- By Hopper Labs
- Posted May 1, 2018
Hello Hoppers! It’s been without a doubt a tumultuous 6 months. As you all know, over this period we've had to delay our operations due to issues arising with our previous manufacturer. This has angered a fragment of our new/existing user base because we’ve been unable to fulfill both new orders and RMA’s in a timely manner, and for that, we’re truly sorry. Nonetheless, we’re continuing an ongoing effort to share what has transpired and where we are headed next.
The Root of the Problem
2017 started out as a great year for Hopper Labs. 2 years after the initial crowdfunding campaign, we had shipped to all the original backers and established an effective production line, built out solid customer service and were serving orders in 1-2 days time. Everything was going smoothly. Despite our user base growing exponentially, we were able to keep up with growing demand and keep our existing customers happy. We ambitiously began to develop the External Battery Charger and Hopper Steel Case. We were on a roll and the brand was in an amazing place.
In October 2017, we began to get more RMA’s than usual and noticed a pattern of malfunctioning Hoppers. After fixing the defective Hoppers, some users still reported problems within a month and sent the same vapes back for warranty requests. Hopper Labs began running tests to pinpoint this new problem. After an extended effort and diligent elimination, we identified a small manufacturing flaw in the heating component. A material systems change by the manufacturer was causing this new issue to appear. The US manufacturer of this component was incapable of remedying the problem even after Hopper Labs poured a significant amount of its resources into a solution. Their team resisted the proposed design improvements and took little responsibility for the failures while continuing to ship and charge us for faulty units.
In light of these developments, Hopper Labs took immediate and drastic action. We knew it would be impossible to continue successfully under the partnership with the current manufacturer. We terminated our partnership, scrapped thousands of defective components and decisively began to bring the production process in-house to our Boulder facility. Outsourcing was simply not an option as no other existing manufacturers had the expertise to rapidly start production of our unique designs.
The Grasshopper has always been designed around the idea of no compromise and the vision of it being irreplaceable with any other device. By investing heavily in our own facilities, we are now able to maintain total oversight over performance, make technological improvements on the fly and facilitate future developments easily. Naturally, the stuff we’ve been working on is better for both the short-term and long-term happiness of our customers. For those of you who have grown impatient with getting your Hoppers back, we did not wish to fix your favorite vaporizer with known defective components. Rest assured, your Hoppers are in our facility and moving through the repair process.
With our small staff, Hopper Labs has had to redirect all of our attention and resources towards our current top priority: production. Earlier this year, Caroline signed off as our reigning office administrator and customer service representative. During her three year tenure, many of you day-one Hopper fanatics can attest that Caroline was always swift and dependable at handling customer inquiries.
The transition from Caroline to our new services reps has been rocky at best. Over the past 2 months, a massive backlog of emails and warranty messages accumulated and went unresponded to. Our company management was only recently alerted to this problem as 100% of their time has been spent working long hours on improving the new production line. Hopper Labs has now implemented new customer service protocol, hired additional reps and is clearing the backlog of requests. If you have been waiting for a response please feel free to send a new message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We apologize for the lack of response as that is totally avoidable and unacceptable.
Hopper Labs managed to complete all lab facility upgrades in late-February. After producing hundreds of components and running tests, we’ve had a much higher success rate. Our team began working on RMA’s and fulfilling new orders in March. We began shipping to customers again in mid-March and are gradually regaining our composure after suffering the manufacturer setback.
We don’t like any of these developments more than you do. It’s been a tough and stressful start to 2018. It pains us to have delays, and it is even worse to have poor customer service. Nevertheless, we are confident in our abilities to meet these challenges, maintain positive morale and work as hard as we can to regain your confidence. Hopper Labs is not trying to survive, we strive to thrive in what we set out to do: build the best portable vaporizer on the market and provide a top-notch experience for our customers.
Q: I’ve been experiencing issues. Should I send my Hopper in now?
A: Yes, if your device is in need of service please send it in so we can get it processed and scheduled in-line for whatever components need to be fixed. Be sure to check out the Grasshopper troubleshooting guide on our website.
Q: Why can’t I be sent a brand new Hopper when I send mine in for RMA?
A: Fixing and not replacing is part of what we believe is best for the environment as well as our brand. If you send us your Grasshopper and allow us to identify the apparent issues you’re facing, we will make sure your problems are resolved before it is sent back to you. The Hopper was never designed to be replaced. Due to the very high cost of production, it would be impossible to fully replace even a small fraction of units that are in for repair.
Q: Can Hopper Labs send me the new components so I can fix it at home by myself without sending it in?
Aside from some special cases where we can be 100% sure of the user’s issues this is not a good idea. It is often important to check all the Hopper's systems to ensure they are working together properly. This is the same reason why we ask you to return all your parts when you send your unit in for service.
Q: Lifetime warranty = in the shop for a lifetime? I miss my Hopper, when will it get sent back to me?
A: Hopper Labs wholeheartedly apologizes for not being able to fulfill your RMA’s in a timely manner during this rough patch. It has been as frustrating to us as we imagine it has been for you. We have nothing to gain from delaying service and are fulfilling the warranty requests as quickly as we possibly can. Hopper Labs spent $0.00 on advertising in 2018 as we rely on our community to promote our product. It only hurts us to have your RMA here longer. We understood these risks but chose to pursue a permanent fix to the most common issue instead of using a band-aid and acting like nothing was wrong. Although service has taken much longer than normal, we expect to have the majority of the backlog cleared in the next 60 days.
Q: Why are you selling new Hoppers when mine is still in for service?
A: While it would be incredible if we could pause normal operations and only work on the warranty backlog, Hopper Labs must survive as a business in order to provide its lifetime warranty. We must continue to produce and sell new units while fulfilling as many warranty requests as possible with the resources at our disposal. We have made strong progress in both the unit delivery and warranty service areas.
Q: What's the current status of the stainless steel case and external battery charger?
A: Hopper Labs has had to redirect all of its attention and resources towards catching up on warranties and fulfilling new orders. Nonetheless, we are now continuing ongoing efforts to produce the stainless steel case and external battery charger. These items are currently in a pre-production stage and estimated to start shipping in July.