Aerosole Wip Balm Sandal / shoddy product/horrible customer service
I purchased a pair of Wip Balm Sandals at my local Aerosole store at the beginning of June 2009. Within a month of wearing them, the insole was separating from rubber outersole, at the heel of the sandal. On the last occassion that I wore them (I still thought that a little wear wouldn't go any farther and that a "quality" pair of sandals would last until the end of the season, at least!), the entire sole separated from the heel (ripping just past the glued seam) and the leather strap that holds the buckle just ripped out of sole. At this point, I could see under the insole and see that the rubber supports under the heel had broken and collapsed (which I believe is what led to the deterioration of the heel).
I called the 1-800 customer service line and explained the nature of the deterioration and asked if I could return the shoe to the store (store policy and the receipt from Aerosole clearly states that there is NO return or exchange on worn merchandise) to which I was told that the office that I was calling would send me a lading bill to return the shoes. I was told that I should put in a note whether I wanted a credit or a new pair of sandals - if they were still in stock. I was also told that I could only get a full refund if I had the receipt, otherwise, I would only receive the most recent price (understandable).
Unfortunately, I received a lading bill that was only valid if I was shipping from the States, not from Canada. (It ended up that the 1-800 number I had called was a US office.) At this point, I had found the receipt (so I could prove the age and price paid of the sandal) and now felt that Aerosole seemed receptive to accepting the return of defective merchandise, so I mosied on down to my local store to return them. The manager did not want to accept the return, though she was grudgingly willing to mail them off to the US office when I pushed it with her saying that I should not have to be responsible for the shipping charges. When I asked for the refund - store credit (at this point) was still okay with me - she told me that she had to call her supervisor (she told me that she thought that she was just returning the shoes and that they would send me the refund).
She returned from the call to say that I could only receive the current price for the return - even though I had brought in my receipt and the shoes. I asked her to call the supervisor back so that I could talk to her myself, but when she did she talked to the supervisor for a minute or two, then hung up and told me that I would have to call her back, myself, later.
After I got home, I called the supervisor and I explained to her that I was originally understanding of the shoddy product because I understand that not every item can be a gem and that up till now, my experience with Aerosole product had been good. Now, I was not interested in ever dealing with Aerosole again because of the poor customer service I was receiving from the Canadian end of the business. Her defence was that she was in the middle of inventory and that was why she could not take my call. I've worked customer service for 15+ years, and it never would have been acceptable to not deal with a customer (especially a customer standing in the store) because of something like inventory!
To make an immensely long story short, I was told that I could not get a refund from the store because the manager claimed that shoes looked like "they had been through a lot" (yeah, they look like they are falling apart!!!). Mind you, she never even inspected them, she just glanced at them laying on the counter. The supervisor (who claims that she is the head of the Canadian division and that there is no one else above her to deal with) told me to mail the shoes to her - at my expense - and if SHE determines that it is a workmanship issue, then I will be refunded my cost and my shippping...but ONLY if SHE determines it to be so. (According to her, Eaton's is out of business because of their acceptance of any return.) According to the supervisor, it is IMPOSSIBLE for her to send me a lading bill, nor is the store set up so that they can ship the shoes to her.
I'm just not feeling valued, nor well taken care of as a customer - I am being put in a position to prove that I didn't misuse (misuse?!) the shoes.
When I asked her for an email address so that I could send her photos of sandals so that she could see what the sandals look like and see how the fabric of the insole actually tore away from the seam attaching it to the outsole and then she could make her judgement and I could return the shoes to the store, get my refund and they could send her the shoes to inspect more thoroughly, should she so wish, she claimed that she "didn't know what I could possibly mean to prove".
I have a sneaky suspicion, considering the lack of openness and lack of desire to satisfy me as a customer, and the creation of a lack of trust that I will get any refund, at all!