Contents of this page:
The Process
What Went Wrong?
The Conclusion

How To Buy Shoes


Those who've lived with me know that I've always worn the same type of shoes each day. During the years that I needed that style for use with my uniform I developed a preference for that particular style that stuck with me ever since. It took me a few years in the beginning to find which manufacturer's black oxfords worked best for me, but I soon settled on the Red Wing Shoes Style 101. That's what I've worn ever since, buying two pair at time so I can alternate between them -- shoes last much longer if they dry thoroughly between wearings.

The records I have indicate that I purchased shoes in the spring of 2005, and again in September of 2014, so it is about time to replace them again. I had noticed that, since I weigh about 80 pounds less now than when I bought the last pair, my shoes seemed to fit more loosely on my feet. I decided to have my feet measured before buying the replacement shoes. Red Wing advertises their "Ultimate Fit Experience" that uses "state-of-the-art scanning technology" to create a 3D model of your feet, after which their expert staff will recommend the appropriate shoes for you -- that sounded like just what I needed.

The other thing that the people who know me best will already understand is that I do not like to return merchandise to a vendor for any reason. My rule about buying things is that you shop carefully, make your purchase and take your chances -- if you discover that you've made a poor choice (whether you made a mistake in measuring or choosing colors, or whether the merchandise itself turned out to be less than expected in some way) then you'll be more careful with your next purchase.

The last bit of background needed here is that I've been working diligently for the last couple of years to eliminate as many trips by automobile as I possibly can.

The Process

So it's time to buy some new shoes. The nearest Red Wing dealer with the fancy foot-scanning technology appears to be in a town about 80 miles away. I drive over there on Monday and the staff is happy to measure my feet using the scanner. One foot turns out to be nearly one size larger than the other, but that has never been a problem in the past and should not be problem this time either. The size recommended by the staff was either a 12 or a 13 because my larger foot measured 12.5.

But, they didn't have the Style 101 in stock and could no longer order them. I looked around to see if they had something similar that might work. Indeed, there was the Style 607, a 6-inch work boot that is similar to the 101 oxfords -- the 101 looks like a topless version of the 607. My podiatrist had recommended a shoe with better ankle support anyway, and the 607 was a little less expensive the 101, so the disappointment of not being able to buy my standard shoe was lessened by those factors.

I (thought I) had read comments online that many of their customers ended up buying slightly smaller than their usual size, so I tried on the size 12. They felt pretty good, and seemed to provide better support for my feet. I'll take two pair, please. They had only one pair in stock and agreed to ship me the second pair. I wore the new boots for the rest of that day. The next day I wore my old shoes again (remember that I don't wear them two days in a row, they get a day to dry before I wear them again).

On Wednesday I wore my new shoes again and walked a couple of miles to my doctor's office for an appointment. By the time I got home I knew that I had definitely selected the wrong size of shoe. I discussed the problem with my wife and we decided to take the shoes back and get the larger size. Thursday morning we drove back to the dealer, who cheerfully exchanged them for the same shoe in size 13. I tried them on in the store and they felt good on my feet, so I said I'll take them and let's change the pair that are on order too. This time I even went to a local park to walk around for a while before driving home again to be sure that the fit still seemed right after wearing them for a while. One foot felt slightly loose and the other slightly snug so I thought that I had it right, and we drove home.

On Friday I was anxious to test my new shoes on my normal daily walk. That one foot still felt a bit snug, and by the time I got to the top of the hill and started home again I knew that the fit, although much better, was still not right. Frustrated, disappointed, and embarrassed, I told my wife and she encouraged me to take the shoes back (again!) and get something that fits better.

Saturday we got back in the car and drove back to the dealer, who (again cheerfully) got me size 13 wide this time. I tried them on and walked around the store, paying careful attention to how they felt on my feet. They seemed perfect! I'll take them. And they actually had two pair this size in stock so I walked out with both pair this time. Still being cautious I stopped a couple of miles down the road and walked briskly for about 20 minutes or so before driving home to confirm that the fit really was right this time. It was! Today I verified it by walking my regular two-mile route up the hill and back -- they feel great.

What Went Wrong?

Although I have for many years been able to walk into the shoe store and order "two pair of model 101, in size 13D" and get exactly what I needed, things change. And I don't like change, unless I'm the one who deliberately made it happen.

I was embarrassed by having to return the shoes even after I tried them on before buying them. The neuropathy that affects both of my legs leaves my feet mostly numb, not enough so to keep me from eventually feeling the pain of ill-fitting shoes after I've worn them for a while, but numb enough to make it hard to discern how well they fit during the few minutes inside the shoe store.

I'll also plead lack of experience here: after all those years of good results just ordering by size without trying on the shoes I really don't have much experience with the trying-on process. I've gotten better at it recently though πŸ˜€.

I hated to have to make the long drive once, doing it three times used about eight months worth of my planned vehicle use all in one week.

The Conclusion

It's gonna be OK! Changing situations, though perhaps frustrating, are not necessarily disastrous and may even result in a better outcome overall.

The merchant advertises a 30-day unconditional comfort guarantee during which they'll exchange or refund your purchase. I've always mostly ignored these claims as primarily marketing language designed to motivate you to buy. I expected the process to be arduous enough to discourage most folks from actually attempting it. Not so! in this case. I have been a satisfied customer for a long time, and still am. (But I still really wanted the oxfords!)

It seems that every do-it-yourself project I attempt around the house will require at least three trips to the hardware store; buying shoes should not be like that.

πŸ“… c: 2023-04-02 17:57 ✏️ e:

🏷 tags: #shoes #embarrassment #lessons #CustomerService

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