Customer Service Woes

Last weekend, I bought a pair of shoes. They felt terrible once I wore them for more than 10 minutes, so terrible I was afraid that wearing them would cause injury. So, I went to a different store today to buy some new shoes, and got some that I hope I’ll like. Then, I went to return the old shoes. But, because I had worn them outside, I was unable to return them. And what followed was just terrible. I finally accepted a $90 store credit just so I could get out of there…my least favorite thing about myself is that when I get very angry, I cry. Which makes me look weak. So, I had to leave so I wouldn’t cry.

But, I came home and wrote a letter to the owners. And now I’m posting that letter. Would you be angry?

Dear Eli & Sean,

I just had one of the worst customer service experiences of my life in your NE Fremont store.

Last Saturday, I purchased a pair of shoes (and a map of Forest Park that the salesperson told me also contained Washington Park – and it doesn’t) in your NE Fremont store.

I wore the shoes on Monday, and by the time I’d finished my run, my feet were in a tremendous amount of pain – I felt as though there were hot knives stabbing through my arches. Between the painful fit and the map that didn’t have the one thing that I wanted, I was terribly unhappy with my experience – so I attempted to return my purchase today. The return of the map went seamlessly.

I was not so lucky with the shoe return. I was told that because I’d worn them outside, I could not get my money back. His exact words were, “Look what you’ve done to these shoes. How can you expect us to take them back now?” If I’d worn them all week, or through some rivers, or in a mud pit, maybe his words would have been justified. However, since it was one run (and I even stayed off the trails and ran on roads so they wouldn’t get as dirty), I felt that was a little harsh. When I protested that I’d not known that I couldn’t wear them outside – no one told me, the man I spoke with said that he’s not surprised that I wasn’t told – because they don’t tell people that. He said that since most people run outside, they don’t tell people they CAN’T run outside if they wish to return their shoes. That confused me a bit – does that mean that your salespeople are deliberately leaving out information so that customers cannot take advantage of your return policy?

The man kept protesting that the return policy is more than fair – and is standard for all shoe stores. But, since it’s not actually a RETURN policy, but an exchange policy, I don’t see how it’s fair. I purchased a pair of shoes at Fit Right, and specifically inquired about outside wear (now that I know that trick) and was told that as long as it’s within 30 days, they don’t care if I wear them outside – they’re more concerned about making sure I’m happy. I’m sure I don’t need to mention REI’s return policy….

Even though I’m very disgusted with your non-existent return policy, I finally agreed to a store credit, but the man kept lecturing me. He told me that Foot Traffic was a great store and disparaged my choice of shoe from Fit Right (a Fila) – a shoe that I would have happily exchanged my shoes for if only you carried it.

The original fitting was amateurish at best – something I know now that I’ve had a vastly superior experience at Fit Right – and your customer service at the point of return was terrible. I have never been this upset and angry after an attempted return – and am appalled that your “return” policy is not. At one point, when I firmly (and, I’m willing to admit, maybe a bit rudely by this time) said that I wasn’t interested in hearing any more about how wonderful your store was because I just wanted my credit so I could leave, the man I was speaking to said, “Well, a little education can go a long ways.”

I would agree with that statement, and suggest that you educate your sales people on how to fit shoes properly and how to offer good customer service to a dissatisfied customer – because going into the store, I was only mildly unhappy. Now, I have a $90 store credit that I don’t want, and a lot of running friends that I’m going to tell about it. I have never been so disappointed in a store that I had previously heard good things about.


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