Purse Magnets: Bye-bye Information

First, I’ll freely admit that I am a purse addict. I own many. I don’t want to admit how many. There is much to rationalize: as a small business owner, my office/personal care essentials travel with me from client to client–iPhone, notebook, file folders, pens, keys, lipstick, brush, Chapstick™, BandAids™, Kleenex™–you get the point. No teeny clutch for me. Give me a serious, well-made leather bag and I’m happy. Apologies to all vegans, but I didn’t fight my way up the food chain to carry a water-soaking, dirty-getting, cloth bag.

marc jacobs bagBig bags are fashion approved at the moment, although I’m not sure if we are all extras in a Western movie or into some sort of alternative sex practice. Many bags are embellished and strapped, chained, pierced, punched and riveted. I find this a cross between Goth Twee, What WERE You Thinking?, and Too Clever by Half. But I’ll admit to being the practical one who thinks Bauhaus and Shaker design is frilly enough.

ugly purseSomehow, designer are forgetting that form follows function. The idea in use, is, instead, “cheap it down to sell.” So good leather is now replaced by fingernail-snagging microfiber, careful stitching is gone in favor of glue, and the secure and handy double-headed zipper (works no matter how you carry the bag) is replaced by the. . .magnet.

Did anyone ask what women carry in their bags before they forced this on us? Nope. It’s easy to install a magnet, so big, heavy magnets now shut the bag (keeping a handy space for the pickpocket to reach in). Side pockets click shut, and with the click, wipe out the information on computer disks, hotel key cards, and pre-paid metro cards. Magnets are also a danger to Blackberries and iPhones, scrambling information as they malevolently click shut. Pre-paid gas cards, phone cards and gift cards shrink in value (odd, it never adds cash) and I wouldn’t carry one under my arm if I had a pacemaker or insulin pump.

Designers aren’t thinking about the consumer, because the price is king. We raised up among us a Wal-Mart nation, and in an effort to save money, we are wearing magnets that scramble the money we are trying to save.

So purse designers, listen up–give us back the zipper. They work, they are secure, they keep the contents in our purse when we drop the bag. Use the magnets as a closure on your jackets, the fly of your pants, and your shoes. You’ll give us back working closures before the end of the day.

Images: brown leather bag with chain: http://www.thebagforum.com Denim bag (if it shows up on your server) http://www.costsaving2u.com Bridle-closure bag: http://www.allycarter.com

-Quinn McDonald is a seminar leader who develops courses on business communications. See her work at QuinnCreative.com

13 thoughts on “Purse Magnets: Bye-bye Information

  1. Thank you! I really hope some designers and companies see this! I have been looking for a new purse for months! I’m currently doing without and just using a clutch. Every single purse I come across with a little personality has a magnets! Or it’s $350 which is a little out of my current student price range. GRRR! Thanks for speaking up. I hope they listen.

  2. Does anyone know how to get these idiot magnets off of purses without destroying the purse? I bought a purse I like but it has 2 magnets. I thought I’d try to get them off. The purse was seriously on sale so I’m going to take the risk, but would appreciate any help from those who’ve managed the task. I’ve looked online and the only thing I see means I have to either cut it out and put on some kind of patch or try to unstitch the lining and then still end up with 2 slits in the fabric. Any other ideas? Thanks

    —I took my purse to a shoe repair place. They cut the leather, removed the magnets (there are always two parts, so it’s a bit of a problem) and replaced the one on the body of the bag with a small velcro patch. The other side, the flap portion, was also replaced with a velcro patch on the inside. For the outside, I’d purchased a fabulous button and had them hide the repaired slit with that. Not perfect, but pretty good. -Q

  3. I don’t want to make you crazy, Quinn. Jodhiay (Post 4, above) stated that magnets erased the USB drive. I questioned that, and did the experiment that showed that USB drives are immune to magnets. Goes only for USB drives, that’s all.

    Clearly, magnetic-based storage devices will get wiped by magnets. In today’s technological age, that includes a lot of devices, unfortunately, and it’s not easy to tell which. One is a certain kind of MP-3 player (I-Pod for one) though not the one I got for Christmas (getting dragged into the 21st century here), which is like a USB drive.

  4. The scientist strikes, as promised. I took an old USB drive (capacity 64 megabytes)I received as a gift and that I am (reluctantly) willing to do without. Loaded it full of files, mostly pictures because they take up a lot of space.

    Then I pried the meanest magnet in the house off the fridge with all my strength and fingernails, wiped it repeatedly over the USB drive (it stuck violently on the connector, which is iron) and plugged it into my computer. All files were intact.

    Conclusion: magnets don’t affect my old USB drive, and this very likely goes for ALL USB drives. Note: these use transistor circuits to store data. Don’t try this on an old floppy, your hard drive, or a hard-drive based MP-3 player; they use magnetic storage and will DIE.

    –This is why scientists make me crazy. I’m so glad your old USB drive wouldn’t be hurt by the purse magnet. But my PM-3 player, my iPhone, the hard drive on my lap top, my metro card, hotel key cards all WILL. And since I never worry about that ol’ USB drive I throw in my bag to hold me down in a gale, I’m back to my original statement–for most people, particularly women who are carrying around computer equipment in their bags, the magnets cause damage. –Q

  5. I realized the problem with magnetic fasteners when I gave my wife a pouch for her mini-camera with a magnetic latch; it started making trouble for her credit cards and cash card.

    I’m astonished to hear magnets work OK with credit cards; I erased many a credit card by keeping my hind end and the wallet there too close to powerful magnets (pen writers on EKG machines used in a student lab). Maybe the new ones have digital storage on little embedded chips.

    I also doubt a magnet influences a USB drive, since those work with electric charges used to change the state of transistors; however, I will experiment and report back. I have some really powerful magnets salvaged from modern loudspeakers and hard drives. You have to pry them off iron with a crowbar.

    –i’ve had more trouble with the damn things. they might be practical, but they sure make a wreck of my stuff!

  6. Recently I bought a front-pocket wallet with a magnetic money clip and a pocket for credit cards. Now that’s not a high point in the annals of product engineering! Everything seemed fine until it erased a hotel keycard and started interfering with my Metro card. (Still hasn’t erased my credit cards, though.) Now I carry my iPod in another pocket just in case! Sigh, I need a good old-fashioned money clip — having to worry about what goes in which pocket is not my style!

    —Paul–in my experience, credit cards will work OK with magnets, but Metro cards, gift cards, hotel key cards–anything that has money on it that can be withdrawn, or a code that can be changed is affected by magnets. Thumb drives, iPhones, Blackberries, disks–all get scrambled. I just can’t believe this hasn’t become an issue with a lot of noise around it yet. –Q

  7. Our bags are designed with security in mind, so we only use zips. Even on outer pockets we never use magnets because we don’t want people having problems with them.

    –I generally dump posts that I think are just luring people to another site. I didn’t find any leather bags here, most of these are back-pack types, but I do own a pacsafe for my motorcycle riding, and haven’t had a problem, so the post gets to stay.

  8. The price and design of handbags is the reason I’ve begun to make my own. I have carried a knitted, felted hobo bag now for about a year. It cost all of $15 in yarn and one run through the washing machine. Everyone who sees it wants it; I haven’t lost a thing from it as the closure is a gathered draw at the top which also becomes the handles or a single shoulder strap, depending on how I want to carry it.
    I feel the same way about velcro as I do about magnets. Velcro snags sweaters, hose and also my very expensive compression sleeve. Give me buttons, ties or zippers!

  9. Oh, I’ve been dealing with a magnet closure on a purse for about a year…I want my zipper back! I know for sure that the darned magnet erased info on one of my USB drives.

  10. Quinn, I love your descriptions- Goth Twee is a classic. I’m still chuckling. You should be able to find a few more options for bags now that you have come out here to the beef-eating, leather wearing west. Try some of the western stores in your area and you might just find a bag that suits your needs. Or you might just find a local leather worker who will make one for you. It won’t be cheap, but it will be right.

    —I’ll have to look for those western stores and local leather workers. I haven’t gotten that deep into the city. So far, a lot of people want to be big-city cool. But you suggestion is a great one! -Q

  11. Pingback: Plea to Purse Designers · Insulin Pump News

  12. Wasn’t there an urban legend years ago about eelskin wallets erasing credit card strips, until it turned out that it was the magnets used to hold the wallets closed that created the problem? Magnets — really powerful magnets — are getting more common, and they’re trouble for almost anything digital!

    —Good memory, Pete. It’s true. I think it was about mid-80s that people began loving eelskin and then hating it because they thought the leather was causing problems. Electric eels, people said, could be electric after death. Sigh. The truth was that eelskin was not thick enough to put stitching in to hold a zipper, so they used magnetic snaps. And that’s where the problem was coming from. –Q

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