One of the most innovative opportunities that has gained plenty of traction in the last years has been crowd funding. It’s a great way to get your hands on a new and innovative product first, as well as support a dream. However, crowd funding has a dark side, and backers of a product called Coin know that all too well. Coin is a credit card that allows users to swipe the information from credit cards, debit cards, gift cards all into one card. After the information is there, you can easily switch from card to card with a press of a button. The card even has security features like knowing when your smartphone is near. If your smartphone isn’t near by, then the card will alert you that you may have forgotten it somewhere. Many people found this idea to be very useful, innovative and down right cool. Unfortunately, those same supporters of the product have found themselves, well, hating the product team.
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Coin was expected to ship out to backers by August 28th, but the team behind Coin had some bad news. Only one week after announcing the ship date, team Coin started leaking stories that the game plan has completely changed. The issue here is that the early backers of Coin weren’t told anything, instead they had to read about it on news sites. The behind the scenes of what happened essentially looked like Coin had decided they needed more testers, time to fix manufacturing and shipping issues, and even possibly change the product a bit. Instead of emailing their backers informing them of these changes, Coin went to select news outlets, explained the situation, gave a sales pitch about why they are doing what they’re doing, showed off the product, even offered an interview with the head of Coin. However, one part that was left out was the delay information. Instead, the news outlets all wrote about how great the product is, and will be, telling stories about betas, and launch dates.
The next moves Coin took, was to send out emails, inviting backers to purchase a different Coin card, or wait until 2015 for what they called the “Gold Standard” card. Coin also wanted to set up a beta program for 10,000, that means original backers (who’ve yet to receive their product) would need to sign up, and pay for a beta device. Needless to say, backers were very upset about this issue, wondering where the card they already paid for was. Backers even got to the point of setting up a class action suit against Coin for the misleading information, and the missing products. After news broke about the class action suit, Coin released an apology email (a full 24 hrs later). In the apology, Coin says that they are “extremely disappointed” with themselves. To make up for the whole fiasco, they will open the beta program to 15,000 people, and even make it free for original backers. Coin has also said that they will issue a refund for backers who are tired of waiting or don’t want to test the product. Though there’s no word on when refunds will start to be sent out. This is the dark side of crowd funding, but this is not the norm. There are still plenty of products and companies that stand by their word, and will treat each backers like a person who supported their dream-not just a faceless donor.