Friday, April 11, 2008

The Bomb Squad May Have My Bag

When I bought new luggage last August to support my constant travel, I tried two different strategies. I bought a big cheap suitcase, on the theory that my suitcases were all going to be destroyed by the airlines and myself anyway, so why pay more. And I paid a bit more for a name-brand rollaboard, to test the theory that paying for a three year warranty would be cheaper than replacing a cheaper suitcase every time it wore out.

It's not a fair head-to-head comparison for the two products (which is why I'm not naming them), because the rollaboard has been on more sidetrips, but the name-brand rollaboard was the first to disintegrate. I went to the manufacturer's website for warranty repair information, and after pawing about in the less accessible corners of the site map, found the address and telephone number of a certified repair shop, and brought the damaged suitcase there.

The warranty in question only covered "manufacturing defects," so the company had the capacity to weasel out of the repairs. The repair shop person looked at my bag and agreed that it had fallen apart at the zipper seam, but had to consult with the manufacturer to determine whether this was an actual defect, or whether this was to be expected of a seven month old bag.

Questioning revealed that the repairs, if not covered by the warranty, would cost more than the bag had. (I didn't buy the really expensive kind, and repairs are expensive). The results still wouldn't be guaranteed, and of course another seam could give out the same way a week later. I don't like to throw things away when they can be reused, but I also don't like to spend too much money on things. I don't plan to pay for repairs if they cost more than the bag. I asked if the bag turns out to be not covered by warranty, were there any options for recycling it?

Yes, I discovered. Anything that could be reused was taken off, and then the remains of the bag--and this is the best part--were given to the dog squad to train luggage-sniffing dogs, and for the bomb squad to practice blowing up unattended bags. Is that cool or what? The remains of bags that don't enjoy that fate can be stripped of all metal, and then the plastic/nylon stuff can be ground up and put back into the plastic recycling stream.

I was only in town for a few days between jobs so I left contact information, warned that I might not be back for a month, and okayed giving the suitcase to the dogs if the manufacturer wouldn't repair it. I still don't know the outcome of that, because they decided they had to ship the bag to the manufacturer for them to decide whether or not its demise was a manufacturing defect. I guess it beats those warranties that cover you "for the life of the product." The repair shop did have some suitcases that were guaranteed, against all damage, for the life of the original purchaser or gift recipient. Tempting. And only five times the price of the original rollaboard. That's about the cost of a three year supply of the cheaper ones.

But luggage or no, the giant wheel of Aviatrix fortune has been spun again and the pointer stopped at ... California. Wow, at this rate I'll be eligible to vote there.


silver horde said...

Good to know they can be recycled.

majroj said...

Hardearned experience:
1. Regularly visit high end used stores. Get luggage for $10 or less, sometimes last along time, but OK if it doesn't as long as the contents survive.
2. Buy and use a portable cooler on wheels, add a locking hasp and tape a tie wrap on the top for the nice folks to seal it with after they search it. Biohazard sticker optional...

Lord Hutton said...

Top recycling. Just make sure the security idiots dont take your DNA off it and get you on some sort of list

Ed said...

Yup, worry about all the sniffer dogs which have been trained to locate your scent.

amulbunny said...

If you are in a populated area look for either a Ross or Marshall's. You can get great deals on decent rollaboards at them.
It's 86ยบ where I am. Hope you're enjoying good weather where you are.


bRaT said...

I haven't been to your blog in so long... I just rediscovered it actually... :)

London has this weird habit of asking pretty much everyone to vote... including diplomats and foreign nationals.. so I can vote and even change the course of history for a government that does not affect me.. :)

Aviatrix said...

As a matter of fact, Amulbunny, I got both suitcases at a Ross in Florida.

Anonymous said...

Pathfinder has taken a big share of what used to be almost exclusively Travelpro's market. My Pathfinder bag has lasted for between 2-3yrs of constant (3-4 days of travel per week) use. In my career, the first thing on a bag to fail has usually been the wheels, followed by the telescoping function of the handle. Keep the wheels lubricated, and don't hang things on the telescoping handle while it's extended, and your bag will last ages. Unless, hypothetically speaking, a pickup truck from aircraft maintenance drives directly over your bag.

amulbunny said...

Can't go wrong at Ross. I've seen some pretty nice suitcases in checked luggage go flying off the cart when some over eager ramp rat turns to fast and the last cart bumps over them.
I got a pretty good deal at ebags the last time I bought good carryon luggage. But not nearly as good as Ross when I bought luggage for the kids.

amulbunny ----

Anonymous said...

I have a Jansport bag with a lifetime warranty that has been replaced 4 times when Ippess break

A Squared said...

One of the luggage solutionswhich works well for pilots and others who wear out luggage is a Costco Rollaboard. They sell one for a little over $100US. It's fairly stout nylon construction with heavy duty zippers. Inevitably, like any other (even the $300-400 ones) they get trashed, and when it does, you go to any Costco and you get a free new one. No repair no waiting for repair evaluation, no sending it back to the factory. Costco has a very good retun policy, and at least in the US you can find a Costco in almost any city of any size.