I think you are miss-analyzing the situation. There really is a 180 day lead time to get the i.MX 8M Quad. I checked all the major electronics suppliers in April, and there were only a couple dozen in stock and they were all saying 180 days for any new orders. Purism probably only has a couple hundred orders for the Librem 5 USA model, so even if it used all its stock of i.MX 8M Quad processors to fulfill Librem 5 orders, all it would do is cover a couple hundred orders from October 2017, and we would still be in the same situation with a 180 days wait.
If your goal is to get a refund for your Librem 5 preorder, you might have a bit more success in pressuring the company for your refund, but I think it highly likely that Purism decided to postpone the repayment of refunds due to financial problems. Purism said in late 2019 when it announced price hikes for the Librem 5 that it has gone way over budget to produce the Librem 5. Purism changed its refund policy in February 2020, and in between February and May of 2020, the number of employees working on the librem 5 was cut from 15 and 10, and a number of the employees who stayed had reduced commits for a couple months, which indicates to me that their hours were being cut.
Purism appears to have exited the financial crisis in the second half of 2020, since it rehired one employee (Julian Sparber) and started paying two more developers (Alexander Mikhaylenko and Evangelos R. Tzaras), but the recent announcement that Purism would have to raise the price of the Librem 5 by another $100 indicates that Purism is still losing money.
Almost every company that has tried to make Linux phones in the past ran into financial problems, which is why they eventually gave up, so Purism’s financial problems should not be a surprise to anyone who watched the problems that Motorola, Nokia, FIC/OpenMoko, Golden Delicious, Jolla, Mozilla, Canonical and Samsung encountered trying to sell Linux phones.
I don’t know for sure what is the financial situation of the company, but I suspect that your actions run the risk of driving Purism into bankruptcy if you manage to organize a large number of people to file complaints with regulatory agencies or organize a class action lawsuit. In a bankruptcy proceeding, customers will have the lowest priority after banks and employees for getting paid, so you are making it more likely that customers who cancelled their orders will never get a refund and customers who are waiting for their preordered phones will never get them.
While I am not sure about the financial situation of Purism, what I can be sure of is the dev work that Purism employees are doing. Purism has poured a lot of resources into developing the software for mobile Linux, and is probably risking the company to do it. Purism created libhandy (56628 lines of code), libadwaita (42037 LoC), phoc (13791 LoC), phosh (48549), chatty (48920 LoC), calls (22387 LoC), squeekboard (17806 LoC), and feedbackd (6233 LoC), plus has made changes to the Linux kernel to support half a dozen new chips, plus done upstream commits to wlroots, GTK, GNOME libraries and about three dozen GNOME applications, so they can be used in mobile devices.
Creating a phone using a new SoC that lacks good mainline Linux support and a phone reference design is expensive and slow. Nicole Faerber says that Purism had to go through a dozen board revisions so far. This is nothing like creating an Android smartphone where you take a reference design from Qualcomm, Mediatek or UNISOC, and the OS from Google and the drivers from the component makers, and then slap on your custom skin and call it a day.
The work that Purism is doing is slow and grinding, but absolutely necessary for the long-term future of mobile Linux. oFono has no long-term future in my opinion, so Purism’s work to add functionality to ModemManager was absolutely necessary. There are lots of mobile Linux interfaces (Gaia, Luna Next, Hildon, Glacier, Silica, Tizen, Plasma Mobile and Lomiri), but every single one of them has critical problems, and Purism is creating a new interface in Phosh which in my opinion has the best chance of actually succeeding in the long term and creating a viable alternative to the Android/iOS duopoly. I wrote a blog post last year to explain why development of Phosh was necessary.
In polls on the PinePhone forum, 70% of PinePhone users say that they use Phosh, and 56% say that it is their favorite interface. The only other interface that is viable in the long term is Plasma Mobile, because it is the only interface that has the necessary volunteer labor to keep developing it, but only 14% selected it as their favorite in the same poll.
The difference as I see it is that Purism is laying the groundwork for Linux phones to be a success in the long term with its dev work on Phosh. The sad reality is there are only 3 companies currently paying developers to work on mobile Linux, namely Jolla, Blue Systems and Purism. Jolla’s Sailfish OS will never go anywhere because the community will never embrace its proprietary Silica interface, and every company that has tried to sell phones with Sailfish OS preinstalled has given up after only 1 or 2 models, and I don’t know of a single model that is still for sale. Blue Systems contributes a couple developers to work on Plasma Mobile, but I can’t see any company putting serious resources into the development of Plasma Mobile, Lomiri or any other free mobile Linux interface. With the announcement that the next generation of Galaxy watches will use Android Wear, Samsung has signaled that it is giving up on Tizen. Firefox OS is dead, and only lives on in proprietary KaiOS. LG has no interest in making WebOS into a serious OS for mobile phones, and LuneOS which repackages the free/open bits of WebOS is basically a one-man show that will never go anywhere in my opinion. I doubt that the Glacier UI will ever be completed. Lomiri is based on a mountain of siloed code which has been abandoned by Canonical and is not being properly maintained. It took the UBports community almost 4 years just to update the code to a new version of Qt and Lomiri only had 88 commits over the last year, so it is not realistic to expect the 10 volunteers at UBports with commit access to develop anything new, much less maintain all the code in Ubuntu Touch and Lomiri.
In other words, Purism and its work on Phosh really is the best shot that we have of mobile Linux ever becoming a viable alternative to the Android/iOS duopoly. If frustrated customers take actions that drive Purism into bankruptcy, it is extremely unlikely that any company will step forward in the future to finance the kind of dev work that is needed to make mobile Linux a success. Frankly, it is insane for any company to invest in developing mobile Linux, in light of the string of companies that have failed with mobile Linux. Without Purism, all we have left is the slow development of Plasma Mobile by volunteer labor or the proprietary Silica interface in Sailfish OS, which will never attract much community support.
Because Phosh was designed as a thin overlay on top of the desktop GTK/GNOME ecosystem, it should be significantly cheaper to maintain and develop than the other mobile Linux interfaces, and unlike Plasma Mobile which has almost no corporate support, the GTK/GNOME ecosystem is supported by every single one of the large Linux companies (IBM/Red Hat, SUSE, Canonical and Google), so Phosh can take advantage of the dev work being done by those companies. In other words, Phosh really is the best shot at mobile Linux ever reaching the mainstream and providing ordinary people with a real mobile alternative that respects their privacy and their digital rights.
I am frustrated by the way that Purism has marketed the Librem 5 and the way that Purism changed its refund policy, but I am not sure that the necessary dev work would have been financed any other way. Looking at the small amount of money that was raised by the crowdfunding of the MNT Reform and Volla Phone, it is clear to me that Purism had to engage in some degree of deceptive marketing if it hoped to raise the kind of money that was needed to pay for serious software development. If we don’t want proprietary code or surveillance Capitalism, we have to ask how does FOSS development get financed. We also have to think carefully about the consequences of our actions as customers, and whether we will create a worse situation if we take actions that could potentially drive Purism into bankruptcy. Maybe I am wrong about the financial situation of Purism, but what I am sure about is the fact that none of the big Linux companies care about mobile Linux and are willing to pay for its development. If we decide that we don’t need a company like Purism to pay for software development, then we are choosing to rely solely on volunteer labor to develop mobile Linux, which is going to be slow and unlikely to create a mobile OS that appeals to ordinary users who don’t have technical skills.