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I’ve been a big fan of Briggs & Riley for a number of years. I like quite a few of the ranges the luggage maker offers and I love the idea behind the lifetime guarantee that Briggs & Riley says it operates, but I’ve never had the need to rely on the integrity of the warranty that helps Briggs & Riley stand out from the pack. That has just changed.
The Briggs & Riley Guarantee
Before I go on to tell my story, you should know what the Briggs & Riley guarantee says:
Briggs and Riley is the only luggage company that offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee. In the unlikely event that your bag needs to be repaired, we are here for you.
Our simple as that® guarantee means if your bag is ever broken or damaged, we will repair it free of charge, no proof of purchase needed, no questions asked.
This guarantee even covers damage done by airlines.
Back towards the beginning of the year, as I was arriving into Doha following a great trip to Vietnam and another excellent Business Class flight on Qatar Airways, I encountered an issue. In a moment of haste, as I was packing up my belongings that I’d been using during my flight, I managed to get the lining of the main section of my Briggs & Riley @Work backpack caught in one of the backpack’s sturdy zippers. It was a freak accident but it left me unable to open the backpack’s main compartment and considering that’s where I had stored my passport, this was a problem.
I struggled with the zipper though our approach and landing into Doha but, if anything, I made matters worse. As we taxied towards our gate it became increasingly obvious that I was running out of time and that I was going to have to break in through the zipper if I was to have a passport to present in Doha. So that’s what I did. I used the file from a small pair of nail clippers to prise apart a small section of the zipper (this took a lot longer than I had hoped it would) and then used my fingers to force open as much of the zipper as I could.
With my passport retrieved, I disembarked in Doha, made my way through security and into the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge all while clutching at the opening I’d made in the zipper so as to make sure that nothing fell out. Once in the lounge, I examined the damage and realized that if I cut away some of the lining, I could still use one of the two zippers that open and close the main section of the backpack. This was far from an ideal situation but it was better than having a backpack that wouldn’t close so, still using the small nail clippers (you don’t realize how hard it is to find a sharp object in an airport until you really need one), I cut through the lining of the bag.
As a temporary solution, this worked. I could close the backpack so I didn’t have to worry about things falling out on the flight I was about to catch (my second of the day) but the bag was a mess – one broken zipper and a part-shredded lining in the main section of the bag. It wasn’t pretty (I now wish I had taken a picture).
Dealing With Briggs & Riley
In the first few weeks following my trip (and the destruction of the backpack) I didn’t really have time to get in touch with Briggs and Riley to see what my options were and then, in the blink of an eye, the pandemic hit and we all went into lockdown.
It wasn’t until the last week of July that I finally had the opportunity to do something about the backpack but, having never used Briggs and Riley’s warranty, I didn’t really know what to expect. The @Work Backpack had been purchased in the US but I was in the UK and Briggs & Riley doesn’t have its own stores, so I wasn’t expecting things to go smoothly.
The Briggs & Riley website is easy to navigate so it didn’t take very long to find the Repair Options section which led me to realize that, outside of the US (and at the time), the best way forward was to take the bag to a store that sells Briggs & Riley luggage and to ask them to help out. I chose a reputable UK department store (John Lewis) and almost 6 months after I had made a mess of my backpack I walked into their flagship store in London and told them exactly what had happened.
I need to be very clear here: I didn’t try to make up a story about how the bag had been damaged – I openly admitted that I had accidentally caught the lining in the zipper and that I had broken the zipper and then caused the very obvious damage to the lining.
I was asked two questions:
- Did you buy the bag here – no
- Do you have a receipt for your purchase – no
At this point, I was a little worried. I had just admitted to being the one responsible for damaging the bag and I had just told the staff in the store that they had not sold me the bag so, in that light, I felt a little foolish even standing there asking for help. Fortunately, my worrying time was cut short by the staff member who had asked the questions. He suddenly said:
“Oh, wait a minute, this is Briggs & Riley. Follow me”
He led me to a nearby desk where he took my details, told me that he would be sending the bag off to Briggs & Riley to see what they had to say but, given the current conditions, I shouldn’t expect a quick response from the company.
Two weeks ago (just 4 weeks after I handed over my backpack) I missed a phone call from the retailer…but the short answerphone message the staff member left me told me everything I needed to know.
“Briggs & Riley have decided not to bother trying to repair your bag so they’ve sent you a new one. Please call back to let us know when you can collect it“.
I then got a follow-up email to remind me to collect my new backpack:
I confess that I wasn’t completely surprised (I had heard stories about how great the Briggs & Riley warranty is) but I was still incredibly impressed. I know the warranty says “no questions asked” but a little part of me had wondered how Briggs and Riley would react to a damaged bag that was very obviously damaged by the owner. Now I know.
I was once a big fan of Tumi until I discovered that the company’s customer support and warranty were not anywhere close to being as good I had thought they were, so I was a little worried that I may discover that the same is true of Briggs & Riley. Luckily for me, it turns out that Briggs & Riley’s warranty is as fantastic as they tell us it is and as great as plenty of Briggs & Riley fans have been telling me it is for years.
In truth, this was probably a smart move by Briggs and Riley as, for the cost of a backpack, they now have a customer for life and someone who will happily let people know that the Briggs & Riley warranty actually means something…which is a lot more than can be said for a lot of the “warranties” out there.