Warning: Bitcoin Mining Computers

June 05, 2014

Better Business Bureau has been flooded with complaints about Cointerra, an Austin, Texas-based company that manufactures computers used to “mine” bitcoins. Complainants say they haven’t received promised refunds. 

Consumers who complained to BBB say they spent over $6,000 per unit for the devices. Many consumers sought refunds when the company stated in February that the machines they pre-ordered late last year would not perform up to the specifications it advertised. Complaints about the business are coming in not only from U.S. customers, but from those in other countries as well, including the United Kingdom and Australia.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin has more information about the company and specific complaints from consumers. A few customers have received refunds, but many have not, and some state that the business does not respond to calls or emails.

The company first came to BBB’s attention earlier this year. In March and April, the BBB closed 11 complaints against the company. In the past month, however, 39 complaints have been filed, prompting the warning. The company has yet to provide an explanation for the wave of complaints, nor has it responded to the majority of the complaints filed through BBB.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has issued an Investor Alert about bitcoins and calls them “more than a bit risky” as an investment.

BBB offers the following advice for any shopping online:

• Do your research. Check out the company’s BBB Business Review before purchasing anything from a website.

• Pay with a credit card. Charges made on a credit card can be disputed after a purchase, whereas debit, cash or wire transfer transaction cannot.

• Review refund and shipping policies. If you can’t find the terms and conditions, ask the seller through an email or telephone call to provide them to you in writing.

• Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, a shopper should be provided with a confirmation receipt. BBB recommends printing a copy of the confirmation and any indication of the expected delivery timeframe for future reference.