Product replacement the hard way

The following write-up is about a weird customer service experience I had last week. I won’t give any names simply because they are not really related to the brand but probably only to the one sales person. I still want to get this out as a really strange example for how warranty replacements can turn out:

About two months ago I bought a new backpack to replace one I’ve had for years but that slowly started to show its age. I decided on not going the cheap route but instead chose one that was comfortable even when having virtually everything with me (Macbook Pro 15" including all the necessary cables for any situation office life might through at me, iPad, bike helmet, water bottle, heavy bike lock). The end result a top-of-the-line backpack by the same manufacturer I’d bought my previous office bag from, ending up costing EUR 120. Great :D

Trouble on the horizon

Then, after little more than one month I noticed some damaged seams and decided to use the warranty to get a replacement. Sorry, but after that amount of time any bag should still be completely intact no matter what.

Everything was fine, the store manager told me it might take a while since she didn’t want to send it on its own back to the factory. The weather wasn’t all that bike-friendly anyway so I agreed without giving it a second thought. That was on Nov 7.


Last week (on Nov 28) I got a call with some bad news: My bag was no longer being produced nor repaired so I told the store manager I’d come to the store this afternoon. She also told me that she had checked the summer catalog the bag wouldn’t make its return then. Funny thing: She told me she was not allowed to show me the catalog.

When I arrived she had instructed her assistant to show me some of the other backpacks that might fit my profile but I knew beforehand (because I knew their products and I hadn’t chose my backpack by accident ;-)) that I’d want to have a voucher. I indicated that I was looking for other options like cash or a voucher.

But for some reason the manager didn’t want to have any of that and told me that they usually handle situations like that by replacing a product with another one of the same value.

But given that they didn’t have anything comparable and the backpacks she was showing me were inferior (no helmet storage, only one bottle holder, less capacity, inferior back-padding) and even cheaper (by at least EUR 20) than the one I had bought, made that statement sound completely out of place to me. Did she, in all seriousness, expect me to go with that?!

Leaving this decision for later, she excused herself to finish a phone call (probably with some other company department that had been going on when I arrived). Five minutes later she returned, we stood on different sides of the counter and she wrote me a voucher of the original value of my backpack without another word. Nothing nice, no excuses, just a neutral “goodbye” afterwards.


I, honestly, still don’t know what was going on there. First of all: Why can’t I see the summer catalog to make an informed decision? And what’s so hard in just giving me a voucher when the so called “alternatives” are not acceptable?