Coin apologizes to customers, won't charge beta users $30 to upgrade

The connected credit card startup apologizes for fumbling the announcement of a delay. Its beta program will be expanded and participants will no longer be charged $30 for the finished product.

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Coin was forced to delay its connected credit card and has now apologized to customers for a lack of transparency. Nick Statt/CNET

Coin, the makers of an electronic device that stores credit and debit card info, issued an apology to customers on Saturday after mishandling the announcement of a product delay.

"We apologize for our lack of transparency and clarity in our communications to you," wrote Coin CEO Kanishk Parashar in a post on the company's website, accessible only with a password emailed to preorder customers. "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-based startup came under fire Friday after revealing that, after months of ambiguity, it will delay the launch of its connected credit card device. The company was forced to push its full product launch from summer 2014 to spring of next year to refine its technology and scale its manufacturing.

In place of a full launch, Coin planned to roll out a nationwide beta program in which 10,000 preorder customers could opt-in to use a prototype that worked at only 85 percent of US card terminals. When the finished product begins shipping next spring, Coin said it would charge those customers $30 to upgrade.

Coin has now reversed its stance. The beta program will be free -- meaning preorder customers who opt-in will no longer forfeit the $55 they paid and will still receive the finished Coin product next year. The program will also expand from 10,000 customers to 15,000. Regardless of whether your smartphone is running Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating system, preorder customers can opt-in to Coin's beta program through its app and will be eligible for a device if they fall within the 15,000-person threshold. The order is determined by when you bought your Coin.

Coin customers, some who placed orders as far back as November 2013 when the startup first opened its website for preorders, were displeased not so much with the product delay as with the way Coin handled the situation. The company had, as recently as August 14, sent out an update explaining that a long-awaited shipping announcement would arrive at month's end --yet without an indication that it may miss its shipping target.

When that announcement turned out to be a delay, Coin did not apologize and confused customers with the rules of its beta program. That led many customers to believe they were still on track to receive the product they had paid for. Coin attempted to clear up the news with a post to its website later that day. After 24 hours, the post had amassed more than 6,000 comments, many from angry customers. Some began seeking refunds.

"We promise to do better with our transparency and updates to backers," Parashar concluded in Coin's apology letter. "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."

 

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