A few years ago I purchased a pair of Alden Cigar Shell LWB. I went to a local Alden retailer, got sized for the Barrie last and purchased the shoes when I was able to find a pair in my size. I wore the shoes happily for a few years, they fit perfectly and were the most comfortable pair of shoes I'd ever had. Kept great care of them, treeing and brushing after each wear. After some time though, the soles wore through, and I decided that it was time for a restore.
About 8 months ago, I contacted Alden requesting a restore, they promptly sent a bag with prepaid shipping to send my shoes in. This was the first turn off to this process - placing $800 shoes in a bag with no real protection was their recommendation. They quoted me 4-6 weeks turn around for the restore, which I thought was reasonable - the cost I paid was $159.
8 weeks had gone by and I had actually almost completely forgotten about the shoes. I received a postcard in the mail that they should be complete within the next 4 weeks or so. At this point I was a bit annoyed, because this was well outside the time I was quoted, but I waited. The shoes finally showed up after 12 weeks.
I was really impressed with the shoes when I saw how well they were restored, they really cleaned up the shell and the new soles were perfect. Including new bags and trees was a nice touch. However, upon first wear, the shoes seemed to fit larger than they did originally. Thinking that maybe the shoes just needed to be broken in again, I wore them every now and then, hoping that the issue would work itself out. Every time I'd wear them, my feet would be covered in blisters, and my socks would be dyed the color of the liner, due to all the rubbing. I resorted to wearing two pairs of socks, but this didn't really resolve the issue, the shoes were ultimately really painful to wear.
After about 10 wears, I came to the conclusion that the shoes must have been stretched in the Restoration process, and I decided to contact Alden. I sent an email explaining the post Restoration sizing concerns and included that they were so loose, the leather from the liner was wearing off onto my socks. I received a reply fairly quickly - The person apologized and instructed me to send my shoes back to Alden for inspection/repair.
I sent the shoes back, this time eating the shipping cost. After a week, I got a call from Alden that they'd received my shoes. They couldn't explain the issue with the liner bleeding into my socks, but the heel pods looked to have been set incorrectly so this would be investigated and repaired. I suggested that the bleeding could have to do with the shoes being loose, and he agreed, that was the only likely cause. He said that the shoes seem to be true to size, and that they shouldn't have been stretched when they were re-lasted. He said that they'd have the shoes out in the next week or so.
Last night I received my shoes in the mail, and they enclosed this letter: http://i.imgur.com/6du2xRy.jpg
Here are the shoes: http://i.imgur.com/6pFyZIP.jpg
When I inspected the shoes I discovered that they had detached the heel pad from the original insole of my shoes, attached it to a new leather insole, added a thin layer of foam, and stuffed it into my shoes without adhering it to anything - presumably to allow me to remove at any time as stated in the letter.
This is the inside without the insoles: http://i.imgur.com/vyJdCbQ.jpg
Nothing is glued in, and the original heel pads have been removed and attached to the makeshift insoles they included. If I decided not to use the insoles they included, I'd have to have the heel pads re-attached.
Needless to say, I don't feel that this is an adequate solution - the advertised 4-6 week turn around became 12 weeks and ultimately I was shipped back shoes that no longer fit. Upon voicing my complaint, further damage was done to my shoes. I'm confident that in that time my feet haven't shrunk, so I have no other way to explain the sizing issues outside of them being stretched during the Restoration process. I will be contacting Alden with the intention of resolving this, but I just wanted to share my experience . I've heard of other less than stellar experiences with Alden Restoration, and I'm understanding this now.