*** RYAN TATE: Shocking secrets--revealed! ***





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Friday, February 4, 2005

Are we suckers to trust brands?

In this day and age, they are bought and sold like heads of cattle. IBM just sold off its PC business, including the famously rugged ThinkPad line, to a Chinese company which will continue to make "IBM" computers.

The past couple of days I've been looking for a briefcase. Not a messenger bag, or a satchel, or a one-armed backpack, or some other noncommittal GenX atrocity, but a briefcase, the thing daddy brought home from work in 1950 after a stiff martini with the boys.

The local luggage shop doesn't sell anything for less than $110, so I went on Amazon and was quickly overwhelmed by the choice of cheap bags. I soon narrowed the search to U.S. Luggage, which sounds like what you'd find at Wal Mart, and Samsonite, that famous rugged briefcase brand.

But I knew better than to just trust Samsonite based on its reputation. I'm the owner of a Sony PlayStation 2 that broke after less than a year, two dead Nokias that expired within days of the warranties lapsing, and don't even get me started on clothes.

I visited Samsonite online, and read a company history. I thought the company was still in the hands of its founders, and thus the brand was likely trustworthy, until I found a Forbes article indicating it was "acquired out of bankruptcy in 1993 by a trio of New York financiers" intent on making a fast buck. Read the article if you like, but if not, just know that Carl Icahn, Michael Milken and Al Dunlap are all involved.

Perhaps the company is in better hands now, I have no idea. What I do know is the company does not disclose in its own public corporate history its own bankruptcy and acquisition. Game over. No Samsonite for me. And a little less trust for the whole idea of branding.

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