Kingston Brass Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 03/21/19
12775 Reservoir St.
Chino, California 91710
Footnotes:1. The written warranty guarantees faucets to be "free from defects in material and workmanship as long as the original consumer owns it." This sounds to us like a lifetime warranty. Customer support. however, insists that it is a ten-year warranty, and in our investigation of the company's handling of warranty claims, it seems clear that Kingston Brass treats the warranty as having a ten-year term.2. By the express terms of the warranty, living finishes are limited to "oil-rubbed bronze and dark bronze". If there are any more living finishes in the Kingston Brass faucet collection, they are not covered by this exclusion.
This Company In Brief
Founded by current CEO Erik Chen in 1998, the company is an importer of Asian-made bathroom and kitchen products that are sold under several brands including Kingston Brass, Gourmetier and Fauceture.
It is one of the oldest of the Asia-Marketeers. Others include
It has spread widely across the internet and into home stores and discount centers primarily due to relatively low prices and good styling.
The faucets are sold primarily through internet Venues such as Amazon and well-represented at discount sites such as Wayfair but they are also widely available at plumbing e-tailers like Faucets.com, Faucet Direct, and e-Faucets as well as at Home Depot, Lowes and Menards stores, both online and in-store.
Export/import businesses like Kingston Brass are often family affairs. One part of the family, located in Asia, handles the purchasing and export end of the business, while another group located in the U.S., takes care of the importing and selling in North America.
Kingston Brass, Inc. imports its products almost exclusively from Taiwan Designer Plumbing & Hardware Corp. ("TDP&H"), a Taiwan-registered import/export business that shares its address at 77, Lane 59, Ha Mi St., Taipei, Taiwan, and URL (www.kingstonbrass.com.tw) with Kingston Brass (Taiwan), Corp. Chien-chuan Lin is the manager of TDP&H, and Frieda Lin the CEO of Kingston Brass (Taiwan). According to H1B visa applications filed in 2012, Chien-chuan Lin is also the Chief Financial Officer of Kingston Brass, Inc.
TDP&H is not a manufacturer in its own right, which means it buys its products from other companies. Company spokesman Tony Martin estimates that 80% of its faucets are imported from Taiwan where they are manufactured by a number of factories located in or near Lukang (or Lugang) City
Known manufacturers for Kingston brass include
- Falali Bath Boutique Co., Ltd., formerly I Yi Long Copper Ware Co., Ltd., which sells its own brand of modestly upscale, water-saving faucets under the Ferrari and Falali brands in Asia;
- Rin Shing Metal Co., Ltd., a manufacturer established in 1987 in Taiwan which also manufactures for
- Taiwan Shin Jhin Lih Sanitation Co., Ltd., that makes faucets for Waxman Consumer Products Group;
- Yuh Chang Hardware Co., Ltd. which also manufacturers for
All of these companies are manufacturers, meaning that their principal business is the design and manufacture of faucets for other faucet companies. They are also all ISO-9000 qualified after meeting the rather rigorous requirements established by the International Standards Organization for in-process quality controls. ISO-9000 qualification is now a basic credential for companies wishing to manufacture for an international market.
Formerly the company purchased faucets from Hsien Chang Metals Co., Ltd., a Taiwanese manufacturer that also manufactures for and from Xiamen Weco Kitchen and Bath Industry Co., Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer. Weco currently manufactures faucets for
These relationships appear to have ended.
The company estimates that 40% of the faucets imported from Taiwan are in component form — unassembled but fully finished. These components are then assembled into faucets by U.S. workers at Kingston Brass's facilities in Chino, California.
This limited form of assembly is not usually considered sufficiently "transformational" to quality for Assembled in U.S.A. status. Final assembly in the U.S. helps the company reduce its inventory by keeping the parts necessary to assemble slow-selling faucets, rather than the faucets themselves. A few dozen components can then be assembled into several hundred faucets on an "as needed" basis.
The company offers an impressive number and variety of faucets in every design class: traditional, transitional and contemporary. Many are variations on a basic faucet (different handles, different finishes), but even with that consideration, the Kingston Brass lineup of faucets is impressive.
The faucets are available in a variety of finishes, depending on their actual manufacturer. Polished chrome is the standard but nickel, two shades of bronze and tarnish-free PVD brass are available on most faucets. Falali Bath Boutique Co., Ltd. offers a mirror chrome finish that is as good as any we have seen from the European craft shops. Some faucets are available in The finishes available for each faucet are indicated on the Kingston Brass website.
Unlike most faucet companies that simplify replacement part inventory by using just two or three cartridges in their faucets, Kingston Brass uses a cross section of Asian cartridges from a great variety of suppliers. We have identified some of the cartridges, but the vast majority, particularly the stem cartridges for two-handle faucets, remain unknown due to the absence of any maker marks. From examination, however, we believe most are made in Taiwan, a few in China, but all of them in Asia and none of them from top-tier companies.
Replacements for most cartridges are available from Kingston Brass, but not all, especially if the faucet is older then ten years.
The company has inaugurated two new brand names since 2007: Gourmetier, which sells faucets, sinks, and accessories for the kitchen, and Fauceture which does the same for the bathroom. These appear to be an effort reach a more upscale clientele with the company's better products. We have not yet had hands-on experience with either brand. The warranty on these new brands is no different from the standard 10-year limited warranty offered on other Kingston Brass faucets, so we see no reason to assume that the quality of the product is any better.
Elements of Design is an older trade name, first registered in 2005. It was meant to be the line of products sold through showrooms but the line has spilled over so that the company now also sells Element of Design products at retail through its own website, at Lowes and on internet Venues.
Kingston Brass also provides faucets to other marketeer and retail sellers that sell the faucets under their own brand names. For example, most if not all of the faucets sold by House of Antique Hardware are supplied by Kingston Brass. Many of the same faucets are also sold by Kingston Brass, but under different model names.
The Kingston Brass warranty is a morass of apparently contradictory terms. If it was written by a lawyer, he or she should have stayed awake during warranty class.
The warranty starts off declaring that
"All parts and finishes of the Kingston Brass faucet are warranted to the original consumer to be free from defects in material and workmanship as long as the original consumer owns it." (Emphasis supplied)
This sounds to our legal persons very much like a lifetime warranty to the original consumer. But, in the next section entitled "10 Year Limited Warranty", we find that Kingston Brass
"warrants all other aspects of the faucet or accessories including finish, to be free of defects in material and workmanship during normal residential use within (10) ten years from the date of purchase to its original owner, on all finishes including matte black EXCEPT oil-rubbed bronze and dark bronze since they are considered living finishes..."
So we have a lifetime warranty on all aspects of the faucet except
defects in material and
finishes which are warranted for just 10 years except two specified living finishes, oil-rubbed bronze and dark bronze, that are not warranted at all.
The warranty also requires that the faucet must be installed in the United States or Canada, which is a change from 2017 when we last researched the Kingston Brass warranty. At that time the warranty was limited to faucets installed in the U.S.
But, the warranty document in the box with the delivered faucet differs from the online warranty. Here is the warranty-in-the-box:
"All parts of a Kingston Brass faucet are warranted to the original retail purchaser to be free from defects in material and workmanship for a period of Ten (10) years from the date of purchase as shown on the purchaser's receipt."
This warranty does not exclude living finishes from coverage, and does not limit installation to the United States and Canada.
So which is the actual warranty? According to Kingston Brass customer support it is the ten-year warranty, but with living finishes excluded. When we pointed out the apparently inconsistent terms in the online warranty, the customer support agent dismissed them with the observation that the Kingston Brass ten-year warranty "is already three years longer than than the seven year minimum" that California law requires of a lifetime warranty.
Actually, California Civil Code Section 1797.93 et. seq. requires only that a "lifetime" warranty must state how the length of the warranty is to be determined. In this case the term is for "as long as the original consumer owns [the faucet]" which is more than sufficient specificity.
Customer service is evidently dicing the warranties and adopting only the parts of each warranty most favorable to the company and making that the warranty the company will honor: A ten-year warranty that excludes living finishes and is not valid unless the faucet is installed in the U.S. or Canada.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, however, requires the opposite. Ambiguity in a warranty is to be interpreted to favor the consumer. This means that the warranty is: A lifetime warranty on everything but materials and finishes which are covered by a ten-year warranty that does not exclude living finishes.
We don't think this is deliberate deception, but more likely a failure to pay attention to detail. Kingston Brass has a history of doing 95% of everything right, then blowing the final 5%. We think this is part of the 5%.
We have asked the company for clarification, but have not received a response after several requests. In the meantime, we assume that the warranty, as given effect by the company is just 10 years nd rate the company on that basis.
Customer service seems to have been a continuing problem for Kingston Brass, resulting in an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau as recently as 2011. Company spokesman Tony Martin indicated in 2015 that this was the result of very rapid growth in which customer service fell behind. The company has, according to Mr. Martin, tripled its customer service personnel, and he believes that the problem is on its way to a full resolution. We can confirm that we have seen a major drop off in complaints about the company's after-sale and warranty service since 2016 and the company has clawed its way up to a B+ rating from the BBB as of this update.
But, while the problem has gotten better, it is not entirely gone. Complaints to the BBB, while handled for the most part satisfactorily, are still entirely too numerous and indicate that customer issues are not being resolved at the company level. The typical complaint is related to being unable to contact customer support by telepehone, noy getting a response to voice mails and e-mails even after several weeks or even months of waiting.
As part of its customer service refoormation, Kingston Brass was accredited by the BBB in 2014 and pledged to uphold the very high standards of that organization including a duty to treat customers honestly and fairly.
We like the company's updated website. It is well designed, well organized, easy to navigate and devoid of slow-loading "Flash"-y media. The search function worked fairly well when the search was on a product using a single word, but not so well with terms like "warranty" and "cartridge" or multi-word searches. A search for "single hole lavatory faucet" produced a page of kitchen pot fillers and water filtration faucets, then site froze and would not permit access to the second or subsequent pages. We refreshed and tried again with the same result.
There is no "fuzzy search" capability as with Google searches where misspelling a word like "kitchn" is automatically corrected to "kitchen". Any misspellings usually result in nothing found. Searches on any topic other than a product usually produce no results.
The information provided about the company's faucets is extensive including .pdf downloads of specification sheets, installation instructions, and a parts diagram. Faucets can be displayed in all of their available finishes, a feature you don't see on many faucet websites, and a boon to visualizing the faucet in the customer's finish of choice.
But, while extensive, information about each faucet was not complete enough for an informed buying decision. The .pdf specifications sheets are nothing more than a dimensioned drawing — useful but not a substitute for actual detailed specifications. Cartridge manufacturers are not identified and certifications are not listed. Only one 3/4 view of each faucet is available making it difficult to completely visualize the faucet. Several different views would be nice, some showing the installed faucet. Or, better yet, a 360° view capability such as is provided by on their websites that allows the user to spin the faucet around a look at it from all angles.
Parts diagrams show all of the parts of a faucet, keyed to a number identifying each part, but the legend which turns the part number into a part description is missing. So there is not way to find out that part 12 is an o-ring and part 21 is a faucet cartridge — making the list all but useless. The same parts diagram is printed as a part of installation instructions, again without the legend.
Kingston Brass faucets are well styled but not cutting edge. Most of its faucets still seem to be more or less generic Asian styles — pleasing designs but conservative.
There are few styling adventures in Asia. Asian manufacturers generally sell mass-market faucets, and to reach the widest possible market, tend to stay well within safe styling boundaries. A design that does well in European and North American markets will eventually show up in Asian faucets in slightly modified form but it takes three to five years. So, although there are exceptions, don't expect any cutting edge design from most Asian-sourced faucet lines.
The company needs to clarify and greatly improve its warranty. It continues to lose serious points in our scoring for its weak warranty. We think that ten year's of support for what is supposed to be a lifetime product is not nearly enough, and is a decision that management ought to reconsider. One of Kingston's chief competitors, We interpret the Kingston Brass warranty as evidence that the company still lacks complete faith in the durability and longevity of its faucets — and if the company lacks complete faith, then so do we.
It also needs to continue to improve its customer support. The inability of customers to contact support and the failure of the company to respond to voice-mails and e-mails is evidence of continued serious support problems.
Taiwanese- and Chinese-made faucets that are also fully certified and comply with U.S. and Canadian law that are comparable to Kingston Brass include:
The faucets are usually a reasonable value if you stay under the $300.00 mark. You will not get the quality of a $1,000 faucet but you will also not pay anywhere near $1,000. Over $300.00, there are much better faucets out there with much stronger warranties and better after-sale customer support. We would probably have some hesitation installing kingston Brass faucets in a busy kitchen or main bath but for a guest bath, bar or prep station, the faucets would be a suitable and relatively inexpensive option.
Be aware of the company's below standard warranty and its continuing customer support problems. Buy only if you are comfortable with the thought that if something goes wrong with your faucet you may have to deal at length with customer support to get parts during the 10-year warranty period, and that you are completely on your own after ten years even for replacement parts which may not be available after the warranty expires.
If you have a problem getting warranty service from the company, immediately file a complaint with the BBB. The company seems to take these complaints seriously and will respond with reasonable promptness.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Kingston Brass faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.