Sympathy for the good guys.
Every now and then I hear something that I know to be true from my own experience and I really feel for good companies that struggle with doing the right thing for their customers, but having to deal with some of its customers who believe they own the company. Read below the email from Alt-Berg Boots:
We have received emails from some customers asking why we have decided to discontinue our refurbishment service from 7th December 2011 (it was wrongly stated in the previous email as 2012 – a typing error).
We have offered our refurbishment service for the past 15 years – and it is with regret that we’ve decided to withdraw the service.
We have never made any profit from refurbished boots – the amount of work we do in stripping the boot down, and then re-making ‘from scratch’ – as well as hand-cutting key worn components costs about 60% more than the work we do in a brand new boot. But we’ve always accepted this, because we felt it was a good thing to do environmentally, and we felt it was genuinely appreciated by our customers – in spite of the fact that we lost money on every pair.
We occasionally would have issues with a customer who would expect refurbished boots to be equally as good as a brand new boot!!! But refurbished boots are not as good – the leather and stitching are worn, and not so waterproof – and most of the key components are old – we don’t replace everything! Normally after we explained to customers that their expectations should be realistic, the majority of customers accepted this – but there were exceptions – and they could be very time consuming, as well as causing a good deal of stress for our office and factory staff who had to reply to their ongoing sequence of emails, telephone calls and letters.
We believe that the recession has made things much more difficult for everyone, and this may be the reason why, during the last 6 months, we have seen an increase in customers who are uncompromising in their expectancy of our refurbishment service.
We refurbish about 20 pairs each week, and with the vast majority there are no problems – however – there have been three specific cases in the last 6 months where customers have been so confrontational and aggressive, that in our opinion, it fell little short of bullying in order to get what they wanted – and if they didn’t get what they wanted, they stated quite clearly that they would use social media to discredit our reputation.
Everyone who works at Alt-Berg cares very much about the business, and about our customers – it is our livelihoods – and like all small businesses we do not have the time, or resources to handle what we believe are sustained, ongoing, unreasonable complaints – and an expectancy that a refurbished boot should be equal to a brand new boot in terms of performance and durability is unreasonable.
One of the three complainants we have had in the last six months was steadfast in his belief that having purchased a pair of Alt-Berg boots in 2002 – he should never be expected to purchase another pair again – he expected that by having them refurbished, they would last forever. Also the time from new to 1st refurbishment was 6 years – so he expected a further 6 years once refurbished – anything else was unacceptable – and Alt-Berg’s problem!
The email/letter exchange with this customer lasted over 5 weeks – he was adamant that if we could not offer him a further refurbishment, free of charge then we should give him a new pair of boots!
There is no way that we, as a small business, can handle this – and for the office and factory staff, the situation was unacceptably stressful.
Last week, after considering the situation, we have had to conclude that the refurbishment service – although ‘well meant’ – is open to abuse, and so with a genuine sense of regret, we decided to discontinue the service.
We continue to offer our resole service – done in our factory, on the original lasts – and if there is any way in which we can sustain the lifetime of Alt-Berg boots – short of full refurbishment – then we will certainly do what we can.
We very much appreciate our customers – and we continue to appreciate the work that you give us.
I hope that this email explains the situation from our side.
Mike Sheehan, and all at Alt-Berg
My heart bleeds, for what by all accounts of people I know personally who have bought their product, is a company that really tries to make a great product and service its customers in a genuine and thoughtful way.
Battlefield Biker community, let's turn this situation around and make this a social media success story for Alt-Berg Boots, rather than the meltdown that the unreasonable would want in return for their ultimatums.
Go Alt-Berg! Best of luck and forget the whining willies. Focus on us, the real biker community who are reasonable consumers of quality merchandise.
For the biker (I hesitate to use the name "biker" for the guy, who caused the closing of a good service)... Suck my hot tail pipe.