Listen Up New Balance Shoe Co

I have been a loyal New Balance customer for over 20 years. I have broad feet and the stylish shoe manufacturers just don’t want people who don’t fit within their model. I get it and avoid them like the plague. A poor fitting shoe, especially exercise show is hell on earth. You tend to question your existence on Earth and whether its all worthwhile with poor fitting shoes. I am sure it was an early form of torture before more sophisticated ones were used. I digress…

I still have three pairs from a couple of years ago that have not worn out but my knees were acting up and I thought I would get a new walking pair to see if the pain eased up. Wearing old shoes are like putting lobsters in warm water and then heating it up. It feels good till it does not and then its too late. Shin splints, tight calves, you name it.

I also wear 2Es, sometimes 4 Es. The only one left standing so far was New Balance. I went to Zappos and its mother ship, Amazon. Looked at a couple of done pairs and found ASICs! whaaatt! I ordered a pair. Big mistake. I don’t know why ASICs decided to make wide shoes. they don’t know how. I persisted, went a size larger 11.5 4E. Nope, the toe box was so tight I would have fainted after a few hundred feet. Returned.

Having learned my lesson I ordered two pairs of New Balance walking shoes, highly rated. This rating business on Amazon is a whole another subject…anyway. they show up.

The cheaper pair, a 10.5 4E was too tight and it looked very cheap and poorly constructed. The second pair was also tight and it had so much flex it looked it was on a few drinks. New Balance designed these loser pairs? By now the UPS store guys and I had become friends. We commiserated over poorly fitting shoes. I plugged on, I ordered a slightly more expensive pair. You would have thought $75 should get me a decent pair? you would be wrong. This one was solid, fit well….but, the tongue would not cover the white socks. Really! this can’t be right. I logged into Amazon and now looked at the critical comments. Sure enough the first two laid into NB on the width of the tongue. Who designs these things?

I can visualize this product meeting at New Balance HQ. The designers, business and the marketing people sit around a table to design the next line of shoes for all price points. The lower ones, those under $100 are assigned to the newbies, the fourth string designers out of school and still fresh behind the ears business and marketing people. They have been to where its made. They know they can get a whole bunch made dirt cheap. They can see huge promotions and bonuses. The designers want to show their skills. The designs were deconstructed into costs, the business guys want a cheaper, narrower tongue, save a few cents. The logic was that the customer would wear them tighter. Pull the flaps till the gap was covered. Ahh! I see!

Next: Designers… a 10D means regular feet. Knock yourself out, make a killer design that will get you awards. An EE or a 4E or heaven forbid 6E means the feet are wide. What we need first and second is for the shoe to fit. If it does not it gets returned. It might look awesome but it will still look awesome in the return box. Once the shoe fits comfortably do what you can to make it less Mr. Big Foot. Try some camouflage tricks up your design sleeve. But remember the shoe has to fit.

Last subject, why a 10.5 4E from 2012 has to be updated to a 11.5 4E! This is a mystery that defies logic. Was this a marketing decision to make the customer feel they got bigger shoes for the same price? Was this a business decision to make the shoes smaller and charge more? All the customers know is that their feet have not grown but the shoe has become smaller. Magic! Was the economy so bad that New Balance decided to save some money by shaving off a few inches here and there in the shoe but still trying to convince the customer “nothing has changed?” Shoe fit does not lie. I have to go a full size or more larger for the shoe to fit. Who is this fooling? No one. But we have shoe size inflation in a deflationary economy.

Would they wear it? Of course not. Just shoe poor schmuck customer who would have to put up with a poor design so the company could save a few cents but potentially lose customers. Brilliant plan!

Design and business decisions get made like this all over corporate America and they wonder why products get returned and they lose money. Look in the mirror. These go back to Amazon tomorrow.

Unfortunately unless some competition wakes up to this idiocy at New Balance and provides a decent alternative all we can do is rail against the stupidity of New Balance and hope the next pair fits.