I don't think anyone is questioning the desire of TB to make quality bags, or the ability to execute.
One of the key tenets of customer satisfaction is underpromise and overdeliver.
Expectation management is an art, and this thread is a fine example of fingerpainting.
(and really, how long does it take to perfect a diaper changing pad? At least a bag has moving parts)
I can respect your opinion without sharing it, right?
Originally Posted by scottu
I'll bet every projection was as accurate as possible at the moment it was made. Looking back at the promises of the past, we all have 20/20 hindsight. Nobody has 20/20 foresight.
I make tons of guesses at work that later prove to be wrong. Some are wrong in the good way and others are wrong in the bad way. I have a hard time thinking of incorrect predictions as some kind of a business flaw; it makes the TB folks seem like real people to me. I think the comments about how a diaper bag is a low priority in the grand scheme are probably a pretty good guess at why the Parental Unit is where it is today.
I'd never bet that a pre-order or anticipated availability date is going to be right for any company, not just Tom Bihn. If it was an important Christmas/birthday/anniversary gift, I'd have a backup plan in place. That's reasonable, isn't it?
I'd rather have a few more mispredictions if that means I'll get some sneak peeks into future developments. That's what draws me to these forums in the first place. I like the unfolding drama of it all. I think it's cool that we get to see past the retail part of the business into what it takes to design and manufacture Tom Bihn products. (Oh, and I like all the people I've met here, too. You guys rock!)
I don't think that any of the explanatory comments are apologies. I've been reading them as alternate perspectives. Except for one recent comment by Darcy, it's all been customers taking up the torch. Not a one of us has any right or reason to apologize for a company that we don't work for, but it sure is nice to see brand loyalty in action.
What I find most fascinating, though, is how we use "Tom Bihn" to mean the person as well as the company. I'll admit that I'm not being very precise; I am just banging out a forum post, not writing an article for the Associated Press, after all. I wonder what Tom (meaning specifically the real person) would say if he heard us tossing his name around like we're BFFs and privy to his thoughts and intentions. :)
ETA: I don't agree with the assumption that the Tom Bihn company is in business to make realistic predictions. They make really good bags.
I was a little hesitant to post my response last week, which for better or worse, has opened up quite a lot of dialogue since then.
I think it's important to see perspectives even if they differ from our own. You have to understand Iím a very corporate mind, and possibly too black and white for my own good.
To apply this in a more real-world sense Ė letís say my IT Director approaches me to lead the design of a new software application, and I told them it would go live in a few months Ė which then stretched into a year, and then three. Forget three years; I would have been out of a job long before that time. And that was just an "internal" customer I gave an ETA to. If I would have given that ETA to the actual clients (external customers) and kept telling them we had to delay, not only would I be out a job, but those clients would almost certainly never do business with my then former company again.
Or, just think if your boss told you they might be giving you a raise next month, then next month came and they said a year, and next year came and they said year after next. This is info that should only be communicated out when itís set in stone.
Now those were very extreme examples, but you sort of get the idea.
All of us are Tom Bihn's external customers; which in the truest business sense, should be given just as much or more accurate and reliable information than to those internally. I completely understand if some of the TB crew is at the water cooler in the morning, so to speak, and decided to set some lofty goals amongst themselves.
But to correspond even approximate dates to us the clients, and then not meet those approximations not by a few months, but in numbers of years?
Or perhaps Iím being too rigid...
rdu_flyer nailed it -- underpromise and overdeliver.
Ha! I work for a state agency and this is precisely how they operate. My husband works at the same agency and he's been waiting 2 years for a promotion and raise after changing jobs. Now he's about to change jobs again and is due for another promotion and raise. Quite a mess.
Originally Posted by photomatt
Thanks for sharing your opinion. The disagreement so far has been gentle as far as internet arguments go, and hopefully the folks at TB will be able to gather something valuable from it.
You know, I don't even care as much if they want to drop hints on the forums here and play coy with details.
Originally Posted by Janine
But look at this blog post in the link below (also sent out in the newsletter) below and see how many of these products met their pre-order announcements. Their blog and newsletter are where they post press releases. This is not just a coy statement in the forums. It reads to me as an official statement of when these products will be available, not just some offhand disclosure of what might happen (that you'd find in the forums). I would find it hard to interpret any other way.
I hope that the folks at Tom Bihn do gather something useful from this discussion, because all of this feels like an anomaly in such stark contrast with how great their products are and how impeccable their customer service is otherwise.
Now if you'll pardon me, I have to go pack our sub-standard diaper bag for a trip with our twins tomorrow. ;p
Hee hee! In one of my posts, I threatened to bring their stuff home from the hospital in plastic grocery bags if the Parental Unit wasn't ready in time, but I don't think it was effective. :)
Originally Posted by scottu
Thanks for the link. I can see what you mean - there's not a lot of room for interpretation there.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I do have 3 pre-orders in the works and the first of them (Ultraviolet items) is late. I'm coming down on the side of "I don't mind missed projections" in this thread, but I'm also disappointed that my Shop Bag and Stuff Sack and Organizer Pouches aren't here yet. I expect that the other two will be late as well, but going into the pre-order process with advance warning of delays makes lateness a little easier to accept.
There was a similar thread last year on the same topic.
Happily there have been a lot less or NO product launch announcements since the thread above. I agree - I've been anxiously waiting accessories, recommendations or the actual parental unit for nearly 2 years. (not as long as others).
Such announcements impact future revenues. I've deferred buying any bag for two years outside of travel. If there was the changing pad... I could have made my mind and created my own.
Fortunately, it's behind TB now ... new facility, larger and more work spaces. Looking forward to new products and innovative twists on old.
As I said in the linked posts before... There is no perfect bag. There are no perfect products. We are always improving. TB is exceptional at this. Being fan-boy's/girls and criticizing processes is ok. It is OK and the forums are used to provide positive feedback and learnings.
It seems to me that many of the critiques really miss the point of TB bags.
Tom creates bags at a higher level; if the bag isn't going to distinguish itself in the marketplace, it isn't released. It only takes one mediocre product to dent his reputation, and I can't imagine how hard it must be to come up with an original, unique, over-the-top-quality product in a market as saturated as something like diaper bags. (A bag, mind you, that will be used for a couple of years then shelved, unlike most TB products that will get used for who knows how long!)
Not to elevate luggage TOO much, but Tom is an artist in his field. He breaks new ground, with materials and design. I think each bag is a break-through of sorts. If the diaper bag isn't ready, he isn't going to release it. That may mean that if he can't design a ground-breaking product, then he won't do it. Sometimes artistry can't be forced, and I'm glad TB doesn't release products for the sake of releasing a product. When I buy a TB bag, I know that I'm getting something held to the highest standard, something that was only released when TB felt it was ready. If I wanted something less, I've got a ton of other options.
In the meantime, there are one or two other options in the diaper bag market that should do just fine. Or get a different TB bag and use it as a diaper bag.
And you seem to miss the point about the critiques.
Nobody is saying we don't expect the diaper bag or anything else to be anything less than intelligent, clean, and uniquely designed.
Nobody is saying that TB hasn't built a company based on this fact.
Nobody is saying that originality and creativity doesn't take time.
Nobody is saying that there is a rule stating that TB must develop bags on a certain timeline.
But what I and others are saying is that if we're told that it's coming soon, and if we're given a preorder date/potential release date, and those days have come and gone multiple times, why on earth wouldn't you just shut up about it.
As mentioned earlier, it is not a knock on the company's ability to put out good bags. It's a knock on their ability to meet published promise dates.
And, for those of you saying that TB won't release it until it's just right - I get that, but at the same time please spare me the mental imagery of Tom sitting in his workshop with a few scraps of ballistic nylon, a raggedy prototype, and a needle/thread pondering the design dilemmas it presents. If it was a priority, it'd be out. It'd have been out long ago.
Again, not that there is anything WRONG with it not being a priority...but we've been told it's coming. Had nobody ever said anything, then nobody'd be asking.
You don't see many people asking about the Tom Bihn Parachute Pack do you? Why do you think that is?
Fact is, I am pretty convinced that this is:
1) Not a huge priority
2) Not being actively developed
3) Not coming any time soon
4) Not reflecting all that great on the company PR strategy
So put it this way - if it comes out tomorrow....then I will eat my words, but for those of you who believe any or all of the four above (particularly 3) then it will be a pleasant surprise.
But again, spare the Lexus-style "relentless pursuit of perfection" hogwash and call it what it is...low priority.
Originally Posted by bnett
That was a much-needed post, rdu_flyer. I completely agree.
Everyone in this forum acknowledges that TB makes incredibly fantastic products. So when people continue to chime in, stating how "awesome the bags are", or "however long it takes we'll wait" -- guess what? We know that, we agree, and you are completely missing the point.
This is a communication issue. Not a bag quality issue, folks. I, like everyone else here am very patient and don't mind waiting for a good product. Again, not issues.
What is tweaking the heck out of people is that we keep getting notifications from TB via forum posts, press releases, and newsletters stating a release timeframe that they're failing to deliver upon. Over and over again.
Originally Posted by photomatt
Yes. That is exactly it. Great summary and well said.
Despite the high quality of the conversation on this thread, as well as emails to TB requesting some sort of comment, there is still no response.
Clearly, people want the Steve Jobs approach. You can have anything from not a hint until it can be ordered to letting people know about things that are in the early design stage, and NEVER become products. Perhaps the diaper bag is one of those. Communication could be better, then again, I expect Tom has better uses of his time than being deeply involved in his message board.
And for that matter, breast vs bottle have different bag needs, as do cloth vs disposable diapers. 4 variants?
I think the best solution to the variants issue is to do a diaper bag that isn't specialized other than the fabrics being baby friendly, meaning washable The current TB lineup has that. Also you need something to handle changes, ie. a change pad, but that could be an accessory item. And something to handle messes, ie. wetbag. Lastly something for bringing and preserving food so an insulated pouch/bag.
Originally Posted by RonaldP
Other than that, the organizer pouch/packing cube organization works nicely and can be changed and customized as needs change. By using regular bags, the bag size can be different for different stages (newborns need more gear than toddlers in most cases) and also allows for storing different things as you move through the stages.
I think a baby system could be "built" from the existing components by adding; a change bag, a wet bag, and an insulated food/bottle/breastmilk bag.
This "set" could be sold as a baby set with suggestions on what bags it would fit into and pictures demonstrating the set in the other bags. Then the organizer pouches and packing cubes could be additional items for the set and marketed with photos showing what baby items they would hold.
Just having graduated from potty training my last child all of these ideas are fresh in my mind. I did carry dedicated diaper bags, but this system would have worked well for our needs, and also for those of many of my friends who chose differently than us on their feeding and diapering methods.
Communication is fantastic up until the point where items are actually released. Tom certainly has better uses of his time, but there are others that have long spoken on his behalf that are now conspicuously absent.
Originally Posted by RonaldP
Tom himself never told us that many of these things were coming, so I wouldn't expect an update or explanation from Tom himself.