I tried my best to be a stark raving fan of TOMS shoes, but it just didn’t work. Here’s a letter I sent them that I never received a response on…
I wanted to give you the opportunity to comment on my experience before I post it on my site. I had an incident with my first TOMS experience that wasn’t exactly satisfactory. Much of this was communicated over the course of several e-mails with Jen Aschieris. She did a great job answering my questions and concerns. My main problem with TOMS at this point is that I was well on my way to becoming a stark raving fan prior to my first actual experience with the company. After that first experience however I quickly made the transition from a dissatisfied new customer to a non-customer.
I watched Blake Mycoskie’s interview at the Global Leadership Summit in early August and was so enamored with him and TOMS that I ordered my first pair of TOMS shoes that week. For the week I waited on the shoes it was like I saw them everywhere. From the get-go I planned on writing up the whole experience in my magazine column.
You have to understand that despite the awesomeness of TOMS’ cause, all online retailers, especially shoes, are being compared to Zappo’s. So far, I’m not very pleased with my interaction with TOMS. I’ve ordered shoes from Zappo’s before and was nothing but impressed with their service. Not so much with TOMS.
The first pair I selected was shown as out of stock (Highland Brown Men’s Botas) with no option to backorder. Fine, that happens. So I ordered the Brown Waxed Twill Cordones. There were no options like Zappo’s to order two sizes and ship one back for free in case they did not fit. That’s fine. It’s for a good cause, I thought. If the sizing is off, I’ll pay the $9 to ship them back. Well, the sizing was off so I returned them. I kept the big TOMS flag that I ordered though. It was proudly hanging on my office wall in anticipation of me becoming a stark raving fan of TOMS. The pride in the flag though is tarnished now so I took it down. I kept the TOMS sticker from the shoe box and placed it on the back of my truck. Apparently, it’s not an outdoor sticker because two days later it started peeling off. Do you see how so far every interaction with TOMS has been a slightly negative one?
Then, 2 weeks after I mail my shoes back to TOMS for the new size I’m told that they are now out of stock. Once again, no offer of backordering or any ideas when this style may be back in stock. By the time I finally received word from TOMS that they had received my first pair of shoes I went online to see what else I might be interested in. all of a sudden the shoes I originally wanted, the Highland Brown Men’s Botas, were now showing in stock in my size. To be honest, though, at this point I was just frustrated with the whole experience and requested a refund.
Some customers complain just for the sake of being noticed. I didn’t. I complained to give TOMS a chance to dazzle me. TOMS is a great idea and an even greater cause, but if the fulfillment side of the business doesn’t come through, then people will find another outlet for their passions and energy. I really wanted to be a TOMS supporter. I wanted to be the guy that tells people about my shoes. What happens if I don’t want a pair of shoes that end up being my third choice, even if that third choice is in fact my first choice?