That time Timbuk2 replaced my 5-year old bag, for free

I love it when I experience great customer service. It seems to happen so infrequently that I feel compelled to share whenever it does. Every once in a while, you deal with people who stand behind their company or product so much that you can’t not tell people about it. For example, when the Australian Boot Company replaced my 2-year old boots in 2009. Or when they did it again a year later.

This time, it’s a story about Timbuk2. They make bags.

About five years ago, I bought a black/black/black Timbuk2 laptop messenger bag from Europe Bound in Toronto. I love it. It’s perfect. It holds all my stuff, and is great for daily commuting or a weekend trip. It’s travelled with me almost everywhere I’ve been for the past half decade.

But last summer, I noticed that my bag’s original velcro flap fasteners just weren’t as, well, velcro-y as they used to be:

Not surprising for something that gets ripped apart several times daily. Still, a bit of a nuisance. So I emailed customerservice@timbuk2.com, and asked: “Can you suggest the best way to repair this?” The reply arrived later the same day:

If you don’t mind us sewing through the flap, we should be able to replace it for you.  You can fill out a warranty claim here:  http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/retail/warrantyreturn.htm

A kind offer, but I wasn’t keen on them sewing right through the bag to fix it. So I asked, “Is there any way to replace the velcro w/o sewing through the flap?” Again, a very speedy reply:

Looks like we can try to repair it, or worst case scenario, just replace the bag. Go ahead and follow the instructions here, and we’ll get you all squared away! http://www.timbuk2.com/wordpress_cms/customer-service/the-timbuk2-quality-guarantee/

So I filled out their warranty form, got an RMA number, and then, promptly did nothing for a year. Yes, that’s right. I got busy, or lazy, or perhaps just plain forgot, but I never sent my bag for them to diagnose and/or try to fix. I just kept on using the bag with the non-velcro-y velcro. It wasn’t ideal, of course, but it got my stuff from point A to point B.

12 months passed, and then, a few weeks ago, for whatever reason, I decided to email Timbuk2 again. “I know it’s been a year,” I wrote, “But does your offer still stand?” Their reply:

You can go ahead and still send the bag in. Just make sure to write that RMA number on the outside of the package and we will either issue you a store credit or fix the bag.

Keep in mind this is more than a year after I filled out the original warranty claim, and five years since I bought the bag. And I didn’t even buy it from them! I bought it from a third-party retailer. So I headed to Canada Post to mail my messenger bag off to San Francisco.

Well, as it turns out, shipping a messenger bag (even an empty one) can be pretty darned expensive. So, I emailed Timbuk2 one more time to let them know that I appreciated their offer, but that the cost to ship my bag to them was prohibitive.

A few days later, their reply (from Heather):

We apologize for the long wait.   I sent over another email with a credit code in it to use on our website. You can use this to purchase a new bag. We just ask that you donate your current bag to someone in need.

Boy oh boy, that’s above and beyond. And that last line — that’s classy.

Want to guess who I’ll buy my next bag from?