Cameo fumbles on Ms. Rachel fundraiser as fans receive credits instead of videos

Ms. Rachel isn’t a household name, but if you spend a lot of time with toddlers, she might as well be a rockstar. She’s like Steve from Blues Clues for the next generation — instead of a network TV show, she has a YouTube channel with 10 million subscribers.

A music teacher named Rachel Accurso decided to use her platform for good. She set up a fundraiser for Save the Children’s Emergency Fund, which supports children in Gaza, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and other embattled areas. She called the initiative “Messages for Littles to Help Littles,” and the idea was simple: She would sell 500 Cameo videos at $100 a pop, then donate all of the money. She sold out fast, then put requests on hold while she caught up with the backlog of 500 personalized videos.

But on Cameo, if a creator doesn’t fulfill their video requests within seven days, then the person who purchased the video gets a refund. And for a full-time content creator and graduate student in early childhood education, that’s not much time to record 500 personalized videos. If reputable creators like Ms. Rachel can’t have time to fulfill a sudden burst of requests, then is Cameo even an effective platform for fundraising?

One parent, who reached out to TechCrunch, noted that he was refunded with a Cameo credit; this was especially frustrating because he only bought the Cameo because he thought the money would be going to charity.

But Cameo says that due to Apple’s policies, any purchase made as an in-app purchase on an Apple device can only be refunded as a credit.

“Recently, we have encountered an unprecedented demand for Ms. Rachel's Cameo requests, which led to some concerns regarding bookings made through our app,” said Cameo CEO Steven Galanis in a statement to TechCrunch. “As all purchases made through the iOS app are processed directly by Apple, Cameo does not have access to issue refunds. If you prefer a refund over Cameo credits, you can request it from Apple directly.”

When TechCrunch reached out to Ms. Rachel’s management for comment, they contacted Cameo to rectify the situation. Because of this intervention, all parents who donated to this fundraiser should be getting those personalized videos for their kids. But even though Ms. Rachel and her team were not aware of Cameo’s seven-day fulfillment policy, the confusion could cause reputational harm among parents who were frustrated to receive Cameo credits, rather than confirmation of their charitable donations.

Cameo’s policy makes sense in some cases — if a celebrity is inactive on Cameo and someone pays for a video that they never receive, they should be reimbursed. However, Cameo was aware of Ms. Rachel’s highly popular fundraiser, since Cameo posted about it on X. Often, creator platforms like Patreon, Twitch or TikTok will cultivate direct relationships with its most popular talent, keeping a closer eye on these high-priority users. Given that Ms Rachel intended to fulfill her Cameo requests, it’s unclear why Cameo didn’t grant her additional time to do so in the first place, rather than refunding buyers.

“Bottom line? Cameo wasn’t prepared for the demand and Rachel’s stardom,” a parent who bought a Cameo told TechCrunch. “Also, don’t f— with toddler parents.”