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TL;DR: We messed up and ended up sharing a designer’s email address by mistake. We are sorry and making sure this won’t happen in the future. Here is what happened.

An apology

Dear makers, dear designs,

After having responded with our side of the incidents around Bigbore (see below), we’d now like to share an actual apology. Here’s what we messed up about and what we can do better in the future to address this.

First of all to Bigbore: we shared your email address without your consent and that is not OK. You have placed your email address in our hands and we didn’t keep it safe. In our haste to prove a point we didn’t take the care we needed to protect it. We are very sorry about that and we do not want to put anybody in that situation. In fact in the future we won’t be sharing screenshots of email conversations at all. Showing a full email conversation, whatever the reason, is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot by sharing unintended personal information, like we did.

Also, we are sorry that we jumped to conclusions. Our fight against scammers have made us very suspicious and we didn’t take the proper side-step needed to evaluate that you were acting in good faith. The fact that you didn’t respond to our emails nor to our customers is now clear from your messages that this was not intentional. We hadn’t considered that you had actually not seen any of those messages and instead we sided with our customer’s reports which painted you as fraud, even though we didn’t have the full picture. It is understandable when attacked to have your guard up and a high temper as we are human. However, as a business, it’s on us to keep an open line of communication and treat everybody with the utmost respect and a cool head. We are sorry for that. We won’t be blocking users on Twitter anymore except for threats or clear abuse, in order for legitimate messages to be able to come across.

On the subject of screenshots we used ImgBB without using an account to upload images to Reddit. Our advice: don’t do that. Even though we removed the offending images from Reddit a few minutes after, we couldn’t erase the link to them in edit history. We are still waiting for an answer from imgbb to delete the actual images from their servers.

We have work to do in our messaging system so we can build something that doesn’t rely on email as much, on our payout system to help designers better identify the disputes that require their attention, on our fraud detection systems to help us make better informed decisions and, most of all, work on ourselves to better handle these kinds of incidents.

Sincerely.
Cults team.

What happened

Dear makers, dear designs,

Recently Cults has been the object of a smear campaign on social networks from a seller who did not accept the rules set by the terms and conditions of the platform. Through this text, we will try to explain as clearly as possible and in full transparency what happened, in order to exercise our right of reply towards the members of our community and the people who follow and appreciate us.

Cults is a marketplace that acts as a commission agent, we do intermediation in full transparency. This means that it is not Cults that sells 3D models, but designers (individuals or professionals) who sell their digital 3D creations through our platform. Our role is, among other things, to connect customers with sellers and to make sure that purchases are perfectly secure, both for designers (non-fraudulent transactions by buyers, unjustified complaints by buyers, ...) and for customers (valid 3D files, help on design-related issues...).

3D printing is a wonderful tool, but 3D printing doesn't always turn out the way you want it to. Therefore it is very important that designers and customers can talk to each other to resolve problems due to file quality and avoid fail prints as much as possible. That's what Cults is all about.

The relationship between sellers and buyers can only work if customers are able to get their money back if the 3D model is defective, incomplete or misleading. We consider that the designer has duties towards the customer, such as providing a file that conforms to what he described and therefore sold. If this was not the case, the designer always has the opportunity to help the buyer by providing the missing part(s) for which the buyer spent money. When the problem is fixed, the designer gets the money from their sale. This is perfectly normal and is the basis of a healthy trustworthy business. The customer has the legal right to be reimbursed if their purchase is not in conformity. And the designer has the right to earn his money if the customer's complaint is not justified.

Let's come to the controversial case of the designer called Bigbore. This designer's 3D models has been reported (through the report system of the platform) once by a customer who bought his design. Also, several community members have contacted him to ask questions about his models or ask for help on his messaging page. None of these clients or prospects received an answer from Bigbore.

Following this report, we contacted BigBore by email asking him to answer to his customers and prospects and then to repair his models before we could payout his sales. His cashout was simply paused until the disputes were resolved. This is the rule we have always applied and they are displayed on the website when you sell a model as well as in our terms and conditions.

Bigbore started a smear campaign on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and maybe elsewhere) by claiming that Cults did not pay its designers and that we were scammers. Some of Mr. Bigbore's posts were deleted from our accounts simply because we had already explained to him by email (2 times) the reason why the sales were pending and that it was useless to come back and flood our social networks, knowing that he already had the answer by email.

Bigbore publicly said he never received our emails and was not aware of the problem related to his customer disputes. We therefore publicly provided the necessary evidence to prove that the emails were sent several days earlier, showing that Mr. Bigbore was aware of the disputes he had to handle before releasing his payment. We hastily posted the screenshots of these emails were hastily posted on Reddit to prove that. Unfortunately we didn't think to blur Bigbore’s email. This was a serious mistake and we apologize for sharing this without his consent. We deleted these screenshots as soon as we realized that, a few minutes after posting them.

Cults is a human-sized company, composed of 3 people, and we have always been committed to listen to our community and to respond to the requests as quickly as possible by providing answers within 24 to 48 hours maximum (business days). We try to listen to all user feedback and constructive criticism to optimize the platform so that it better meets their expectations.

One of the things we learned from this designer's reaction is that our process of blocking a designer's payments until their customer disputes are resolved is too drastic and can be misunderstood. Therefore, from now on, we will no longer block all of a designer's payments if a dispute is pending, but only the sale(s) related to the customer dispute until it is resolved.

Bigbore claims our platform does not pay our designers. This is of course totally false and if it were the case we would obviously not be in the 3D printing market for 7 years because a marketplace cannot function if the creators of the content are not fairly paid. Every month, several thousand euros are sent to the designers of our platform without any problem.

Simply, our job as a marketplace is to make sure that the site is a secure and trustworthy place for everyone, both for designers and for customers. Every day we fight against spammers, scammers and thieves who try to take designs they didn't make and sell them for profit or money laundering.

Indeed, sharing and selling a digital good is extremely simple and many try to take advantage of this simplicity to make money illegitimately. All the rules we had to put in place during our years of experience (time to validate the sales, request that designers take care of clients after a sale, have a refund policy, ...) are intended to fight as well as possible against frauds and pay the real designers who have the paternity on their models and who make the 3D printing sector exciting thanks to their ideas.

So yes, designers get the money they earned in full once litigation is done. Mr. Bigbore's behavior was very similar to how scammers operate: doesn't answer our emails, doesn't answer his customers, doesn't fix errors in the models he sold, starts slandering on social networks... All this made us think that he was yet another scammer and that we had to protect our customers.

Before this, Bigbore had already received 6 regular payments since December 29, 2020 and he has always been paid on time without any problem. The last payment of 78,33€ that is causing controversy today was pending payment until he responded to his customer disputes. To date, Bigbore has been paid on Friday, December 17 in the evening while the customer has not yet received the complete model for which he spent money and that the prospects and members who asked him questions about his models are still unanswered and this for nearly 1 year for some messages.

Another criticism that came up as a result of this defamation campaign is that you can't delete your Cults account. This is obviously not true, you can delete your account and all your personal data associated with it. Unfortunately, a manual step was required for accounts that had already published designs online so we asked them to send us an email so we could do it. We've fixed this problem and now even designers can delete their account with one click.

These are the facts that we are presenting to you in full transparency. For all those who have managed to read this long text to the end (congrats) without getting angry and who want to discuss with us in a constructive way, we can absolutely be reached on our email address hello@cults3d.com. We will be happy to discuss with you and read your suggestions or ideas to make Cults better. We're far from perfect, we're not a big group company full of resources and means but we're still independent, motivated and enthusiastic.

For those who just want to throw insults (we already have a nice collection of them here ;)), don't worry, the Internet was probably created for you too.

Sincerely.

Cults team.