Pre-Orders: Frequently Asked Questions

You don’t need to read this FAQ to place a Pre-Order: it’s a pretty straight-forward process, so just go for it if that’s what you’d like to do.

If you’d like to know in advance everything there is to know about Pre-Orders, here you go! Below is a list of questions that we anticipated might be asked. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, feel free to emailus@tombihn.com.

  1. Can you give me a quick summary of how pre-order works?
  2. How do you define “pre-order”?
  3. When is my credit card charged for a pre-order?
  4. Can I ask you for updates on the progress of my pre-order?
  5. Can I cancel my pre-order and receive a refund?
  6. Can I return the bag that I pre-ordered once I receive it?
  7. Can I change the color of the bag I pre-ordered?
  8. I’ve placed a pre-order that will ship in 2-8 weeks. Can I add bags to that existing pre-order?
  9. I placed a pre-order and it shipped earlier than expected! Nice. How’d that happen?
  10. Will all new designs be introduced for pre-order?
  11. What’s the best way to be notified once a new design is available for pre-order?
  12. Can you accept pre-orders (backorders) for stock items?
  13. Hey, didn’t you used to offer backorders and pre-orders up until three or four years ago?
  14. Is it possible for a pre-order to “sell out”?
  15. How long will a pre-order be open?
  16. If a pre-order sells out, when will you offer the next pre-order?
  17. Why can’t you make enough bags to satisfy all pre-orders?
  18. How, and when, does a pre-order design become a stock design?
  19. When a bag is offered for pre-order, will there be any distinction made between limited run and stock items? That is, will it be clear which items will only be offered for a limited time, vs. those you expect to have on hand for the foreseeable future?
  20. Will the color options for pre-orders be the same as a regular run? For example, say I really want Bag X in Steel/Iberian, but the pre-order colors don’t include that combo. Can I find out if the regular run will have it?
  21. What’s all this about some retired designs possibly being offered for pre-order at a later time?

Can you give me a quick summary of how pre-order works?

Yes. And if you have questions, keep reading the FAQ or emailus@tombihn.com

  • We offer a new design for pre-order for one week or until the first pre-order batch sells out.
  • The expected ship date of your pre-order bag is listed as part of the name of the bag.
  • Your credit card is charged for the total amount of your order the day that you place your order. You can cancel your pre-order at any time and receive a refund.
  • You can place one order that includes just a Pre-Order bag or a Pre-Order bag *and* In-Stock bags. If you place an order for both Pre-Order and In-Stock bags, you will see two shipping options at checkout:
    A) Hold In-Stock Bags Until Pre-Order Ships – (one shipping charge: for example, $10 for UPS Ground)
    B) Ship In-Stock Bags Separately – (two shipping charges: for example, $20 for UPS Ground)
    UPS Expedited International shipping will also be available. 3Day/2Day/Next Day options are only available if you place two separate orders for Pre-Order and In-Stock items.
  • You can also place additional orders for In-Stock bags to be added to your existing Pre-Order up until two days before your order ships. At checkout, our system will recognize that you have a current Pre-Order. You will then be given the option to “Ship with my existing Pre-Order” (no additional shipping charge) or, if you want the In-Stock bags to ship immediately, you can choose from any of the regular shipping options.

How do you define “pre-order”?

We may choose to offer a bag for pre-order because:

  • It’s a new design offered for the very first time.
  • It’s a new design that’s already been offered for pre-order but we plan to continue to offer it for pre-order for the time being because it’s either very popular OR we don’t plan to offer the design on a long term basis.
  • It’s the last, or uncommon, batch of a retired design.
  • It is a one-time only offering of a design, fabric, or color.

Please note that not all new designs will be offered for pre-order. For example: debuts of new designs before the holiday season typically won’t be offered for pre-order because there’s a shorter timeline — most folks want to receive orders they place in early December ASAP.

When is my credit card charged for a pre-order?

Your credit card is charged for the full order total at the time you place your order. That means we charge you before your order ships, which, depending on the bag being pre-ordered, can be anywhere from two to eight weeks.

To charge you before your order ships isn’t our preference; in fact, we’d prefer to postpone charging you until the day your order ships. That’s how we used to do it back when we took pre-orders before: our system would authorize your credit card for the total, but we wouldn’t actually charge you until the day your order shipped. However, since then, charging folks in advance of shipment of goods has become such the norm that most shopping carts and payment systems don’t allow for an alternative. This is due in part because of the success of crowdfunding. It’s worth noting that our pre-order system is very different from crowdfunding: we aren’t raising funds to make a product and you can be assured you will receive the bag you’re ordering.

Rest assured that we see charging in advance of shipment to be a serious responsibility and a matter that calls upon our integrity.

And you’re welcome to emailus@tombihn.com at any time up until the day your pre-order ships to cancel your pre-order and receive a full refund.

Can I ask you for updates on the progress of my pre-order?

Totally. Of course. Feel free to emailus@tombihn.com

We also might send you an update or two on your pre-order with some insights on the design and manufacturing process.

Can I cancel my pre-order and receive a refund?

You bet. emailus@tombihn.com, live chat us up or give us a call and we’ll make it happen.

Can I return the bag that I pre-ordered once I receive it?

Yes. You can find our return instructions here. Note: part of what makes pre-order great is that we can more efficiently manage our limited production capacity by building exactly to order. Sometimes folks will order multiple colors and return the ones they don’t like, which makes total sense for In-Stock items but less so (at least for us internally) when we’re building to Pre-Order.

Can I change the color of the bag I pre-ordered?

Sorry, but no. Because we’re building these bags to order, folks can’t change the color of the bag they’ve pre-ordered.

You can, of course, cancel your pre-order — at which point we will refund your credit card. If it is still within the pre-order window — that is, the pre-order has not sold out — you can then place a new order for the color you’d like instead.

Can I place one order that includes both pre-order and in-stock bags?

Yes! You can place one order for Pre-Order bag(s) *and* In-Stock bag(s).

If you place an order for both Pre-Order and In-Stock bags, you will see two shipping options at checkout:

A) Hold In-Stock Bags Until Pre-Order Ships – (one shipping charge: for example, $10 for UPS Ground)
B) Ship In-Stock Bags Separately – (two shipping charges: for example, $20 for UPS Ground)

UPS Expedited International shipping will also be available for selection. However, U.S. domestic UPS expedited shipping options (3 Day, 2nd Day, Next Day) will not be available. If you would like to order a Pre-Order bag and an In-Stock bag and have both ship via one of those shipping methods, we recommend placing two separate orders.

If you choose Hold, we will hold your entire order until your Pre-Order bag(s) are ready to ship and then we’ll ship the entire order.

If you choose Ship In-Stock Bags Separately, we will ship the In-Stock bags that you ordered right away. We will ship your Pre-Order once it’s ready to ship.

Whether you choose to Hold In-Stock Bags or Ship In-Stock Bags, you will have the option of placing additional orders up until two days before your Pre-Order ships. At checkout, our system will recognize that you have a current Pre-Order and give you two options: Hold In-Stock Bags or Ship In-Stock Bags Separately for an additional shipping charge.

This will all make a lot more sense in practice than it does theoretically 🙂 As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask: emailus@tombihn.com

I’ve placed a pre-order that will ship in 2-8 weeks. Can I add bags to that existing pre-order?

Yes, you can. We will hold bags from any additional orders you place and ship them with your pre-ordered bag once it’s ready to ship.

And adding to your pre-order is easy: place the items you want to add in your basket and, at checkout and in the shipping options, you’ll see an option that says: “Add to my Pre-Order”. Our system will automatically add the new order items to your existing pre-order.

We thought of this too and made it an option in part because we think it will be especially convenient for customers outside of the U.S. for whom shipping costs are higher.

I placed a pre-order and it shipped earlier than expected! Nice. How’d that happen?

You received one of the few PPB bags available — congratulations.

A pre-production batch (PPB) of any new design will be ordered and completed by our production department prior to the new design being offered for pre-order.

The PPB is intended to:

  • Serve as the first large-scale test of the efficiency of manufacturing the new design.
  • Provide photo, review and employee loaner sample bags.
  • Ship a small quantity of bags to a randomized selection of customers who place orders for the first pre-order batch. This will allow folks to post reviews and first thoughts / photos of a new design, which in turn may help other people decide whether a bag is right for them or not.

Please note that the design itself is tested and every detail finalized and approved by Tom, Nik, Lisa, and Fong long before the PPB is ordered. PPB bags are in no way “beta” or incomplete.

There is no way to request or reserve a PPB bag. Once the pre-order window is over, we will randomly select orders from the first pre-order batch and fulfill those orders with PPB bags. If your order is selected, we will email you with a heads-up a few days before we plan to ship your order. So, no need to rush to place your pre-order, as this is not first come, first serve.

Will all new designs be introduced for pre-order?

Some, but not all. Whether we choose to offer a design for pre-order or make it a stock bag depends on a variety of factors — most importantly, production efficiency. We probably won’t offer new designs released close to the holiday season for pre-order.

What’s the best way to be notified once a new design is available for pre-order?

Subscribers to our general email newsletter will get the first heads-up on new designs. We send out about one email newsletter per month, but may send two newsletters out when there’s an active pre-order.

Can you accept pre-orders (backorders) for stock items?

Not at this time. It’s just too logistically complex at this point for our small company.

Hey, didn’t you used to offer backorders and pre-orders up until three or four years ago?

We did, so we have a lot of experience doing so. As with anything, there’s pros (for us and for you) and cons (mostly for us in the added complexity). Read our post Pre-Orders: Past, Present, and Future to learn more about that.

Is it possible for a pre-order to “sell out”?

It is possible for a pre-order to “sell out”. If that happens, the product page for the pre-ordered item will be updated to indicate that the first pre-order batch has sold out and that the next pre-order batch will be available for order on a specific date. You will also be able to sign up via email to our newsletter to be notified when the next pre-order batch is available for order.

Our production department is at its most efficient when we produce a batch of bags that’s not too big and not too small — the “just right” quantity in a batch depends on the design (and, occasionally, other factors, such as the production capacity available at that point in time).

When we offer a bag for pre-order on our website, we will set what is basically a total inventory number that equals the maximum production batch quantity. When that number of pre-orders sells, the first pre-order batch will be “sold out”.

Additionally, we promise a specific shipping time frame for each pre-order batch. If we accepted an unlimited number of pre-orders as opposed to constraining the quantity in batches, it is unlikely we could meet the shipping time frame originally promised. We don’t want that to happen.

How long will a pre-order be open?

We will take pre-orders for a new design for one week or until the first pre-order batch sells out.

If a pre-order sells out, when will you offer the next pre-order?

It is likely that we will offer the next pre-order batch *after* the first pre-order batch has shipped — that could be two weeks or eight weeks. This gives all of us a chance to catch our breath and make sure we’ve delivered what we’ve already promised. It also allows us some time to make In Stock bags, which is the majority of what we offer.

Rest assured you can sign up to be notified / reminded via email when the next pre-order batch is available for order.

Why can’t you make enough bags to satisfy all pre-orders?

We’re a small company of 47 people. Our entire company — production, shipping, website, design, IT/programming, production engineering, accounting, HR, customer service — all works together under the same roof in the same 16,000 square feet in Seattle. We can’t possibly make, or be, everything for everyone. We’re not trying to be the next big company. We are doing what we love — and we make sure that, besides the very rare exception, no one other than Tom, Nik, and Darcy work more than 40 hours a week.

The options that would allow us to radically increase our production capacity aren’t appealing to us. For example, if we moved production offshore, we’d lose the connection that’s created by all of us working together under the same roof. Not only does that connection make our work more enjoyable, but we think it results in a better bag and overall experience for you.

That said, we know our business model won’t work for everyone. While the majority of our bags are In Stock and ready to ship same day if ordered by 12:30pm PT, it’s possible that the bag that you want in particular is Pre-Order or In Production. And if you need the bag right away, that’s going to be a bummer. Sorry about that: we know how it can feel to find the perfect item and not be able to get it right away. That said, it’s one of those “it is what it is” type situations.

How, and when, does a pre-order design become a stock design?

That depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to: the complexity involved in manufacturing the design, its popularity, our production capacity, what other new designs we have waiting in the wings, and, well, whether we want to make it a stock design or not.

When a bag is offered for pre-order, will there be any distinction made between limited run and stock items? That is, will it be clear which items will only be offered for a limited time, vs. those you expect to have on hand for the foreseeable future?

Sometimes we’ll know the answer to this from the outset and we’ll make that clear. For example, we may have a limited quantity of a particular fabric or color, or may want to try offering a current design in a new configuration (see: The Guide’s Edition Synapse 25) without committing ourselves to offering yet another bag on a continual basis — in those two cases, we will do our best to communicate that we won’t be able to make the bag in question on an ongoing basis without hyping the “limited edition” part.

Or, to give another example, Tom or Nik may put a considerable amount of time and effort into a new design and be absolutely in love with it themselves — so much so that our plan is to offer it as a stock bag after pre-orders are over. It may be a design you love too from the outset or it may take a few years of being out in the world to catch on.

Will the color options for pre-orders be the same as a regular run? For example, say I really want Bag X in Steel/Iberian, but the pre-order colors don’t include that combo. Can I find out if the regular run will have it?

We usually offer more color combinations in the first production runs or pre-orders of a design than we do when it becomes a stock design. That said, we offer a lot of different fabrics and color combinations, and it’s possible that down the road we may offer a new color in said bag that we didn’t offer at the time of pre-order. When we choose new color combinations, we let our inspiration guide us, your feedback influences us, and we always make room for new colors or fabrics that we’ve since added to our line up. That means we don’t produce a list years in advance of decided-upon color combinations. You’re always welcome to ask us about specific color combinations but more often than not, our answer will be: maybe, maybe not.

What’s all this about some retired designs possibly being offered for pre-order at a later time?

We don’t like retiring existing designs, but as demand for our bags continues to grow and we continue to release quite a few new designs every year, retiring existing designs is a reality we must face.

Thanks to the new pre-order system, in some cases* we can offer a glimmer of hope to ourselves and, perhaps, to you when we choose to retire an existing design: when the design retires, we will update its product page so you can sign up to be notified via email when or if we decide to offer a pre-order batch and make a very last, or rare (think once a year at the most) production run of the design.

*Sometimes we will retire a design that requires a special component or material that we can’t obtain a small quantity of. In those cases, we will offer it for potential pre-order.

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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.

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