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 Samsonite 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 reply was that they would send me a shipping label for the repair center.

I am not satisfied with that and 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.

But did you actually have a problem?

When we looked through your paper trail we saw that Samsonite seemed to be responding to your complaint positively. The terms of your warranty requested that you send the suitcase to a Samsonite service center for inspection. Once the suitcase was received it would then be determined whether it should be repaired or replaced.

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

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Samsonite explained in an email that “The policy requires that you take or ship your product to one of the authorized repair centers listed.”

So far, It seemed like the company was following the exact terms of the warranty. At this point, our advocacy team was a little confused as to why you were asking for our assistance.

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

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

We asked you why you were resistant to this step. You then told us, “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?”

The answer to this 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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We explained to you that if Samsonite came back to you with a disagreeable response then the third step would be to engage our advocates.

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

We reiterated to you that you should send the suitcase to Samsonite.

We are happy to report that you did finally agree to send his bag to Samsonite and they have agreed with you 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 a consumer advocate, writer and licensed clinical social worker who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. As the managing director of Elliott.org, she leads the advocacy, editorial and production departments. Read more of Michelle's articles here.

  • PsyGuy

    If the LW wanted a replacement why not just return it to the retailer they purchased it from. I buy my baggage from COSTCO, they would have taken it back at anytime.

    Samsonite makes good baggage, not great baggage, but good baggage that isn’t ridiculously expensive either.

  • gpx21dlr

    This OP sounds like a “customer from hell” but I could be mistaken.

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