Note: this is a rant.
ABS has recalled steel canisters used here in Europe in a number of backpack brands, including The North Face's Patrol 24 ABS, which I own (https://www.abs-airbag.com/en/service/recall/.).
Why did I buy a North Face rather than someone else's pack? In large part, because I've dealt with their customer service many times over the years, including my brief career in the outdoor products industry, and always found them a cut above (in fact, I was bragging about TNF customer service just two days ago on a tram line, saying I thought it was the best in the industry and laps better than any European brand).
When it came time to buy an ABS pack, my thinking was that for a product so safety-sensitive (and expensive) I'd want the best possible global, customer service-oriented company behind me. As the Earn Your Turns blog (http://www.earnyourturns.com/) put it when TNF launched their bag:
"Without a doubt the addition of The North Face as a maker of airbag packs will prove beneficial to the entire mountain community just by virtue of them establishing a distribution network of ABS canisters." Unfortunately, this does not turn out to be the case.
Some thoughts on what I've now learned:
-Manufacturers of safety products liable for recalls should really have a register of owners, the owners should not be required to get information on recalls on their own. I learned about the ABS recall some time later, by accident, on the net, I was not notified by North Face or ABS
-I then went to the North Face website, where there is a page provided by ABS about the details and procedures for the recall. Basically, you need to send your stuff back to ABS and you're SOL while they deal with it (they make no promises on timing for turnaround)
-The recall is handled entirely by ABS, not by North Face. Think a moment about this. If you buy a Gore Tex jacket from TNF and it loses its impermeability, TNF handles the warranty, not Gore. Why shouldn't they do the same for a sensitive, far more expensive product like an ABS pack? Would you be happy if Subaru told you to talk to Takata about an ABS recall for your Forester?
-I called TNF and their rep didn't even know about the recall
-I contacted TNF online and they politely insisted I deal with ABS
-I contacted the retailer who sold me the pack and he didn't know anything either
-I will say that the TNF store here in Milan was very informed and fairly helpful: if they're able to get their hands on new canisters they'll swap on the spot, but no promises on timing
Overall, a disappointing showing from The North Face. The bag has their name on it (http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/patrol-24-abs.html) but it appears that in their view it's basically an ABS product, and they're not really standing behind it. Poor.
Edited by prickly - 2/3/15 at 7:45am