(Topic ID: 184739)

Class Action Lawsuit for TBL? The Big Lebowski / Dutch Pinball

By Davidus56

3 years ago

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Post #70 Link to Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets Posted by Damon (3 years ago)

Post #105 Key posted, but no summary given Posted by RTR (3 years ago)

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#31 3 years ago

I don't see the value in contacting Universal. FWIW - here are my posts on options from the other thread:

Better Options Part 1
Any better options out there need to start with Jaap and Barry washing down a truth pill with a big glass of truth serum while bathing in a truth fountain and getting a truth enema.

We don't know if ARA broke the contact. We don't know if there is a big unpaid bill at ARA, if DP is out of money (I suspect this is the case, but how bad is it?), we have no idea what the Universal contract looks like, and we sure as hell don't know if DP is even suing ARA or the other way around. So what if they sign a new contract with a new manufacturer? It means NOTHING. You just can't believe anything Jaap says now.

So any possible solutions would need to begin with a trusted 3rd party, preferably someone in the pinball community with an accounting and/or legal background to review DP's books and contracts and then reporting back. Sort of a legal/accounting version of their "Roger Sharpe" moment.

#33 3 years ago

Better Options - Part 2

So, assuming DP decides to have a third party come in and verify things for the Early Aggrieved (have to keep a little sense of humor), there could be a couple of options:

Option 1 - Cough up an extra $1000, get the production line rolling again, and receive your game. I am not even sure this is a real option and I would never send a damn dime unless they went through with Part 1.

Option 2 - The findings in Part 1 show that $1000 won't help, but there are enough assets in the company (hostage games, unused parts, BOP project, IP) that another company could purchase DP's assets and make enough money on the unbuilt games to make it worth their while. It gets DP out of the picture and gets a game (that by all accounts, is pretty awesome) into the hands of a real pinball manufacturer. PPS could do it.

#35 3 years ago

My thoughts on options also include the following:

There is likely no money to get. Those of you that want to sue, contact Universal, or get a forced refund are likely to wind up with an attorney bill and a pound of flesh.

This pinball scandal differs from the worst pinball scandals in that DP has at least delivered a number of machines (60?) and has parts on hand for what appears to be 80ish more. So there is actually a chance this results in pinball machines delivered if handled correctly.

#37 3 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

Here's the value: if it's such a bad thing to do, refund those of us who want refunds and I won't do it. My game and money is held hostage. This is my hostage negotiation tactic.
I'm not trying to fuck things up, but I believe nothing Dutch says and want to see if I can get REAL information about the situation from a vested party who we haven't heard from. I live close to Universal. My plan isn't to send them an angry rage email. My plan is to introduce myself and request a meeting & see if anything comes of it. I think something face to face could be beneficial.

Going solo and threatening to burn the house down if you personally don't get your money back isn't my idea of a great plan Greg. But if that's what you want to do, go for it. It only fucks things up and you know that.

#40 3 years ago
Quoted from rai:

Quite right, didn't see eye to eye with Jjp endless wait so refund was prompt and no fuss whatsoever, would deal with them again.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against refunds! I just don't believe they have the money for it and I am against threatening to fuck with their business partners to get even with them or force their hand.

Hell, if they have the money, refund away like crazy! They might be able to make a grand or so on the refunded 8500 if they ever get the assembly line going again.

#47 3 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

Again, not trying to burn it down. Jaap & Barry have burnt it down. It's burnt. I'm just trying to get to the truth, and we can't expect that from Dutch Pinball at this point. Texas should have been an apology tour with an action plan. We saw them try to Ponzi scheme us. That's on them. I didn't do that.

I agree that they have done their damndest to burn it down themselves. Just because you aren't trying to burn what's left down (100 or so Early Aggrieved games paid in full, including mine, and with parts mostly present) doesn't mean that you won't burn what's left down by going rogue/solo.

If there were any kind of action I could get behind that isn't in my previous two posts (3rd party review, sale of DP, audited price tag for an additional payment to rescue game, etc) it would be staying together and all of us suing DP directly.

I am all for refunds, by the way. It was the sole way that JJP kept their rep together during a trying time for their company. And I rode that one out. Heck, if DP had enough money to build 50 BOP SLE's last year, a few refunds should be nothing to them! But I believe that to be bullshit.

#59 3 years ago

Universal's deal is they already got their money dudes. They don't really care at this point unless DP did something to violate the agreement like unauthorized use of likenesses.

IMO, the most it could do is screw something up. It could possibly hold up the release of unmade games if there was some sort of timeframe to get them made. Not sure what it could do to help at all. It was Rarehero's idea to shake down DP with a threat of this and get his refund. "I know people, so give me a refund or I will create another headache for you guys"

I'm open to changing my mind on this, but haven't heard anything that makes sense.

#88 3 years ago

Hey guys, trying to keep the postings on the 2 threads straight. This was a comment from DerRoland on the other thread:

I´m really sorry for all, who have their worthy money in this trouble. I jumped of the train at philgate.
After reading the last NSNL ("march: silence") I like the idea of a 3rd known enthusiast trustee, who deal with the 2 companies and spell dutch.
Well, I suggest Jonathan Joosten. He could/should help, to break the silence.

#89 3 years ago

I PM'd DerRoland and asked about Mr. Joosten. I will report back.

Next, I think it might be a good idea to contact ARA. Anyone here speak Dutch?

Lastly, it might not be a bad idea if these things fail, to pony up a few bucks between us all and have a Dutch attorney write a letter for us to both parties.

#105 3 years ago

This is a list for Jonathan Joosten aka Unigroove on pinside.

First, thank you so much for being willing to intervene and act as an outside party between DP, ARA, and the Unfulfilled Achievers (those of us who have paid for a TBL, but not yet received one).

Emotions and ideas are all over the board on this issue - ranging from class action lawsuits (not a fan) to pitchforks and torches. I am not speaking for everyone in this letter and others may chime in and add to or throw darts at what I write.

I am sure you know more than the average person about this problem, but will give a short summary anyway. Our main problem is that we do not have a machine and we have been unable to get straight answers from DP on why the machines have been held up. Jaap has lied to us on several occasions regarding these reasons and therefore anything he now says is viewed with suspicion and distrust. The most egregious and recent example was late last year when he blamed the hold up on board issues. He has since admitted that was a lie.

We have heard a small amount of information from ARA and from their point of view, money was the hold up. We don't know how much or what the terms are. From ARA, we would like to know what the severity and nature of the problem is. I can't think of a legal reason for them to withhold at least a summary of that information from us. We would also like to know if they are currently suing DP, how many machines are built and boxed up, and how many complete machines can be built from the parts they have on hand. Does ARA have an ownership position in these parts, or could they be moved to a new manufacturer if ARA and DP cannot come to terms? If they have an ownership position, how much money? And if it is not too much to ask, it would be nice. For us to have a contact person at ARA or get some information from them that corroborates anything that DP says if they decide to work together again.

From DP, we would like a new spokesperson. We have lost complete confidence in anything that Jaap tells us and need someone who is going to shoot completely straight. We would like to know what their cash position is and if they owe money to anyone but ARA (parts vendors). We would like to know what DP believes they owe ARA and what they believe they have in inventory in regards to completed but undelivered machines and parts that could be utilized to build new machines. There is no legal reason they cannot share this information with us, only embarrassment reasons.

This is probably a question for ARA and DP - There are approximately 150 TBLs that only have a $1000 deposit on them and presumably do not have parts ordered yet. Could these machines be built at a new contract manufacturer (maybe even in the states) and the proceeds from those machines be utilized to satisfy the debt at ARA and get that line moving again?

Lastly, let DP know that it is no secret that they are essentially having a money issue. In general there are still enough Achievers out here that are willing to work with them on this, but the 'work with' part has to happen soon and with more transparency than we are currently receiving. We generally believe that the fastest way to get these machines done is through ARA and DP working through this without suing each other.

There are some very upset clients over here that are planning on hiring attorneys and in general creating more headaches and legal problems for them. If they act quickly, they can head this off. But I can assure DP that if all they are going to do is hand us emails like the last one we got and then move on to new projects, that this could get messy quickly.

Best regards,

Mike Hoover

#123 3 years ago

zsciaeount - This may sound crazy, but how they treated you was not remarkable or otherwise noteworthy. That was exactly how a pinball company should act when their product is destroyed by their contract delivery company and covered by shipping insurance.

What we are looking for is more of that kind of behavior. We are looking for some transparency into the current situation to see if we should remain patient. Most of us are willing to be patient if we are treated right, communicated with truthfully and more frequently.

I am not sure if they are suing ARA or not. And stop telling me that their 'attorney' wants them to keep quiet. That bogus timeline has lots of info in it - most beneficial to DP - that the 'attorney' would have warned them against as well. I wonder what their 'attorney' thought of the board story, lol? Jaap and Barry can talk all they want, whenever they want and they do.

I don't know who owns the parts. I don't know what sort of $ figure it would take to get the production line going, and frankly, let me be the judge as to whether or not I would like to kick in a little extra money to free my machine and whether thats a good idea or not. If the $1000 fee to get this going is actually a true story, lets see it in writing from ARA.

When this situation feels more like WOZ (LOTS of communication even while being harshly criticized by the pinball community, humility, sharing of actual plans, refunds for unhappy clients, Jack wisely bringing in investors to help) and less like Predator/Jpop, (deception, crazy business practices, moving to a second project before the first is completed, silence), patience will be in bigger supply. Patience is earned and they need to start earning it. They need another Roger Sharpe moment.

And by the way, every criticism by me and most everyone else thus far has to do with business practices and ethics. No one is doubting that Jaap and Barry love pinball and are incredibly gifted designers and that TBL by all accounts is an awesome game. I know I still want mine!

#145 3 years ago

That letter is not good. They are depending on BOP25 to bail them out. There is no lawsuit. At least from their end. Just damn.

#194 3 years ago
Quoted from unigroove:

Since my name has been mentioned several times to mediate I called ARA this morning to see whether they would be open to that. After I had to call again after being disconnected the first time I was told that The person I would need to talk to is not in his office this week and was asked to call again next week...
As far as taking any legal action against DP goes: earlier I expressed to hold that off as it most likely will ruin the chances of getting a game, especially for those whose game still has to be build. Undertaking legal action will cost more than you'll gain (so why spend money if you know you won't get it back) while waiting is free and you may still get a game. Plus that if DP needs to pay a lawyer to defend themselves that money will be coming from the TBL fund, so not helping either. Also keep in mind that DP can't just wave a magic wand and poof there are all the TBLs. So I don't see any logical reason to sue DP and undermine the whole project.
To put thing in a different perspective: As far as I know ARA has now breached their contract with DP 3 times and appears to be treating DP like a bully handles a kid for his lunchmoney. Now the kid is standing up for himself. To stay in that analogy: what makes more sense? Sue the kid, or the bully?

Hey gang - in my eagerness to get movement here, I may have jumped the gun and 'volunteered' Jonathan before he was ready to accept the role, my apologies to Jonathan.

I do appreciate him contacting ARA to see if he can find out additional info. Even if that is the only thing he does, it will be super helpful.

#220 3 years ago

I would only be willing to kick in extra money (aka as charity, a gift, a bail out) for getting my game under certain conditions.

One of those conditions would be full financial disclosure by DP of how all of the money was spent and how much came in and from who. So, if that is on the table DP, make sure the request comes with extensive documentation.

I don't think we should talk too loosely about this as a potential solution. If it were to happen, we would be represented by someone, use escrow, have a written agreement, etc.

#223 3 years ago
Quoted from Grizlyrig:

That would never happen as they can't disclose from whom the money came from. That would be a case of invasion of privacy.

They could blind the buyers names. So there. Providing their sales figures is the least of their problems.

#228 3 years ago
Quoted from chadderack:

Do you think Jonathan would be more or less honest than DP? Whatever that case may be, the sense is that a whole lot more people would trust Jonathan over DP.
Agreed with other posters since then that maybe he'd not be the best choice for moderator since (apparently) he's in on TBL himself. That may make it appear to ARA that he'd lean DP's way during any moderation and Jonathan may not be seen as impartial by all parties.
That said, it doesn't appear he'd ever agreed to be a moderator anyway

He didn't really agree, I jumped the gun - totally my fault. He has readily admitted that he has a TBL on order, is friends with Jaap and Barry, and he has a pinball magazine that is a pretty big deal in the European pinball community. ARA would not see him as impartial and we probably shouldn't either. Heck, I'm certainly not impartial.

I do appreciate that he speaks Dutch and is willing to speak with ARA and share what he finds with us. It could be that we eventually need another person to act as an impartial outside party. But let's see what Jonathan comes back with from ARA next week. It could fill in some gaps and make some of this make sense, who knows.

#257 3 years ago
Quoted from unigroove:

There is some news: apparently ARA just fired their MD, Rene Versteeg, who I was supposed to call next week... I don't have any insights yet on the reasoning, but there may direct link on how ARA handled the DP account / TBL production process. Could also be something else... If this MD was responsible for the current TBL mess, things may move into a positive direction now...

It is good to get some news. MD = Managing Director? Thanks Jonathan.

#266 3 years ago
Quoted from Rensh:

another part of the puzzle.
Employees of ARA didn't get a bonus over 2016. Apparently first time ever.
This due to bad financial results.
The MD was just trying to do a cash-grab with DP with his price increase. He got now the door slammed in his face
Fired in the spot like you clean out your desk now and leave the premises escorted

This is potentially good news. IMO at least enough for people to pause a bit until we hear more developments and those sound like they may come soon.

#275 3 years ago
Quoted from NinJaBooT:

I find this very hard to believe. Where is all the money then?

No one has made a statement on the financial condition of the company as yet. And no one has disputed that a bill is owed to ARA, only the amount is in dispute.

#293 3 years ago

Was this a hint about Pin # 3's theme?

#299 3 years ago

Guys - I am cautiously optimistic. The story is weird with the BOP25 project thrown in, but some of it checks out with Rene being canned ahead of the meeting with Jonathan. Might not have hurt that Jonathan runs a magazine that circulates in the NL so Rene was gonna essentially gonna have to talk to a reporter. Ok, a pinball reporter, but still.

Good news is that there seems to be a restart at ARA, so we should really see some new shit come to light in a week or two.

If we could just get someone to lose a toe or get kidnapped, it could really get interesting ...

4 months later
#533 2 years ago
Quoted from Rensh:

Sorry to say that we don't have month long summer holidays . Standard is around 25-30 holiday days a year. Most people take max 3 weeks in the summer.
Didn't Jaap say that it was a two week closure ?

Uh, closure of what?

#538 2 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Closed for vacation.

I was being sarcastic.

#547 2 years ago

FYI - I am not overjoyed with the current plan. I would have preferred an ARA/DP solution and still do. It's the quickest way to people receiving pins.

But with DP's current decision making process, this seems to be the next step. I cannot imagine a scenario where ARA does not sue DP, but then again, I couldn't imagine a scenario where ARA would order and pay for parts w/o DP money in their hands first. Feels like amateurs on both sides.

That all being said, DP moving forward with a new CM will surely bring this to a head quickly. If anything would prompt a lawsuit, that would be it.

I've been a pretty big proponent of looking at the numbers all during this shit show. DP's latest plan (while not optimal in my opinion) does look like it could work financially, if a lot of things go well. But an ARA lawsuit would probably f*ck it up fast.

#551 2 years ago

I don't think it is time for torches and pitchforks yet. They have a plan and so far seem to be following it. This is a summary of it from the other thread (only posting bc some Donnies have shown up a little late...)

Watched the video. Here are the highlights if you are interested:
- They believe they can skip prototypes altogether and begin with engineering (0 series) samples, possibly having them built by October (this sounded like a blue sky forecast, but that's fine). Not sure what this means in regards to testing, that would be a great question for the next update.

- He did kind of gloss over the shared IP (ARA and DP developing a custom part, for example) question. But if that's a problem, it will come up by the time they have an engineering sample at a show.

- He discussed financing!! Seems like the new CM isn't interested in completely being the bank. He said that they (new CM) believes that the extra machines ordered by CT and Nitro (there are 200 of these, per Jaap) that have $1000 deposits on them can help pay for the 130 that have been paid for already. The quote was something like "being creative in how we build and ship the 200". Jaap believes DP has enough money in the bank that the profit from the 200 CT/Nitro machines + money in bank, will be enough to make the whole project (all 330 machines) cash flow. I took this to mean that they may be producing some of the 200 and the 130 at the same time in order to make the money work.

- There are more Lebowskis on the way! Says they will engage a small number of Distros in Europe to sell additional machines at some point in the future. He envisions as many as 600 machines posssibly built through the new CM between Nitro/CT and some new sales efforts in Europe.

All in all, I thought this was their best update ever. He used actual numbers, talked finances, the numbers make some sense to me, and so does the plan so far.

#555 2 years ago
Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

I know, everyone fell for the long pretty legs and bought a pinball machine.

Actually, I wasn't even there. I just wanted a pin.

#560 2 years ago
Quoted from Davidus56:

So just to be clear, I wouldn't force bankruptcy thinking I would get any money back. I would do it in order to buy the I.P. rights to TBL so another, reputable pinball manufacturer could take over the project. Charlie and Kayte could probably be talked into making them if they could get a decent profit margin - and of course, be guaranteed not to be drawn into any legal quagmire from ARA, DP or frustrated 'depositors'.

Anyone that screws the pre-paids, especially in the scenario you describe above, would be in a lot of trouble with the pre-paids unless we were made whole in the process.

#565 2 years ago
Quoted from Tuna_Delight:

If Barry and Jaap have something truly productive to say (and to show as well ideally), I don't personaly have an issue with them attending or presenting at Expo.
Communication is a good thing - especially face-to-face.
BTW: love that avatar man!

If they went silent and invisible, that would be a really bad sign IMO. So I am glad they will be at expo.

That being said, they need to stick with talking about TBL plans and schedule. No more foolishness about 2nd games.

1 year later
#580 1 year ago
Quoted from jeffiowa:

Hear me out, a way around the legal trouble? Every sound that has a copyright issue, buy the actual CD with the music or sound on it and mount it to a forever scanning CD drive (they are cheap but bulky) and set it in the cabinet. For home use only, I could legally say... I own this music I just have a sophisticated CD skipper that plays the music when I want it. Each sound is stacked with more CD drives in the machine but each piece is legally purchased for my own use. A little like a Dragon's Lair but many CD drives. But for cool copyrighted background tunes... 20 CD drives to handle the copyrighted music.. the computer takes care of the rest and switches on the music when that part of the game triggers. A potentially big box in the bottom of a pinball machine but... I would have my copyrighted music... bought and paid for... playing when I want it to inside the game... no contest?

This solves everything!

#598 1 year ago
Quoted from irobot:

I don't see why a pinball with so much interest from collectors wouldn't be remade by someone.
When there is money to be made, legal wrangles tend to get solved.

Well, you never know. I can think of some themes that have been done 'again' and were better for it. Kiss and POTC for starters.

If I had a magic wand, I would want someone else to have the project anyway. ARA doesn't want it and DP can't do it for various reasons.

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