All of the signs we are getting as testers are yes it's happening":
Lee Fogarty also confirms that along with everybody else, he has not received his honour roll email that was supposed to have been sent out by Friday May 12th:top
Thursday 25th May, 2017
A backer posts on Indiegogo stating that there is no registered birth for "Suzanne Louise Martin" taking place in June 1967 (as shown on the Companies Register). I have seen a screenshot of the document, but there is no point putting it online as she is not on it. Nor have I been able to find any articles written by her, despite Suzanne claiming to have been a journalist for 20 years. (Any member of the public can pay about 3 pounds and access this birth information if they wish to confirm she is not there for themselves).
Still Waiting/Missed Dates
- Shipping - David Levy expects to ship the first units "a few weeks after Friday 10th March, 2017". If you define a few as 3, then shipping should have begun Friday 31st March, 2017.
- Refunds - Suzanne Martin said on Tuesday 28th March, 2017 that from 14 days RCL will have targetted getting through their backlog of emails, including the spam and refund requests. Therefore everyone should have received their by Tuesday 11th April, 2017.
- An update to backers regarding delivery was due by Friday May 5th, 2017 but 4 days later an update stated they were "working towards a new delivery date".
- RCL spokesman Lee Fogarty stated that by Wednesday 24th May, 2017, backers would know when they were getting their Vega+ units delivered.
- RCL had promised the roll of honour email would be coming out the week ending Friday May 12th, 2017.
- Dimensions - Suzanne Martin was going to setup shots and confirm the dimensions Wednesday 15th March, 2017. In a Facebook group, RCL (and a spokesperson for RCL) have mentioned 3 different versions of the dimensions. No official dimensions have been released as an update on the Indiegogo campaign, but they are approximately 160 x 80 x 20mm.
- Manual - RCL hadn't forgotten it (as of Monday 27th February, 2017) but more than three months later, it seems that they have.
- The final specification for the battery has not yet been decided.
- Honour roll confirmation emails have not been sent out.
- Address confirmation emails have not been sent out.
- PEGI rating is not in the system (only the original Vega is).
- RCL have to pay £52,520.12 to Paul Andrews and Chris Smith by Wednesday 31st May, 2017.
- If you purchase a Vega+ from the RCL store, it will be shipped "Summer 2017", so if RCL mean a northern hemisphere summer, they will send it out between June and August 2017.
Retro Computers Ltd will receive its first striking off notice at the end of May if the accounts are not filed by then:
The registrar may take this action if he has reasonable cause to believe that a company is not carrying on business or in operation. The registrar may take this view if:
- he has not received company documents that should have been sent to him
- mail that the registrar has sent to a company’s registered office is returned undelivered
- the company has no directors
Before striking a company off the register, the registrar is required to write two formal letters and send notice to the company’s registered office to inquire whether it is still carrying on business or in operation. If he is satisfied that it is not, he will publish a notice in the relevant Gazette stating his intention to strike the company off the register unless he is shown reason not to do so.
A copy of the notice will be placed on the company’s public record. If the registrar sees no reason to do otherwise, he will strike off the company not less than 2 months after the date of the notice. The company will be dissolved on publication of a further notice stating this in the relevant Gazette.