Friday, April 22, 2011

Bouquets and brickbats. Today I decided to write some consumer letters. I haven't done this in years.

To Ambra Corporation

Hi there,

Last year I bought a three-pack of your Velvet Matte 80 opaque tights – two pairs in black and one pair in a delightful violet colour somewhere between purple and blue.

These are still the best tights I own. They feel wonderful to wear because they're so soft and stretchy, and the waistband doesn't bisect me cruelly as some other brands do.

They've also maintained their look and feel through many washes. I just love them!

In particular, the violet pair are my favourite tights, but they seem to have been discontinued as I just can't find them in the shops any more.

Please consider offering these tights in a range of colours other than black. There is such a huge untapped market in Australia for plain, excellent-quality opaque tights in a rainbow of colours, and if Ambra's Velvet Matte 80 were available in other colours, I would never buy any other brand, and would encourage all my friends to do the same.

Kind regards,
Mel Campbell.

To Grosby Shoes Australia

Dear Sir/Madam,

In January 2011 I purchased a pair of black leather Grosby women's flats with rubber soles (style 6629922). It's now April, and after JUST THREE MONTHS of average wear, the left shoe has already developed a hole in the sole over the ball of the foot. As you can see from the attached photographs, the leather upper is still in near-new condition, but there is a distinct crease in the inner and the sole is worn so thin it has torn.

This is totally disappointing and unacceptable! You should be ashamed to put an 80-year-old Australian brand name, which Australians trust for quality and comfort, to such a substandard product.

I don't wear these shoes every single day, and nor do I work in an occupation that demands I be on my feet all day, as a teacher, a nurse or a shop assistant might be. In fact, I work from home! The only wear these shoes get is when I walk to and from public transport, or to and from local shops and cafés. It's simply unacceptable that I could have worn a hole in them in just three months!

This is all the more infuriating for me because I'd bought these shoes as part of my New Year's resolution for 2011: "Fewer and better shoes". I was sick of wasting money on adhesives and insoles to try to make poor-quality shoes more comfortable and durable, and of having to buy replacement shoes every few months. So imagine how pleased I was to find that Grosby was making just what I wanted at such a reasonable price.

Now imagine how angry I am that I'll still be faced with spending extra money to have these relatively new shoes fixed. Making shoes that last shouldn't be my job! It's your job!

I'm writing to let you know about my intense disappointment so that perhaps in future you might use sturdier materials or design your shoes better in order to withstand even average amounts of wear.

Kind regards,
Mel Campbell.

Mel--I bought court shoe-type things with a sole like a runner for $120 at Giallo three years ago and boots at a shop in NYC for $US100 five years ago, and both are going strong. I reckon quality is the best way to go. There's always the Diana Ferrari warehouse in Fairfield, for mid-dollar at a bargain rate.
Here's the thing. I would be willing to spend a reasonably large sum of money on a pair of shoes I like, but these Grosbys ARE THE ONLY SUCH PAIR I spotted in over a month of solidly, fruitlessly looking for plain black flats that are both comfortable and not fucking ugly.

Most comfortable shoes, cheap or expensive, are embarrassing orthopaedic clodhoppers for arts administrators. They are weirdly shaped and are covered with ugly 'decorative' details.

When I finally buy a pair I like - ESPECIALLY if that pair is by a prominent Australian brand - I feel entitled to expect more than three months' wear from them. I shouldn't have to humiliate myself wearing shoes better suited to a toddler or a medieval villager.
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