Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Morgan's Shoes - The Love Affair is Over

For regular readers of my blog, you may remember my endorsement of a local shoe store here in Madison. One that charges a hefty some for shoes, but I claimed was worth it because 1) the shoes are designed to last years, and 2) the customer service was excellent. There is a saying out there that goes something like -- it takes years to build a good relationship, but only minutes to ruin one. That holds true in this case. My love affair with Morgan's Shoes is now over.

About two weeks ago I noticed some pain in the back part of my foot -- tender, almost bruised like. I realized I had just started wearing a pair of "house slippers" I'd bought last year following some serious foot issues resulting from my second pregnancy. Not only had my feet grown a 1/2 size, but had something close to a stress fracture. Morgan's Shoes at Hilldale helped me find 3 different shoes -- one for work, one for inside, and a pair of hiking / winter boots. I spent an average of $100 per pair. And this was from someone who had previously purchased shoes at second hand stores. Why did I do it? I wanted me feet to feel better, and I didn't mind investing in footwear that would last years. The cost per daily use would be low, or so I thought.

I called the store about my pain, and they told me to bring the shoes in for a look. I imagined them measuring my foot to see if it had grown/shrunk or recommending the shoe have a new insert or repair. Instead I was met by a fast talking salesmen who declared the problem was my big toe wearing down shoes, and pointing out the shoes I had bought were only designed to last 1year. Then he offered to knock a bit off a new pair.

What? Last 1 year? Now I know I had just had a second baby and may have been sleep deprived when I made may initial purchases, but earlier this summer I had bought a pair of sandals there, and they had told me the same thing "you'll get years of wear out of these". Wrong. The man in front of me was saying they too had been worn out, and were not intended to last more than 1 summer.

Who to believe -- the earlier sales people or this one telling me I needed new shoes? Does it really matter? Two of the pairs of shoes I'd bought there had worn out in less than 12 months of wear - -worn to the point they were causing pain. A third pair, which they claim will fix the problem with my big toe, leave me so unsteady that I fell after loosing my balance when stepping on a twig in the church parking lot....while wearing my 1 year old daughter in a front carrier. They are not my "go to" shoe for this reason.

It amazes me that this message could have been delivered with greater care. The salesman launched into technical foot speak, blamed me, and pushed for another sale. That is a formula for loosing not only a sale, but a repeat customer. Fast paced technical talk is fine between estate planning attorneys discussing "Give Me 5 Trusts" or electrical engineers discussing circuit board design. It is not okay for a salesperson talking to a customer. If someone does this to you, leave and go find someone who is more interested in doing a good job than closing a sale. You'll end up with a better product in the end.

So, I find my frugal self asking -- what are good shoes to buy? I want something that will last years or at least a few seasons? I doubt I'll return to my second hand purchases, but I may if they are relatively new. Will I try another high-end store? I doubt it. Something in the middle will probably be the result. And some research on the web for products that hold up well. I welcome any suggestions you may have.

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