(Ed’s Note: I realized about half way through writing this, that this may be a supremely boring post. Enjoy!)
A couple of years ago I was in the market for a new pair of dress shoes. On the recommendation of good friend, neighbor-at-the-time and HOF blog commenter Rob, I decided not to cheap out, and spend a little more than I would normally and buy a pair of shoes from Allen Edmonds. You see, Rob told me, there really is a difference in shoe quality, and Allen Edmonds shoes were so well made, than you could have them re-soled as necessary and the shoes/leather would last far, far longer than less expensive shoes. And this wasn’t just lip-service, he said, he’d been wearing the same Allen Edmonds shoes for years already, and had them re-soled several times.
So I took the plunge. I bought a pair of shoes from Allen Edmonds in the Delray style. In the store, I was deciding between those and another style, which had a slightly more squared toe. Ultimately, I went with the Delray.
Within a couple of weeks, it became apparent to me that I made the wrong choice. I have a very wide foot, and even though I purchased the right size (EEE), something about the tapered toe construction of the shoe wasn’t right, and the shoe wasn’t entirely comfortable, and didn’t fit the width perfectly. I also tend to supinate my foot (or under pronate) when I walk, which in normal English means I put the outside of my foot down instead of the whole bottom. Theoretically, I should wear orthotics to correct this, but I never do. It isn’t too much of a problem (though, in the wrong shoes and on long walks, it can cause pain in my shins and feet), but it does cause an uneven wear pattern on my soles. Look at your shoes now, is the wear on the heel more to the outside than the center? Then you know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, I kept wearing the shoes, until they needed to be resoled. Allen Edmonds offers a service it calls “recrafting,” where they “rebuild” a shoe, as opposed to just resoling it. I decided that for my first re-sole, I would send it to Allen Edmonds instead of a regular shoemaker. See, the combination of the wedth and the underpronation of my foot had made the leather of the shoe kind of spill over the side of the sole a little. I thought that recrafting could fix this.
I sent the shoes back, and very quickly had a beautifully recrafted pair of shoes back. With one problem: I thought they had put the wrong sole on. It seemed to me, visually, that they had put a narrower sole on than the EEE I had sent in. Then I tried on the shoe, and my foot was spilling over the side worse than before. I called the company, and they very generously sent me a shipping label to send back the shoes and have them re-recrafted at no aditional cost to me. I did, addressed to the customer service rep I spoke to, with a letter going over my concerns.
When the rep got my shoes, she called me and said they looked fine to her, and that the sole was a EEE sole. I told her, then, that something seemed off about the shoes. She looked closer, and said that I was right, that the leather was warped over the side, and there was nothing they could do to repair that. I was ready to accept reality and ask her to send my shoes back, when she said, continuing, “so I’ll send you a new pair.”
Wow! I was floored. At no cost to me, she processed a new pair to be sent from the warehouse, which they had in stock, and I received a few days later.
But wait! It gets better. Remember how I’ve never really like the style? I figured this was my opportunity.
I took the brand new (if not recently purchased) Delray shoes to the Allen Edmonds store near my office. I told the clerk there exactly the story (that I bought the shoes, sent them for recrafting, got these brand new ones instead, but still didn’t like the style/narrow fit) and he, without blinking, told me that would be no problem, he could take them back and exchange them for something else. I asked him what he recommended, and pointed out a couple of styles that I liked. He told me that those styles were built on the same last as the Delray, and so the fit would likely be the same. Instead, he pointed out a couple of other styles that were built on wider lasts that might fit better. I tried on a couple, found one that I liked, found the right size and was happy with it. He went to process the exchange.
But wait! It gets even better. The shoes that I tried in my size had been laced up and a little bent/scuffed, seemingly by someone who had tried them on in the past. Nothing major, they were still clearly new. I asked if he had a different pair, and he said no, they only keep on of each size in stock at a time. I was disappointed, but willing to accept that, when he volunteered, that if I didn’t mind waiting, he could have a new pair shipped directly to my house from the warehouse. Nice! And at no shipping cost to me! Even nicer!! I told him I’d been without shoes for weeks now (from the time I send them in to be recrafted, and all the shipping back and forth) and could wait a little longer. He logged into the inventory system, told me the shoes I wanted were in stock, and they would ship out that day, and that I should get them in a couple of days (maybe even in time for this shabbos, I thought, and definitely in time for Pesach! Yay!). The shoes I chose were slightly more expensive, so I paid only the difference in price. Mind you, that’s the difference in the current price, not what I paid, which was less (because the price on my old shoes went up in the interim).
And that’s the story of my new Allen Edmonds Soho shoes, and the fantastic customer service of Allen Edmonds. All thanks to Rob!