Satisfied customer defends Samsonite
Regarding the April 30 letter ``Samsonite didn't hold plastic's potential,'' I bought three pieces of Samsonite Oyster cases in 1984 in West Africa, and these have since been used constantly in all of my considerable international and U.S. travels using all sorts of transportation.
I still use the same three pieces of luggage, which are made of molded plastic, and the only failure was of a combination latch on one case five years ago. I called Samsonite customer service and was sent a replacement assembly without any questions and only paid for shipping.
Don't knock down a good corporation based on one person's negative views.
Bruce Plastics Inc.
Buying trends doomed hard-side luggage
In regards to Mr. Brecher's viewpoint on Samsonite Corp.'s demise (April 30, Page 6 Mailbag, ``Samsonite didn't hold plastic's potential''), he is totally off base. The reason the Denver plant closed was a change in buying trends from consumers. The trend changed from hard-side to soft-side luggage as consumer preference went from vacations in cars to vacations on airplanes, where soft-side is crammed above in storage compartments.
Samsonite now makes soft-side luggage in Mexico using a lot of American products to assemble them. Their products are superior to the cheaper soft-side made in the Orient.
By the way, I still have my hard-side Samsonite briefcase I bought 20 years ago and it still looks brand-new. I have just not been able to wear it out.
Mark C. Houghton
Central Plastics Inc.
Carmakers can learn from Samsonite saga
A few more comments about Samsonite Corp. in case that particular dead horse has not been sufficiently beaten (``Samsonite suitcases pack up for final trip,'' March 12, Page 6).
Samsonite has reaped what it sowed. I believe its demise probably started when it adopted the automotive approach to supplier relations: slash and burn, lie, squeeze and squeeze until all quality is bled out of the product, and/or the supplier perishes or cuts off relationship to avoid it.
Their approach to customer relations was just as bad - they either were not there, or didn't know anything, or just straight-out refused to back their low-quality product.
I spent six weeks in Eastern Europe monitoring a tooling program that my employer was having done there at Samsonite's insistance. Samsonite had downsized everyone with technical knowledge of the program, and the product designs were incomplete and full of errors and contradictions. [The Samsonite workers] were not able to understand technical questions, much less answer them. Their problem-resolution tools were limited to sarcasm, personal insults and threats - more shades of automotive.
The program was somehow completed successfully and very nearly on time. Samsonite then reneged on the molding business and moved it offshore.
Every automotive supplier I have dealt with in the last five years has in one way or another expressed a desire to do something, anything, other than automotive work. The automakers have contempt for both their suppliers and their customers, and the same poison fruits that Samsonite planted and choked on are growing in the automakers' gardens.