Do suitcase warranties reflect suitcase quality?

Or, when asked in a different manner, how much emphasis should be placed on the warranty when purchasing a suitcase?
The reality is that the length of the warranty does not necessarily relate to how long that suitcase will last or the quality of the bag.
The extensiveness of the warranty will, we explain in detail below.
Worth considering – wheel damage caused by cobblestones is common and not normally covered by warranty
Big brand, big warranty
Standard warranties as offered by most brands on most of their products typically say more about the size of the company offering the warranty.  A big brand with global presence and high volume can easily offer a 10 year warranty, keeping in mind the majority of travellers are light users and won’t need to make a warranty claim, so the big brands can offer big warranties on products that perhaps are not expected to last the warranty period time, as only a percentage will ever make a claim. The fact that a $200 bag from Samsonite has the exact same warranty as an $800 bag from Samsonite is based on the same principle.
A more boutique brand with a specialised product may in fact have better quality credentials but they don’t have the volume and scale to offer such a big warranty.
That also pinpoints one of the benefits of buying from a big global brand, if you’re buying an economy bag from them, you benefit from a big warranty, likely bigger than what that bag should have on it.
What does a typical warranty actually cover?
The other major thing to consider is what the warranty actually covers. And when this is taken into consideration, the number of years on the warranty card become less meaningful.
Standard suitcase warranties cover manufacturing faults and defects. They do not cover wear and tear; misuse; damage caused by overstuffing or use outside of what it was designed for and thy do not cover airline damage.
With this in mind, manufacturing defects are likely to present quite quickly, in the first couple of uses of the bag a structural error will become quite evident. And in or experience, all the brands we sell are commendable in their dealing with manufacturing defects, with replacements or repairs offered promptly and without fuss.
Everything becomes a bit murkier when the suitcase is no longer new. As it’s more likely that a wobbly wheel, broken handle or ripped fabric has actually been caused by wear and tear or misuse. In actual fact, most broken bags we see are the result of airline damage.
But back to the question at hand, a suitcase that does 3-4 trips per year that has not presented any problems in the first 3 years is unlikely to be eligible for a warranty claim in the following years as realistically, it’s unlikely any damage has arisen from a manufacturing defect. This means that warranties beyond about 3-5 years are often just marketing.
We have many examples of higher quality bags with shorter warranties in store, so we recommend factoring the warranty in conjunction with quality indicators such as wheel size, zip size, fabrics and materials and so on.
When is a warranty a good indicator of quality?
A lifetime warranty, or a warranty that covers airline damage will definitely reflect the companies belief that the product will outlive rough handling, and they are willing to back this belief.  These warranties are rare.
Osprey have a lifetime warranty and Victorinox have different warranties for different products reflecting their quality and intended life span.
Both these companies have terrific reputations when it comes to warranty claims and values their customer experience over and above the small negotiations on claims (as in they normally err on the side of the customer).
How easy is to make a warranty claim?
It depends on the brand and where you are located. If the item can easily be dropped to our store or an authorised repairer (normally 1 or 2 in each capital city) then your bag will be assessed and a claim processed.
If you are out of town, then photos can be sent via email.
For both options whilst submitting the claim is normally straightforward, the assessing and response time can be very slow. The total turnaround time for a warranty claim and repair can be numerous weeks, so always make the claim when you’re home from a trip, not just before!
Image (including feature image) via @americantourister_au with thanks
Banging a full suitcase up and down stairs is common – yet may cause damage that is not necessarily covered in the warranty
What if the damage isn’t covered by warranty?
If the bag is assessed and deemed not covered by warranty, a repair option will be offered if that’s a viable solution – for example a broken wheel can be replaced for a fee.
If it’s a popular bag and the parts are readily available, then many of the repair centres can do this for you with a fast turn around time and very reasonable costs.
What is a global warranty?
International brands may offer global warranties. This just means the brand is represented in cities around the world, and you can take your bag to an authorised repairer and make a claim in another city. This is useful if you are moving overseas.
Often times when you’re travelling and, on the go, the repair centres are hard to get to and the claim time may be too long for you to wait whilst transiting.
In summary, a customer shouldn’t use the warranty alone to gauge the quality of the bag when making a purchasing decision. The warranty should be considered in relation to brand size, reputation, warranty specifics (type) and how suitable it is to the traveller. Warranty that is considered hand in hand with quality indicators such as zippers, materials, wheels and suitability of the bag to your travel needs is what’s most important.