Why won’t Samsonite just replace my defective suitcase?

Glenn Boyd is angry that the zipper on his Samsonite suitcase broke after just a few uses. He now wants a refund or a new suitcase. But is he being premature in contacting our advocates?

Question 

The zipper on my Samsonite bag stopped working after only a few uses. I was informed by the company that I should take or ship the rolling duffel to a repair center in Morristown, N.J., where they would repair the bag (if under warranty) or inform me as to the cost of the repair if not under warranty.

I replied that I would like either a refund or a replacement for what I consider to be a defective product. The company told me that they would send me a shipping label for the repair center.

I am not satisfied with this response.  I would like a refund or a replacement. The bag was zipped/unzipped perhaps 5 to 6 times, and the seam should not have separated from the zipper. — Glenn Boyd, Abington, Pa.

Answer

Certainly, you should expect that your suitcase will last for more than “five to six uses.” I agree with you that Samsonite should stand behind its product by repairing or replacing it after such little time.

When you contacted our advocacy team and asked for help, I reviewed your paper trail as I always do. But what I read confused me.

Samsonite already agreed to repair or replace your suitcase

Your emails with Samsonite indicated that the company was already trying to help you. Pointing to the terms of your warranty, Samsonite requested that you send the suitcase to an official service center for inspection. Once the suitcase was received, the company would determine whether it should be repaired or replaced.

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Samsonite even offered to send you a prepaid shipping label so that you would not incur additional costs to have the suitcase examined.

“The policy requires that you take or ship your product to one of the authorized repair centers listed,” a Samsonite representative explained.

Following the terms of your Samsonite warranty

So far, It seemed like the company was following the exact terms of the warranty.

I asked you if Samsonite had sent you the prepaid label. You confirmed that it had, but you wanted to know what I thought you should do next.

Hmm…How about using that prepaid label to send the luggage for inspection?

I was a bit puzzled by your resistance to this first step. You would incur no cost by sending your Samsonite suitcase for inspection. You then told me:

I have lost faith in the product and would prefer a refund. I do not intend to purchase High Sierra (a Samsonite brand) products in the future. Second to that, I would like a replacement, not a repair; I don’t have confidence that a repair will be a permanent fix. In your experience do you think that refund/replacement can be negotiated?

You can’t negotiate the terms of your Samsonite warranty

The answer to your question is simple.

When you purchase a product, you agree to the warranty that comes with the product. This suitcase came with a warranty that spells out what happens if it needs repairs or replacement.

In this case, the first step in utilizing that warranty is to have the company take a look at the damaged luggage. At that time the company will decide whether the damage was caused by a defect in the product or “misuse or negligence” by the consumer. The second step would be for Samsonite to decide whether they will repair or replace the product.

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I explained to you that if Samsonite came back to you with a disagreeable response, then the third step would be to engage our advocacy team.

But the first and second steps must happen before that third step.

First step: Send your suitcase to Samsonite

You did finally agree to send your bag to Samsonite, and the company agreed that it should be replaced.

We love to help consumers navigate their way to a successful resolution with a company. In this case, you just needed a little push in the right direction. Samsonite intended to stand behind its product — which they did. And now there is one more happy consumer (and consumer advocate) in the world.

Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is the executive director of Elliott.org. She is a consumer advocate, writer and licensed clinical social worker who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Friedman Read more of Michelle's articles here.

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