The Sorry Case of the Beyond Water Waterproof Bag

I am still enduring the damages brought by the failure of the Beyond Water (BW) waterproof bag on my camera equipment and other personal gadgets. (Read full article here.) As of this post, I am also still in the process of seeking answers and liabilities. And even though it is painful to think about what happened, I feel it is important to share the continuing series of events on the case of my Beyond Water bag so that we might learn from it.

The Incident:

Just a quick recall, I brought my BW bag to protect my gears during my travel to El Nido, Palawan on May 21, 2014. I went island hopping on May 23, 2014 that included a visit to Hidden Beach that required me to alight our boat and walk to the destination through almost a waist-deep seawater. I secured my equipment on my waterproof bag, slung it across my shoulder, and confidently followed my fellow travelers. The gloomy weather was very discouraging to any photographer so I then just stayed in the water. I had a floater with me that I used to keep me afloat and relaxed. The bag was floating beside me all the time, tied even to the floater when not on my shoulder. We stayed for approximately 30 minutes. When I opened the bag aboard the ship, it was filled with water of at least a quarter of the bag's capacity.

Swimming at El Nido
Hidden Beach in El Nido, Palawan


After the Incident:

  • I secured a police report on May 25, 2014 in El Nido, Palawan to make the incident official.
  • I contacted the mother company through their official Facebook page and the Beyond Water website. It was through them that I was able to contact the distributor here in the Philippines under Fortress Marketing. (The address and contact no. printed in the sales invoice is invalid.)
  • I setup a meeting with Fortress Marketing to file a complain and most importantly, to discuss what are the probable causes why the bag allowed water to get in. In the end, we came to an agreement that the bag would be thoroughly tested by them and I will then be notified about the results.

    Note: Two days after, I received a text message saying that I could get my bag back. They claimed that the test results showed that the bag is not defective and that the incident occurred because I "misused" it.
  • I claimed my BW waterproof bag from the office of Fortress Marketing and requested a copy of the test results. There was no written report. I found out later on that they only placed water inside the bag and let it sit for a few hours to check for leakage.
  • I sought legal counsel. A demand letter with registered mail was sent to Fortress Marketing and Spurway Enterprises (main company). We are still awaiting their reply.
  • I forwarded a complain to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), particularly to Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau (FTEB). The first meeting (mediation) was held last July 21, 2014 wherein both parties involved agreed to conduct a thorough product testing that should recreate the conditions as to when the incident happened.

My Report of the Product Testing:

My Beyond Water bag was tested on August 04, 2014 at the Quezon City Sports Club, 6:00 in the evening. There were five (5) people representing the BW Team from Fortress Marketing which consists of the owner himself, marketing head, and other staff members. It was raining heavily and continuously that night. Regardless, we proceeded with the testing at the children's swimming pool that is 3ft. deep.

I brought all the equipment I placed inside the BW bag for the testing, including the camera bag that I used as extra protection before placing everything inside the waterproof bag.

Fortress Marketing also brought a brand new BW bag of exactly the same model as mine for comparison.


1st SCENARIO:
  • BW Team placed my gears inside the brand new BW waterproof bag. They handled everything, including folding the top closure the side clippings. I ONLY observed.
  • The BW bag was tossed in the swimming pool and a member of their team went into the water right after to conduct the testing. The water was approximately up to his waist. He wore the bag across his shoulder and walked around the pool as the bag floated beside him. He also tried to submerge the bag for a few seconds.
  • This testing stage lasted for approximately 4 minutes.
  • My gears (inside the other camera bag) was taken out of the BW bag by the staff of Fortress Marketing while showing and saying to everyone that it is completely dry.

2nd SCENARIO:
  • The BW Team placed my equipment inside my BW waterproof bag.
  • A member of their team folded the top closure and side clippings, while showing me how it should be done.
  • Again, the BW bag was tossed in the swimming pool and a member of their team also got in the water. He dragged and shifted the bag's position in a small lighted area of the pool.
  • This testing stage lasted for approximately 3 minutes.
  • A member of the BW Team opened the waterproof bag, took out my gears and said that it was completely dry.


My Beyond Water bag being tested in a swimming pool.


3rd SCENARIO:
  • I placed my gears inside my BW bag and folded the top closure 3x and secured the side clippings. The BW Team saw me do it.
  • Out of whim, I tossed the bag in the middle of the pool for further testing. The BW Team was surprised. It was unexpected.
  • After approximately 2 minutes, a staff of Fortress Marketing got into the pool to get the bag. He did not do anything else in the water.
  • The BW bag was opened in front of everyone and a member of the BW Team made a remark that the interior of the bag was about to get wet if it stayed longer in the water because according to them, I folded it incorrectly.
  • This testing stage lasted for approximately 3 minutes.

4th SCENARIO:
  • The BW Team placed all my gadgets inside my BW waterproof bag, sealed the top closure and side clippings, and tossed it into the swimming pool.
  • A member from their party went into the pool for further testing. He dragged, tried to submerge, and tossed it around the water.
  • After approximately 3 minutes, the bag was pulled out of the water and contents were brought out.
  • BW Team announced that the bag interior was completely dry.


A staff from Fortress Marketing goes into the pool with my BW waterproof bag to facilitate testing.

NOTE: My Beyond Water Waterproof Computer Bag was wiped dry in between test scenarios.


Fortress Marketing Report of the Product Testing:

I received the official report from Fortress Marketing via email on August 16, 2014. For impartial comparison, I have attached the report to this article. Names of parties involved, business address, and other business details were omitted from the screenshot for discretion.






Personal Thoughts on the Product Testing:

  • The heavy rain during the testing was helpful to establish the credibility of the Beyond Water Waterproof computer bag. However, visibility was problematic and everyone was constrained to a covered area to avoid getting wet. Documentation was difficult because people had to manage carrying an umbrella and a camera simultaneously.

  • Testing the product at night is NOT effective. Again, visibility was problematic. Visual verification of actual results was very difficult to establish. It is easier to SEE whether or not the bag got wet during the day. During the mediation at DTI, I was promised that newspapers would be included inside the BW bag to easily see moisture or water presence. This idea made me agree to an evening testing. Note that there was NO newspaper during the actual testing.

  • There was NO proper documentation equipment used by Fortress Marketing. I want to believe that this case is important to both parties involved. In the end, we all just want a truthful explanation to what happened. Properly documenting the test procedure is a must if we are to come to an agreement regarding my complaint. However, I was extremely disappointed to see that BW only used an android tablet for the video recording and for taking pictures. It is almost impossible to take a decent and clear photo of anything on a rainy evening with minimal lighting. My partner brought a compact DSLR camera and still had to use a flash to take clear pictures. My friend got to see the quality of the video and pictures BW took with their tablet and attests that it was difficult to discern.

  • Testing was too short. Conducting a test for the waterproof bag for only 5 minutes or less is inconclusive. I had it in water in El Nido, Palawan for approximately 30 minutes. Clearly, the time disparity will yield different results. I reminded Fortress Marketing of this condition during the night of the testing at least twice, but didn't take it into consideration. Is it not important to at least try to achieve similar conditions as to when the bag supposedly malfunctioned?

Arguments:

1. The bag is designed for laptops.

This is the primary reason why I specifically asked the salespeople of Fortress Marketing (including the marketing head who was present at the time) BEFORE I bought the bag, if I can use it for my camera gears. They assured me that it will not be a problem as long as it will fit into the BW bag.

Whether the bag was designed for laptops or cameras, the bottom line is that it should be able to protect whatever it contained as long as capacity of the bag is met.


Me and my Sea to Summit light weight dry sack that I used also in El Nido, Palawan last May 2014 that didn't fail me.


2. Fortress Marketing claims that the camera bag I used to place all my gadgets into before placing it into the BW waterproof bag is too big and is beyond the capacity of the BW bag.



The camera bag in question containing all the damaged equipment only weighs less than 4kgs. The capacity of the Beyond Water bag is 8 liters or converted, 8kgs. Fortress Marketing is most welcome to weigh the same bag with all the reported damaged equipment for verification.

Here is a video on the Beyond Water website that demonstrates how to fold the top closure and the bag's capacity along with its other features:


Watch also this short video demonstration of how the camera bag fits the BW bag and how I can conveniently fold the top closure at least thrice as per instruction. This video is unedited and without cuts to avoid speculations:


It is quite impossible for anyone to fold the top closure incorrectly. Fortress Marketing told me that perhaps I did not fold the top closure 3x. The thing is, how hard is it to follow a very simple instruction? I consider my camera equipment a valuable investment as an avid photographer and travel blogger. Anyone in my shoes would be as careful as I am to follow an elementary instruction.

3. Fortress Marketing cited that I incorrectly folded or sealed my BW waterproof bag.
During the product testing, a staff from their company demonstrated the "proper" way of folding the top closure. For the sake of argument, let us say that they are correct and I am wrong. The question is, WHERE is the instruction manual? The ONLY instruction written in the bag is this:
Please roll at least 3 times and clip buckles to seal.
What my common sense tells me is that there should be air inside the bag as I seal it and I should make sure that the folds are snugly fitted or not loosely folded.

The Verdict:

Below is a photo of the top closure of my Beyond Water waterproof bag after the 4th scenario:


Visual evidence that water almost went in my Beyond Water waterproof bag in just less than 5 minutes in the water.

My mistake to have not taken photos every after scenario. It was only after the last testing stage that my partner got to take a closer picture of the results.

This parting shot is enough to anticipate what will happen if the Beyond Water waterproof bag stayed longer in the water.

Related Article:

My Beyond Water (BW) Waterproof Bag Failed






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4 comments:

  1. Tedious process..
    But I still feel that there is something amiss in here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think I will not trust that bag as there is no Zip Lock to close it before folding it. Water will still come in no matter how tight you fold it. I have a water proof pouch that have 2 zip locks before folding and locking it. After 30 minutes, moisture still come in, what more with that bag without zip locks....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, I'm a frequent backpacker, freelance photographer and traveler, Of course I bring important gadget like my DLSR, lens and laptop and of course I do want to have a secured water proof bags for my gadget.. I'll take note of your review and also find out from my other friends if they purchase this water proof bag and ask for their comments or if they have experience this kind of situation..

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't think the bag is well-secured. I can't trust its 3-fold features. I don't think I will entrust my valuables in that.

    ReplyDelete