- The wellness company Opus which makes the SoundBed has had its business license revoked.
- The company also staged fake "customer" delivery videos with staff to portray the product being shipped when it wasn't.
- Opus has likely defrauded over 10,000 customers out of millions of dollars and has failed to ship the thousands of orders they have.
Be Scofield is the author of the new book Hunting Lucifer: One Reporter's Search for Cults and Demons. Her cult reporting is mentioned in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, People, and has been turned into HBO, Netflix, Dr. Phil, VICE, and more.
UPDATE: There is now a Facebook group called Opus Soundbed Scam where customers discuss their issues.
November 6th, 2023
By BE SCOFIELD
The Austin, TX company Opus Immersive, Inc. is likely defrauding thousands of customers to the tune of millions of dollars with its SoundBed wellness product. In the three years of selling the device, they haven't shipped the thousands of orders they have. But since the beginning customers expected their product would be arriving soon. It's left many upset customers, including some who believe it is a scam.
A business record check for Opus in Texas reveals the “entity’s right to transact business is forfeited.” This happens when a company doesn't pay taxes. It means Opus is operating a multi-million-dollar business without a license.
I asked Anna James, Director of Communication, to explain why their business license was revoked but she didn't. Instead, she offered a generic response about how "revolutionary" the company is and said the delays are because they use "technology that has never been experienced before." James was evasive, refusing to answer basic questions about Opus and the SoundBed which only raised more suspicions. She wouldn't even confirm that SoundBeds would be shipping anytime soon, despite the company telling customers they would be.
I also asked James why their website says "Now Shipping" when they haven't shipped the many thousands of original orders. The claim seems clearly misleading as a new customer is in a long line that may take years to fulfill. She didn't respond.
Opus embraces a Fyre Festival-level denial of reality, secrecy, and cult-like language. "Today an email went out from our CEO, it definitely made us tear up a little," reads one of their updates. "We are excited and honored to be a part of your journey," they often say. They refer to customers' many years-long wait as a "journey." They call them "our Opus family" and say things like "wishing you all the WOWs." The CEO's sign the emails, "With Love."
Despite having their business license revoked Opus is running numerous paid Instagram ads and actively selling SoundBeds for $2,000. They also charge $99 for reservations. Opus is likely bringing in tens of thousands of dollars a month in sales but hasn't shipped the thousands of orders it has.
The company was started by Adam Schlender and Onnit co-founder Christopher Schenk in 2019. Since launch, they've collected millions of dollars from over 10,000 customers. How that money has been spent remains a mystery.
The SoundBed uses "vibroacoustic technology to deliver low-frequency vibrations throughout your body." Opus claims it can transform well-being, reduce stress, and foster a better mindset. They call it the "Peloton of emotional fitness." Their teaser video from 2020 played off the Covid crisis: "We are experiencing a pandemic of fear and uncertainty. The only way out is in."
An archived website reveals Opus told customers as early as June 2021 that the SoundBed would ship soon. But they knew it wouldn't because it wasn't until 2.5 years later in January 2023 the company posted an update stating, "Our team is creating the equipment (tooling) to manufacture SoundBeds."
Customers who purchased a SoundBed in 2021 expected it'd be delivered soon. Opus was defrauding them, however. Their money did not fund their order. Nearly three years later it has still not funded their order. The thousands of original customers have never received their SoundBed.
Schlender and Schenk used customers' money as an investment in the company; to build the team, do research, develop manufacturing, and run operations. This wasn't explained to customers, however. It still isn't. The Opus website falsely states "Now Shipping!" at the top but they are not. Again, Anna James couldn't confirm that any SoundBeds will ship anytime soon.
If the company doesn't collapse there's a chance they could fulfill everyone's order in 3-5 years at the pace they are going.
For 2.5 years Opus has said the SoundBed will be shipping soon. The company can't confirm to me that any will ship anytime soon.
There are a handful of actual SoundBeds in the world from a small sample production batch. Some locals were allowed to pick up units. I spoke to a wellness spa and a guy in Texas who each have one and they both love it. But the over 10,000 units the company claims to have sold have not been delivered.
“Building one or two very nice prototypes is a lot different from building many thousands of something," an expert writes. Many startups can't make it past the prototype or sample stage as evidenced by 10% of Kickstarter campaigns failing to deliver. If Opus can't pay its taxes it's unlikely they have the millions in capital needed to mass-manufacture and deliver thousands of SoundBeds.
Opus may have also designed an unshippable product: it weighs 128 lbs. and the box appears 3ft x 3ft which is larger than standard UPS or FedEx ships. This only leaves very costly freight options.
The SoundBeds That Never Arrived
I first discovered the SoundBed from an Instagram ad and quickly noticed comments from upset customers. Some claimed to have ordered a SoundBed over two years ago and never received it. Communication from Opus was rare, several complained. "Do not buy. They are crooks!" one wrote.
In their statement to me, Opus referred to all purchases as "pre-orders." This indicates a company under construction, one that is in an earlier stage of development. But for years they've told customers SoundBeds would ship soon.
One customer shared her emails with me from Opus. “The estimated delivery window for your SoundBed is between June and September 2023,” her receipt read. It never arrived, however. On October 31st she received another email saying, "Your SoundBed is nearing shipment."
Other customers told me their shipments had also repeatedly been delayed. Each time they were given a different excuse. "Mine needed a software update," one was told. "It had a defect from shipping that needed to be fixed," another was told. Several weeks ago many people commented that theirs would be shipping in September/October but they never did.
These customers and others said they were now told November is the new promised shipping date. I asked Anna James if SoundBeds would be delivered as they told customers. Remarkably, she wouldn't confirm they'd ship in November or anytime soon. I replied asking why they were telling customers November when they were unsure. She didn't respond.
This morning a customer posted an email they just received from the company stating their SoundBed shipment date had been pushed back to mid-December. "I think I'm getting master trolled," he commented. "Delay after delay after delay. Month after month." He had been originally told August, then September, then October, November, and now December.
Again if the company doesn't collapse customers may get their SoundBeds within 3-5 years at the rate Opus is operating. None of this is communicated, however.
Sensing growing frustration over the lack of shipments the company recently staged fake customer delivery videos using an employee and an investor.
"One new SoundBed owner shares the experience of finding the perfect home within his home for SoundBed," a video on Opus' Instagram said. They didn't disclose it was an employee named Austin Felton, however. He posted on Facebook in 2020 that he worked for the company.
LEFT: Austin Felton portrays a "customer" in a video who has been shipped a SoundBed. RIGHT: Austin's Facebook post from 2020 stating he was working for Opus.
The other "customer" delivery video was of Miki Agrawal who is an angel investor in SoundBed.
Both videos were orchestrated to manipulate people. It's one of many ways Adam Schlender, Christopher Schenk, Austin Felton, and others are knowingly defrauding their customers.
Despite it all Opus continues to falsely tell customers their SoundBed will "ship soon" if they order today. Yet, as recently as September someone asked "Has anybody actually got one of these delivered?" Opus replied, "Not yet! We're excited to start shipping this month!"
For years now Opus has been making statements like the one below. "We're excited to start shipping soon!" has become a mantra.
The SoundBed as a Ponzi Scheme
Why is Opus running paid ads to sell more SoundBeds when it hasn't shipped any of its 10,000 orders in its three years of existence? Where have the millions of dollars gone if not to order and ship the product? Six-figure salaries? Expensive office suites? Company cars? Why does the website falsely claim SoundBeds are "Shipping Now" when they can't tell me any are?
After three years of collecting millions of dollars with no shipments, it's safe to say the company is stealing people's money. They have set up a system that provides themselves with endless cash flow with no accountability. But how long before they are held criminally or civilly liable? They've already lost their business license. How long can a scheme like this continue unchecked?
To operate for three years without delivering a product requires influencer hype, staged marketing gimmicks, and feel-good phrases. They also rely on the goodwill nature of spiritual people who are not as likely to believe "conscious" people will steal from them.
Two influencers who have hyped SoundBed are self-help guru Garrain Jones and Ziva Meditation founder Emily Fletcher. Jones posted several videos to his page promoting the SoundBed that have over 5 million views. Fletcher has appeared in many videos and posts for the company. An Instagram post states that she is one of their guides who are creating "unique Opus sessions." And now Miki Agrawal is the latest face to lend public credibility to the company.
In 2023 the company posted an "overdue update" addressing pressing questions like, "Are you a real company?" It's never a good sign when you have to answer that one. In their response, they shared a photo of the core team and named them.
The Opus LinkedIn page also lists Trevor Banegas, Samantha Nafso, Austin Floyd and Ian Lenny of ATTN Labs, and Alexandra Nolan. An SEC filing in 2022 listed Karl Alomar, who may have invested over 6 million dollars according to the document. Alomar was the COO of Digital Ocean and is a prominent venture investor.
The core Opus team is undoubtedly involved in a concerted effort to defraud customers. As more revelations come out we'll see who else knew and when. One silver lining is that having lost the corporate status Christopher Schenk and Adam Schlender can now be sued personally for losses. Perhaps there will be a class action lawsuit.
We live in a post-Theranos, FTX, and Fyre Festival world and are now used to seeing "reputable" and innovative businesses being outed as fraudulent. Opus is another company big on hype and short on delivery. And they've likely defrauded over 10,000 customers out of millions of dollars.
If you have any information or are a customer please email me at:
bescofieldreporter @ gmail.com