Three National University of Singapore (NUS) Industrial Design students created a revolutionary coin-sorting wallet in 2016, that fulfilled its Kickstarter funding within just an hour, then went on to raise $280,468—70 times their initial goal.
However, after impressing thousands with their innovative design that separates your coins and notes with just a shake, creators Lim Li Xue, Cheryl Ho, and Ng Ai Ling soon stumbled over an overwhelming number of orders.
KIN Studio received 4,746 backers for their KIN Wallet on Kickstarter, and still took pre-orders from customers on Shopify.
Months after their estimated delivery in July 2017, backers began to get frustrated that they weren’t receiving their products.
Some started to email the makers, and posted complaints about the delay on their Facebook page since September 2017.
The first batch of wallets was sent out by KIN on 20 September 2017, according to the updates on their Kickstarter page, which honestly isn’t that far off from the estimated date.
Quality Not Up To Par, Colour Discontinued
As backers started receiving the KIN wallets, some were disappointed to find that what they got seemed to be of lower quality than what they expected.
On the other hand, there were also others who received the wallets and were pleased with their new products.
In KIN’s updates on Kickstarter and Facebook, they addressed the issues with quality and told backers that they were looking into quality control at their manufacturer’s factory.
Another bump in the road KIN faced was that one of their colours offered was “discontinued entirely by the supplier”.
They apologised for not informing backers immediately, as they said they “wanted to see what could be done” about the situation.
Eventually, the team offered backers who had selected the discontinued Burnt Sienna wallets a few options.
They could continue with their orders that would instead arrive in a new colour, Cadmium Red, request a full refund, or request to switch to Kepler Black, while stocks for that colour lasted.
Despite all these issues, the KIN Wallet won the Red Dot Award for Design Concept in 2017.
Delays Drag On A Year, Updates Come Months Apart
Since the first batch of orders was delivered in September 2017, KIN had only been able to send out batches of a few hundred wallets at each time.
They’d been posting updates frequently in 2017, informing backers every time they sent out a batch and stating how many orders have been fulfilled.
However, after an update in January 2018, in which KIN said they had sent 1,394 wallets in total and completed orders for their Super Early Bird, Early Bird, and Kickstarter Exclusive Tiers, their communication with backers turned quiet.
When they resurfaced in March 2018, KIN accounted to their followers on Facebook that they had been away to fix problems on the production line following feedback they’d received about poor product quality.
In May, the team once again posted an update saying that they were working on quality checks.
Their last update in September 2018 on Kickstarter explained that they have only managed to deliver 2,100 wallets so far as their “stringent quality controls led to [a] high rejection rate”.
“This is because we had rejected 5,000 of the 7,000 wallets produced by hand, for various quality defects and shortcomings,” they wrote.
“From Day 1, KIN set certain quality standards that we would not compromise; even at the risk of considerable delays and some sporadic accusations of ‘fraud’.”
While the KIN team is holding fast to fulfil their obligations to all backers, it seems that backers are more upset by the lack of updates between months of waiting, and the difficulty of getting a response to their requests for refunds.
Alma Mater Reaches Out To Help
According to Channel NewsAsia, NUS’ Division of Industrial Design has been aware of the problems faced by their ex-students (and one who is still an undergraduate).
NUS says the Division has reached out to KIN Studio to offer help with regards to the technical and quality issues the team is experiencing with their manufacturer.
Beyond the occasional updates on their Kickstarter campaign page, angry backers have complained that KIN has not responded to multiple requests for status updates on their individual orders and requests for refunds.
We reached out to KIN Studio last week, but have yet to receive a response.
Featured Image Credit: KIN Studio