Kate’s letter is reminder of the power of the consumer to change to course of human destiny, or at least, product development.
Of shorter stature, she ordered a mini-Timbuk2 bag but found its straps incredibly long, or as she says, “Why does this tiny bag have 8 miles of strapping? Do a lot of 7 ft tall men order the small messenger bag to wear as a sachet around their necks?” Including lines like that sure got Timbuk2’s attention when she wrote. In fact, the CEO even wrote her back. In fact, they even included her suggestions in the bag’s redesign. Neat!
Admire her handiwork, after the jump…
“Dear Consumerist overlords,
Circa 2003, I ordered a small messenger bag from Timbuk2. I already owned a grey-and-black commuter bag, and loved it deeply, but I wanted something smaller and kickier for non-computer outings. The bag arrives (lime/silver/lime, if you must know) and … what the? The shoulder strap on this bag is, seriously, 7 feet long. I’m only 5’2″, so we’re talking a LOT of extra strap. Also, the fastener straps are about 12 inches long each, and on top of that, have six-inch-long reflector strips clipped on. The tiny bag looked cluttered and odd.
I write customer service, not really planning any serious rebellion. I was going to take the bag to a tailor and have some modifications made to the shoulder strap and reflectors, and I wrote to see if I could order some of the small square reflectors that were on my commuter bag. But I am an inveterate kvetcher–my emails always sound like Andy Rooney commentaries, there’s nothing I can do about it. This particular email (which I cannot find, but I swear I wrote) said something like:
“Why does this tiny bag have 8 miles of strapping? Do a lot of 7 ft tall men order the small messenger bag to wear as a sachet around their necks? And what’s with these massive fastener straps? I have enough strapping here to hold the flap down over a case of paper–except that a case of paper wouldn’t fit in the bag the flap’s attached to. Plus these dangling reflectors suck–can I order some little ones, so I can attach them instead?”
What do I get back? An email from the CEO of Timbuk2! (I want to say his name was Mark.) Which says:
A) You’re right, the shoulder strap is too long for such a small bag. Probably the only people who buy it are under 5″5′.
B) You’re also right, the fastener straps are too long for the scale of the bag.
C) You’re also right (!!!) that the reflectors are a bit much, aesthetically. In fact, we were talking about giving customers a choice between reflector styles, and thanks to your email, I think that will happen asap.
D) Please send back your bag, and we’ll make all these changes to your purchase, gratis.
I about lost my mind with delight. I wrote back a GUSHING email, saying as much. Then I put my new bag in the mail, and 10 days later, ZING! shiny new bag, customized to my liking. (Something Timbuk2 is very careful to say it cannot do, because they would be overwhelmed by nitpicking requests. But when they want to, they can spiff up a bag like that (sfx: finger snap).
And the best part? All of my notes were incorporated into the design of the small messenger bag, to benefit the petite Timbuk2 customer for years to come.
And THAT? That’s what I call customer service.