We went to the New Balance store to get laces for the 810s we bought as well as the 753s we bought. We made a special trip to the store just for that purpose. When at the store we first asked the sales person for laces. We explained that the shoes were less than two months old and that we want to keep them in service since they are in serviceable condition and lack only a lace. The sales person told us that there is nothing New Balance can do about the broken lace because it is a continuous loop and there is no way to fix it. We asked to speak to the manager under the assumption that the shoes were far from trash and could be used until they are outgrown or damaged.
The manager was then busy with what seemed like a personal conversation, but she did join our conversation. The manager repeated that there was nothing New Balance could do about the broken shoe lace. She asked for the receipt. We said we could get it but did not have it with us. We explained that we had paid $49.00 for the shoes and did not want to have to throw them away just because there were no replacement laces. The manager replied saucily that that we had paid $54.95 for them but that there was nothing she could do about it. We asked what New Balance’s policy in this situation was and she said “30 days and the shoes must be restockable.” We asked why she asked for the receipt when she could plainly see the shoes were not restockable. (We were not asking for a new pair of shoes.) We told her we had been coming into the store for months looking for new shoe laces. We asked when does the store get shoe laces. She said at the beginning of the school year. We asked her what we are supposed to do to get the shoes back into service. She then faced off with my wife and began tapping her head saying, “”You’re stuck on the word “shoe lace”. All you can think about is “shoe lace”. We don’t carry shoe laces.”” At this point the conversation terminated, on our part through sheer frustration, on the manager’s part with the decisive and humiliating defeat of a mother and her seven year old son with a gallery of friends and cohorts present to witness her crushing retort to our every shoe lace question.
The conversation just described was conducted with the entire store concentrating on the conversation, including the people with whom the manager was previously conversing.
Exiting the store my son asked, “But mom, what about my new shoes. Aren’t we going to get me some shoes?” You see, my son knows that a trip to New Balance for a pair of laces really means a trip to New Balance to get a new pair of shoes because there really are no laces. His mother told him we would go to a different store to get him more shoes, a store where they back up their product. We then went to another store and bought him two more pairs of shoes.
Let me sum up the situation for you. New Balance is perpetrating a scheme whereby they market shoes to the public with proprietary laces and lacing systems. When those laces fail, as they often do, and the customer visits the store to get new laces New Balance does not provide the proprietary laces or reasonable facsimiles to their customers. Furthermore, when the customer makes reasonable inquiry the manager is apparently trained to crush the interest that customer has in obtaining a shoe lace and instead sell the customer unneeded replacement shoes for “54.95”, when ever possible. Do you think that my wife or I will ever go to a New Balance store again?
I believe this set of facts if very unfair to the consumer: the way the store handled this, the New Balance lace policy, the cutting and public humiliation heaped on my wife, the way the entire New Balance purchasing public is being forced into new-buys instead of new laces. I don’t look at this as an isolated incident. I see this as the ploy of a multi-national corporation to generate additional sales for new shoes while leaving the consumer with more shoes than they really need, all because New Balance likes to play hide-the-laces. Check it out and let me know if you had similar things happen with New Balance.