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  1. #241
    Forum Member GrussGott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    I personally don’t like the idea of Tom BIHN as a company maintaining “tester bags” that are in an intermediate category of quality standard that is not representative of their work.
    Hi Marion - some answers to your questions, just to expand on this (unpopular!) notion:

    (1) "Tester bags that are in an intermediate category of quality" Apologies if I was confusing ... I meant like test driving a new car
    "Tester bag" = brand new TB bag ready to sell to a customer, but used exclusively to ship to prospective customers to try out and ship back; then, if the customer likes the product, they get a new bag off the line and tester shipping fees refunded (or similar/other solution). Colors are handled via swatches, and international shipping is handled by having someone in APAC, AMEA, etc manage the tester bags in that region (you mentioned @Janine is doing exactly this!). If a new TB bag is not harmed by test packing then a tester bag should be equal quality to a new bag. Again, this is only one such solution to new=new, there are others!

    (2.) "First-time buyers who would not become customers if there were a returns restocking fee" Unless they could easily and cheaply test drive bags - there are many methods: Some consumer goods companies resell test-driven returns as "factory refurbished" to cover costs and ensure customers get new off-the-line products; Some use restocking fees to cover "test drive" costs; Some, use new products specifically set aside for customer test-drives; some combine the methods. Further, a bag customers felt really comfortable testing might increase first time buyers as they wouldn't be as nervous about the return. It might also be easier for the TB returns dept (many fewer returns)

    (3.) "How does this help [product debut] scarcity" - a test-drive solution, returns restocking fee or other solution as above keeps supply high for committed buyers.

    (4.) New = New / "customer support trust" as @OrganicFarmer mentioned, TB can control what happens in their factory but they have no idea what the bags are exposed to in people's homes that might be hard to see. Thus, it's not about trust, it's about how much we can reasonably expect them to do; for example, will a visual inspection spot black mold spores? A speck of rat poo? C. Auris fungus? Sure, these things may all happen in the factory, however shipping around to others increases the probability it'll happen to you.


    I understand many don't mind their new bags being test driven in other homes first - but some do - I do!
    Heck, one solution might be for TB to charge a premium for a guaranteed new off the line bag - I'd happily pay for a guaranteed new bag.

    TLDR:
    I'd at least like the option of getting a new off-the-line bag, and I'm willing to pay for it, others might be too, let's find out!?
    Last edited by GrussGott; 12-08-2019 at 11:24 AM.

  2. #242
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    Only once did I receive an item that I thought had been a return. It was in July 2015 shortly after the Island was introduced and I had purchased an original halcyon/Island A30. It arrived with the tag not attached. I emailed customer service fearing the A30 had taken its maiden voyage without me and in truth I was receiving a used bag. This is their reponse:

    “Hi pammy,

    Thanks for your e-mail! We do not resell any used items, so it's likely the tag simply fell off during the shipping process, as we try to keep those tags easily removable. Please be reassured your bag has gone through a rigorous QA process and is in tip-top unused shape. We do try to make sure all of our big bags are labeled, but sometimes they slip off pretty stealthily. Smilie

    I hope that helps. If you have any other questions, please let me know!

    Hannah
    Bag Guru
    Original Designs Made in USA Since 1972”

    So it is possible it was a return but I would not have even questioned it except that the tag was not attached. It’s good to know that returns do go through a thorough QA process before being sold again. I have full confidence that TB would never allow a bag to leave their facility without being in brand-new condition.

    On the other hand, I have a friend who used to work for a dress company that would do Costco road shows. As you can imagine, Costco would get a lot of returns and as a result these dresses would flood back to the company. Her job was to look at these returns, steam out wrinkles, then fold and place them back into plastic sleeves to resell. It was completely up to her discretion whether or not to resell them. Of course many were in nonsalable condition with rips, stains, perfume, or BO.

    I guess my point is even though someone may buy “new” in a store, say a piece of clothing, there is no guarantee that that item has not been sold, tried on, and returned, then placed back on the rack. I once saw a lady who had a price tag attached to the skirt she was wearing. It was only noticeable when she turned and gave a hug to a friend. I thought how weird is that, only to realize that she probably leaves the tag on so that she can return it. Again, my two cents.
    Seeking Solar shop bags and Solar packing cube shoulder bag Spring Also coveting an Iberian Synapse or Copilot

  3. #243
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrussGott View Post
    Hi Marion - some answers to your questions, just to expand on this (unpopular!) notion:

    (1) "Tester bags that are in an intermediate category of quality" Apologies if I was confusing ... I meant like test driving a new car
    "Tester bag" = brand new TB bag ready to sell to a customer, but used exclusively to ship to prospective customers to try out and ship back; then, if the customer likes the product, they get a new bag off the line and tester shipping fees refunded (or similar/other solution). Colors are handled via swatches, and international shipping is handled by having someone in APAC, AMEA, etc manage the tester bags in that region (you mentioned @Janine is doing exactly this!). If a new TB bag is not harmed by test packing then a tester bag should be equal quality to a new bag. Again, this is only one such solution to new=new, there are others!

    (2.) "First-time buyers who would not become customers if there were a returns restocking fee" Unless they could easily and cheaply test drive bags - there are many methods: Some consumer goods companies resell test-driven returns as "factory refurbished" to cover costs and ensure customers get new off-the-line products; Some use restocking fees to cover "test drive" costs; Some, use new products specifically set aside for customer test-drives; some combine the methods. Further, a bag customers felt really comfortable testing might increase first time buyers as they wouldn't be as nervous about the return. It might also be easier for the TB returns dept (many fewer returns)

    (3.) "How does this help [product debut] scarcity" - a test-drive solution, returns restocking fee or other solution as above keeps supply high for committed buyers.

    (4.) New = New / "customer support trust" as @OrganicFarmer mentioned, TB can control what happens in their factory but they have no idea what the bags are exposed to in people's homes that might be hard to see. Thus, it's not about trust, it's about how much we can reasonably expect them to do; for example, will a visual inspection spot black mold spores? A speck of rat poo? C. Auris fungus? Sure, these things may all happen in the factory, however shipping around to others increases the probability it'll happen to you.


    I understand many don't mind their new bags being test driven in other homes first - but some do - I do!
    Heck, one solution might be for TB to charge a premium for a guaranteed new off the line bag - I'd happily pay for a guaranteed new bag.

    TLDR:
    I'd at least like the option of getting a new off-the-line bag, and I'm willing to pay for it, others might be too, let's find out!?

    This is overly complicated for a small company like Tom Bihn's.

    California is very close to Seattle, make a big order, choose pick up at the factory, take a red eye, rent a car, drive to the factory and pick up your order there, come back.

    In December, in some years, the store is opened for a party on Saturday, you can make it a weekend visit to Seattle, plenty of wonderful things to do.
    Tom might even be there, he is a fine host and a very kind person.

  4. #244
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrussGott View Post
    I'd at least like the option of getting a new off-the-line bag, and I'm willing to pay for it, others might be too, let's find out!?
    Fair enough. We can all like whatever we like, no harm. Maybe the idea isn't so much unpopular as it is misunderstood? It has never occurred to me that there might be a problem because something I buy isn't untouched by any hands but my own. What is the risk in receiving a bag someone test packed and returned?

  5. #245
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lia View Post
    My understanding of that information in a listing is that it's for the benefit of people with allergies. Judging by the pictures of dogs in the TB factory, maybe all new bags have been in the same room as dogs anyway?
    My intent was 'a little allergen is okay as long as it is not a lot' so no disclosure is necessary is better than any disclosure. Is it new or like new. Disclosure would be nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lia View Post
    What is the risk in receiving a bag someone test packed and returned?
    Many nefarious things, toxic things, infectious agents, or allergens. In the case of air travel, anything that sets off dog's scent or swab test. Not that I would suspect any TB customer would give cause to those things intentionally, but it is in the realm of possibility, thus above zero risk. May sound over exaggerating, but point being possibilities increase with more exposure points.
    Last edited by organicfarmer; 12-08-2019 at 04:35 PM. Reason: word

  6. #246
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    This topic of TB selling returned bags is an interesting one. Unfortunately, Tom Bihn's business model (locally owned and no outsourcing) make it hard for people who don't live near Seattle to get a good visual of a bag before buying. Pictures can only do so much and until someone puts their own belongings in and walks around with the bag, they won't truly know if it's for them.

    I usually do a test pack, a house walk and some light use case with the bag when I get it. If I'm planning to use it for work, I tuck the tag in and try it at work for a few days. The bag shows no wear or evidence that this happened, but I guess this technically makes the bag "used" and I shouldn't be returning it. The problem is that I don't know how it is to use until I can use it in my intended environment.

    I'd love to be able to actually use the bag with no tags for 30 days and if it's not for me, return it, and be charged a small refurbishment fee (charged upon receipt and inspection of bag) and then have the bag be sold as "manufacturer refurbished", discounted for others to buy.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

  7. #247
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    Hi Everyone,

    I have been a long-time lurker. I often read a forum post and think I have an answer to share but then I look at the thoughtful answers and they have already made the points I would have made. I genuinely appreciate the constructive nature of this forum. It has helped me many times.

    There is a lot of good conversation in this thread. Since I know Tom Bihn takes this feedback seriously I wanted to add my thoughts supporting @Perseffect's perception (post 152) that TB's focus seems to have shifted slightly from the business-traveler market. To be clear, that shift is entirely TB's right, but I think it has happened in a way that would be hard to prove or disprove from the data, as I will try to make clear.

    As background, I am thankful for my job and am not complaining, but as a fact I fly 40 weeks a year for work, five weeks for leisure, and spend more than 100 nights a year in hotels. So I travel a lot and I invest in making my travel more efficient. I first learned of TB through either the TriStar or Western Flyer. I then migrated to the Aeronaut 30 before seriously adopting the one-bag travel method. For the longest time, I used the Synapse 25 in winter and the Synapse 19 in summer.
    12/2 debut: news + stock + more-s25-jpg

    For a brief time this past summer I moved to the Luminary 15.

    12/2 debut: news + stock + more-l15-jpg

    I now use the Synik 22 (pictured) and Synik 30.

    12/2 debut: news + stock + more-sn22-jpg

    My primary concern is the move away from Original Halcyon and Nordic Halcyon. I understand Black 400 Halcyon is still an option but Black Halcyon is just another black bag in an airline overhead storage bin whereas Original Halcyon is "the white grid bag." As a frequent traveler, I really want my bag to look visibly different than other bags without drawing undue attention. When I look at the current offering, there are no colors that easily satisfy this elusive criteria of standing out a bit but not drawing undue attention. I guess blue and steel parapack might do this for some people but this gets to my second issue: weight. In the Synik 30 parapack weights 95 grams more than halcyon. At first that sounds like nothing but it is half my phone's weight. Since I carry everything with me for 100 days a year, increasing grams for a lesser product is not awesome. Finally, I do think the halcyon fabrics wear better than the 525 products. I have 525 in every color. I don't think the 525 colors mark more but the marks are more easily hid in haylcon.

    I think of Original and Nordic Halcyon as the colors that brought me to TB. They made me take the plunge. After that, I bought a bunch of bags for myself and family. I am not sure I would have made the leap without those fabrics. But why I think this will be hard to see in the data is of course these bags are not offered in the new colors. So there is no easy A/B test to compare against.

    At this point, TB has so much demand that I can imagine they don't "need" any one customer segment. But I believe there are a set of business travelers that would look at the current colors and take a pass because the black is just like any other black bag and the other colors would draw more attention than one would want to draw on the road. Of course, these are just my opinions. I offer them as a data point, because when I see the weight of parapack I fear TB is moving in the wrong direction with regards to the business-traveler segment.

    Regarding Tom Bihn Labs and the all-black labels, these are fine as experiments but I think the ultimate outcome will be like the Black Bag label Tom describes in https://blog.tombihn.com/labels-1975-2017. For a small company, I perceive the potential brand dilution and confusion greater than the benefit of more finely partitioning the product offering.

    Thanks for reading, and incorporating this perspective.

    Sean
    Attached Images Attached Images 12/2 debut: news + stock + more-s19-jpg 
    Last edited by SeanW; 12-08-2019 at 10:06 PM.

  8. #248
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    Overall great post Sean. I enjoy reading other people's viewpoints on the bags that we all know and love so much. Although I'm no longer a business traveller having retired a little over a month ago, I agree and disagree with some of what you've said.

    But I believe there are a set of business travelers that would look at the current colors and take a pass because the black is just like any other black bag and the other colors would draw more attention than one would want to draw on the road. Of course, these are just my opinions. I offer them as a data point, because when I see the weight of parapack I fear TB is moving in the wrong direction with regards to the business-traveler segment.
    First, I agree I was always looking for bags that were beyond the usual black bag as it just makes life so much simpler on planes and trains. But, I don't agree that the current crop of colors don't meet that goal. I for one have never liked any of the Halcyon fabrics/designs so those were always off the table for me. Plus, I was never terribly concerned with the weight of the bag so that never matter when it came to color choice. Instead, my primary bags for business travel (A45 and a Co-Pilot) were in dark blue and gray respectively. Even my new retirement bag (Synik 22) is in deep blue and my new Side Kick is in gray.

  9. #249
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    I think it would be cool if there was an option to purchase a returned bag. Assuming they were not defective in some way, and were checked to make sure they weren’t damaged, I’d happily purchase a bag that had been returned. Better for TB’s bottom line, better for the environment, and I’m just not super concerned if someone else has “test packed” it or whatever.

  10. #250
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    I'd also be interested in purchasing returned bags and other items.

    If the TB folks can figure out a way to do this that's compatible with their business model, I hope they go for it.

  11. #251
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    Quote Originally Posted by logella View Post
    Overall great post Sean. I enjoy reading other people's viewpoints on the bags that we all know and love so much. Although I'm no longer a business traveller having retired a little over a month ago, I agree and disagree with some of what you've said.



    First, I agree I was always looking for bags that were beyond the usual black bag as it just makes life so much simpler on planes and trains. But, I don't agree that the current crop of colors don't meet that goal. I for one have never liked any of the Halcyon fabrics/designs so those were always off the table for me. Plus, I was never terribly concerned with the weight of the bag so that never matter when it came to color choice. Instead, my primary bags for business travel (A45 and a Co-Pilot) were in dark blue and gray respectively. Even my new retirement bag (Synik 22) is in deep blue and my new Side Kick is in gray.
    Thank you logella

    I completely agree others will have different perspectives and preferences. I also fully believe that TB is both responsive to the market and has smart people that are making decisions that are as optimal as they can be.

    That said, I also believe it is possible to make a series of sequential decisions that each look correct but then lead to a long-term solution that is less optimal.

    With regards specifically to halcyon fabric, my guess is that Black 400 Halcyon outsold Original Halcyon (which explains why Original Halcyon was retired). But I can also believe that in the future 525 fabric significantly outsells Black 400 Halcyon but that same 525 fabric would not have outsold Original Halcyon so dramatically. This is a variant of the logic exercise that B > C and A > B, but A is not greater than C, where A is 525 fabric, B is Black 400 Halcyon, and C is Original Halcyon. (And at the risk of making this even more eye glazing, I am really saying A is still greater than C, just that the delta between A and C is less than A and B; there will be a test on this later.)

    Why @Perseffect's post resonated with me is that the kind of path I am outlining above is a very gradual one but also hard to catch in most demand analyses. The good news is I am confident that all this feedback is incorporated by Tom Bihn, and that is all any customer can ask for.

  12. #252
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    The good news is I am confident that all this feedback is incorporated by Tom Bihn, and that is all any customer can ask for.
    Definitely (and weirdly) so. I say weirdly in a good way. I don't think I've ever seen a company interact and respond so directly to feedback. It's refreshingly weird. ;-)

  13. #253
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    "refreshingly weird" can replace "portable culture" on the label

  14. #254
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lia View Post
    "refreshingly weird" can replace "portable culture" on the label
    Yes, but we wouldn’t be able to make the same forum jokes (read through near the end of my recent response post on the subjects of the antecedents of the PIKA where there’s a long quoted section. I”m also now suspicious about the name selection for that bag, since while I was composing a reply to a request about sizes in The Truck family I discovered a post Darcy made back in 2016 where she linked the best ringtone to the call of the American pika. (Sorry, you have to have a forum login to read some of these details and keep up with the best jokes)

    moriond

  15. #255
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Update on this week's Icon/Monster Truck/Firewood Carrier restock is here. If you are interested in the restock, please sign up on any of the pages for those bags to be notified of the day and time we plan to restock them.

    Really interesting to read everyone’s feedback and ideas around returns! Just a brief answer, as it’s still busy here in the midst of all of the holiday orders: all bags that are returned to us are thoroughly checked by Lulu and Aravelia in Quality Assurance (QA). They are very picky (that's the word they used, and we are thankful) about what passes their muster, and if a bag doesn’t, it goes to our “employee giveaway” bin. Then, once a year around the holidays, we have an employee-only raffle and everyone gets to choose a bag (they have time to examine the bags, so if one of our crew doesn’t want a used bag, they don’t have to choose one of course!) Our crew gets really excited about this giveaway each year. This system works pretty well for the majority of folks as far as we can tell, and with BIHN Labs and all of our new designs and other exciting projects in the works that will take our time and focus, we plan to stick with this system.

    Quote Originally Posted by logella View Post
    Definitely (and weirdly) so. I say weirdly in a good way. I don't think I've ever seen a company interact and respond so directly to feedback. It's refreshingly weird. ;-)
    Quote Originally Posted by Lia View Post
    "refreshingly weird" can replace "portable culture" on the label
    Oh my gosh I can't convey just how much I love "refreshingly weird". We're working on an updated "header" for the website and I think "refreshingly weird" could replace "About Us" Smilie
    Last edited by Darcy; 12-10-2019 at 06:46 PM.
    Current Carry: The Hero's Journey, Skookum Dog Citizen Canine, Founder's Briefcase, Synapse 19 (day hikes), Guide's Pack (longer day hikes), Yeoman Duffel (winter/emergency stuff for the car), Aeronaut 30 (travel), Night Flight Travel Duffel (camera bag), Moveable Feast + Shop Bags (food)

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