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A Sorry Tale of a Pair of Church's Shoes

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I bought a new pair of of Church's shoes in Milan from their store in February (having bought a pair of Church's Burwoods last year). I paid 500 Euros for a pair of black calf Granbys.

They fitted like a glove and were very comfortable. However, after two months' wear and cosseting, I noticed a problem on both shoes with the welt coming away (see image)

So, I wrote to Church Client Services on May 30th 2013. Now, you will notice they do not call themselves "Customer Services" because that would be a contradiction in terms. Church's, let there be no doubt on this matter, have no customer service!

My email with photo attached received the following reply from Church Client Services:

"...it's quite hard to see" (realy?!!) "but it looks like it is just the end of the welt, so in theory it will not cause a problem to the constructions (sic) of the shoes. I will ask our Italian store to contact you."

I will not detail subsequent emails from me or Church's (UK), suffice to say I was shocked with the very cavalier response to an (obviously) faulty pair of shoes bought from one of their flagship stores.

Eventually Church's Milan contacted me and after several further emails back and forth, they asked me to courier the shoes to Milan. This I did on June 5th and it cost me 53 Euros for the privilege.

Six days went by with no response from Church's Milan.

After another email from me, Milan responded that they were sending the shoes to Northampton!

Apparently Church's Northampton agreed the shoes were indeed faulty and Milan eventually contacted me to ask for my bank account details for a refund.

I duly send these details and asked that given I had already paid  53 Euros for courier services, could they ensure that I received the full amount in refund, and I not have to bear bank transfer fees.

Yesterday (July 16th) 461 Euros was deposited into my account.

So, I am out of pocket almost 100 Euros because Church's would not reimburse me for the courier service and then deducted transfer fees from my refund.

Church Shoes hang your collective heads in shame!

This has been a shock to me. I fully expected a world-renowned company to act with due diligence and to treat a loyal customer with respect.

Church's Client Services Northampton was cavalier and their attitude was tantamount to them saying "we don't care terribly thank you"!

Will I buy from a Church's store anywhere again? No.

I have just bought a pair of shoes online from Herrings, was able to speak to a customer service rep' online, gain a discount and track my shoes within hours.

For me, it's a no-brainer. I'll be buying from Herrings from now on.

Call me naive, but paying 500 Euros for a pair of Church's should guarantee me some confidence that the said shoes passed checks at the factory and were sold free of defects. Failing that, I would have assumed I would receive good and prompt customer service. Also, I would have assumed I would not be out-of-pocket returning the shoes and receiving a refund.

None of these assumptions was correct. Church's failed in every respect.

I'd be interested to hear your experiences with Church's and whether my treatment is an isolated case or if standards have fallen across the board at Church's Shoes.

~Ross Appleby

post #2 of 4
What's wrong with the shoes, exactly?
post #3 of 4

Ok, I am not a shoe expert, but that pair of shoes definitely look defective.  And the problem is not about the defect, but it is about the brand.  By paying 500 euros, you would expect tip-top quality shoes with flawless craftsmanship.  Yet, the thread starter got a defective shoes.  If I were him, I will be gravely disappointed. Not to mention Church's was (yes, was) a highly looked-up shoe company. With this product, wouldn't you feel enraged?  Supposed that you bought a Lamborghini and found out that one of it has a tiny scratch, wouldn't you'll be enraged if they tell you "that is not visible and will not affect its performance, so we won't take it seriously".  

post #4 of 4

It's not just you, Ross.  Here's what happened to me.  I bought a pair of Church's boots from their store in the Westfield London centre.  Brown leather, Sahara boot style.  About £400.  I don't think they're made anymore.  Anyway, 3 months of very light use - weekends only - and the soles were worn through.  The shop sent them back to the factory and the soles were replaced.  So all good.  However, one boot came back with a sizeable, noticeable cut to the leather near the ankle.  Not just a scratch, a cut almost through the leather.  The factory wouldn't accept it was their fault.  About 3 months of more very light use and the soles were worn through again.  This time I got my trusted local cobbler to put a decent pair of leather soles on, knowing it would likely invalidate the factory's returns policy but at least I wouldn't be getting them resoled every 3 months.  About 18 months into ownership and continued light use and now the real kicker - the uppers on both boots are worn through to the point of having holes I can poke a finger through.  This is on both boots where the boot creases near the toe.  And these boots were, apparently, made from Church's finest custom grade leather!  So back I go to the Westfield London store who send the boots back to the factory.  About 6 weeks later the factory finally sends the boots back to the store saying, essentially, we won't do anything because you didn't have them resoled by us.  I did the first time and one boot has a cut in it from their ineptness.  I tell the store this isn't acceptable as resoling has no impact on the integrity of the leather used in the uppers.  So back they go to the factory and the store promises to call me when the factory responds.  1 month later and still no call so I go to the store.  Clearly, they'd forgotten to call me as the boots were already back.  Again, Customer Service at the factory says they won't do anything.  So, here's the thing.  I've been buying Church's shoes as my default shoe for at least 25 years and I've probably got about 20 pairs all up.  I still wear most of them fairly regularly and these old pairs are superb - they show little signs of wear, look superb after a decent polish and have all been resoled multiple times by various people in lots of countries as I've lived all over the world.  But this pair of boots have been absolute rubbish and by far the worst quality shoe / boot I've ever bought.  I see lots of people on lots of forums saying exactly the same thing - Church's quality has deteriorated alarmingly and the customer service is rubbish.  I couldn't agree more.  After this truly lamentable experience I wouldn't dream of ever buying Church's product again.  And I used to be a total loyalist.  

 

Regards

Alan

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