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Bitcoin The Almighty Buck Technology

The Great Robocoin Rip-off 117

FhnuZoag writes: Last year, Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab, bought a Robocoin Bitcoin ATM, figuring it would be a fun little side project and a good way to help move Bitcoin forward. It did not quite turn out that way. He has now written a timeline of the 10-month, $25,000(CAD) struggle. In short: there was a massive shipping delay, a $2,000 charge to clear customs, no knowledge base, unhelpful support, and the ATM itself flat out didn't work.
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The Great Robocoin Rip-off

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @11:07AM (#48149949)

    Good heavens never saw that one coming!

    • I wonder how much mass the delay actually had.

    • You lost your faith too fast. I'm sure the bitcoin product is blessed in it divine honesty and all the corruption comes from that Wilkinson guy. If that's even his real name.

      (In the name of Mr.Nakamoto, the bitcoin and the block chain. Amine)

  • Trendy overhyped thing turns out to be utter fucking shite. Film at 11.

    • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @11:30AM (#48150257) Homepage Journal

      I think a general rule of thumb is that once you hit 5 digits of price, a test drive is never too much to ask.

      • by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @11:43AM (#48150403)

        I think a general rule of thumb is that once you hit 5 digits of price, a test drive is never too much to ask.

        That's really just a subset of an even more general rule of thumb, "a fool and his money are soon parted".

      • I think a general rule of thumb is that once you hit 5 digits of price, a test drive is never too much to ask.

        Exactly. That's what I told my diamond guy. "Give me one that's over $9999."

        Sadly, my future father in law disagreed.

  • That's life on the bleeding edge.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anything called "Robo" as in ROBerCoin should be telling just from the label.

  • Look at that Jordan guy. Just look at him. Are you fucking kidding me? With a haircut like that, you know he's a vacuous retard.
    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      Yeah, but looking at Wilkinson's photo, his douchiness quotient may not be far behind. Their combined daily hair product emissions alone could probably power a small town.

      One overprivileged hipster screws another. Oh, the humanity! And it's so sad to see, since in another world they could have been bros, sharing some PBRs on a Sunday morning at the beer garden while talking over each other about their new iPhone apps.

    • I try not to judge people by their appearance, but going out in public with a hair-cut that bad shows very poor judgement.
      • It's the look of a person who believes appearance and flamboyance wins friends, because he read it in some self-help book or he's just that stuck on himself. It's the way people who think they're so great that they can set trends or simply stand apart and make themselves a unique image, and people will praise them over it.

        You can see it right there: he claims he's worked with many people, his service is great, and that he's doing his client a great favor by being such a great guy giving them a refund whe

        • Based on the emails, I get the feeling that this company couldn't afford to issue a refund. They had to find another dupe to scam, so they could pass that victim's cash to the first victim and keep the grift going.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Reading the chat logs just pisses me off. WiFi losing connection, power getting turned off.. Is it so fucking hard to get a CAT cable hidden and tucked away and to pay someone not to turn the damn power off if you spent 20K already?

    Hyper agro tech support guy? You made yourself look like an amature.

    • Better would be to have the system use a cellular data network (with a VPN connection to whatever network it needed to communicate with for transaction data). That way it's isolated from the bar network *and* you don't need anything more than a power plug.

  • by De Lemming ( 227104 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @11:33AM (#48150283) Homepage

    I can't vouch for the quality of their products or service, but I know Robocoin is one of the leading Bitcoin ATM manufacturers. According to Coin ATM Radar [coinatmradar.com], there currently are 44 Robocoin ATMs operational worldwide, in the United States, the UK, Canada, Spain, Japan,... Robocoin provided the very first Bitcoin ATM machine in the world, in October 2013 in Vancouver, Canada.

    They are currently ranked 2nd, after Lamassu [lamassu.is] with 90 ATMs. But the Lamassu ATMs are mostly smaller and cheaper one-way machines (cash to Bitcoin), although they do sell a two-way solution now.

    On Coin ATM Radar, a total of 267 operational Bitcoin ATMs are registered at the moment.

    • You should recognize them easily too from the prominent OCP logo. And if somebody enters the PIN wrong three times, a belt comes out, imprisons the guy and zaps him dead.

      Captcha: coolly

    • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @12:21PM (#48150955)

      I can't vouch for the quality of their products or service, but I know Robocoin is one of the leading Bitcoin ATM manufacturers.

      According to the email exchange shown in the article, Robocoin is NOT a manufacturer, they are simply a reseller who installs their own custom software. Which may or may not be crap and which may or may not actually work.

      • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

        I wish I had some seed money, I'd buy some Bitcoin ATMs and resell them with my own custom software written by the Office Space crew.

    • "leading bitcoin ATM manufacturers"? LOL. Is that like the leading slashdot beta ux guru?

      ATM means Ass To Mouth, by the way.

    • I can't vouch for the quality of their products or service, but I know Robocoin is one of the leading Bitcoin ATM manufacturers. According to Coin ATM Radar [coinatmradar.com], there currently are 44 Robocoin ATMs operational worldwide, in the United States, the UK, Canada, Spain, Japan,... Robocoin provided the very first Bitcoin ATM machine in the world, in October 2013 in Vancouver, Canada.

      They are currently ranked 2nd, after Lamassu [lamassu.is] with 90 ATMs. But the Lamassu ATMs are mostly smaller and cheaper one-way machines (cash to Bitcoin), although they do sell a two-way solution now.

      On Coin ATM Radar, a total of 267 operational Bitcoin ATMs are registered at the moment.

      Wow, that's /almost/ 1 per state.

  • Is it just me, or is there a deluge of unsympathetic ridicule heading this guy's way?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There will be two groups who will ridicule this guy the worst:
      1) People who think everyone who buys a magazine with the word "bitcoin" deserves to be scammed because free market durp
      2) Bitcoin uber-nerds who are shocked these n00bs didn't use a P2SH decentralized escrow service by manually copying and pasting the signatures

      Normal people in the middle will just shrug and say "sue 'em!"

  • by jratcliffe ( 208809 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @11:44AM (#48150413)

    Wow, looking at those bitcoin ATM maps (http://coinatmradar.com/), it looks like these kiosks are charging a 5.5% fee for conversion into "fiat" currency. That's a huge forex spread, and amounts to an enormous ATM fee.

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @11:48AM (#48150463) Journal

      One persons large spread on a conversion, is another persons bargain on laundering.

      • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

        Laundering? Whoa, whoa, careful! These days the preferred term is "Double Irish with Dutch Sandwich."

    • by jythie ( 914043 )
      I can not help but notice how many of the communities rail against banks implement the same behavior in BTC related services. It is almost like they simply want to be the ones doing it an are bitter someone else is already.
      • Well, except, you know, running an bitcoin ATM in a shop is about a million times easier than getting a full blown banking license. Right now they often charge very high spreads because there's a lot of risk involved and the machines costs have to be paid down. But in theory there could be quite a bit of competition, given friendly governments and a long enough time horizon.

    • by Animats ( 122034 )

      It's worse than that. Much worse. Robocoin, right now: "Sell rate: USD 347.43 | Buy rate: USD 465.87". That's a 17% spread in each direction. On top of that, the one at Hacker Dojo in Mountain View adds a 5% fee. So you lose about 22% on each transaction.

  • What's the energy cost to physically produce a bitcoin? Anybody know?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The way bitcoin was originally designed (and should still react, barring the surging/bucking from mining vendors shoving their 'new stock' online for a couple days to 'test', before shipping them out to customers when they're no longer profitable) is to scale evenly with energy cost. So however much it would cost you to run a current gen cpu/gpu/asic is about how much energy you need to spend to generate a coin.

      When I did it with an OpenCL capable GPU a couple years back the amount coincided exactly with th

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @12:11PM (#48150811) Journal
      What's the energy cost to physically produce a bitcoin? Anybody know?

      With a Butterfly Labs' Monarch (700GH/s)), at a difficulty of 19,729,645,941 and a block reward of 25...

      655 kWh per BTC, on average, or roughly one third of the current USD:BTC exchange rate in power costs.
    • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

      List I heard, $113 but that sounds a bit low to me.

  • by nazrhyn ( 906126 )
    To be fair, the only thing I can see "wrong" with what the support guy did was that he wasn't apologetic. Outside of that, he seemed attentive, persistent and adaptable. If I were trying to remote troubleshoot some hardware and the internet kept cutting off and the people I was trying to work with kept leaving early or showing up late, I would probably have been hard pressed to act as calmly as Frank did.
  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @11:58AM (#48150623)

    I tried to find the nearest robocoin kiosk to see if it was possible to witness one of these things in person. The nearest one is in "Los Angeles" California. More specifically it is at this Latitude and Longitude 3646'41.7"N 11925'04.6"W which is along a desolate road with no name that runs along side the King River 20 miles outside of Fresno.

    I was hoping for a bar or some other urban public space.

    I really don't want to run into Jordan Kelley or anyone from his company in the middle of the desert with no witnesses.

  • Always a chuckle (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Enry ( 630 )

    when libertarians get treated the way they'd treat others in a libertarian utopia.

    Caveat emptor.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ADRA ( 37398 )

      No no no sir, clearly when we all live in a libertarian paradise, everyone will behave themselves and lift the world out of the socialist cesspool that we live in!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by cusco ( 717999 )

        Because of the thundering herds of lawyers that follow them around, since their answer to every obvious fault in their religion is "That would never happen because they would be sued!"

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @12:40PM (#48151197)

      Do you like it when libertarians chuckle at your "socialist paradise" when the government screws up? It's a straw man argument.

    • I'm not especially libertarian, but I do not believe libertarianism has anything to say against dispute mediation. Bitcoin itself has the ability to do dispute mediated transactions but it's not fully fleshed out. If it was, and had been used here, a third party could have signed off on the transaction and the money could have been released, only once the machine was delivered and working.

      Of course, Robocoin may have chosen not to use such a mechanism because with pre-sales, they are often spending the purc

    • Libertarians never said disputes or fraud don't happen in business. That's what courts are for.

      • by Enry ( 630 )

        Libertarians claim that bad business practices will force bad companies out of business allowing good companies to prosper, but any time a person buys a product from a 'bad' vendor is their own fault for not doing enough research.

        • That's pretty much what's happening here. Robocoin will hardly prosper by providing a "service" like this and getting sued for breach of contract. In fact that's how the world works in general except where companies are granted special privileges by the government.

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @01:22PM (#48151727) Homepage Journal

    I blew $25k on a hobby and it didn't work out. LIFE IS SO HORRIBLE!!!!!11

  • Who pays full price for something like this up front?! Across an international border?! I would never sign T&C's without some recourse for a non-functioning product. Things like paying customs and shipping, installation and support costs, that's all divvied up ahead of time.

    Wanting 100% cash up front is just not how business is done. You might pay some portion of it, but you never shell out the whole price unless you have some other leverage. Especially on something that is months out. In this case Robo

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Who pays full price for something like this up front?! Across an international border?! I would never sign T&C's without some recourse for a non-functioning product. Things like paying customs and shipping, installation and support costs, that's all divvied up ahead of time.

      Wanting 100% cash up front is just not how business is done. You might pay some portion of it, but you never shell out the whole price unless you have some other leverage. Especially on something that is months out. In this case Robo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 15, 2014 @01:38PM (#48151923)

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/2jakg4/the_great_robocoin_ripoff_how_we_lost_25000/cla6b7d

  • People who want to do something first should expect a bumpy ride. Having to pay $10k more is part of the word "pioneer". Pioneers clear the path for the masses.

  • Jordan is operating on a shoestring, paying in advance (with his customers' money) for units he intends to modify with his own code, then ship to customers. The results are not surprising.
  • Shouldn't the transaction to purchase a Bitcoin ATM be conducted in Bitcoin.
  • I have never understood the point of using a Bitcoin ATM versus buying through an exchange like Coinbase. It just seems like a gimmick. Why would someone on the street need to convert between fiat and cryptocurrency? If you have cash wouldn't you just pay with your cash?

    Bitcoin's great for storing and transferring value. No one can take your coins without your private key and you can do international transfers yourself. Purchasing with Bitcoin, on the other hand, is not terribly practical. Not many

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

      They make gold ATMs, too, and the same arguments apply. There's absolutely nothing practical about it, and you're going to be ripped off by the fees no matter what. I guess it's a fun novelty for some folks, "Press Button, Receive Bitcoin." No one who's serious about using Bitcoin for any quasinonymous purpose will get them this way, especially considering that these ATMs tend to be in locations that have cameras everywhere.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        They make gold ATMs, too, and the same arguments apply. There's absolutely nothing practical about it, and you're going to be ripped off by the fees no matter what. I guess it's a fun novelty for some folks, "Press Button, Receive Bitcoin." No one who's serious about using Bitcoin for any quasinonymous purpose will get them this way, especially considering that these ATMs tend to be in locations that have cameras everywhere.

        Two reasons.

        1) The power of physicality. Sure you can do all your Bitcoin transactio

  • I saw a bitcoin-type ATM near Harvard Square, in Cambridge, MA, at a building called "The Garage" (bunch of shops and eateries). I've never seen anyone actually use it, though. It's the only one in the city I've seen. I was suspicious of it :-)

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