Monday, July 09, 2007

No Shoes for a Disgruntled Customer

Have you ever in this world encountered a retail store that refused to let you try on the merchandise? Refused, that is, until you had given them an entire health history? I just returned from a disaster of a shopping expedition.

This morning when I went to the Post Office after meditation, I spied a new shoe store in the Bradlee Shopping Center: Foot Solutions. In my ongoing search for replacements for my 3-year-old Eccos, I determined to return later on today when they were open.

Later when I walked through the door into a very empty store, I was immediately asked “What brings you here?” I thought it should be rather obvious that I was interested in buying a pair of shoes. But instead I gave the perfunctory “I’m just looking.” As I proceeded to look a short stocky woman in a white coat (named Holly) approached me and offered to make suggestions, considering my foot history. “I’m just looking,” I said a little more emphatically to her.

They carry some very expensive shoes: Finn, Mephisto, Theresien, those multi-hundred dollar brands. But I should have known something was up because there was not a price tag to be found on any shoe.

I finally found two styles I wanted to try on and told the girl at the desk, who said, “I’ll get Holly.” It would seem my case had been assigned to Holly.

Holly reappeared with her clipboard in hand and a standard shoe measuring device. I tried to tell her I knew what size I wore, but she would have none of that. So I put on the footlets and agreed to let her measure my feet and guess what – I measured a 9B!

Then she started with questions like: Do you have a history of diabetes? Fibromyalgia? I tried to say in my nicest voice “But I just want to try on two pairs of shoes.”

She continued, “I don’t suppose you would give me your name,” to which I replied, “Right. Can I just try on the shoes?” I thought I was close, but then she asked me to stand up and turn around so she could check some aspect of my anatomy.

I announced that I was not here to get podiatry advice, just to try on two (FUCKING) pairs of shoes. Holly locked eyes with me as if to say, “My way or no way.” I said in one last effort, “If you don’t go get those shoes, I am going to hand you back your footlets and walk out of here.” She just shrugged and I realized I was up against a Nazi-like attitude that was not about selling shoes, but was rather about filling out the form. For goodness sake!

As I walked out, I mentioned to Holly, “If you insist on this process, you are not going to sell a lot of shoes.” She just looked at me and said, “Good luck.”

Have you ever experienced such treatment at a new place obviously starving for business which doesn’t make a penny of profit unless they SELL SHOES?

Where did you buy your last pair of comfortable shoes? What brand were they? (Note that I did not ask you about your arches or the general state of your feet!)


Blogger Jamy said...

How odd! Maybe it's a referral only place? I can't imagine why they thought it was ok to treat you like that!

My favorite brand these days is "Keen" and I got them at They are very ugly shoes, but most comfortable.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Velvet said...

Okay, it's the heat. You know that right? The heat makes everyone turn into complete assholes. Someone decided to tell me off today because my dog was crying when I went in to the post office. Her take was that my dog was "hot." Yes, you dumb bitch, I know it is hot, but she is crying because she is a freak who can't be more than 2 feet from me. Then we had a throwdown on 14th Street. I can't let people walk all over me, and I'm glad you didn't either.

I then came back to my building where some lady (visiting the psychiatrist no less) in the elevator told me to get my dogs away from her. I said, "We're in an elevator. Where would you like them to go?" She said in her thick 'I just got to this country yesterday' accent, "Away from me. They should be on leashes."

Then she got herself a new asshole ripped. I think I screamed something like, "You don't live here and when you pony up half a mill for a condo, feel free to ask me to leash my dogs on private property."

Yeah, and I was minding my own business.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Bengal said...

I've mostly gotten out of the business of trying to out-asshole the assholes. I got to be (too) good at it, for a while, but life's too short to waste adrenaline on such nonsense.

I got my last pair of shoes at Pacer's in Clarendon. They understand runners' feet; they also recommend that customers "try on" new shoes by running around the block a couple of times to see what they feel like under realistic conditions.

For more fashionable footwear, Barbara, didn't you solve that puzzle on your own blog last month?

10:03 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy -- I tried on a bunch of Keens at REI over the weekend and they just don't work for me. I'm not sure I would call them ugly, but they are very clunky.

Velvet -- I think I should sic you on the idiots at Foot Solutions. You would have gotten them to bring you the shoes for sure. Meanwhile, I'm glad you are standing up for Sammy and Thora's rights.

Bengal -- What I really need are some shoes that are sort of like bike shoes. Believe me, if they had had them at Nordstrom's I would not still be looking. Maybe I'll look at Pacer's if they have other than running shoes. Someone else mentioned The Walking Company in Pentagon City. I used to be able to wear just any only pair of shoes, but my feet and my taste have gotten much more picky as I get older.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I recently had a bad experience with getting a futon delivered - which I intend to blog about.

Some people don't get customer service.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I'll be of no help to you whatsoever - last pair of comfortable shoes I bought were Crocs, those colorful perforated resin things that are so ugly they're cool and so comfortable I hope they start making a wear-in-the-snow version. I did have to ask a very chatty clerk to move her conversation somewhere else so I could get to the display rack but she was accomodating and even cut her conversation short (with friends who dropped in the store) to ring up my $30 purchase. I now own two pair of Crocs - a soft green for fashion and a neon orange pair for fun.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

That is beyond belief!
They'll go under soon if they treat everyone like that!
I have New Balance runners and Finn Comfort sandals plus Finn hiking suede boots.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- I look forward to the story of the futon.

Pauline -- Maybe I should just resort to Crocs, but I have to make sure they would stay on with the weird way I walk.

MOI -- One of the two pairs I wanted to try on was made by Finn. They looked very nice and comfortable.

10:45 AM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

I jut go barefoot- Unless, of course I put on my ridiculous heels!

Flipflops (but cute ones) for me most days this summer. Oh, and my new riding paddock boots- they cost a fortune but I could live in them.

What an odd experience at that shop. I would write a letter.
Customer service has, I believe, actually gotten better at most better establishments. That's the best way to compete with such savvy customers. Too bad they didn't teach that sales person that on her first day!

10:59 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Crazy. I don't think I'll be shopping there any time soon. Then, again, I generally buy my shoes online or at DSW. Nobody helps me with either.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- We were probably intended not to wear shoes, so barefoot sounds good -- letting your feet spread and breathe. As I recall, however, your collection of shoes would say you could probably wear a different pair every day for a long time and not run out!

Kristin -- I used to buy all my shoes at a discount place and never gave it a thought. Then I realized Aerosoles really don't fit me very well. I wish I could find a good mail-order place and a brand I could count on.

11:16 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Strngest thing i've ever heard...probably has something to do with scooter Libby and its not really a shoe shop...
or maybe Holly is going through that 'Change" and coupled with the heat Velvet speaks of...

i bought some of those Dr. Scholls at Walmart
Now I'm Gellin' and I'm tellin you its compellin', and foretellin, and I didn't have to answer any questions about Diabetes or Stinkfoot or nuthin...

12:58 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Holly seemed more like a young robot than a menopausal woman. Oo-eee! Love that gel. Maybe that's what I should be looking for. Dr. Scholl's fix up just about any old shoes, right?

3:04 PM  
Blogger realbullet said...

Foot Solutions is a full service pedorthic facility whose focus is on foot health; they also happen to sell expensive comfort shoes as these a key solution to many foot issues.

Many people do not walk into Foot Solutions looking for shoes -- they are walking in because they have plantar fasciitis or other problems & are looking for relief.

Most Foot Solutions stores are going to measure you & ask you if you are having any foot problems. You wouldn't believe the number of people who say they are a 9B & turn out to be a 10D. If you are a self-services person, you may feel like a fish out of water in a full-service store. Also, odds are against them having an exact shoe in the exact color & size you are looking for. These questions help with alternates, in case they don't.

That being said, the owner of the store you visited happens to be a particularly strong Nazi about ensuring that his employees follow his procedures. Most of the stores will not be as mechanical. You are lucky you left -- you would have been encouraged to purchase custom orthotics before you ever saw a shoe.

This owner owns all of the stores in the Washington, DC area (& he is very successful). If you ever get the chance, visit the store in Glen Allen, VA -- you will be more impressed.

8:29 PM  

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