(Posted Wednesday 10-3-01) Have you ever been so disgusted by the way in which a company handles a response that you’re at a total loss for words. If you have I hope you can relate to this story. If you haven’t, then maybe after you’ve read this, you might be able to relate to how angry and humiliated I am.


About ten years ago I purchased a brand new pair of Dr. Martens shoes up in the Bay area in California. At the time I still had Dr. Marten boots and other pairs of shoes to put on which in turn took about ten years to wear them all out. It was then that I decided to put on for the first time, my Dr. Marten shoes. You might think it odd to keep a pair of unused shoes for ten years but I did travel a lot and they were in storage for all of that time. On top of that I’ve always been a hoarder of things.

A few weeks ago when I first put the shoes on, like all shoes it took a while for them to wear in. In doing so, I got the usual aches and pains in my feet as they adjusted to the new leather. That isn’t anything new I think we can all relate to that. BUT when the ball under my big toe on my right foot began to continually give me pain, I knew something was radically wrong. At first I thought it was the new leather but after two weeks of this horrid pain I knew something wasn’t right.

Not happy with how my foot was feeling, I took the shoe off and put my hand inside. I didn’t really feel too much out of the ordinary but in saying that, I’m not a shoe expert so I really didn’t know what I was looking for. But, it was when I turned the right shoe upside down that I noticed that there was a defect in the sole. Instead of it being flat as such, it was arched upward at one spot under where the ball of my right foot would be. Hence this was what was making my foot ache. At first I didn’t know what to do but after asking around someone suggested that I look up Dr. Martens on the Web. So I did just that and when I found their main site I wrote a nice long letter explaining the age of the shoes, that I didn’t have a receipt and of course what the problem was. A day or two later I got an email back from them telling me to put my shoes in a box and mail it to them in Portland, OR.

They didn’t say that they would replace the shoes, but that they would look at them and if in fact there was a fault in this particular pair then they would be repaired or replaced! That sounded fair enough to me.

I was convinced that this fault would be easily be found by an expert. And not only in my email to them but also enclosed with the shoes (inside the box), I had written a very explanatory letter going over where the problem was and how painful it had been for me to wear the shoes.

Two and a half weeks later on Wednesday 10-3-01, I received the same box back. When I opened it, to my surprise was the original pair of shoes that I'd mailed them. Also enclosed was a very short letter. Not only was their box to me addressed wrong, it was also a street that didn’t even exist! If that wasn't enough, the company couldn’t even complete my first name properly on the envelope or on the letter. (Originally UPS had tried to deliver the shoes FIVE DAYS prior. I only knew about it when I got a white postcard in the mail from UPS four days later that stated that a delivery had been attempted. I’m sure to no avail considering the name was wrong and such a street doesn’t even exist?)

The short letter that I got from Dr. Martens read as follows:

Friday, September 21, 2001

Dr. Martens AirWair USC LL
10 Northwest 10th Avenue
P.O. Box 29017
Portland, OR

Dear Customer,

Your shoes have been received and inspected. Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate this exchange because:


We guarantee the quality of our products against manufacturing defects. However, we are unable to replace merchandise when the above-mentioned condition(s) exist.

Thanks you for supporting Dr. Martens products.


Consumer Returns Department
Dr. Martens AirWair USA LLC


I’ll be honest with you I was dumbfounded. And please excuse my French here, but what a crock of shit. They say that they “guarantee” the quality of their products against manufacturing defects, yet nothing has been done here whatsoever! I was so appalled, that I was on the phone with Dr. Martens within minutes. After explaining my story Terry at the front desk, she put me through to a “MELISSA WOLFE. At first Melissa seemed concerned and listened to what I had to say. I wasn't rude to her as I told her everything and I expressed to her that I really wanted to talk to THE technician who had rejected these shoes.

I asked her, “Did this person have my shoes on his or her feet for two weeks like I had done and like I stated in my letter to them, this was the only way that ANYONE would ever be able to really feel the discomfort like I had gone through.” I went on, “how can you tell me that they are fine when you haven’t even worn them?” Melissa then replied, “well we have technicians who put their hands inside and feel the inner part of the shoe and they look them over.” So I went on, “but that’s not wearing the shoe is it?” Continuing I went on to say, “let me put it this way, if you have a car and you’ve driven it around for two weeks and you KNOW that something is wrong with it and you take it back to the place where you bought it from and they tell you that nothing is wrong with it, wouldn’t you be frustrated? You’ve driven it around and you KNOW that there IS something wrong.”

She even had some technical answer to that also. All she did was go on and on about how the technicians do their jobs properly and how well trained they are and that there was no one else that I could talk to about this. I was so disgusted by her disrespect for me as a customer that I simply ended the call by saying “forget it.” I am absolutely appalled at how this company whose footwear I’ve worn on and off for two thirds of my life has treated me. They've basically made me feel like I’m making all of this up or something? I’m outraged at how they can say that NO MANUFACTURING DEFECT WAS FOUND and in the very next sentence in their letter they guarantee the quality of their products against manufacturing defects? Obviously they don’t stand by their word do they?

If anyone out there has or knows of any other stories like this one that relates to this company I’d love to hear about it. I thank you for your reading and if you want some advice avoid any dealings with this company, period. Regards, Johnny Anderson.

I thank you for your reading again, regards, Johnny Anderson.


UPDATE. On Saturday 10-6-01, I wrote a long letter (email) to the UK division of Dr. Martens requesting that someone in the UK get back to me as I wanted to explain what had happened here in the US. In my letter I clearly stated that I was very upset and wasn't happy at all with how I'd been treated here in the US.

Talk about a "WEAK" company that cannot even respond to a simple request! Two days later I got a response from Dr. Martens in the "US" which I quite blatantly HAD NOT REQUESTED? The reply was as follows:

Thank you for your inquiry. Unfortunately, your shoes were physically inspected for a manufacturing defect and none was found. I am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused.


Consumer Relations Dept.
Dr. Martens AirWair USA LLC


***UPDATE*** (Friday 4-5-02) I couldn't let this rest. It's one thing to be spat in the face when you deserve it but to basically spit in my face and rub it in, I simply couldn't let this go. I'm sorry I wore these bloody shoes and if anyone would KNOW of a defect in the sole it would be me!

So five months later I flew 6,000 miles east to the England. As arranged I had THE SAME PAIR OF SHOES delivered to the dr. Marten's headquarters in Irthlginborough. Here the shoes along with a very descriptive letter were passed on to a Fiona Mitchell. This was the real telling of the truth. If I was told the same thing again, that nothing was wrong, then I'm sorry, but Dr. Martens would be full of crap, period!

Two weeks after delivery finally came the reply (via email) that I'd been waiting for, for so long. The letter read as follows:

"The footwear has been inspected and it has been found to have a manufacturing fault with the composition of the sole. We are currently in the process of manufacturing a one off replacement pair for you which may take approximately 2 weeks. However as soon as this is completed will be dispatched out to you."

Finally THE TRUTH! So what's the story here? The U.S. Headquarters with MELISSA WOLFE and her righteous attitude and her so called thorough technicians who found absolutely NOTHING WRONG with my shoes. Who when I called and tried to get some justification in their findings, MELISSA WOLFE was very, very adamant about the matter. And on that call, I was made to feel like a complete idiot, I was made to feel like a liar and that I didn't know what I was talking about? And yet when the SAME pair of shoes go to the UK offices, the English instantly find the defect? Is this once again yet another American (division of a) company who has no idea what they are doing and are completely incompetent? I think so! I personally feel that MELISSA WOLFE was too pig headed to back down on her technicians THROUGH FINDINGS OF ABSOLUTELY NOTHING?

If I know I'm right about something I will fight it till the end. Sadly many aren't that way and don't have the time or patience to pursue things of this nature. There's nothing wrong with that, but it just saddens me to think how many innocent people out there have been (and will be) told the same absolute crap by the U.S headquarters and I wonder how many times those poor dissatisfied customers would have gotten different results had they have sent their footwear to the "REAL" experts in the UK? At least over there they have the ability to understand that when a customer says they're in pain they have the common sense to realize that they're in pain for a f*cking reason!!!

Again, thanks for your reading, Johnny Anderson.


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