135Journals Red Hot Recommendations: Tumi, How I Love Thee

10 Mar

If you’ve ever wandered into a Tumi shop, you may have noticed that their products can be—how do I say this—EXPENSIVE. A pocketbook or backpack can cost hundreds of bucks. It can seem ridiculous to justify this expense. I am far too cheap and also far too hard on material objects to ever spend the big money on something you can get for $30 new or even $5 at a tag sale.

However, I am one lucky woman. I married a man who knows me better than I do. When I didn’t know what I wanted for Christmas one year, he gave me a beautiful Tumi backpack. “Oh no . . . you shouldn’t have,” I protested weakly, opening the elegant package, even as it was seducing me with its magical expensiveness. The black backpack was made out of some indestructible kind of material and felt very solid, but at the same time, it was very light and comfortable. There was room for my laptop and some useful features such as a handle so I could carry by hand if I wanted to and extra compartments. It also just looked nice. If a backpack can be said to look professional, which I hope it can, then this was a true professional backpack. In cities like New York, people’s backpacks are like their cars, the place where they shlep all of their necessities and a few unnecessities, too. Their backpacks are their homes away from home, their turtle shells. They’re important, damnit! And it’s good if they don’t look as if they come straight from one’s last semester at college.

Anyway, I had this backpack for several years and used it constantly. And finally, one day, I noticed a small tear in the top of one of the well-padded shoulder strap. The zipper was also sticking. So I took it to the Tumi Store and asked what I should do. The young lady looked up the serial number and studied the backpack. She said I would need to pay $15 for shipping, but that they would get it repaired and returned to me for free otherwise, because it was less than five years old. I turned in my backpack and waited.

A week or so later, I got a phone message from Tumi. I was anxious. Were they going to find some reason (I am always the guilty type) about why I was to blame for the zipper sticking? Were they going to tell me that they weren’t going to fix the backpack? I didn’t know why they needed to call me at all, since I could just get it mailed to me.

Apprehensively, I punched in the number. A woman with a thick, sweet Southern accent said, “I’m afraid that we can’t repair your backpack.”

“But . . .” I started.

“So we’re going to give you a complete credit to spend on anything you want at the Tumi store.”

“Oh.” I spluttered. “How much?”

She told me the amount of money. Holy Moley! It was far more even than I imagined. Oh thank you, thank you, wonderful husband, I thought.

“Is that acceptable?” she asked.

“Um, yes,” I said, trying not to shriek like a teenage girl. “I think that will do quite nicely.”

She told me that I could call her back and they would ship me whatever I wanted that fit within that price range.

It took me a month to figure out what I wanted. I went into several different Tumi stores, tried different combinations of backpacks, pocketbooks, sling bags, etc. Finally, I decided to splurge on a gorgeous leather backpack that miraculously weighs less than three pounds and is so beautiful I could practically put it on an altar and worship it. Not to be materialistic or anything.

So, once again, Mr. Hanson-Harding was right. Sometimes it pays to buy quality. Sometimes, companies that build their products with quality really take pride in what they make and make sure that their customers have the best possible experience with their products. My experience with Tumi convinced me that they are one of those are one of those companies. And if they’re going to be that loyal to their customers, I’m going to be loyal to them.

Writing Prompt: Is there a company or product that you recommend? Why? Did you have an experience that made you believe in it?

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