For Mother’s Day and my birthday this year, I received new luggage from my husband, a Rimowa Mutiwheel 75 Sports trunk and a smaller cabin multiwheel, both in matte blue. These were unexpected surprises because we had just purchased matching Delsey Helium suitcase sets at the Travel Expo last year and they were new and still unused. We had planned to use them for our trip to the United States later the same year. Alas, we were unable to use them because of SouthWest’s size restrictions. We would have been subject to penalties equivalent to the cost of our tickets (which were cheap at USD99/pax, one way to Dallas from NY, and USD99 for Dallas to LA); too late before we found out that no one really checked for sizes at the SW terminals.
With the spate of “tanim-bala,” the obviously politically motivated modus of “planting” bullets in unsuspecting travelers’ bags, making big headlines last year, A♥ and I didn’t want to take any chances leaving our suitcases unprotected. Besides, the thought of new, pristine luggage being thrown, flipped, dinged, and battered into submission by airport personnel was enough to make us cringe. We knew we didn’t want to DIY our extra layer of precaution. Neither did we want to spend money for plastic wrappings at the airport, which was not only time consuming and expensive, but environmentally unsafe as well. The only option left was to buy reusable luggage covers.
We found LOQI luggage covers at the Pochi store in SM Megamall. We purchased matching covers for our cabin and checked-in luggage in the following designs: Tokyo for me and Singapore for A♥. They were a little expensive but well worth the price. The fit was perfect and the fabric was stretchy but snug. We were able to use the covers on a trip to Singapore in December and they held up very well to travel. The only downside was the grease stains they acquired during handling. Those were difficult to wash off and can be readily seen because of the fabric’s light colors.
I wanted to dress up my Rimowa for the same reasons I did our Delsey, and because I had time to do so, I thought I could make a custom order for the sports trunk. It was serendipitous that on the day I was searching online, I came upon a Facebook post on sports trunk suit covers by Suit Up Philippines.
On May 10, I sent Suit Up Philippines’ official Facebook account an inquiry; their response was quick and courteous. I was advised to send them e-mail, which I did, the very next day. In my email, I detailed the size of my sportstrunk (mine was 75 but the trunk also came in a bigger size) and provided dimensions. After sending my design and specifications and receiving input from their end through a series of email, we concluded the transaction with a bank payment made to their account on the 18th of May. All in all, my custom cover set me back PhP2648.
Three days later, I received the tracking number to my package and on the 24th, I received the delivery. I was so excited I took out my luggage to try it on right away. The initial rush of enthusiasm turned into dismay.
Unfortunatately, what was promised in their ads and what arrived were two different things. I was disappointed because all the pictures I had seen of their other products and all the feedback posted by visitors in their page pointed to solid, reputable products that were functional and beautiful at the same time. By just looking at it, I knew there was something inherently wrong in the pattern of their sports trunk cover. Note that the sports trunk is more cubelike, with one face being close to square. Regular suitcases carry the shape of rectangular prisms, with all its faces being rectangles. Because the design did not account for this difference in shape, the suitcase cover was stretched to one side, anteroposteriorly, leaving the two sides hanging and the handle holes misaligned.
In the series of pictures below, you can see the problematic design. Picture 1 shows the suit cover as used. Notice the ill fit on top and on the sides. The sports trunk is square on top; when the cover is placed on it, the suit is stretched on one side and left hanging in the other two sides like dog ears.
Picture 2 shows the overhang in one side more clearly.
Pictures 3 and 4 show that the holes don’t match the extrusions perfectly. As a matter of fact, the top opening is stretched taut to accommodate the top handle and the retractable trolley handle.
Picture 5 shows the top opening when the handles are hidden. You can’t access the trolley handle or the top handles easily.
Were it not for their excellent customer service, I would have demanded a refund right away. I was impressed at the speed they responded to questions, the courtesy they displayed through our email exchange, and their willingness to work out a solution with me. Customer service kindly offered me a replacement of size but did not promise a different pattern or shape configuration. I wanted to know if changing sizes would resolve the fit issues but they could not assure me of a definite answer.
On May 26, they asked that I return the cover so that they could repair it. I was only able to send it back on June 4 and true to form, they acknowledged receipt of my package and promised to “repair’ it. Seven days later, they sent me the tracking number to my repaired item, which I received on the 15th.
If I had held out hope the fit issues would be resolved to my satisfaction, I would have been doubly disappointed. They managed to trim the overhang but still failed to create a snug fitting cover. I took pictures to document the changes and as you can see, the fit does not look anything like the covers they had on their Facebook page.
The trolley handle was now easier to access-
but the taut stretch of the fabric made the edges almost white, as if black was simply a dyed color. You could also see the seams stretched to its limits.
The overhang was smaller but the folds were more apparent.
Visually, it was not appealing to look at.
I wrote them back again to reiterate my concerns and thank them again for their service. At that point so close to my trip, it was useless to keep sending back an item they couldn’t fix. Short of a changing their item pattern to perfect the product, I think Suit Up Philippines would do well to remove the sports trunk cover from their lineup. Aftersale support is well and good, but a good product will be able to stand on its own merits, even with just minimal customer service.
Also, after much thought, I went back to my LOQI covers for the trip to Japan just this end of June. I think I’ll stick to LOQI till I can find another brand that works just as well.
(At Narita Airport, June 30, 2016)