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iamntbatman

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Or something. Normally I take internet reviews with a few grains of salt because I know how much more likely angry customers are to post negative reviews than happy customers are to leave positive ones. However, if you look at a somewhat stable and insular community such as this thread and see regulars (who are fans of the brand!) getting issue after issue on pair after pair, it doesn't seem to indicate a very good batting average.

I don't think simply doing an extra QC check is necessarily the answer, either; apart from the build issues like bad stitching or whatever, there's simply gotta be closer monitoring of custom build specs along the way. Normally I'm somewhat of a curmudgeon in terms of adopting technology where it's really not needed, but if you did something like put a QR code tag on the boots at the earliest possible step, have each craftsperson scan that to check the order specs, and sign off on it before and after doing their steps, that might increase accountability and make sure boots are getting built to spec.

If the stitching is less than great on my incoming pair, I won't be happy, but I'll live with it. But, if a major part of my order is left out or ignored I'll be pretty miffed, since shipping costs and wait times to get it fixed would be brutal for me. Fingers crossed they're near enough to perfect.
 

montanamike

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From a QC position.. I dont think we are really negotiating from a position of strength currently. The three biggest boot makers in Spokane all have long lead times. Some of this can be laid at the feet of covid but I suspect a large portion is due to the stipend for forest service workers resetting. So, they are up to their armpits in business and are likely getting a bit sloppy as that is what tends to happen in situations like this. I am sitting on the sidelines for awhile.
 

Jimk4003

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I don't know a thing about boot 'making' process but I think if White's could print a paper with all the customizations and give it the staff member(s) working on that particular pair, it could help reduce the number of 'errors' but like I said it's just a shot in the dark : )
Or something. Normally I take internet reviews with a few grains of salt because I know how much more likely angry customers are to post negative reviews than happy customers are to leave positive ones. However, if you look at a somewhat stable and insular community such as this thread and see regulars (who are fans of the brand!) getting issue after issue on pair after pair, it doesn't seem to indicate a very good batting average.

I don't think simply doing an extra QC check is necessarily the answer, either; apart from the build issues like bad stitching or whatever, there's simply gotta be closer monitoring of custom build specs along the way. Normally I'm somewhat of a curmudgeon in terms of adopting technology where it's really not needed, but if you did something like put a QR code tag on the boots at the earliest possible step, have each craftsperson scan that to check the order specs, and sign off on it before and after doing their steps, that might increase accountability and make sure boots are getting built to spec.

If the stitching is less than great on my incoming pair, I won't be happy, but I'll live with it. But, if a major part of my order is left out or ignored I'll be pretty miffed, since shipping costs and wait times to get it fixed would be brutal for me. Fingers crossed they're near enough to perfect.
I'd imagine there's some kind of build sheet that accompanies each pair. I'd certainly hope so, otherwise it's a massive 'unforced error' from a QC standpoint.

What's more baffling to me is how many pairs of hands within the process boots with mistakes like the above make it through without being detected.

The eyelets are actually fitted before the boot is lasted, as the boot needs to be partially laced up to get the instep spacing right. That means that the guy who lasted the boot, the guy who bottomed and welted the boot, the guy who glued and stitched the outsoles, the guy who applied the edge dressing and performed final finishing, the QC guy, and the packing guy, all missed that the wrong hardware had been fitted. That's a lot of people all missing a fairly obvious mistake.

White's only make 40-50,000 pairs a year, and even with a failure rate of 10% (which would seem astronomically high), the odds of getting three consecutive faulty pairs would be 1 in a 1000. Yet there are several people on this thread and elsewhere who have had multiple QC issues in a row, and White's simply don't make enough boots for this to be statistically likely; unless their failure rate is absolutely enormous.
 

Legal Eagles

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From a QC position.. I don't think we are really negotiating from a position of strength currently.
I do not think the customer should have to "negotiate" for a properly built boot to specification...

Who is serving whom here? Must we beg White's to take our business and humbly accept what ever they send us?
 

montanamike

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I do not think the customer should have to "negotiate" for a properly built boot to specification...

Who is serving whom here? Must we beg White's to take our business and humbly accept what ever they send us?
I am not suggesting anyone negotiate for a properly built boot at all. I am suggesting that we as consumers are not operating from a position of strength with builders generally given their substantial backlog. For a multitude of reasons, bootmaking would be a tough business to scale which leads us to where we are with substandard results coupled with long waits. Add in the stipend renewal for FS staff (no 3 year wait and $500 as I understand it) and the results are nearly inevitable

With regard to your last question, my answer is no without reservation. For me personally, my last 3 builds have come from other shops as I am not big on begging or humbly accepting. I dont get the sense you are either. My only boot desire at this point is a burgundy hh semi dress but it will wait until I feel better about things.

My only point is that they have far more business it would appear than they can reasonably handle. Good for them in the short term but hopefully this doesn't become entrenched in how things are done as that would be tough to resolve.
 

theofficialhung

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This thread is making me a little nervous waiting for my 2 builds. I've made some changes to my build specs since placing my order too but all changes were confirmed in writing by invoice.
 

PACostag

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This thread is making me a little nervous waiting for my 2 builds. I've made some changes to my build specs since placing my order too but all changes were confirmed in writing by invoice.
from my experience if there are screw ups in the build, as in not following specifications, it's no issue (other than painfully waiting longer) to get new boots made. I've had this happen, and corrected, numerous times, which isn't a great mark for White's that it happened in the first place, but at least they fix the issue.
 

chicagoan2016

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from my experience if there are screw ups in the build, as in not following specifications, it's no issue (other than painfully waiting longer) to get new boots made. I've had this happen, and corrected, numerous times, which isn't a great mark for White's that it happened in the first place, but at least they fix the issue.
Does the customer pay shipping? hope not!
 

wordfool

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from my experience if there are screw ups in the build, as in not following specifications, it's no issue (other than painfully waiting longer) to get new boots made. I've had this happen, and corrected, numerous times, which isn't a great mark for White's that it happened in the first place, but at least they fix the issue.
Yes, I can't fault White's and Baker's customer service. Issues get fixed with no question asked. But it's still annoying having waited 8-10 weeks for a build to them have to ship back and wait another 2-5 weeks for a fix/rebuild, especially when the issue in question could have been caught at many stages during manufacture and at the end by someone just looking at the finished boots and the build order, checking off each build spec, and checking that the basics like stitching are good enough.

And therein lies part of the problem IMO -- "good enough" is very subjective. "Good enough" for a literal smoke jumper is not going to be the same as "good enough" for a fashion-conscious hipster (not that I'm calling anyone here that... but you get my point!). Perhaps White's has not adjusted its idea of a typical customer. Perhaps fashion-conscious hipsters are still a tiny part of the market so it's under less pressure to do so. Who knows? Two of the pairs I sent back would no doubt have have passed muster if they were work boots destined for hard labor on the fire lines or construction site (issues included damaged welt, broken welt stitch, lasted crooked, wonky upper stitching, and misaligned eyelets). But they weren't, and TBH the build specs should have been an indication of that to whoever does QC at White's (if indeed there is such a person).

I also think ordering through Baker's adds another stage in the process where lines could potentially get crossed, especially if one changes specs after ordering, which anecdotally it seems quite a few people might do, or adds special requests with the order. For example, I changed my MP order last spring from brown WF to black WF after prevaricating for a few days, and for whatever reason Baker's ended up with two pairs (one brown, one black) then sent me the brown one by mistake. I partly blame myself for that issue (and it was actually quite useful because I learned before sending the brown ones back that I needed the right boot stretched slightly, which Baker's did before sending the black ones). With this latest pair, I ordered them with black eyes/hooks because for some reason the "antique" option had gone from the menu (it's since returned), but then I added in the notes (and confirmed with Baker's after ordering) that I wanted "antique eyes/hooks" instead. So perhaps somewhere along the way someone left "hooks" off the notes when communicating the order to White's and it just went to them as "antique eyes". Who knows?!

What I do know is that, including this latest pair, I've had issues with four of the five pairs I've ordered (excluding the brown/black WF MP mistake, which I take some responsibility for). Two pairs went back for a rebuild. One pair I kept despite one heel already separating out of the box, and then this latest pair which might also have to go back for a fix. That's not a great strike rate!

I have cut White's some slack though, which is why I kept ordering despite my jinx. The pandemic and associated staffing issues no doubt hit them hard, and the excellent CS is a big plus and kudos to them (and Baker's) for that. I can only take so much self flagellation though!
 

PACostag

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Yes, I can't fault White's and Baker's customer service. Issues get fixed with no question asked. But it's still annoying having waited 8-10 weeks for a build to them have to ship back and wait another 2-5 weeks for a fix/rebuild, especially when the issue in question could have been caught at many stages during manufacture and at the end by someone just looking at the finished boots and the build order, checking off each build spec, and checking that the basics like stitching are good enough.

And therein lies part of the problem IMO -- "good enough" is very subjective. "Good enough" for a literal smoke jumper is not going to be the same as "good enough" for a fashion-conscious hipster (not that I'm calling anyone here that... but you get my point!). Perhaps White's has not adjusted its idea of a typical customer. Perhaps fashion-conscious hipsters are still a tiny part of the market so it's under less pressure to do so. Who knows? Two of the pairs I sent back would no doubt have have passed muster if they were work boots destined for hard labor on the fire lines or construction site (issues included damaged welt, broken welt stitch, lasted crooked, wonky upper stitching, and misaligned eyelets). But they weren't, and TBH the build specs should have been an indication of that to whoever does QC at White's (if indeed there is such a person).

I also think ordering through Baker's adds another stage in the process where lines could potentially get crossed, especially if one changes specs after ordering, which anecdotally it seems quite a few people might do, or adds special requests with the order. For example, I changed my MP order last spring from brown WF to black WF after prevaricating for a few days, and for whatever reason Baker's ended up with two pairs (one brown, one black) then sent me the brown one by mistake. I partly blame myself for that issue (and it was actually quite useful because I learned before sending the brown ones back that I needed the right boot stretched slightly, which Baker's did before sending the black ones). With this latest pair, I ordered them with black eyes/hooks because for some reason the "antique" option had gone from the menu (it's since returned), but then I added in the notes (and confirmed with Baker's after ordering) that I wanted "antique eyes/hooks" instead. So perhaps somewhere along the way someone left "hooks" off the notes when communicating the order to White's and it just went to them as "antique eyes". Who knows?!

What I do know is that, including this latest pair, I've had issues with four of the five pairs I've ordered (excluding the brown/black WF MP mistake, which I take some responsibility for). Two pairs went back for a rebuild. One pair I kept despite one heel already separating out of the box, and then this latest pair which might also have to go back for a fix. That's not a great strike rate!
I couldn't agree more. I seem to remember a statistic I was given that the MP boots outsold every single other style of White's when they were first released, so I have to imagine they're completely aware of the pro-fashion White's buyer since it seems to be their primary customer these days. Then comes the Steven's boots to make an even larger percentage of their buyers the fashion-forward kind. I think I've mentioned it once before here, but I believe I'm at slightly below 50% success rate on their first go-around for either 1) following the order specifications or 2) some construction issue (I HATE crooked toe caps...). It bugs me of course, but as long as they keep standing behind any mistakes and make it right, I will continue to come back.
 

Patek

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I couldn't agree more. I seem to remember a statistic I was given that the MP boots outsold every single other style of White's when they were first released, so I have to imagine they're completely aware of the pro-fashion White's buyer since it seems to be their primary customer these days. Then comes the Steven's boots to make an even larger percentage of their buyers the fashion-forward kind. I think I've mentioned it once before here, but I believe I'm at slightly below 50% success rate on their first go-around for either 1) following the order specifications or 2) some construction issue (I HATE crooked toe caps...). It bugs me of course, but as long as they keep standing behind any mistakes and make it right, I will continue to come back.
Yeah, I think there are some growing pains in the changing of their demographic. That being said, Bakers has been great for me in catching defects before they ever got to me.

I personally don't really like the way the cap toes look on the BH. I don't know if they are too long, slightly askew, the double stitching, or if it is just the shape of the toe. It always looks slightly off to my eye. On the other hand, I love their lace to toe look. Last spring I ordered a lace to toe, then a HH cap toe, and the latest pair that are coming tomorrow are back to lace to toe.
 

chicagoan2016

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Yeah, I think there are some growing pains in the changing of their demographic. That being said, Bakers has been great for me in catching defects before they ever got to me.

I personally don't really like the way the cap toes look on the BH. I don't know if they are too long, slightly askew, the double stitching, or if it is just the shape of the toe. It always looks slightly off to my eye. On the other hand, I love their lace to toe look. Last spring I ordered a lace to toe, then a HH cap toe, and the latest pair that are coming tomorrow are back to lace to toe.
I remember your Natural CXL lace to toe! truly marvelous boots!
 

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