Customer Service Story – A Split In The Sole

Good customer service stories deserve to be retold and shared. This story is about an experience a customer (Steve Grey) had when he had a problem with a Shoe he bought from Zappos. If you’ve heard about Zappos before now, you probably know they have a great reputation for customer service – which is well earned, as you will see in this story.

“I bought a pair of dress shoes for work. I wore them two to three times a week (not including summers) for nearly two years. Fit great, very comfortable. Unfortunately, they developed a split in the sole, which I discovered one rainy morning when I arrived at my office with a damp sock. I’ve had shoes that I’ve owned for ten years that did not do this.

I sent a polite email asking if this was normal wear and tear for this particular shoe. Here’s the response:

Thank you for contacting the Online Shoes, Clothing, Free Shipping and Returns Customer Loyalty Team. My name is Davey. I’m the Zappos home recording fanatic! I’m happy to drop the mic to help you!

I am sorry to hear that the shoes you purchased have developed splits in them. That’s definitely not something that we like to hear about & I completely understand how frustrating that can be!

Unfortunately, it is hard to give the exact time frame for the lifetime of a shoe. One person’s perception of limited wear may be different from what the manufacturer’s intended use or lifetime of a product. I personally can not say how long those shoes would tend to last or decay as I do not have personal experience with (that company’s) footwear. However from my experience I can say that most shoes I have owned do tend to develop some type of split or damage causing inconvenience after about a year’s time.

After some consultation with my roadies at our resource desk, we felt it best to go ahead and refund you in full. Please keep in mind that we have processed this refund as a courtesy as it is usually not within policy to refund shoes that have been worn for this amount of time. That being said we want to make sure your Zappos experience is a positive one.

Steve, I certainly do not want to further inconvenience you with returning the damaged shoes. You are welcome to donate them, trash them, throw them in the mic locker and forget you’ve ever seen them before….it’s totally up to you, really! I have notated your order to indicate that you were advised there was no need to return the shoes.

I hope you have some great music in your life. I’m listening to some Generationals; they are an eclectic indie pop duo from New Orleans, Louisiana! Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you. We’re here 24/7. Have a wonderful day & keep on rocking!


Davey D. Zappos Customer Loyalty Team

Very few companies would offer a full refund for a product used for over a year and when you consider that Steve didn’t also have to return the bad shoes, it makes you understand how much Zappos values a customer.

In the age of the internet and social media, businesses should capitalize on opportunities to go above and beyond for customers in such a way that they talk about the experience online (and offline). You could be a viral post away from a massive surge in sales and publicity.

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Kelechi Okeke

Kelechi Okeke is a Customer Experience Analyst in a leading financial institution in sub-Saharan African. He helps businesses develop strategies that improve customer loyalty and enhance profitability. He is also a customer service trainer, content developer and graphic designer

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