shockingly bad customer service from heys

Before I started grad school in September, I treated myself to a beautiful new backpack, specially designed to hold a laptop and with good ergonomics. It's this one, in red.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that both mesh side pockets had ripped. These are the pockets generally used for carrying an umbrella and a water bottle, and there were holes in the bottom of each. I contacted Heys, and was told that this was probably covered under the warranty, and I could either bring the pack in or send it in.

It happens that Heys has its corporate headquarters in Mississauga, making things that much easier.

After some delay, I took the pack in yesterday and was very surprised at the poor service - or rather, no service - I received.

When we walked into the building, there were two people seated at a front desk. A man was on the phone and a woman spoke to us. We showed her the problem and she immediately said, "This isn't covered by the warranty. It's normal wear-and-tear."

I was very surprised. "Is the material such low quality that it's expected to rip after only five months?"

She said, no, it wasn't poor quality material, but this was considered "normal wear and tear" and is not covered.

I persisted, and she said she would ask the other person, who was now finishing up his phone call.

He took one quick look and said, "Not covered. Normal wear and tear."

I kept trying, expressing surprise at their very poor customer service.

He said, "The warranty covers manufacturers' defects, such as a broken zipper. This is normal wear and tear. How do we know what you did to this bag? Perhaps you put it down on something, and it got caught and ripped."

Me: You're trying to tell me this is my fault?

Snotty Customer Service Rep: I didn't say it was your fault. But you could have caused it.

Me: It has holes on both sides. What are the chances that I could put down a bag on something and have it rip symmetrically on both sides?

SCSR: I really couldn't say what the chances are. But I don't know what you put in there, how much weight it was holding. It ripped through normal wear and tear.

Me: Very few things could fit in those pockets. I carry an umbrella and a water bottle - exactly what the company says those pockets are used for.

SCSR: We really don't know that.

Me: I thought this was a good company that stands behind its products.

SCSR: This is normal wear and tear. We can't help you.

Me: So it's normal for a product purchased in August to have holes in it by January?

SCSR: No, it's not normal, but it's not covered under the warranty.

Me: I'm really shocked at what bad customer service this is.

SCSR: [smirk]

This went on for a while, until the first person said she would ask someone else. She took the bag and went into the offices. I knew what was coming next.

She emerged with the bag and said, "I was told that even though this is not covered under the warranty, we will have the bag inspected, and perhaps they will be able to sew the holes. The stitching will show, but that's the best we can do."

Of course, it's not the best they can do. The mesh could be removed and replaced. Since both side pockets ripped on my bag, chances are that these pockets are ripping on many similar bags. Heys should replace the mesh on any affected bag, and use stronger material in future production.

And they should stand by their products for more than five months!

I'm sending this post to Heys, and will post again with their response.


redsock said...

SCSR: This is normal wear and tear. We can't help you.

Me: So it's normal for a product purchased in August to have holes in it by January?

SCSR: No, it's not normal, but it's not covered under the warranty.

L-girl said...

Same thing with "not your fault".

"You may have caused this" and "I didn't say it's your fault" is a bit of a fine distinction.

Stephanie said...

I am sad to hear this.

I have likewise purchased from Heys believing them to be a reputable company that would stand behind their products. Knowing your experience has definitely changed my mind.

Apparently they want you to buy their products and then go away. What's worse given the business they are in (luggage) you would think that they would be concerned about the durability of their products.

Boo to Heys!

Dharma Seeker said...

I had a similar experience at Chapters. I was given a blank recipe book for Xmas and after one week the binding came apart. The SUPERVISOR at the counter suggested I'd wrecked my own Xmas present - to get a new identical one, because that's all I wanted, a book that wasn't wrecked. I'd had the original one that fell apart less than a week.

I'm sorry you had a similar experience. It's insulting. I'll be spending as much of my money on Heys products as I do at Chapers. $0.

Dharma Seeker said...

PS Does this mean you are without a backpack in the meantime? I have a very good one you can use - no laptop compartment but it's very good. You'll have to excuse "FREE TIBET" written on masking tape covering the school logo though.

Dharma Seeker said...

PPS The corporation I work for sells several Heys products embossed with the company logo to employees. I'll be sending this post to the employee in charge or purchasing too.

James said...

Sounds like another reason to ignore all those Heys billboards around town...

L-girl said...

Well, I should make it clear that I love the backpack. It's a terrific design - full of great compartments, lots of cushioning for your shoulders and back, and the laptop compartment is the best way I can think of to transport a laptop safely w/o hurting your back or shoulder.

Until I hear more from them on this, I'm not ready to completely ditch the company or suggest others do the same. But obviously initial signs are not good!

DS, thank you, that's very sweet of you to offer. I'm just using my old backpack, which is perfectly functional, especially now that I'm using the small, lightweight netbook.

L-girl said...

I also bought one of these amazing jewelry travel bags. I loved it so much, I later bought one for my sister and another for my mom. All three of us LOVE it and are constantly raving (!) about what an improvement it is over our old way of packing jewelry for travel.

If Heys turns out to be a really bad company, I will regret spending that money with them... but I still love these bags.

L-girl said...

Similar to FREE TIBET over the school logo, on my old (now current) backpack, I keep a peace or war resisters button over the corporate logo, as it was a "staff appreciation day" gift from a former employer - evil Republican corporate law firm.

James said...

Unfortunately, if we were to avoid buying from companies with poor products or poor service, we'd have nowhere to get anything... Adam Smith overlooked that bit.

Dharma Seeker said...

@ Laura lol. When I'm cycling alongside the curb people honk at me least once a day. I don't know whether it's because they want a "Free Tibet" or because I'm about to get run over!

L-girl said...

Unfortunately, if we were to avoid buying from companies with poor products or poor service, we'd have nowhere to get anything

Too true.

I recoil at those bumperstickers that say "Out of work? Keep buying foreign!", as if it's the consumer's fault. Is there any way to not "buy foreign", short of making everything yourself and not buying anything at all?

Heys, for example, touts itself as a Canadian company. Products made in China, of course.

redsock said...

I googled "heys customer service".

the first 2 listings are heys.

wmtc is #3.

L-girl said...

Ignore me at your peril! ;)

redsock said...

wmtc is #3

also, wmtc is #1 for

heys ripping
heys ripped mesh

yeah, they'll likely know about this post soon, if they don't already.

redsock said...

"is heys a good company"

wmtc = #5.

rut-roh, heys!

impudent strumpet said...

I was once told (by someone involved in manufacturing higher-calibre beauty products, so they are not a neutral party) that for some lower-quality beauty products, the business model is that they need X people to buy the product once. It doesn't need to be good enough to gain widespread customer loyalty. And if it isn't very good, they'll come out with a new product in six months anyway and they just need to get X people to try that.

If this is in fact a true business model, maybe it extends to other things, like backpacks.

L-girl said...

I would think that would be a very poor business model for a luggage and travel accessory company. Many customers are likely to need multiple products - like if you bought one member of your household a backpack and loved it, you might buy a carry-on bag from the same company, or a full set of luggage, or any number of things.

But who knows, they very well could think that way.

Kim_in_TO said...

Good point. Also - I buy luggage very seldom, and if it's crap, there are plenty of other manufacturers to turn to.

My current knapsack is by Eddie Bauer. How did I choose the brand? My previous one was the same brand, and it lasted a long time. When I read about you buying this one and how cool it was, I was envious; I would have considered it for my next purchase. But now, I'm awaiting your response from Heys... and I'm not hopeful.

Dear Heys:
This is how poor customer service impacts your business.

johngoldfine said...

Ignore me at your peril! ;)

Maybe if you'd said, "Do you know who I am? I'm not some creampuff, folks. You are dealing here with a native New Yorker!" they might have snapped to and given you some respect.

Anonymous said...

Can you say "planned obsolescence"? Just like how the iPod's designed lifespan is 18-24 months.

It's too bad this isn't Europe where, if I'm not mistaken, consumer products are required to have a minimum five-year warranty.

mom in pickering said...

This is interesting. I also bought this backpack for my 14yr old son and it has also ripped. He carried a math text book and accordian file in it, maybe 5 lbs, since Sept 2010, and I just called the company regarding this. If they are going to hand me this crap about normal wear and manufacturers defect then I promise to never purchase this make again. Anyone can make a backpack but it takes a REAL COMPANY to stand behind it.

Working towards equality said...

I bought an Xcase with a lifetime warranty (up to 25 years) which I paid over $150 for, and the interior buckle broke within one year of owning it, then the handle fell apart after 3 years. I messaged the company with photos, hoping that the lifetime warranty would replace or fix the suitcase. I was told that they no longer have the parts, and there was nothing they could do about it. I spent the extra money on this suitcase instead of buying the less recognized name brand suitcase for half the price thinking that Heys was a decent company, and that the extra money spent for the lifetime warranty would make it worth it if anything ever happened. I was wrong. I won't buy from them again, which is sad because I believe in supporting Canadian companies.

laura k said...

I won't buy from them again, which is sad because I believe in supporting Canadian companies.

Worth remembering: they do not employ Canadians, except in their customer service office. Their products are made in China, and their call centre is in South Asia.