Fans are absolutely furious with Grammy-winner Frank Ocean after his storefront repeatedly delayed fulfilling their orders for clothing and vinyl copies of the singer’s music. After months of little-to-no communication from the singer’s site, Blonded.co, spurned buyers are now talking to one another about chargebacks and possibly even filing a class action lawsuit against the Blonde singer.
The anger seemed to reach a peak this week after a bluntly worded post to the subreddit dedicated to Frank Ocean called out the singer and his team for failing to ship out several of their products. “You can make an excuse for the wildly overpriced shirts (overhead, premium quality, you don't have to buy it etc.) But there is no excuse for taking more than eight months to ship records and shirts,” the user wrote. Other fans complained in the comments, with some claiming to still be waiting for items they ordered in October 2019. Ocean has released multiple singles that were supposed to be printed on vinyl for eager fans, but it doesn’t seem like some of the buyers will have access to their copy of the music anytime soon.
It wasn't the first time that fans of the singer felt like his brand had taken advantage of them. A few months ago, another Frank Ocean fan posted an organized list of the multiple ways they said Blonded.co had violated Federal Trade Commission law, primarily centered around the shipping delays. The post was immensely popular, and it even seemed to be the nudge the site needed to add release dates for some vinyls. Much like the more recent threads, commenters expressed their frustration when dealing with the brand — there were several stories of clueless customer support agents with no information on where the goods are or when they'd be shipped, as well as other about receiving emails from the brand that said buyers couldn't get a refund after 24 hours of their purchase.
More recently, a post titled “FRANKS LATEST FTC VIOLATION” rose to the top of the discussion board, echoing the sentiments of the earlier FTC post. It referred to the Commission's explanation of what prompt delivery means for internet purchases. It states that products should be shipped within 30 days if not otherwise labeled as a delayed product. "If you can't ship within the promised time (or within 30 days if you made no promise), you must notify the customer of the delay, provide a revised shipment date and explain his right to cancel and get a full and prompt refund," the document reads.
However, the segment that several fans highlighted came in the explanations for hiccups that last longer than a month. "But for longer or indefinite delays ... you must get the customer's written, electronic or verbal consent to the delay. If the customer doesn't give you his okay, you must promptly refund all the money the customer paid you without being asked by the customer," it says. The massive amount of silence coming from Ocean's team constitutes a failure on their part, the commenters agreed.
Other upset fans argued that the singer's store also failed to meet FTC standards for false advertising on several counts. The physical copies of two of Ocean's latest singles — "Dear April" and "Cayendo" — were sold as acoustic versions of the songs but turned out to be regular studio versions. Additionally, a third single, "Little Demon Days", had a bit of a questionable cancellation where fans were suddenly given three days notify the store if they didn't want to be charged for and sent an entirely different vinyl single. The store lists the single as sold out and "shipping" on April 23.
It seems like delays are not exactly a new problem in the vinyl scene, either. Some fans of Ocean pointed out that they'd waited just as long, if not longer, for other vinyl albums. Tyler, the Creator, J. Cole, and Lizzo were some of the other artists mentioned, with buyers begrudgingly admitting that they've waited for over a year for certain pieces of merchandise.
The wait for vinyl records from artists has apparently gotten so bad that it’s created its own bootleg market of sorts where fans are paying thousands of dollars for an unofficial vinyl pressing of a hit album or mixtape. Frank Ocean's records are, unsurprisingly, one of more expensive collections on the web, with at least a chunk of that value presumably coming from the frequent delays in official copies. The current pandemic only seems to have exacerbated the issue, at least, according to the latest emails fans received.
Most recently, Frank Ocean fans say, all of their emails get hit with an automatic reply about how COVID-19 has slowed down production. While it’s undeniable that the virus has affected most industries, that condition doesn’t quite apply for orders that were placed months before lockdowns started happening. Of course, the ultimate truth is that there's not a whole lot fans can do, and for as fun as it is to talk about, the chances of any kind of serious lawsuit are slim to none.
That being said, a group of online fans voicing their complaints and issues and threatening a lawsuit, no matter how fruitless or legally impractical, is still a pretty strong message to Frank Ocean and his store. The louder the call, the quicker the response, and it certainly does seem like these folks aren't going to let it go for much longer. To be fair, they seem to have a pretty good argument, but it's up the singer and his team to explain something — be it the estimated delivery time or what started the delays — to remedy this situation.