Timbuk2 Really, Really Wants You To Be Happy With Their Bags

Jennifer had some problems with a bag she acquired from high-end baggery Timbuk2, and when some stitching started to come out, she sent it in for repairs. When some of the bag’s stitching came out, she was treated to a great big pouch full of “above and beyond” customer service.

About five years ago I purchased a laptop messenger bag from Timbuk2 I had heard a lot good things about the bags, I saw plenty on them and loved that I’d be supporting a local company. I drug this bag everywhere. Cross country, road trips, daily trips to work, weekend travel, you name it.

A few months ago, I noticed some unstitching by the handle and some unraveling / feathering on a couple of the pockets. Nothing major, but I did worry about the waterproof design being compromised. I contacted Timbuk2 customer service, and Tim asked me to send them some photos. I sent some not-so-great quality ones to them, and Tim replied that it was a warranty issue, and they would either fix the bag or provide a full refund. I was stunned ñ this bag is very very used! I figured I’d just “loved it too much” as Timbuk2 says. They also allowed me to drop the bag off in the retail store instead of mailing it in.

About a week after I dropped off my bag, it was mailed back to me with the handle re-stitched. I was excited to have my bag back, but I was a bit puzzled that the pockets were still feathered. I wrote Timbuk2 again to ask if anything could be done about the frayed pockets. Megan replied right away, and said she felt bad that they’d missed the fraying, and then provided me with a store credit for the full amount of the bag.

That’s a great company that stands behind their product 100%. I’ll be a customer of theirs for a long time!

Isn’t that great? Of course, highly durable, repairable items probably don’t get replaced too often, but a satisfied customer who recommends the brand to others is a pretty good asset, too.

Comments

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  1. William Brinkman says:

    Timbuk2 is awesome. All the quality you could ever want (the bag will outlast you) without the smug hipster asshattery of owning a Chrome bag.

    I cannot say enough good things about my Timbuk2 bag.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @William Brinkman: What’s more “smug” than labeling everyone who own a certain brand of bag an asshat?

      • William Brinkman says:

        @takes_so_little: Riding a fixed gear bike with no brakes and PBR in your Chrome bag would make you more smug than my post.

        • takes_so_little says:

          @William Brinkman: Wow, what wonderful little rules you’re inventing for the other humans.

        • Illuminado says:

          @William Brinkman:
          Wait a minute… I ride a fixed gear… I have a chrome bag… DAMN! I’ve been labeled! (Doesn’t Do PBR though <3 the great taste of Fat Tire + Newcastle though. But it can’t be healthy having all these labels for people.
          Smug douchebaggery indeed.

    • cunninglinguine says:

      @William Brinkman: Apparently the bag didn’t outlast the OP, and I second takes_so_little’s comment.

      Smug asshattery, indeed.

    • farcedude says:

      @William Brinkman: Okay, I can understand thinking that the owners of Chrome bags might all be fixie courier asshats, but we’re not. I’m just an engineering student who saw a kickass bag that would hold everything I could ever want it to, in a form factor that really worked for biking to school/work, which I do most days. My only regret about getting a chrome bag is having to deal with the idiots who judge my by my bag (c’mon people, how shallow can we get?)

    • shifuimam says:

      @William Brinkman: I’m pretty sure that there’s some asshattery that goes into owning any $150 messenger bag. My messenger of choice (until I switched to a backpack due to back and neck problems) was a $5 clearance item I found at American Eagle. Lasted me for years.

      • EqualOpportunityCrasher says:

        @shifuimam: See, I paid $40 for my large Timbuk2 bag, well under retail. It’s already lasted me three years and, other than some slight stains, looks the same as the day I got it.

        That said, PBR, fixies, and Chrome bags are the mark of a hipster almost anywhere, especially if they are paired with American Apparel, unnecessary/ironic glasses, and an ironic mustache.

    • kerry says:

      @William Brinkman: Timbuk2 bags are now made partially in China, with some assembly in the US. I bought my Chrome bag because it was all made in America.

    • gttim says:

      @William Brinkman: I’m sorry, but if you do not not win your bag in an alley cat, you are most likely a poser to begin with. And you have the nerve to call other people asshats. Look in a mirror.

  2. dohtem says:

    Reading more and more stories like is nice. Before I throw anything out, I’ll have to remember to call the manufacturer first. Most people tend to forget about lifetime warranties on well used items.

  3. MsAnthropy says:

    Timbuk2 bags are fantastic – I had one of their messenger bags for years, and would still have it now if I hadn’t given it away to the guy I sold my bike to when I moved to the US. I never needed to contact them for any customer service reason, though, as the bag seemed pretty much indestructible.

    High-end, though? I guess they are pretty awesome, but I’d never thought of them like that!

    • William Brinkman says:

      @MsAnthropy: For their role, I would consider them on the level of a Tom Bihn bag or equivalent.

    • thisrancidrye says:

      @MsAnthropy: @ModernTenshi04:

      Timbuk2 bags are great, I’ve read rave reviews about them, and this post really backs up all the positive things I’ve heard.

      However, when I finally purchased a messenger bag, I found myself in need of greater space and volume. I regularly carry 11×14 or 14×18 pads of paper with me wheresoever I roam, so I went with a less hipster-oriented company and found Chrome bags. I’ve had mine for four years now, and its still primo.

      Of course, my bag looks capable of corpse transport even though it was one of their smaller bags at the time… and looking at their new items, I see a bunch of bags similar to what I use for “light days” (days where a few sketchbooks, a butcher’s tray for watercolors, an old medkit full of drawing supplies and a laptop are all I need).

  4. fuzzycuffs says:

    How long’s the warranty? My 5 year old Timbuk2 bag is fraying. Wonder if I can get them to replace it. ;)

    Although honestly, I got a new Timbuk2 bag on sale that I like more. But it’s nice to have both.

  5. ModernTenshi04 says:

    I will officially be buying a bag from Timbuk2 now. I’ve been playing with their custom bag maker for a while, and now that I see this is the level of customer service I can expect should things go wrong, even years later, I’m sold that the cost of the bag is worth it.

    Way to go, Timbuk2.

    • KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

      @ModernTenshi04:

      yea, I need a new bag as well. My 5 year old targus bag is starting to show some wear. I’m a long time targus-user but, if i can save up some cash, i’ll be buying timbuk2.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8:

        I have a Targus bag that’s only about a year old, but now I’ll have to check out Timbuk2 as well.

        I’m new to the world of laptop bags. My laptop has only been allowed out of the house in the past couple of months. Bad laptop! Down, boy!

      • Antediluvian says:

        @KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8: I got my Timbuk2 bag for < 50% of cost at a clearance sale at REI. They regularly mark down stuff, and even if it’s not on clearance, they (REI) have 20% off coupons at least every month or so.

  6. raleel says:

    huh, now I have competition for my brenthaven if I ever get rid of it. had a brenthaven laptop backpack now for the last 5 years and they are just incredibly rock solid.

    thanks for the tip… travelling a lot, I’m always looking for really good bags.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      @raleel: +1 on brenthaven. I’ve had a laptop backpack from them for 6 years and it still looks brand new.

      I also have a Timbuk 2 messenger laptop bag, and it’s pretty much exactly the same, too.

    • Heresy Of Truth says:

      @raleel: I have to agree on Brenthaven. I haven’t managed to kill mine yet, and I can destroy any bag in record order.

  7. rolla says:

    Timbuk2 bags are great…i bought one in 1997 and it is still going strong. I wish i could buy another one but my present one is still in too good of a condition to justify buying a new one…hahaaa

    • Elginista says:

      @rolla: That’s the same problem I have! I used to be able to justify a new bag every two years or so. Mine’s only a year old but looks brand new (except for a bit of dirt).

  8. Collie says:

    I will sing the praises of Timbuk2 as well. I recently visited Vietnam for a month long trip to adopt our son. On the first flight out of Chicago my shoulder strap clip broke (I had the thing loaded to the gills), the bag was also three years old. While waiting for our next flight I sent them an email asking if I could purchase a replacement clip and have it mailed to me in Hanoi. They sent me a replacement bag (it was at the hotel the next day), and told me to just send my bag to them when I got back to the States. I will never buy any other bag, they earned my loyalty and I spread the gospel when ever I can.

  9. HotDish says:

    I’ve purchased three Timbuk2 bags – one for myself, one for my husband, and one for my little brother as a HS graduation gift. I filled it with things he could take to college with him – iTunes gift card, noise-blocking ear plugs, shower shoes, etc. It made a great gift and I was glad to be able to give him something that would stand up to heavy textbooks and could also be used as a cooler. (The waterproofing works both ways – fill with ice and beer and presto! Insta-cooler!)

  10. leapnbound says:

    been using their products for over 4 years and never had problem 1 out of them. I even ordered a limited edition bag that turns out that they were sold out of. They gave me a 20 percent off credit from another purchase and upgraded my shipping for free.

  11. David Marks says:

    I’ve had my bag for 9 years. I used it every day as a missionary in South Korea, and I still use it everyday to carry books and such to work. This is the best money I ever spent on a bag. 9 years of heavy use and its still performs like the day I bought it.

  12. Copper says:

    I just want to add I love my Timbuk2 bag…just like everyone else.

  13. veg-o-matic says:

    Timbuk2 is fabulous about repairs. Mr. o-matic sent his (10+ year old) bag in for a stitching repair, and it just came back the other day with the whole interior redone, looks like new. All free, minus the cost to ship it out there.

    I heart mine so very very much. Perfect for bike commuters like us, but I use it for just about every activity outside biking too. So glad I bought it.. not so glad about the now mostly useless Crumpler I got a few years ago.

  14. HogwartsAlum says:

    Omg I just looked at their website and it’s a PLETHORA of lovely bags.

    Just want to add that I really like it when Consumerist posts things like this. If I need a recommendation on something, I’m bound to look here first. If not in the posts, I’ll find something in the comments.

    Thanks, everybody!

  15. goodcow says:

    Don’t have a Timbuk2 bag, but I did send Jansport a very, very used “commuter brief” messenger bag that was $150+ with a lifetime warranty and they fixed it just like new.

  16. kmw2 says:

    Timbuk2 have amazing build quality, and they totally stand behind their products. I bought one of their backpacks 3 years ago after going through 3 assorted $50 packs (Adidas, Jansport, Eastpak) in a year. This thing has been absolutely everywhere with me, from England to Japan to South Korea to on-campus every day for a year, and hasn’t dropped so much as a stitch. I winced at the $100 price tag, but I figure it’s saved me $450 in cheaper bags – so much worth it! I can’t recommend them enough.

  17. ZukeZuke says:

    I like my Timbuk2 messenger bag too (special edition Belgium Brewing Fat Tire Ale), but one thing I don’t understand…

    If these bags are so great and they last 5-10 years, and then the company fixes them when they wear out from normal use… how do they stay in business? Some will say, word of mouth, but how often have you ever been asked by anyone what kind of bag they should buy? Staples, Best Buy, OfficeMax, and Office Depot sell laptop bags by the truckloads even though it’s not their bread and butter…

    • Brian Hughes says:

      @ZukeZuke: i bought my first timbuk2 and later switched to chrome based on word of mouth and recommendations from others. strange as it seems, “what bag should i use” is far more common than one might think.

      if that explanation isnt sufficient, they stay in business because of people like me who end up buying multiple bags for themselves and others.

    • edwardso says:

      @ZukeZuke: Where did you get it? I’m a fat tire devotee living in VA. I’d love to have a litte reminder

    • Antediluvian says:

      @ZukeZuke: I bought my Timbuk2 bag based on a coworkers recommendation. He adores his bag.

  18. D0rk says:

    Great to hear. I have a new Timbuk2 bag for my netbook. It’s very high quality and wasn’t expensive at all.

  19. loudguitars says:

    Adding to the love for Timbuk2, I’ve had my laptop bag from them for about 2 years now, and I drag it to and from work every day. I am ROUGH on my belongings, but it still looks brand new. Definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a new bag.

  20. littlemisslondon says:

    Because of this post I will be buying a Timbuk2 bag. Thanks!

    Do you think it would work as a diaper bag?

    • CindyLouWho says:

      @littlemisslondon: I was wondering the same thing. I’m probably a year or more away from needing one, but I really liked the look of the totes, and I’m thinking of getting one of those instead of a conventional diaper bag when the time comes.

    • Brian Hughes says:

      @littlemisslondon: i haven’t found anything the timbuk2 can’t haul comfortably, so i’m sure it would make a suitable (and far more stylish) diaper tote.

    • B* says:

      @littlemisslondon:
      Yes!! Been using mine as a purse for years and I wasn’t even going to get a diaper bag. Someone bought us one and I’ll use it, but I think my Timbuk2 is actually better suited for the purpose.

      Mine is a small. You might consider a medium depending on how much you want to keep in there.

  21. booboolee says:

    This post inspired me to replace the tattered, pain-inducing bag my boyfriend currently uses to lug around his mobile office.

  22. kpetree10 says:

    I have been buying Brenthaven, Targus and Swissgear for as long as I’ve had laptops but I believe my next bag will have to be a Timbuk2, that is just phenominal!

  23. hamburglar says:

    Several years ago, I was riding my bike late one night and some hoodlums drove past and whipped a couple of eggs at me. My Timbuk 2 bag took the brunt of the assault. I emailed Timbuk 2 the next day to ask for advice on cleaning the bag, and never got so much as a response.

    The next bag I purchased was made by a different company. Funny how that works.

  24. EyeintheLAsky says:

    Heck, i just found a Timbuk2 bag at my local thrift store and paid $6 for it! It has just a small stain on the back, but works great for hauling around my headset, binoculars, notepad, flashlight, maps, camera, extra lens and a small thermos o’ coffee.

    Years ago i had a similar experience with a Caribou backpack i’d purchased for college. AFter years of hauling-around books & stuff the stitching started to give out.
    Fate smiled upon me and had sent me to Chico, Ca (where they were based). I dropped it off at the plant and asked if they could resew it.

    When i got it back a couple weeks later, it had been completely gone through and resewn – complete with taping the seams to help reinforce the stitching…they didn’t even charge me for it!

    I’ve been a fan/customer for life since then.

  25. DeadWriter says:

    I have one of the original waxed canvas metros.
    It’s over 10 years old.
    All I do is rewax it once a year, iron it to melt the wax uniformly and it is water resistant for another year.

    They look better with age.

    I don’t expect this kind of service, but it makes me feel better about buying one of their newer bags some time down the line.

  26. Sarcasmo48 says:

    Interesting point from Consumerist and some of the other readers. One person said they had theirs since 1997 and they won’t buy a new one yet. This is, unfortunately, why shit quality is king these days. My wife and I have this conversation all the time.

    Stores make lower quality crap they can sell much cheaper. People use it, it gets worn out after weeks/months, so they go back and buy another one. It’s good that timbuk2 charges more but has such a positive word of mouth and loyal customer base that they have done well AND put out quality.

  27. SoCalGNX says:

    Five years of abuse and she wants them to fix it? Must be a great company for nervy customers.

    • Antediluvian says:

      @SoCalGNX: Funny, what you took as the customer asking for something for free, I took as the customer asking how much would you charge to fix this.

      I don’t think she was trying to get something for free. She ended up that way, but that was not her original intent.

  28. zentec says:

    Timbuk2’s customer service is legendary. I had a problem with a clip on a shoulder strap. They shipped me a whole new strap and said keep the old one as an emergency spare.

    The lesson here for other companies should be pretty clear. But because the MBA’s of the world obviously haven’t figured it out, and because Timbuk2 might be a little too Hippie for them, I’ll point out the obvious.

    1. Make a quality product. People are not stupid, they can easily determine the value of a $100 bag that lasts beyond five years as opposed to a $40 bag that isn’t as functional and looks like garbage in a year and falls apart after 18 months.

    2. While any press may be good press, the best press results in sales. Count how many people from Consumerist who are now browsing the Timbuk2 web site and thinking about a bag. View with caution any business leader who says doing the ethical thing may run contrary to profits.

    3. Price sensitive customers may not always be the best customer. Ask Apple how well that has been working for them.

  29. foodporncess says:

    I love my Timbuk2 messenger bag. They worked with Whole Foods a while back to make this amazing messenger bag that uses old banners from the store as the lining. I’ve only had my bag about 2 years but I use it daily and abuse the hell out of it. I still get compliments on it, it’s fantastic.

  30. veg-o-matic says:

    Ah right! Timbuk2 also recommended for left-handed persons!

    You can specify your handedness when ordering. Crumpler did not allow this and, as much as I thought I could deal with it, it just doesn’t work as well.

    I may be shunned by the rest of society with their “regular” notebooks and scissors and desks and “how do you write like that?!?,” but not my bag, dammit! It understands me.

  31. sicknick says:

    I work for a company that sells TimBuk2 bags. They are one of my favorite vendors to call, period. First, they have a great sense of humor (the voice mail says something about how they totally understand about you needed to not hold if something around you catches fire). Just last week, we sent out one of the cargo sized bags without a shoulder strap. I called, the nice girl Courtney was very cheerful, and sent out a new strap, free of charge, straight to the customer.

    They are awesome. Simply awesome. Buy stuff from them and be happy.

  32. djkatscan says:

    “loved it too much” Thats a cute way of putting it.

  33. illtron says:

    Timbuk2 is great. I have a bag of theirs that I absolutely love, but the laptop sleeve is a little too small (like 1/4 in.) for my MacBook Pro, which replaced my older, smaller MacBook. I spoke to their customer service, and while they said they didn’t have any immediate plans to increase the size of the pocket, they took the suggestion under consideration. They said they’ve had a few people who’ve contacted them about the same thing. They were super friendly, and it was really nice to deal with them. I definitely got the impression that it is something they’d consider doing in the future. As soon as they do, they’ve got a repeat customer waiting!

  34. Daniel Parmelee says:

    JanSport has been the same way for years. Lifetime warranty. I’ve claimed once, and it took them only a week to get me the bag back. They restitched what tore with stronger thread and even had the bag cleaned for me. That’s why they get my repeat business (I’ve owned many of their bags).

  35. Brent says:

    I have to disagree. I had a problem with my bag’s dimensions, but Timbuk2 wouldn’t exchange the bag because it was a ‘special design’–meaning I’d chosen a solid brown bag. Here is a link to many others complaining about the original problem I had…as well as the failure of Timbuk2’s customer service to respond adequately.

    [getsatisfaction.com]

  36. Ghede says:

    Just one little nit-pick on my part. The past tense of the verb “Drag” is not “Drug” it is “Dragged”. You didn’t slip this bag Vicodin constantly.

  37. ddhj says:

    Man. I am a little disappointed. I would love to put Timbuk2’s customer service to the test like this. However, my Timbuk2 bags refuse to die. They look as good and feel as sturdy as the day I got them. Damn you, superbly well manufactured bags!

  38. vladthepaler says:

    The future’s so bright I gotta wear bags!

  39. ShameFree says:

    I travel a lot for work and needed a bag that could beat to hell. I bought a Timbuk2 and within the first month and velcro stitching on the inside began unravelling. I called to see what could be done and how quickly since I was leaving again in a little over a week. They had me to ship it back and sent me a giftcard with enough credit on it to not only pay for a new bag but to also pay for expedited shipping and production so I could get my new bag before my trip. They’re amazing.

  40. Lizzy Bennett says:

    I’ve had my (first) Timbuk2 bag since 200 and it still looks damn good. Shocking how long they last.

  41. dryfire says:

    After seeing the abuse my friend put his through for 8 years I decided to buy one as well. The color of the bag faded a bit but is otherwise the same.

    I used to use the free ones I’d get at conferences or pick up something cheap, but I never had one last more than 6 months before it became unusable.

    Mines going on it’s first year.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Wow, my experience with Timbuk2 was the exact opposite. Several years ago I purchased a custom embroidered messenger bag from them. When I sent it in for repair (after having spoken to them on the phone) they not only didn’t repair my bag as they had said on the phone but they sent me a replacement bag of the wrong model. After numerous phone calls they finally sent me the correct bag but refused to actually repair MY bag. I did strike a deal with them that they would cut out the custom embroidery and send me that at least. However that never showed up. I will never buy a Timbuk2 product again, despite their quality. I’d rather deal with a company who does what they promise instead of the string of mess ups that my customer service experience was.

  43. CompyPaq says:

    I just read a post on Giz about the Commute bag and how much matt loves his, and I am seriously considering getting one. I need a messenger bag that can securely hold my laptop without being bulky looking but still hold the stuff I need.