- All about Eve: The upstart PC brand struggling to pay back jilted customers
Oladoja Tobi Victory
Just now·5 min read
When the Eve V made its first in-person appearance at Computex 2017, it seemed like a capable Microsoft Surface rival from a promising hardware startup. And when we reviewed it later that year, we were impressed with what Eve — a small, untested team — managed to deliver. As the industry maxim goes, hardware is hard.
But for a brand that prides itself on its crowdsourced designs, Eve has a questionable track record of delivering the products people have paid for. Three years after the first Eve-branded computers went on sale, some customers still haven’t received their machines, and attempts to reclaim their money have largely gone unanswered. Now, with a bevy of new products in the works — including a follow-up to that original V PC — Eve seemingly hopes its new customers will forget how much it still owes some of its earliest backers.
After soliciting feedback in our story discussing the company’s plans for a second-generation PC in late 2020, Engadget heard from more than a dozen customers who were in one way or another jilted by Eve. Some requested repairs or replacements under warranty, which never materialized. Others requested refunds, and were ignored outright. And more than a few people who paid full price for their Eve Vs never received anything at all. According to those people’s invoices and testimonials, the company still owes at least $25,000 to dissatisfied customers — and that’s just for the people who contacted us.
According to accounts compiled by r/EveV subreddit moderator Kirk Miller, more than 100 people have yet to receive refunds from Eve as of April 2021, but even that seems to be lowballing it. Tuukka Korhonen, managing director of Eve Distribution — a successor to the original Eve-Tech business — told Engadget in an email that “approximately 300” people have requested refunds since 2019. The most conservative estimate, which assumes those people all paid for the most basic, $800 Eve V model, would put the total balance of money owed at a minimum of $240,000. That said, our understanding is that most customers paid well in excess of $800 for their Eve V PCs, so the full balance due is much higher.
“Honestly, this whole refund has just been a nightmare for me,” said Kevin, an Eve customer who asked us not to share his last name over privacy concerns. “I live in Canada, in one of the most expensive cities with a low-paid job, and with the currency exchange my V was over $1,600 and I still haven’t paid off that amount on my Visa. It’s this large bullet of nothing to show for it except stress and anxiety with added monthly interest.”
Kevin’s story is, unfortunately, not unusual. Among the people who reached out to us were other students who bought into the hype, a person who had to borrow laptops from friends after starting a new job because their Eve V had never arrived, and a retired Microsoft employee whose V had become “a lovely Finnish doorstop” after Eve agreed to replace a faulty unit but never did.
Image Credit: Eve
Eve-Tech’s first product was a cheap, unassuming Windows 8.1 tablet.
To understand how Eve could leave so many of its once-devoted fans in the lurch, we first need to dig into some of the startup’s earliest issues, and how they led to a deal that would ultimately leave a new batch of people struggling to clean up the mess.
The earliest reports about the Eve V — mine included — were just as focused on the startup’s approach to product development as they were on the product itself. Co-founders Konstantinos Karatsevidis and Mikko Malhonen incorporated Eve-Tech in Finland in 2014, and first got acquainted with the PC business by building an inexpensive Windows 8.1 tablet they sold in Europe in 2015. Before long, though, Karatsevidis and Malhonen refocused the company around a new idea: rather than deciding internally what its next product would be, they chose to design the product their customers told them they wanted.
“We got tired of all the cheating in the industry, and decided to build the best flippin’ computer with you,” the Eve website proclaimed in 2016.
That year, Eve set up a dedicated forum and began cultivating a community of users who were eager to share their thoughts about what the company’s first high-profile PC should be like. In a matter of months, the community decided on the idea of a 2-in-1 convertible much like Microsoft’s Surface — they asked for stylus support, an integrated kickstand, a 3:2 aspect ratio for its display, and an Intel Core M chipset for prolonged battery life. They got them.
Going into 2017, everything seemed to be going quite well. The computer now had a catchy, single-letter name, and it was well into the certification stage. Meanwhile, the company behind it had locked down a six-figure investment from Intel, and got to demo its PC as part of a Windows product showcase put together by Microsoft at Computex 2017. That time under the spotlight helped put Eve-Tech on the radar of some major suppliers, which ultimately allowed the team to overcome some early issues with low-quality displays. But that shift in supplier led to what would be the first of multiple delays.
The first batch of acceptable units was produced and shipped to people who had originally backed the project on Indiegogo. But, shortly afterward, Eve-Tech reported production delays related to Chinese New Year, preventing more pre-sold units from being shipped. Then, a spike in orders related to a flash sale prompted the company’s payment processor to freeze funds, which seemingly prevented Eve-Tech from paying off its vendors and fulfilling orders.
“We warned them in advance about large sales amounts coming, but I think they didn’t take our forecasts seriously,” Karatsevidis, then Eve-Tech’s CEO, told The Verge in a 2019 interview. “So we ended up with a lot of devices sold and all of the funds frozen up. We had to switch to another payment processor and persuade our manufacturer to give better payment terms to resolve the issue.”
- Date of publication:
- Wed, 04/21/2021 - 16:10
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