Monday, September 28, 2009

Adrian’s needs a lesson in customer service

So, my younger son had been wearing his new running shoes when one of the elastic laces snapped…

(Let me preface this rant by saying he had last spring’s version of the same slip-on running shoe – he wore them into the ground – and never had a problem with the laces. They’re an interesting alternative to Velcro and are more socially acceptable for older kids.)

On the weekend, I went to the Adrian’s where we bought his shoes. It’s a rare breed, one of the few stores carrying children’s footwear that actually still fits children properly. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to put up with their attitude (something we’ver] experienced several times.)

I asked them if they knew how I could fix the shoes. The immediate reaction of the first woman I spoke with was to tell me she’d she if they had another pair in his size but she thought they were sold out.

Me: Waaaaiiitt a minute! It’s just a lace, the rest of the shoe is totally fine. I was asking to see if something could be done to fix them and if you’ve ever had this problem before.”

Her: “You can remove the elastic and replace it with a regular shoelace.”

Me: “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the shoes?”

The owner was in the store so I proceeded to ask her. I surely didn’t think this was the only pair where the elastic lace broke. She basically told me the same thing.

First woman: “As kids get older, they’re harder on their shoes.”

Me: “He wore his first pair until they didn’t fit, they held up fine. He’s only a four months older now.”

Owner: “It’s just like a seam splitting on a dress. There’s nothing we can do.”

Gee thanks for nothing. I’ve only purchased how many pairs of shoes and boots from you over the years?

Still standing at the cash, with no other customers in the store and the only three staff people standing behind the counter, I called my husband who was on his way to the shoemaker. I asked him to take our son’s shoe with him and see if anything could be done.

As I turned to them and asked if they’d like me to share the outcome because it may be helpful to other customers. The store phone was also ringing.

The owner replied with an apathetic “Sure” as she proceeded to answer the phone.

It was obvious the person on the other end wasn’t a customer and was asking why it had taken her so long to answer. I can’t recall the exact wording but in a somewhat snarky tone she replied she had be speaking with a customer who had taken up a lot of her time.

Hello, excuse me? I was within earshot. What the heck was that? Well, I think you’ve just lost me as a customer for good.

But there’s more to this than me being upset with the store and deciding not to give them my business. The experience doesn’t bode well for New Balance either. They manufacture the shoes – New Balance 630 – which coincidentally were selected by Good Housekeeping as the Runaway Winner for Best Kids Sneakers. New Balance probably wants stores to let them know when customers have problems with their merchandise. Maybe they have a solution.

Perhaps the retailer doesn’t care if she has my business. She knows she corners the market when it comes to properly fitting children’s shoes and black oxfords for private school uniforms. And let’s face it, I can blog and rant online all I want. She probably won’t have a clue and she may lose another customer or two. Big deal. But what she doesn’t know is whether or not New Balance is listening online. She also has no idea what type of relationships her customers have with her suppliers either. For all she knows, I could be related to a senior exec.

As I was ranting about this on Twitter last Saturday, several people started sharing some of their recent experiences with poor customer service, including @kimberly_lyn who was called “Dude” by an annoying salesperson.

Please leave a comment and share some of your recent frustrating customer service experiences - you’ll feel better, promise. (If you’re going to use a company’s name, please be remember to be respectful and fair. )
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. Wow, that is a terrible story. Even though there is a recession supposedly going on, I'm still encountering poor service by the bushel full. As a business owner myself, I feel that customers need to complain when this kind of thing happens and to go as high as they need to in order to get an apology and/or satisfactory resolution. Unfortunately with independent retailers, the buck stops with the owner and if he/she doesn't care then your only recourse is to vote with your feet. Never go back and tell as many people as you can.

  2. Thanks Louise,
    I'm also amazed at the poor service I'm been experiencing all around. I've been trying to make a point of supporting small retailers but some of them make it really difficult. Of course there are still others going out of their way.


  3. I'm a runner and I only wear New Balance because of their commitment to properly fitted footwear and my hard to fit feet. I bet New Balance would love to hear this story. In the meantime, take the shoe to a New Balance specific store and see what they have to say. I am certain you will have a different experience and will probably find a new place to shop for your son's shoes.

    I think that store should be very grateful you didn't name them on Twitter. You are obviously a very nice person and they have lost a good customer. They probably don't need your help with their demise if they continue with that attitude.

    Best Regards,

    Marcy Berg

  4. Ah ha! So that's the full story. I can't believe the nerve of that store owner. Really, is that how they interact and maintain relationships with their customers? Even if they didn't have the answer to your problem the least they could have done is make attempts to search for a solution.

    I always go to my local shoe repair guy for my footwear problems, they're much better at solving things.

  5. Sounds like the company has a problem with hiring the right people. No one you talked to cared a thing about protecting the brand's reputation. That is absolutely ridiculous.

  6. While I was not in the store at the time, I too have experienced less-than-steallr customer service at this particular retailer. But we kept going back because they always fitted our son properly. Those days may be over, however.

    While on the subject of customer service (and perhaps Eden is saving this for a later post) we did experience the complete opposite from the shoe store in terms of attentiveness from small business staff. This occured at a neighbourhood restaurant where a mistake by the kitchen was not only rectified, but the caring attitude of the wait staff upon hearing of the error was a text book case of how ALL customers should be treated. But I'll leave the rest of the story to Eden. :-)

  7. If you haven't already seen Toronto Louise's post about her story about the horrible customer service she experienced on the weekend, you should check it out.

    Marcy, You are so kind. Making a trip to a New Balance store is an excellent idea. Perhaps I'll give them a call tomorrow to see if there's anything they can do.

    Kimberly, Most shoe repairs are pretty good at solving these types of challenges but for the money we pay for kids running shoes, I hoped the retailer would help me without having to enlist the services of a shoemaker at my expense. One can wish. ; )

    Rayanne, The owner was the worst offender. Unfortunately, in tough times it may be too much to ask brands to be more selective of the retailers they entrust with selling their products.

    Mr. B, Those days ARE over! We did have wonderful service at Amaya on the weekend. The food was incredible, the staff was attentive and when they accidentally brought us a dish containing scallops (we ordered the tasting menu and asked not to be served scallops), they bent over backwards to apologize and bring us another dish asap. As we left the restaurant, the owner was at the door thanking us and other customers for dining at his restaurant. We'll be back!



Thanks for visiting my blog. Your feedback is important to me. I read every single comment and do my best to reply.

Note: Anonymous comments and spam will be deleted.