An open letter to New Balance

#new balance  #open letter  #running shoes  #shoes 

New Balance, we have to talk, okay?

Over the last fifteen years, I’ve gladly given you a lot of money. I’ve owned somewhere around 50-60 pairs of your shoes. That sounds like a lot to me too, but fifteen years ago, I decided I didn’t want to buy other brands of sneakers anymore. You guys made your shoes in the US and denounced sweatshop labor. I was young and idealistic at the time so this was all it took to sell me.

Being a pretty casual person, t-shirt and jeans all the time, for the last fifteen years or so prior to my transitioning, your 373s, 574s, and other casual models were my footwear of choice. To say I wore your sneakers a lot wouldn’t quite cover it. Unless I had to dress up nice (which I don’t for work), your sneakers were on my feet every single day.

NB 1600

When I got into running, I eventually found that the New Balance 1600 was pretty much the best running shoe ever made. I love the heck out of these things. I’m currently on my fifth pair of them in less than a year and a half.

Up until two years ago, our relationship was great. You’d make shoes I loved and I’d fork over money for them. I’d say we were both happy.

Then it happened. I finally had a problem with a pair of New Balances. No big deal, we’d had an amazing run and it was bound to happen. I had pair of 574s start to come apart at the seams after only a few weeks of owning them. No problem, I thought, I’ll just contact you and you’d replace them for me. Unfortunately, your customer service wasn’t able to replace them with the exact shoe, I had to choose a different pair that was in stock. I went with a pair of 610s.

A couple months later, the replacements, the 610s, also started coming apart at the seams. This can’t be right I thought. I spent some time on the phone with customer service who agreed to again replace the shoes, but this time it was the 610s that were out of stock. I opted for the New Balance 01 as my replacement (I ended up loving these shoes, by the way). I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to your quality control. Surely something had changed in your manufacturing and quality assurance processes, but I was willing to let it slide.

Fast forward to a few months ago and my current pair of sneakers, New Balance 373s, started coming apart. What?! I had just gotten these! Around the same time I had also purchased a new pair of 1600s after having worn through a few pairs of them already. To make matters worse, these 160os started falling apart with only 50 miles on them! I couldn’t believe it!

I again contacted customer support regarding both pairs and just like the other times, customer support agreed to replace the shoes. However, the 373s couldn’t be replaced, they were out of stock. No matter, I spent a few minutes picking out an alternate pair of shoes and a few backups in case that pair was also out of stock. No luck! Both were “out of stock” despite showing in stock on the website. Things continued like this through five or so other options. Finally, after a call from customer support, I was told they’d been able to find a pair of the original 373s to send me. However, I was also told I had to pop for shipping to send both pairs back. That hardly seemed fair, it was your shoddy manufacturing which caused this problem! And besides, I had already paid to have them shipped once when I bought them.

Through all the back and forth over trying to find a pair of shoes that were in stock, weeks passed. Customer service would take days to email me back. The whole process, to replace both pairs, took six weeks. Now, keep in mind, I wear these shoes every day and I run six days a week. I needed both these shoes!

Oh! And let’s not gloss over the fact that each time I had to go pick out a potential replacement pair of shoes, your website wouldn’t work properly. Images wouldn’t load. Clicking things wouldn’t do anything. Pages would take forever to load. Frustrating.

Over the course of fifteen years and 50-60 pairs of shoes, four problems doesn’t sound like a lot, but let’s put into perspective here that all of these issues were in the last two years. I don’t know what you changed, but something is different on your end and I don’t like it.

This post was originally going to be about how I’d never give you another dime again because you just can’t be trusted, but the problem, for me anyway, is that I just can’t quit these 1600s. I love everything about them. The day you stop making them may be the day you and I part ways.

New Balance, you need to get it together here. I would like to mend our relationship, but I’m going to need some commitment from you. I need for you to not just tell me you care about me, but show me. Stop making shoes that fall apart after a few weeks.