In the past two years, viewers have said to have spent hundreds of dollars to buy a Lily Drone before it hit the mass market, but have since been left empty handed.
Lily was touted as a clever twist on the drone. It follows its subject while recording from above. That was enough to convince buyers like tech consultant Stuart Friedman, who spent $600 on the device.
“It immediately hit me,” said Friedman. “They got me right where they wanted me: I have an immediate need for this.”
Lily ultimately raked in more than $38 million from 61,450 buyers in 80 countries, however, the company repeatedly pushed back its delivery date.
“When I initially made my purchase, I was fully aware that it would be six months until I received it,” said Friedman. “We’re sitting now at about two years since I purchased it.”
Friedman’s drone still hasn’t arrived.
Faced with delays and excuses, thousands of fed up Lily customers requested refunds and got them, including one who enlisted the Responds team at NBC Washington.
“I never suspected it was going to take 18 months,” said Washington, D.C. resident, Annie Rosello.
Yet some people, like Stuart, got neither a refund nor a response.
The company didn’t respond to several media requests.
But according to a court filing, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office accused Lily of false advertising and misleading representations.
The suit claims Lily’s promotional videos weren’t actually shot with a Lily. Some footage was allegedly shot by competitors’ drones, and, the suit said Lily “failed to make any disclaimers regarding the true source of the video footage.”
The District Attorney accused Lily of knowing what it was doing was wrong.
It cites an internal email from a Lily co-founder, which reads, “I think we should be extremely careful if we decide to lie publicly.”
A Lily lawyer declined to comment on the suit.
“I guess, emotionally, it’s nice to see some legal action taken,” said Friedman.
Records show Lily has now filed for bankruptcy.
Chapter 11 is often a bad omen for consumers, but in this case, the company has told the court it has $18.7 millionremaining. The same search showed 31,800 customers awaiting refunds, which would average out to $588 per person—about the same amount Friedman paid.
Lily’s bankruptcy attorney told NBC Owned Television Stations, “the company has requested court approvals to bring full refunds to its customers.”
The court will sort out who Lily owes and how much before deciding where customers like Friedman stand in the process.