[cw: sexual harassment] An Open Letter to VEX

987 Highrollers, for continuity:


In fact this is probably why there is so much successful backlash against them. If they held a monopoly in the market there would be a lot more pushback to boycotts and whatnot as there’d be nothing to exit to. But with the advent of Rev, AM, etc. we have other options.


AndyMark predates the VEXPro product line (although not IFI’s Victor 883/884 line).


There’s a difference between a massive worldwide company with several bad offices and bosses (sadly, common and difficult to address) and a mid-sized company where, by many accounts at this point, the issues start at the very top.


People who engage in whataboutism and false equivalencies have no interest in learning why their false equivalencies are false.


For discussion sake, it’s worth noting today’s FRC Blog post:


Brian- I have been watching the Rev website for some time waiting for the availiblity of the MaxPlanetary gearbox systems.

The gearbox base kits are and have been unavailable for some time and still are at the time of this posting.


Seems like they’re in stock now: MAXPlanetary Base Kit - REV Robotics

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Ok, we going to start this - I have personally experienced issues at Google around accessibility. I tend to rely on closed captioning to better understand calls. The earnings reports explicitly turned it off. This made following them very difficult for me, and presumably others.

I emailed their SVP of investor relations and received an email back the next day - then the next earnings call? Closed captions were turned on and they followed up to let me know they’d addressed it.

Is Google perfect? No. But I have faith that Sundar and the C Suites there do want to do the right thing. And to me that is a world of difference.


Sorry, I assumed when you said (emphasis mine)

That you were referring to their, you know, new gearboxes. Not their “new” planetary gearboxes that have been out for nearly a year now. Also, as others have pointed out, they very much are in stock regardless anyhow.

Lastly… that’s your takeaway from my post???


This really grinds my gears. We most certainly don’t know about every supplier and their culture and business practices. I (and I assume most others here) subscribe to two important ideas here: (1) innocent until proven guilty and (2) trust but verify. As others have pointed out, there are MOUNDS of compelling, credible first person accounts of harassment, abuse, and misconduct about one supplier. Show me the evidence for the others, and I’ll gladly rally against them, too. In the meantime, I’ve seen nothing to suggest comparable issues at other suppliers.

Think of the Hollywood Me Too movement. We saw the downfall of a lot of Hollywood celebrities in a short time. We didn’t say “shut down the industry, everyone is problematic.” Nor did we say “so many people are problematic, let’s just let it go.” You need to take each case individually and apply appropriate consequences to the situation.

The “cancel” connotation with the tone in which you’re using it comes across as saying it wasn’t rightful. However, this “cancelation” of IFI is a clear consequence of systemic actions from a company. Why would we “cancel” other suppliers with no evidence and why would we continue supporting IFI knowing what we now do?

Your not-so-subtle xenophobia is actually getting at a very real geopolitical strategy. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on China for human rights violations, a popular move with bipartisan support. There are lots of advocates who do suggest boycotting goods from the entire country (they just use less inflammatory and racialized language).


Again I agree with the sentiment in general, but just as the problems lean towards extreme our response should as well.
I wasn’t among those directly hurt by the culture IFI and its leadership sponsored in their workplace. Well, short of being gaslit about my lord and savior Tony Norman last year on Discord, but that lasted under an hour compared to months or years of abuse and harassment.

For those who have commented their experience in the thread, and countless more that watch from afar, real change is the minimum standard. Real change can occur over a period of weeks or months, but the community still needs to hold the organization to that standard. As others have mentioned it’s not our problem or business to suggest how that’s accomplished, but the generic CYA statement, along the lines of “Innovation First International has no connection to the alleged wrongdoings discussed by the community” will only dig them deeper into this decades-old hole. It just happens that yanking out the guy digging the hole is fairly simple* and a good start.

We can’t let this conversation simmer down after a slightly promising but non-committal PR statement, but I fear it might, if IFI is smart enough to pull it off.

*I mean simple as in you get rid of the one dude; it’s a simple, mostly binary decision. You don’t have to gut a team of revenue-generating engineers with financial obligations in their personal lives to start the process. Ofc not simple legally if said party is unwilling.


After reading this post, I realize that I have also been a victim of these illegal sales practices by VEX. I wish I could write more extensively about it here, but I am unfortunately limited in how many links and images I can include since I am new to Chief Delphi.

If any of you are more curious, I made a post on the VEX Forum about it which contains all the details.

The text-only version of it is that I basically experienced the same exact scenario where VEX had shipped me double the amount of product I had ordered. The order contained two packs of 2.75" omnidirectional wheels, which means I was expecting four wheels in total. They instead shipped four packs without notifying me, leaving me perplexed as to why there were eight wheels instead of four in my box. These wheels were not cheap; $68.96 to be exact, so imagine my surprise when I find an email in my inbox eleven days later threatening to charge me an additional $68.96 if I did not return the four extra wheels. This was outrageous, because I was a high school student with no clue on how I would even go about shipping the wheels back to Greenville, even if they did give me a prepaid shipping label. I ultimately did nothing to rectify the situation, and was charged another $68.96 for failing to return the four extra wheels. Unbeknownst to me, this is illegal per the FTC as you said. In fact, this was unbeknownst to me for 8 months until I read this topic and learned about FTC regulations.

In retrospect, it all felt methodical; the invoice I received for the additional, duplicate charge showed that the date the invoice was generated was the same exact day that the package shipped from Greenville. This very well could mean that IFI had planned to extort me out of an additional $68.96 as soon as the package shipped. All I wanted to do 8 months ago was build an X-drive with my new omniwheels, but now here I am, 8 months later being $68.96 short of money because of illegal business practices.


As people here seem to like to say, “for continuity”


@Jon_Jack I thought you said this wasn’t possible? Seems pretty clear to me that it is indeed possible :thinking:


If you have been fraudulently charged by VEX for being shipped extra parts, you can report that here:


Actobotics is fantastic. It’s designed to interface with a lot of Tetrix components too. I didn’t realize just how awful Tetrix was until I had an opportunity to help a team who was using Actobotics instead.

Edit: GoBILDA is the better choice; see @QwertyChouskie’s reply for details.

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Actobotics and goBILDA are both by the same company, but Actobotics uses Imperial while goBILDA uses Metric. I personally recommend goBILDA for better compatibility with parts from other systems, along with a bit more variety of parts available (e.g. the Strafer Chassis Kit is a great starting point for many teams).

Oddly, Tetrix uses Imperial screws, but Metric hole spacing, meaning you can just drill out the holes of old parts with a 4mm drill bit and they actually work pretty decently with goBILDA.

Thanks for catching that! I had no idea, I definitely should’ve investigated it further before commenting. I’m sure that goBILDA is a great choice then.