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Coin Finally Apologizes to Backers After Attempting to Sweep Delay News Under the Rug

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As a crowd-funded project, what’s the best way to completely piss off your hundreds of thousands of backers over night after having given them nothing but positive vibes for almost a year, even when you are days from launching your product? Well, you do what Coin did. On Friday, Coin – the credit card to replace all cards – did something pretty ball-less. Only a week after telling its backers that it would start shipping their Coin credit cards by August 28 and that everything was on-schedule and awesome, a series of news stories showed up detailing a number of massive changes to the program that none of their backers knew anything about.

This is more than likely how it went down. 

Coin, realizing it had to make massive changes to its product rollout to make it more stable, have time to work out manufacturing issues, and get a larger group of people out in the wild to beta test, decided that instead of telling its backers first about the news, that it would try and mislead or avoid the truth when it issued statements to select press outlets. So that’s what Coin did. They hand-picked select media outlets, briefed them on the situation (even offered up a chance to speak with the head of Coin for quotes), showed some demos, and sold them on the changes without actually telling any of them that there was a delay.

Don’t believe me? Go back to Friday and find the early stories about the news surrounding Coin. People get to beta test! A launch is here! Yay, for Coin backers! It was as if this was the plan all along or that major changes to the program were nothing but a minor hiccup. None of these stories mentions a delay or the fact that no one in the Coin backer group had any idea that this was going on. In fairness to these outlets, they probably had no idea what was really going on (how could they know?), and were simply taking the carefully crafted news that Coin’s press team was feeding them.

But then backers started receiving “Claim Your Coin” emails with the new details about a previously unannounced beta program, paying for another Coin at a later date, and a push to 2015 for the “Gold Standard” edition. We got ours as well. There was never once a mention of a delay. People freaked out. We called Coin out on their bullsh*t. People got angrier. Some began organizing to file a class action suit. And then finally, Coin apologized, a full day later.

And that’s where we stand now. Coin is sorry that it didn’t let its backers know first, you know, the people that are actually making their product a reality. That would be the same group of people that had been told nothing but positive things for months.

To make up for the mistake, Coin will now open up the beta to 15,000 people instead of 10,000 people, but also run it at no cost to backers. Yes, in case you missed it, they initially planned to charge backers to pay for this expanded beta test. They will still issue you a refund if you don’t feel like waiting or testing.

Here is the letter being issued to backers.

Dear Coin Backers,

First and foremost, we want to apologize to each and every one of you. We are building Coin for you and are extremely disappointed with ourselves that we made some of you unhappy with us. We want to earn your trust again.

We apologize for our lack of transparency and clarity in our communications to you. You, as our valuable backers, should have been the first to know about all product updates. We honestly thought we could make our timeline. We were overly optimistic. The San Francisco Bay Area Coin Beta made it evident that we should conduct a larger nationwide Coin Beta. We need your help with testing nationwide, but realize that this is not a cost for you to bear. Therefore, we will run a nationwide Coin Beta for no cost to Coin Beta Backers ($0) and increase the number of Coin Beta devices by 50% to 15,000. We’ll do our best to grow this number over time. To clarify, your spot in the Coin Beta program is determined by your pre-order date, regardless of whether you opt-in with the iOS or Android app. We feel responsible to the commitment each of you has given to us by backing Coin and so we haven’t spent even one dollar of the crowd funding campaign. All our efforts and production has been supported by equity dollars.

Coin Beta was a hard decision but important step as we want to deliver the device we all expect and nothing less. Getting Coin to work with thousands of different card readers of different makes, models and regions is not easy and that’s why we need the help of an extended beta team.

We are truly sorry that the first generation Coin is not ready when we said it would. Our team has been working hard day/night and weekends since May 2012 in an attempt to deliver Coin to you on time and while we are close, we are not at the finish line. We have achieved ~0.84 mm form factor with e-ink screen and bluetooth low energy. We even found a button that has a tactile touch so you can feel feedback every time you press the button on Coin. Coin swipes successfully in 85% of the locations we visit. Our hardware team is focused on the remaining 15%.

With Coin Beta, we will validate compatibility nationwide and improve usability. Meanwhile, we’ll keep a focus on growing our manufacturing capabilities and are confident that we will deliver high-quality first generation Coins to you all.

We promise to do better with our transparency and updates to backers. We promise to keep working hard to deliver you a great product. We value your honest feedback, good or bad; and we are always listening.

Sincerely,

Kanishk and the whole Coin team

PS – We appreciate your patience and support, but if you would like to cancel, we will promptly issue a refund to you. Please email [email protected] with your order number. We hope to earn your trust again in the future.

  • Robert G Smith

    Lesson learned about HW startups, I missed the beta by 24 hours…

    “Thanks for checking back with us.

    Beta eligibility is determined by the time you initially placed
    your pre-order. Unfortunately if you ordered after November 14, 2013 3:06:38 PM
    PST it is unlikely that you are eligible for Coin Beta. Since your pre-order was
    placed on November 15th, 2013 at 4:52:34 AM PST, your are not eligible for the
    Beta program at this time.

    We apologize for the disappointment. If at any time you feel
    this is unacceptable or are no longer willing to wait, we have an open refund
    policy.

    We appreciate all of your patience and support.

    Please let me know if you have additional questions!

    Best
    regards,

    – M”

  • Jeff

    I just requested a refund. I can’t trust this company at all.

  • RGiskard

    I got my refund a couple months ago when I looked closely at the release date vs. EMV implementation. Having the Coin for a year would be neat (assuming it worked 100% of the time), even with EMV coming. Now that the thing isn’t coming until well into 2015 (and may not be 100% reliable as promised), it makes absolutely no sense. I think the idea is BRILLIANT, but it has to work and it has to work everywhere. Unfortunately, Coin doesn’t seem to have a plan to make that happen – EMV support is something they will evaluate for a second generation (if they still exist for a second gen).

  • nicee

    Why not just use LoopPay? It’s a successful Kickstarter product. It stores your credit card magnetic signal when you swipe your card at a terminal and mimics the signal with their phone charge case and the key fob. It works great. Just pay with the phone (case) at 90% of all existing POS machines. Here’s a review:
    http://www.nicee.co/reviews/gadgets/peripherals/looppay/2014/06/chargecase

  • Antoniojr Avellanosa

    Still in the difficult intellisync stage,link a dolphin connect/goo.gl/b-64

  • AUSTEEEZZZ

    Got my refund too

  • Brett Whitling

    I sent for a request for a refund but I was deciding this before the whole issues came about. After months of thinking about it, I realized that every time I would use it in a restaurant, they would ask me what it is and how it works, and if I had ID, and then still question it… Then I feel like some times they might not take it because they didnt feel comfortable using it so then what? I have to carry around the cards themselves. But I just didnt want to go through the hastle of people asking me “what is that?” all the time. I will stick to carrying a few extra in my wallet instead of going through all of that.

    The final kicker for me was when they said in the last email that they were getting it down to being reliable in 85% of the places they would visit…. ummm what? What am I supposed to do if I am only carrying the Coin and I need to pay for my meal and the card doesnt work? Or I am out of gas? No thanks. I’ll thicken my wallet by a quarter of an inch instead of risking that chance.

  • http://www.brandongoodman.com/ Brandon Goodman

    This thing is worthless if its not 100% reliable. If you have to carry you your real cards for those “just in case” scenarios when your $50 coin is not accepted or working right, then it completely negates the benefit of being an all in one card to start with.

  • dejackamo

    i got my money back a couple months ago after no release date would be given still.

  • yummy

    Trust is built over time by doing what you say you will do.

  • Tony Byatt

    I was close to getting this until I heard about the switch to EMV…

  • Guest

    I can gift a beta if any one wants it..I got on the beta

    • Connor M

      Me maybe?

      • Guest

        What’s your email?..

        • Connor M

          dylan178ATgmail

          • Guest

            Keep an eye on it..gonna submit you now..

          • Connor M

            Can you shoot me an email to that address, I have a better one but don’t want to publically post it

        • Connor M

          Thank you!

  • Joe Dumbass

    Sure, I’ll trust them will all of my credit card information.

  • Howdouseeit

    I also got my refund.. How can I trust these money hungry liers.. I’ll wait til it comes out next winter 2015.lol then I’ll pay 50$ for it then. Ha

  • Mario

    yeah they will be happy now to give refunds after all that interest money they made off all its backers.

  • Chad Walber

    Nope, Getting a refund. I’m an early adopter in most cases, and I was hoping to have this work for me for about a year or two, but with the coming of the chip based credit cards, this will no longer be viable in the timeline they are offering.

  • http://www.whatsinthemix.com/ Mychal Hix

    I just want my Coin. I understand changes happen. But come on, be upfront about them. Let us know. Hey, we need some more time. I’m cool with that. But next date/deadline better be met, and that means you need to put in that overtime if not double time! Otherwise you will be out of money from everyone trying to process a refund!

    • FrnchDp

      next date is 6-9 months from now.. if they can’t make it, definitely get your money back

  • MBS

    I have serious doubts that Coin is a viable product. Too many security issues, too many merchant questions (who is going to accept an unlabeled credit card?) and, by the time this fully ships, too many competing systems/products.

    • niuguy

      If it was a safe investment it wouldn’t need crowdfunding. That’s what makes it so appealing. Bigger risk…but if it works bigger potential.

      • WickedToby741

        Bigger potential for who? Certainly not the backers.

    • Bryan Mills

      If it works in other parts of the world, why wouldn’t it work in the US?

      • Miso Honee

        The Japanese have been using cell phone as payment devices for 10 years, why hasn’t it worked in the US?

      • http://www.about.me/kendallseabury Kendall Seabury

        Let me introduce you to this thing called chip and pin. Which most of Europe uses and Coin doesn’t have.

  • Burger

    My girlfriend bought me a coin for Christmas last year and I’m actually confused on what going on now. How do I enroll in the beta program and what exactly is the “gold standard card” I just want to know how soon can I receive a card whether its beta or not I just want a card and dont expect to pay anymore then she has already paid for it.

    • FrnchDp

      the app will tell you if you are part of the beta program (first 15,000 pre-orders). Gold Standard is the name given to the final product set to be shipped in Spring 2015. You will not have to pay anything more. If you are in the beta program, the app will tell you of your shipping date for your beta card. If not, you have to wait until Spring.

      • Burger

        Ok thanks! I have android so I guess I have to wait until September 25th to download the app.

  • MistaButters

    Between the delay, the backlash, and the move to EMV, I don’t see how coin is going to make it through this.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Could have to agree at this point.

    • Frettfreak

      What’s emv?

      • FrnchDp

        Chip and Pin technology used worldwide and finally being adopted in the US

        • michael arazan

          Been in use world wide for a while, absolutely no clue why companies here don’t use it, can’t be because of the cost because they just pass it on to the consumers

      • roberto.elena

        A standard for Chip & Pin.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMV

    • Jared K

      This is what I’ve been thinking about. When i played my PRE-ORDER (not backing) I wasn’t aware that the US was moving strictly to EMV. Now we will get it in 2015 and then less than a year EMV will be the standard. So I’m having a hard time seeing the value. All this nonsense doesn’t really seem worth the $50.

    • Mike Sims

      I got my refund yesterday… tired of waiting

      • Laura Adam

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    • msk

      plus the battery is only good for a year or two.

    • bettlejuice

      By the time they get this done swipe and sign will be ancient history.

    • OMJ

      I asked for a refund. The way the handled this delay and EMV coming was enough for me to want to get out

  • Bryan Mills

    It’s amazing how much people support kickstarters and what not, but get pissed when somebody makes an invite system. Giving all your money upfront for something that will come months from now.

    I did support some potato salad though..

    • Blake

      If you’re talking about this invite system it’s because a week ago they’d indicated orders would be shipping soon – not beta orders, the actual orders seeing as they’d said “Summer 2014″ up until two days ago. The entire 9 month delay and the paid beta program were a total surprise.

      If you’re talking about OnePlus – I don’t think it’s the invites people are annoyed with, it’s their PR campaigns and the prolonged invite system. By the time it’s in open buy time it looks like it’ll be time to move on to something else. At least that’s where I’m coming from.

      • Bryan Mills

        Who cares about PR campaigns? Sure, it’s stupid, but who are they to tell somebody else how to run a business?

        It’s a phone that won’t get outdated for a while, and it’s cheaper than any other flagship. At $299/$349, there’s nothing challenging it.

        • Blake

          I care about PR campaigns. It’s how the company chooses to presented themselves and is, to me at least, a reflection on the company as a whole. I’m not telling them how to run a business, they’re free to do whatever they want. But I’m also free to not like them for it.

          As for challenging it – I disagree. Moto X was available for $300-325 a couple weeks ago and the Nexus 5 is available for $50 more. Even if you want to argue they don’t match in terms of performance or cost at least I can buy one readily (although the Nexus 5 is going out of stock). And the Moto X+1 or the Nexus 6 may very well be out before the OnePlus One is available. Whatever lead they may/currently have is and will be eroded, either on the cost front (e.g. Moto G2) or the performance point (e.g. Nexus 6).

          I know you love that phone, you defend them at every turn. But your love and defense won’t change my opinion – OnePlus screwed up. Sure it’s a great phone at a great price, but I honestly have no interest in owning anything from them in the foreseeable future – not that I could even if I wanted. The PR doesn’t bother you but it bothered me and many others. To you it doesn’t matter and that’s perfectly alright – more power to you. But just as I can’t tell you that you’re wrong for still liking them you can’t say I’m wrong for not liking them.

          • Bryan Mills

            I’m not trying to change anybody. If you choose to do that, cool. Good for you. I own it, and enjoy it. But my G3 is my daily driver and will always be. My O+ is backup, and something i show my customers when they’re not interested in a Nexus 5.

            There’s an invite system for a reason and it’s very clear why. Most people can’t seem to grasp that they’re a new company. They don’t have billions like Samsung or Apple to make 70+ million units.

            But like you said, you’re free to your opinion. I’ll keep enjoying it.

          • Blake

            You appear to always jump up to defend them though, I guess it could just be passion for the product rather than trying to change people’s mind. It’s just how it comes across in text to me.

            I grasp they’re a new company, I get the struggles in meeting demand – I’ve worked for or with many small companies in various ways and I know how hard to can be to do things like this. I understand the point of an invite system to manage demand vs supply. It’s a valid alternative when starting out as compared to being perpetually sold out. Software companies do similar things to help manage server demands on the start (Google+, Aviate, etc).

            The problem, to me anyhow, is the way they’re handling it. An invite system for over 2 months and so much (bad) PR about it. I’ve never seen a company using an invite system milk it this hard. It comes across, to me, as disingenuous. Holding contest and advertising their waitlist seems contrary to the needs to a waitlist – if you can’t meet demand then why keep trying to drum it up? When you couple that with their arguably bad/poor PR choices (smash your phone, ladies first, etc) – things they’ve back peddled on thankfully – it just leaves them in a negative position in my view. Again, nothing wrong with a waitlist or invite system to me, but they’re not handling it in a good way as far as I’m concerned.

            I’ve got no doubt it’s a good phone, especially for the cost they offer it at. Had I been able to buy one months ago I may very well have.

      • Lucky Armpit

        I’m annoyed at the invite system. Just let me buy one for crying out loud. No jumping through hoops. No selfies. No smashing phones. Just a nice, normal, here’s-my-money-now-ship-me-a-phone transaction.

    • MistaButters

      The funny thing about supporting kickstarters is the risk vs reward. Early funders of start ups expect huge upside potential in their investment. They understand, especially in the early stages, that this may all be a pipe dream and their money might be toast. Because of that, especially in the Seed Round and even Series A, they want big chunks of equity that preferably won’t be diluted.

      But for the kickstarter campaigns, people invest their money (albeit small amounts) for a minor discount off a retail price, for a device that may or may not be out for 12-24 months. Basically kickstarter investors are taking huge risk for very little reward. Getting a device 3 months before the general public at a minor discount shouldn’t be enough incentive to back something with such great risk. It’s just not a smart investment.