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Pelican vs. Travelpro: Who does it well?

Until recently, I loved the way that luggage companies treated you.  Something breaks, they replace it.  Of course if you abuse your luggage, or allow TSA to abuse it, the warranty doesn’t cover it.  But when handles, zippers, wheels, and the like break, the luggage companies typically take good care of you.

I’m a fan of Travelpro because of both the durability and the style of their luggage.   And over the years, they have sent me several free replacement handles when mine broke.  Recently, however, I’ve tried to get a replacement handle for a small bag that has no other handle – which means I can’t really use it because there’s nothing to grab.  Travelpro has not been much help with this repair.  First, the handle was on back order.  Next, they sent the handle to the wrong address.  I corrected the address and they sent it to the wrong address again.  I corrected the address a second time but now, the part is on back order again.  After a while, “I’m sorry” doesn’t fly (and neither can my luggage, by the way).  Clearly, their internal “Do it Well” is broken.

Compare that to Pelican, the company that makes those hard plastic cases used by photographers.  I bought a Pelican case when my first book was published as a way to schlep the books to my speaking engagements.  Clearly I wasn’t making enough on the sales to ship them in advance!  The Pelican case was great but the weight of the books forced the axles to work loose.  Pelican suggested that I send the case back to them and see if they could fix it.  Figuring it would be worse after they messed with it, I tried to fix it myself by drilling two holes in the base and inserting a bolt to hold the axles in place.  It worked fine for about five years.  Then, the axles broke through making them permanently unrollable.

I searched online for a new Pelican case but thought I’d just call their customer service line first in case they had a better suggestion.  They did.  They instructed me to ship the case to them and they’d take a look at it.  Figuring they would see my handiwork and decide that I’d voided the warranty, I prepared myself for the cost of a new case.

A few weeks later, I hadn’t heard from them.  Thinking the case had been lost in transit, I called them up.  The customer service rep said, “Your new case should arrive any day now.”

A new case!  In exchange for my damaged one, they gave me a new one.  I feel like I got away with something but they’re just taking care of their customers.

When it comes to doing things well, Travelpro is still on the good list even though they’re just trying their best to get on the bad list.  Pelican, on the other hand, has won me over for life.  I may even consider using one for my coffin when I die.  I wonder if they have a deathtime guarantee?

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