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2 Investigators: Backers Of Crowdfunded Cooler Left Out In Cold

(CBS) -- You see a product so innovative and "cool" you just have to have it, but it's only available if you become a backer on a crowdfunding site. Pam Zekman reports when a crowdfunding site is involved, it's a classic case of buyer beware.

Ryan Grepper and his invention, "The Coolest Cooler," burst onto the scene in 2014. The new-age cooler featured a built-in blender, blue-tooth speaker and a rechargeable battery.

At the time, it was only available on Kickstarter and it quickly became one of the most successful projects in Kickstarter history, raising more than $13 million from 62,000 backers.

The cooler caught Kathy Burke's eye when it was featured on a morning TV news program.

"I was excited about being a backer and being one of the first ones to get one of those," said Burke.

So, in July of 2014, Burke paid $185 to get her cooler. She later bought accessories that brought the total to $363.

"We would have it by the following summer which would have been great, but that's not what happened," Burke said.
It's almost two years later and Burke and more than half of the original backers still don't have coolers.

So, when Burke heads to the beach this summer, she'll have to use an old-fashioned cooler like everyone else.

"I don't think it's fair and I would never get involved with another Kickstarter project again," said Burke.

The manufacturer of Coolest Cooler says they never promised a specific delivery date and have been plagued by production delays.

And Kickstarter says they do "not guarantee projects of individual creators."

"These type of crowdfunding... it's a risk especially because you don't know the person and you don't know if they are going to deliver on their product," said Steve Bernas, president of the Chicago Better Business Bureau.

The local BBB has no complaints about Coolest Cooler, but cautions consumers using any crowdfunding site.

"These are not businesses per se, they're just usually ideas maybe started in a college dorm room or quickly in somebody's basement and you have to rely on somebody's trust and transparency," said Bernas.

Burke and the 36,000 other backers still waiting for their coolers were told recently that if they pay another $97 they will get their coolers by the Fourth of July.

"I'm just afraid even if we do pay the $97 will I really get the cooler or are they going to take more of my money and I'm going to be sitting here next year with no cooler?" said Burke.

A spokesperson for Coolest Cooler says the coolers were more expensive and took longer to make than expected.

The creator has apologized for the delays and promises everyone will eventually get a cooler. 10,000 backers agreed to the additional fee and should get their coolers soon.

The company has offered to refund Burke the cost of her accessories, but she is still waiting for her cooler.

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