PAUL RENAUD
executive coach

Samsonite can’t make zippers

I consider myself a loyal Samsonite customer. My first rigid sided Samsonite briefcase was bought when I was 16 years old ( 42 years ago). I bought it for high school and it was still ‘cool ‘enough carry me over 4 years at University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada (see 1980 model).

Over the years as an executive I had to travel abroad and this required buying more Samsonite products. In the last 9 years however – there is a trend happening with your products, hence ‘Samsonite can’t make zippers’.

I bought a briefcase from a retailer on March 5, 2009 in Romania, model unknown except it could carry a 15-inch laptop; rigid circumference, nylon cover, strong plastic handle and like most briefcases it had a large front pocket that you could put pens, business cards, some stationery and the laptop adapter.

After 4 years of use, the front zipper of the briefcase would no longer close properly – in fact as you attempt to zip the zipper the sides would open up leaving the front pocket open. I’m not sure how to describe the defect. As you try to zip the zipper repeatedly, either it closes or the defect occurs – the pocket remains open.

In addition to losing items, the open pocket makes you look either: 1. You’ve been rough with your briefcase (which I can assure you is not the case) or, 2. “You’re too cheap to buy a new briefcase”. I’m not sure if I’m more embarrassed or quite simply upset that the “warranty after 4 years would not cover zippers’ I was told by the local Samsonite service Centre in Bucharest, Romania.

A few months later my wife bought large luggage and 3 years later – same effect on the from pocket. Guarantee from a local service shop in Bucharest, Romania? “Sorry only within 2 years of purchase”.
Now we’re thinking “is this a coincidence”?

My wife bought me a nice laptop briefcase in 2016 ( see photo). After 3 years – same problem. “Sorry zippers are not covered – only within 2 years”.
Now I’m thinking this is ‘Planned Obsolescence’ and not a coincidence.

I was struggling in the last 3 months to try to close the front pocket by zipping and unzipping with some success. Now the zipper will no longer cooperate.

Why would I bother to bring this up rather than buying another brand you wonder? Loyalty.
I resonate with this brand and it brings back good memories but when a trend of 3 consecutive products shows up with the same defect, it shatters those memories and it’s deteriorating my loyalty.

Samsonite is an affluent brand in my opinion. As someone that has taught Marketing to MBA students I remain curious if Samosnite management is aware of this problem and if so, more importantly what are they planning to do about this? It seems to me a 5% increase in the retail price can justify better zippers and a better warranty. If you are addressing this issue, then I can tell you that a 2-year warranty on a sub-standard zipper is unacceptable and contrary to the Samsonite’s brand promise as I see it.

Besides it seems that 2017 results in terms of gross profit margins indicate that Samsonite is doing well. So how about giving your customers a fair deal of with respect to price/quality ratio?