Saturday Steals: The Luggage Steal of a Lifetime

Hello, and welcome to another rousing round of Saturday Steals, where what you get is what you see and what you see is cheap or free!

To participate, simply:

1) Steal a steal.

2) Write a post about it on your blog, mentioning that you’re participating in Saturday Steals (you can steal the above image if you so desire), and

3) Add the link to said post to the list at the bottom of this post.

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It has always been one of my goals in life to have a matching set of luggage.

I decided that my epic trip to France, Spain and England was as good an excuse as any. Plus, matching luggage seemed like a lovely graduation gift to myself.

I spent hours and hours online back in April researching my options (instead of studying for final exams because that is how I roll): hard shell or soft, funky or classic, spinny wheels or the regular kind…the possibilities were exhausting. I knew I wanted to order whatever luggage I chose when I’d be in Arizona the next month so I could qualify for free shipping.

I was most concerned with buying the lightest-weight luggage possible because I knew I’d be flying with Ryanair for my intra-Europe jet-setting and the Ryanair people are weight-restriction sticklers of legendary proportions.

So when I found this, International Traveller’s World’s Lightest Luggage from eBags.com, I thought it was just perfect:

Only my set was in neon green because that was the colour marked down the most. Image from here.

I paid a lot (for me) for the luggage—$184—but it was marked down from more than three times that price and it had RAVE reviews online. Plus see that smallest one? That was going to be the one and only suitcase I took with me for my 19-day trip across international seas. It was tiny and lightweight and I would be blissfully underburdened while I travelled the world in semi-style (I say semi- because I know there are more stylish brands out there {oh do I know}, but none that I can afford).

So finally I took the plunge and bought the set, and immediately camped out by my parents’ front door while I waited for it to arrive.

When it came I tore into the box with such fervor that I looked like just a blur of cardboard and bubble wrap and package labels. The suitcases nested nicely together, so unwrapping them evoked the same childish joy as those Russian matryoshka dolls.

Imagine how sad I was, then, when I saw giant stickers affixed to each of my four suitcases (though it wasn’t the stickers that upset me—it was the yucky residue they left behind on my lovely new luggage):

20110819-041744.jpg

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I was so disappointed.

Still, I felt like I’d gotten a good deal on my luggage, so I set out to find a cleaner that would remove the sticky residue.

I tried dish soap. Laundry detergent. A combination of the two. To no avail. I thought about trying other commercial cleaners but I was irritated that I’d have to go out and spend money on something that might or might not get my bags looking like new condition.

After investing a few hours into the whole mess, I had built up a sufficient level of consumer’s outrage that I was incited to contact eBags.com’s customer service. I used their 24-hour instant message feature (love those things, by the way—you never have to navigate those annoying phone menus again!) to express my indignation and my customer service friend told me he’d look into it and email me shortly.

Three days later he wrote me back, saying that “a mild detergent should take the spots off” and offered me a 5% discount (or $9.00 off the purchase price of my luggage) for my trouble.

Excuse me? Mild detergent? NINE DOLLARS??

If I thought I was cranky before…well…you know. I was pissed. It was time to bust out the big guns:

My plan of action: I tweeted for all the world (or my 75 followers) to see, and then I wrote An Email (and not just any old email, but AN EMAIL) to the head of their customer service manager. It read:

Dear Zack,

I received an email from [redacted just in case] this morning regarding an IM chat I had with [different redaction just in case] last week regarding an issue I’ve had with the suitcases I purchased online through eBags.com via Amazon.

Each piece in the 4-piece set that I purchased came with a large sticker affixed on the fabric itself, and when I removed the stickers, it left a nasty-looking residue on the suitcases (see images attached). Because it is the lighter green colour it is very noticeable and it makes my otherwise-cool-looking luggage look very ugly.

The solution presented to me by [first redaction] three business days after my initial discussion with [second redaction] was to email you photos of the defect to get a 5% credit back to my original mode of payment, and also that a “mild detergent” will clean the stain from my bags (all four of them).

Although I do like the bags and I would prefer to keep them, I am displeased with this solution because:

1) I have already used two “mild detergents” to clean the stains off my bags (which stains could have been completely avoided had eBags sent them to me without affixing the same promotional sticker to the front of each and every suitcase in the set). Thus far I have put nearly two hours into trying different combinations of mild detergents and gentle techniques that will remove the sticker residue without damaging the bags, with still zero success. I feel insulted that the eBags customer service team wrote, “Please note that you can use a mild detergent to clean the stain from the fabric,” suggesting the problem would be so easily fixed when clearly it is not.

2) Moreover, I feel that 5% is an insufficient accession on eBags’ part. It has now been five days (three business days) since I originally received my order and IMed Mike with my concern. I have put two hours into cleaning the bags (to no avail) and will likely put at least two more hours into finding some sort of less-than-mild detergent to actually remove the ugly stains from my bag.

Response-time aside, even the estimated four hours of my own time I will put into getting my bags into actual new-looking condition (which condition I had expected them to be in five days ago) is a substantially larger hassle than I had anticipated when I purchased these bags. The 5% refund eBags has offered on my purchase of $183.99 works out to $9.19. Divided between my four (estimated) hours of unpleasant hassle with this whole situation (still with no promise of new-looking bags), I will have been compensated $2.29/hour, which is, again, insulting. (This is, of course, not to mention all the hours I have now put into talking with eBags customer service representatives in order to get this matter resolved—not only have I IMed [redacted] and waited three days to hear back from [other redacted] who referred me to you, but in his reply email, he wrote “you can send the pictures of the stains to our manager Zack at [e-mail address removed],” so I then had to call customer service and speak with [third redaction] who at last gave me [what I hope is] your correct email address.)

I believe a fair compensation would be 30% of the purchase price, which works out to be $55.19, bringing the final total for my new, but flawed, merchandise to $128.80.

My sole purpose for purchasing this luggage was as a reward for graduating from university, which I will achieve upon completion of my final class in June: an art history study abroad class in Paris. The class itself has cost me more than an entire semester of tuition, but I was willing to make some sacrifices in order to have an amazing travel experience. I chose to purchase the IT-Ø-2 World’s Lightest Side Bound 4 Piece Luggage Set in Lime from eBags after hours of research into the best, sturdiest, most lightweight luggage I could afford. $183.99 is obviously not as expensive as some luggage can get, but on my meager student income it was definitely a splurge. Although I am pleased with the luggage’s weight and design, I am so disappointed with its blatant cosmetic flaw and the hassle I’ve had to go through to get it resolved.

I fully realise that an order of $183.99 does not necessarily qualify me as eBags’s VIP-type of big-spender status. However, I am a loyal customer to companies that deserve the business, and I fully expect to continue using eBags in the future if I can get this problem resolved to my satisfaction.

Thank you,

Camille

The next day I received the following reply from Zack:

 First off, congrats on the trip! Paris is amazing and you will have an amazing time! I apologize for the delay in our response to you. We are a drop-ship company and all products are to be shipped, new from our vendors’ warehouses. We want all of our customers to receive brand new merchandise in top shape, which is why we do not offer discounts to keep damaged or defective items. I was hopeful that International Traveler had some bags that did not have the stickers on them that we could use to swap your original set. The warehouse checked and all the light green sets were stickered at the factory in Asia and then shipped to the US distribution warehouse. I apologize that I am unable to provide you with new luggage in perfect condition, so I have credited your purchase in full. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know about your situation so we can work with our vendors to improve the eBags experience.

Zack

CREDITED MY PURCHASE IN FULL? I had to reread it to make sure I saw it correctly, and even then I wrote him back to clarify:

Hi Zack,

Thank you for your response. It means a lot to me as a customer to have not felt like just a number.

Just to clarify, you have credited my account in full as in I need to send the luggage back now?

Thanks,

Camille

And he wrote:

Hi Camille,

You are NEVER just a number! We are a small start-up company and value all our customers’ opinions. You have been credited in full, through your Amazon account, and you can keep the luggage at no cost. Hope that works.

Zack

Credited in full as in IT WAS FREE. 100% FREE.

And suddenly, my luggage started looking pretty dang good, sticky patches or no.

Of course I immediately felt like a tool for being so b*tchy about it when they ended up being so nice, so I had to go back to Twitter and change my tune:

In the end, even though it was quite the runaround, I was pleased with the response I received (who wouldn’t be?) I did spend some of that money on a few different cleaners (none of which worked in the end), but even still I was very happy with my matching luggage set for zero dollars and zero cents.

20110819-042226.jpgTrue to my plan, I took it to Europe and if I wasn’t the chicest member of my class, I was definitely the lightest packer and the least encumbered.

On top of it all, I learned a valuable lesson about customer service (that it’s nice to be heard and not feel like a number), which I can guarantee I’ll be using on both ends of the email inbox throughout my life.

And that is a steal.

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Now it’s your turn! What have you stolen lately?

Add your steal to the link list below to share it with the world. The list will be open from now till Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

 

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in awesome., like-it-link-it, on the road again, Saturday Steals, Travel, watch out or I'll blog about you. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Saturday Steals: The Luggage Steal of a Lifetime

  1. Rachel says:

    That is an AWESOME steal. I admire companies that treat their customers like real people. I hate it when people act like they’ve resolved my problem when they haven’t. Major pet peeve there. I am headed your direction on vacation next week. I’m brushing up on my Canadian so I can blend in. “After I finish in the washroom, I’m going to sit on my Chesterfield and wear my toque.” It will be a super quick trip, but I’m going to Whitefish Lake, Waterton Lakes via Glacier National Park, and into Banff. Seeing Lake Louise in the summertime has been on my bucket list and I’m excited to be able to check it off. It’s not Paris (which incidentally is also on my bucket list), but it should be a great trip. I’ll think of you as I’m driving through the Mayberry-esque towns of Southern Alberta.

  2. anna says:

    Whoa, how cool is that? I always wish something like that would happen to me. But it doesn’t. :)

    On a side note, I used to travel for work and bought a matching luggage set. Except mine was a black Samsonite set. What does that say about my personality? Ha ha.

  3. Ros says:

    Epic customer service! If only every company was that good! xx

  4. That is awesome! I love me a good resolution! Way to stay at them until they actually helped you. What an awesome company for giving it to you for free, what a steal!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think I will buy luggage from them. We could definitely use a new set. I am going to write to them and tell them that is why I’m buying through them. Also, sorry that my link isn’t super Saturday Stealish. Again. It truly was a steal. I just don’t want to say how much I bought it for in comparison to how much I’m charging.

  6. Geevz says:

    FABULOUS! That is excellent customer service and I will definitely head there next time I need to buy luggage.

  7. Chloe says:

    This is such a great steal!!
    good for you!
    I’m sorry I couldn’t post a Saturday Steals but yesterday (Sunday) I came home at 10 pm and only had time to have a shower and cook dinner. Sorry!!!
    I promise I’ll be good next weekend! I promise!!

Comments are closed.