I travel a lot for work, and I was tired of churning through suitcases that couldn’t endure the beating that the airlines doled out to them. I finally decided it was time to “invest” in a suitcase rather than buying a new one from Target every year. 

I went to the luggage store in Valley West Mall and sought their professional counsel. They highly recommended a Briggs & Riley suitcase, citing the lifetime guarantee.

The guarantee read: 

If your Briggs & Riley bag is ever broken or damaged, even if it was caused by an airline, we will repair it free of charge – Simple as that! Here’s how the Briggs & Riley Simple as that® guarantee works:

A. Simple bag repairs – You can send or bring your bag to a local Authorized Repair Center. No repair number is needed. Please note that you are responsible for any freight charges incurred when shipping your bag to an authorized repair center.

B. Badly damaged bags – We recommend sending them directly to Briggs & Riley at one of our Official Company Repair Centers. Our ‘Simple as That®’ guarantee will cover the repair of all functional aspects of your Briggs & Riley bag for life.

In my mind, that meant:
• It would last a really, really long time before anything broke, ripped or didn’t work.
• It would be easy to get it fixed, if I ever needed to.
• These people really care about their customers.

This was truly an investment, so I was counting on the bag’s quality. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way. Ten months into using the bag, one of the zippers separated and I had to trigger the guarantee. There is no authorized repair center in our area, so I had to ship the suitcase to their official company repair center. That cost me $100.

I got the repaired bag back a few weeks later and it was up, up and away for me again.  Now, a year later – the same zipper has separated again.  Now I’m faced with a choice. An annoying choice.

I really like the bag. And technically, they did honor their guarantee. But I already paid a small fortune for the bag. And then, I had to pay $100 to take advantage of their guarantee. Do I really want to pay another $100 to once again have them fix my bag “for free”?

On the surface, their guarantee sounds great. But the actual guarantee is a big pain. Not only do I have to incur the expense of the shipping, but I also have to drag the bag to a shipping store, have them build a box big enough for the suitcase, etc. That’s a hassle.

When I spend over $600 on a suitcase, I expect it to be hassle-free. When I justify spending that kind of money because of a lifetime warranty, collecting on that promise should also be hassle-free.

As you think about how you reassure potential customers that buying from you is easy and a safe choice, remember that their most valued commodity is their time. 

Your goal is to make it easy for them to continue to do business with you. Many think the guarantee is in place to make the sale. 

But really it should be the tool you use to keep the customers. If they have to trigger the guarantee, that means something has gone wrong. What happens next is a make-or-break moment.

The initial promise is enticing. But if and when you actually keep the promise in a way that’s easy for me and makes me feel like you really do care, now that’s how you earn a customer for life.