(PICTURE: Me and my LL Bean bag in Croatia.)
Last year when I was preparing my move to Vietnam I had a few small things to do: sell my Prius, ship all my belongings from California to New Jersey, and fix my LL Bean hiking backpack.
I've had a good relationship with LL Bean since I was a little kid. All of their products have a lifetime guarantee and I've used this guarantee quite a few times with my school bag growing up. In preparing to travel, I took out my large hiking backpack and saw that one of my shoulder straps was nearly ripped off. It had ripped during my trip to Italy for my friend Anthony's wedding the previous year.
I called LL Bean prepared to swap out my bag with a new one. Well, it wasn't as easy as it had been in the past. LL Bean stopped making my exact backpack and didn't make one anymore of a similar size. The very helpful woman on the phone told me I could get my backpack fixed at a tailor and LL Bean would reimburse me for the expense. Man, what a great company!
While I was talking with the customer service woman, something funny happened. The woman asked me to find the product number in my bag so she could write a report. I started to search inside the bag and was shocked when I found a tag that said: MADE IN VIETNAM.
Two thoughts occurred to me:
THOUGHT 1: Not all LL Bean stuff is made in Maine!!! Treachery!
THOUGHT 2: Can I get my backpack fixed in Vietnam?
I told the woman on the phone that I was headed to Vietnam and asked if I could get my bag fixed at the factory there. She laughed, assuming I was joking. Okay, I was joking but perhaps I shouldn't have been. During my travels over the past year the shoulder strap ripped again. I wish I knew where the factory was!