Tumi Love


Yesterday, Tumi rocked my world. 

Yes, they make some of the best luggage money can buy, but their service is off the hook too.  Recently I purchased a new roller bag from them — it’s one of my top five most important travel tools.  I bought the bag at the Detroit airport and a few days later the telescopic handle stopped working correctly.  If I ever pushed it in all the way flat, I had to turn it upside down and shake it until it retracted again.  Not cool! 

Tumi customer service policy is to call their call center, which then leads to visiting a store for repair or sending it out for service.  In LA, that is very inconvenient for me, as the closest store is a half hour drive in tough traffic.  So, I’ve put off dealing with the repair since late April.  

Yesterday in NYC, I had 30 minutes to spare between my last meeting and when I would take a taxi to LaGuardia.  Given Manhattan’s layout, I just knew that there must be a Tumi in walking distance.  Love that about the city!  Sure enough, the call center pointed me to a store on W. 49th. The customer service phone rep explained that unless it was a simple repair, they’d have to send it out — which wasn’t a solution for me.  But, she said, we might ‘get lucky’.  

I hiked over to the store, walked in and explained my situation to Adrian, a helpful sales associate. Turns out the handle needed to be replaced, so she explained they’d need to send it out.  I was bummed, but understood and explained that I would have hoped for a wow-experience, given that this was a $599 bag that broke in a few days.  Fortunately for me, Evan Haft, a district manager, was in the store at the time and overheard our conversation. 

We talked for a few minutes, he looked at my receipt and made an audible: He told Adrian to give me a brand new bag and then he asked “which color would you like it in?”.   The company policy is to replace the bag at the same store where it was purchased.  So, I was floored!  Then, showing some real savvy, he had Adrian show me a variety of modular components I could buy to organize my clothes in the bag.  Sure enough, I popped out my credit card and bought one.  Win/win!  

This is a case study in how to create a wow-experience for a customers.  Sure, I identified myself as an author/blogger that frequently reports on customer experience, but I wasn’t belligerent either.  This district manager had brand-presence and saw an opportunity to make a difference for the brand.  The company replacement policy is sound, it would be too expensive to replace every repair request with a new unit — but at the same time exceptions need to be allowed and authority must be pushed out to the retail edges.  This is a rare situation since the recession hit.  Evan was thinking long.  

Managers, leaders and customer service enthusiasts: Do you have a culture in place that allows one of your managers to stage a wow for a small whale?  I’m submitting this post to Consumer Reports’ online properties too, so I think Tumi got a lot of bang for the buck out of replacing my bag and eating the loss (my bag had too much wear, tear and scuffs to fix and resell). 

So now, I’m a Tumi customer for life, I’m blogging and Twittering about it and their picture is on my blog!  That’s Adrian and Evan.  Note that she’s holding my credit card, he’s holding my original receipt and I’m smiling!