Wednesday, December 24, 1997

Quality Pays
By John Bain (

In my line of work, I frequently make trips to visit customers, carrying lots of sales material. Years ago, when I was working in New York, I used to buy the cheapest luggage I could find at the local discount stores in lower Manhattan. They weren't very durable, but they were cheap!

For one trip, I bought a brand new soft-side bag for $10, and set out for Boston, loaded with literature. By the time I got to the airport, all the handles and carrying straps had broken or ripped out. Infuriated, I went to the nearest pay-phone and called L.L. Bean: "What is the most expensive under-seat travel bag you make?... Great, I'll take one! Embroider my initials on it, and send it to me."

That was twelve years ago. The bag cost $99. (The initials were free on a special promotion.) I use it on every trip, and I just had to have it repaired for the first time; one seam was starting to rip out.

The repair is undetectable, and the bag looks so good that people can't believe it is twelve years old. So the moral is: $10 for a "bargain" product that lasts one day, or a good one that costs $8.00 per year? Quality pays.

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