I have an interesting story about shoes that might not be indicative of blogging about marketing ideas, but certainly is about customer service and pride of product.
For the longest time, I have been in love with Hush Puppy dress shoes. I wear them almost day and night and despite loving the product so much almost dropped buying the product all together because of a bad experience.When I bought my last pair of Hush Puppies about a year before my problem occurred in 2004, I told everyone. It was their most expensive shoe and I was ecstatic with their new technology, which put a cushion of air under your heel. I talked about them on the plane, at seminars, to family and friends…to absolutely everyone. They looked good and felt even better. I gave Hush Puppies so much free advertising some might have accused me of being on their payroll, I assure you I wasn’t and am not currently.
A little over a year after buying the shoes, I one day realized…hey, my feet aren’t so comfy anymore. I took off my shoe and took a look inside. In both shoes, the air cushion had collapsed and a crater had developed under each heel. I’m hard on my shoes but not that hard, and I’m not even a heavy guy. So, I was disappointed but figured it wouldn’t be a problem, just take them back and get a new pair…right? Not that easy after all.The store indicated that they only can return Hush Puppy product with in one year of purchase and you must produce a receipt, which was OK as I still had it. Strike one. I figured OK, if I contact Hush Puppies directly, they would surely recognize a manufacturing default and pony up a new pair of Puppies. Nope…after contacting Customer Service via email their response was simply to shrug me off stating that they only provide a one-year warranty on all their products. In other words, we don’t care that their may be a manufacturing default and you are out of luck. I guess some people may have stopped trying at this point, but I wanted my Puppies repaired or replaced, and I wasn’t taking no for an answer.In the mean time, I had purchased a new pair of stylish, yet comfortable jet black, slide on Rockports. They were surprisingly comfortable, but not my dear Hush Puppies. With the shoebox that my new Rockports came in, I boxed up my old Hush Puppies and shipped them to the office of the CEO of Hush Puppies, with a letter letting them know how I felt.
One of two things is going though your mind. He’s crazy … well, just a little, or brilliant. I really don’t think either are holey appropriate. The fact is Hush Puppies had a choice, they can either stand behind their product or they can leave their customer hanging, in a highly competitive market.
What did they do?
About three weeks after sending my shoes off, at the whopping cost of about eight bucks, my wife received a call from the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Hush Puppies. I happened to be on a business trip at the time but Tanya indicated that she knew why they were calling. The lady politely asked Tanya if she thought Lee would mind waiting about a month, until their new line of shoes came out, and they would ship me a brand new pair. Whoo…hooo…success! Tanya said that would be fine and that she would pass on the message to me. Tanya called me pretty much immediately after getting off the phone, as to date we have had quite a few laughs over the Hush Puppy incident.
I was elated that in the end I succeeded at achieving my goal, but was still upset that it took such great lengths to get satisfaction. This was not a case of a miser seeking a freebie, as I always believe in paying fair prices for quality; their product obviously had an “alleged” manufacturing default. Maybe it was limited to all the shoes produced on New Years Eve, who knows and who really cares.
The morale of the story is stand behind your product or service and your loyal customers will take care of you. If you don’t, they will abandon you faster than you did them.