The Notion Ink Adam Should Be Triggering Your Scam-A-Meter Right Now

This isn’t an “I Told You So” post; that’s for John to write if it comes to that. This is a “What The Hell Are You Doing?” post. There are simply way too many red flags to order a Notion Ink Adam right now. I’m not saying it’s vaporware at this point, but if nothing else, it’s truly a case study in how not to launch a product.

Even the most devote Adam loyalist must have questioned what went down today. The Adam’s pre-ordering was plagued by website issues, surprise terms and conditions, a huge shipping fee, and a return policy that stated loud and clear that Notion Ink doesn’t believe in their product.

We’ve been mighty skeptical about the Adam for some time now but we’re not alone. Engadget caught them this morning swapping renders which changed the size of the screen/bezel. That was just the start of today’s surprises.

Once the pre-ordering started those lucky enough to get an email allowing them early access and a January 9th shipping date discovered a bunch of surprises. The website was often down. The storage size of the tablets weren’t listed. The shipping charge was $50. The original contact phone number was 1-800-123-4567. The original terms and conditioned included a 25% restocking fee and made buyers pay for shipping back to India. The 25% restocking fee was later removed, but replaced with 5% cancellation fee that would apply even if a person canceled their order before the Adam shipped. There was more!

Mastercard payments weren’t accepted, VISA cards were often turned down, banks were flagging transactions as fraudulent and the full cost of the product was processed instantly. But yet according to the comment section on the Notion Ink blog, some people looked past all these issues and ordered one anyway; I somewhat get it.

These hiccups alone wouldn’t have swayed me if I truly wanted a product. Websites have issues and so do payment processing companies. Consumers understand that. But I wouldn’t drop hundreds of dollars on something I haven’t seen. Notion Ink hasn’t shown one product photo or video of the final product. That’s shady. The company attacking Engadget for posting the bezel inconsistencies was a tad troublesome as well; it was actually Notion Ink’s mistake.

Everything above mixes up into one nasty cocktail that just isn’t consumer focused. The Adam might be the real deal and not vaporware. The company’s CEO, Rohan, might be just be a poor marketer with a Steve Jobs complex and not some scammer running an impressive take on a Nigerian prince scam. But what the hell are you doing giving this company your money anyway? The terms and conditions prevent buyers from getting their entire pre-order amount back even if the damn thing never ships and you’ve never seen it. That’s nuts.

Besides, CES 2011 is three weeks away anyway and it’s going to be a tabletpalooza. What’s the harm in waiting at this point? The Adam isn’t shipping for 6-8 weeks. By that time, the dust would have settled, the legitimacy of Notion Ink will be clear and there will be whole batch of the new hot tablets to choose from.