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Anyone else struggle with RickSteves' customer service for a defective item?

I got a bag with a retracting handle, which is really being difficult to operate. Pulling the handle out or pushing it back is isn't smooth and often requires extremely heavy effort and pressing and releasing the button on the handle over and over before it lets me complete the operation.

The bag is still brand new, tags on it, hasn't done two feet of "driving" even in my house because I'm trying to return it. Customer service is being very obstinate, They first told me I don't know how to operate the handle, that I needed to use the button. I've sent photos, videos, they are still not helping me just return this defective bag.

All the more frustrating as it's like my fourth Rick Steves bag, not to mention countless other items I've bought with his name on them. I've got half the gadgets in the store, and more books than I can count.

I feel like I'm being abused and am really let down by this poor service I'm getting.

Posted by
6380 posts

This is the exact opposite of my experience with Rick Steves and a broken bag. I received a replacement bag promptly with no difficulty.

Posted by
225 posts

I’ve never had an issue nor heard of anyone having an issue. They have a 60 day return for any reason policy (as long as still like new). They also warranty everything if it is a product failure. Go online, fill out the return for and ship it back for a replacement.

Posted by
1190 posts

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-help/shop-online-faq
Every Rick Steves travel product comes with our guarantee that it will be free from material and manufacturing defects for the life of the product. If a defect appears, we will either repair or replace the product (at our option) free of charge. This guarantee does not cover damage caused by an airline or other common carrier. Nor does it cover wear and tear to components and materials which may occur over time with use of the product. Items purchased from our Travel Store at ricksteves.com may be returned to us in new and unused condition within 60 days of the purchase date. To return or exchange purchases, please complete the Return & Exchange Form. A copy of the original packing slip is required. Refunds will be issued to the original payment method. Please allow 2 to 4 weeks for returns processing. Sorry, no refund on shipping charges. If you've received a damaged, defective or incorrect product — or have questions about how to use a product — please email our Customer Service Department at customerservice@ricksteves.com.

Note that most returns do not include shipping. You will pay the shipping charges.

Posted by
8671 posts

I don’t blame you for feeling abused with the treatment you’ve gotten.

I had 2 RS bags for 15 yrs, bought a new one 4 yrs ago and didn’t like it at all but didn’t return because of shipping cost. I also realized RS luggage is over-priced. I won’t buy from RS anymore for those two reasons. I’ll only buy from a local store now, easy to return.

I hope you get a quick and friendlier resolution to this.

Posted by
240 posts

I understand having to pay shipping if you just changed your mind about the bag, but not if they sent you a defective bag. They should send you a prepaid label and ship you a new bag as soon as they get your return.
No idea if this will work, but it's standard advice when you need to get an airline's attention - try tweeting to them.

Posted by
201 posts

Not my experience with them.

Bought one of those "Day Packs" from them. It was my first trip with them so I probably (most likely) abused the weight limits on such a light backpack. One of the straps started tearing in my first stop (Venice) on the VFR tour. Took a picture of the torn strap and sent it in to them. No problem, refunded my Card.

But that was much easier to see the fault compared to what you are saying. Probably a lot of what's going on. Or the people/policy has changed or...

Posted by
12220 posts

It looks like things have changed post-pandemic. In the past, I've ordered numerous items from them. Had problems with quite a few. (Especally wheeled bags.) Customer service was good and they either quickly replaced or refunded the item.

Perhaps they have to focus so much on the tours that there just aren't enough people to service the shop.

I have a feeling that the people from RS who monitor this forum will see your posting and react.

Posted by
42 posts

Since mid-2000, I've ordered a couple bags from them. There were manufacturing defects with one (rumor was they had a new supplier that wasn't as good as before) but the RS Customer Service team were always helpful and quick.

In 2013 my new Veloce bag strap came unstitched. RS Customer Service responded quickly asking for either my phone number and shipping address (so they could look up the order) or two photos of the defect. That done, they said they did not want the bag back but said I could try to fix it or donate it to a worthy organization. I received the replacement bag one week later. This quality of service is one of the reasons that I respect RSE.

Posted by
138 posts

A few years back I had a bag with a retracting handle that stopped working. Customer service quickly sent me a new one and did not want the old one back. Others have had similar experiences. Like Frank II said. Maybe someone from RS will see this. Doesn't sound normal. Hopefully they will resolve it for you.

Posted by
2004 posts

WOW. That is shocking! Let 's hope your situation is an isolated issue of poor customer service and not the beginning of the end of great service/product guarantees (especially on brand new items) from the team.
I would suggest calling and asking to speak to the manager of customer service. If you have no luck, perhaps, flag your post for the webmaster, and ask that your post be give to one of the senior managers for the organization.
Let us know how it works out.

Posted by
6380 posts

I think that there simply is more to this story. Whether there is a communication break-down, or the agent at Rick Steves Store was having a really bad day that day, what you describe is simply not typical or in line with their policies. RS has always stood behind their products and their policies.

Why don't you try talking to them on Monday again? Let them know that your bag doesn't seem to be working and you want to return it. Don't go into a lot of detail about previous attempt. See if that doesn't work.

Posted by
58 posts

Waiting on their reply to my latest video showing the problem. There's nothing more to the story, they keep writing me back telling me that I'm at fault and just don't know how to use the button on the hande.

If I don't get a reply today, I'll try to escalate this somehow. It's beyond ridiculous. Like, we're arguing over the return shipping on a defective bag. It's not that big of a deal. I'll pay to ship it back if I have to, life goes on, but this is pretty insane IMHO.

Posted by
58 posts

They finally admitted today after my last video that it's defective.

So they're letting me return it. By the normal method. Where I ship it back at my expense.

They said they never issue return labels or pay for return shipping. Even with defects. My options are to ship it back at my expense or they will replace it if I want another bag. That's it.

I'm not happy, to be honest. This is just silly.

Posted by
12220 posts

Let's clarify......they said they would ship you a replacement for free or you would have to pay for a replacement?

A few years go, when my Ravenna broke, they offered to send me a replacement but since I was in Europe offered a refund. They told me to just give the bag to someone as they didn't want to pay to ship it back.

Posted by
820 posts

Hi all, I can't represent Customer Service, but my personal take given the descriptions here is that this doesn't sound right. I'd like to check on this personally. Please give me some time to investigate, Randy.

Posted by
6380 posts

If I understand the OP. The offer is if he ships it back, a refund. Don’t worry about shipping back, they will mail a replacement. Did I get that straight?

Posted by
820 posts

To follow up, we're escalating this internally for review. As this is outside of my purview, my apologies that I can't say or do more at this time, but I think we're moving in the right direction.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Randy,

This is Eric Clem, I'm the Sr. Dir. of Customer Experience at Rick Steves Europe. I'm sorry for the frustration you felt in trying to resolve your issue with the defective bag. After speaking with my team it seems to me that there was just a simple misunderstanding in communications and I hope you will accept our apology for that.

The team will ship you a replacement today at no cost to you and you may keep or dispose of the original as you wish. Know that as a standard policy, if one of our products is defective, we will always replace it at no cost to the buyer. We don't charge for shipping when sending replacements due to defects.

Again, sorry for the trouble and I hope to see you on tour someday!

Happy Travels,

Eric Clem

Posted by
2148 posts

It sounds as if this issue has reached a fair resolution. In my 25+ years experience being a RS customer and supporter, I have to say, what Eric says has always been the way the store has handled such problems. I’m pleased to hear this and hope you enjoy your new bag, Randy!

Posted by
12220 posts

As I said in an earlier posting, I knew someone from the RS office would come here and clear up the situation.

If you plan to keep the "old" bag, that's fine. If you're looking to dispose of it, shelters for battered women are in desperate need for luggage. Many of the women trying to leave a bad situation don't have luggage and the centers loan them out for free. A wonky handle doesn't make the entire bag unusable for this type of situation.