I’m going to reveal a little behind-the-scenes secret of Your Mileage May Vary – Joe and I each have ongoing lists of what we plan to write about, not only in the immediate future, but also what we’d like to post…eventually. Some of the topics in the latter list can stick around for literally YEARS and sometimes, like today, something that’s been on a list for a long time gets pushed to the front because of reasons.
Such is the case of this topic of mine: Tom Bihn bags.
Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags since 1972 and the company bearing his name has been around since 1982. His made-in-the-USA bags are functional, user-friendly, visually appealing and, I can tell you from personal experience, as strong and long-lasting as anything. Well, maybe except when attacked by a killer 9-pound toy poodle named Dobby. But more on that in a second…
I discovered the Tom Bihn company in 2011 and bought a Ristretto bag for my then-new 11″ Mac Book Air. It was a great bag that kept my computer safe while traveling, and it held a lot of stuff, to boot. It went everywhere I did, including Ireland, Japan and Australia, and it always looked as good as new.
After several years of service, my Macbook Air started showing its age (my Tom Bihn bag, however, did not), so I got a new Chromebook. My new computer fit my Ristretto, but I was interested in a few other features, so I bought a new Tom Bihn bag in 2016 – this time a Pilot so I could enjoy a little more space for extra stuff, and, because it had an open-top back pocket with a zipper that stopped just short of the bottom, I could slip it over the handle of my rolling luggage (Yes, I know it wasn’t a new concept but it was the first time I had gotten a bag with that feature and it is THE BOMB, y’all!). Anyway, I’ve been using it as my “personal hand bag” of choice ever since, and it too had been on many adventures in Cuba, Austria, England and several places around the U.S.
Until Dobby got to it.
Dobby (toy poodle, age 10) is a sweetheart and we love her dearly, but if she smells food that she has access to, she will stubbornly keep trying to get it until she succeeds or it’s taken out of reach. And unfortunately, not only did I have a packet of Nerds in a zippered pocket of my Pilot that I had forgotten about, but the bag was hanging from the back of a chair and was accessible to her. AND we weren’t home.
So we came home to a dog who had had a small container of Nerds as an appetizer before dinner, AND a Pilot with a chewed up zipper.
It wasn’t the kind of compartment I could easily ignore – it’s a centrally located one, and is where I usually keep my travel umbrella or bottled water, as well as my pill container and, yes, apparently sometimes a box of Nerds ;-). So I needed to get it repaired, if possible.
As per their FAQ, Tom Bihn is willing to repair broken bags for reasonable prices, so I emailed them with an explanation that Dobby had gotten hungry while we were gone, and got into the bag cuz it had candy in it that I had forgotten about. This is the email I got back from Cody, who, as per Tom Bihn’s website, is one of their Bag Experts:
Just $10, which included shipping both ways, to fix the zipper? That’s a STEAL, considering the problem was my (well, Dobby’s) fault. I thanked Cody for his quick reply, and told him I’d get the bag emptied and packed up that day. Here’s his reply:
So I shipped the bag back (and gave Dobby some belly scratches from Cody). Meanwhile, I had a question about another product they sold, called a cache, which further protects your computer with 1/4″ of foam and makes it easier to remove your computer from and put back into the Pilot.
Cody’s reply was super helpful:
Meanwhile, I was hoping they could send the cache with my my repaired Pilot, and I wouldn’t have to pay for shipping the cache. Cody originally said yes, but then I got this email a few minutes later…
So yep, they mailed the cache then, AND they paid for the postage!
My newly repaired Pilot arrived about 2 weeks later:
And that, friends, is AMAZING customer service. Quick replies, a sense of humor, standing by their product, incredibly inexpensive repairs, and going the extra mile to keep your customers happy. Plus, of course, products that are built to be strong and tough and to last for years and years. Well, unless Dobby gets to them 😉
So yeah….TOM BIHN. Check out their their website (or their factory store, if you’re in Seattle) if you’re looking for a travel bag, back pack, briefcase, duffel bag, tote, stuff to organize travel stuff, etc. You’ll be seriously glad that you did!
NOTE: We were not compensated for this post or review. We’re just fans of Tom Bihn bags!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary