Converse is off my $*!List

As you regular readers know, I’ve periodically posted about my slow brewing resentment of favorite brand Converse for their lackluster customer service–which may be related to their confused brand identity and lack of focus in how to handle their spread-too-thin marketing and merchandising plans.

Anyway, to re-cap, the speciality extra long rubber laces in my John Varvatos designer Converse shoes are broken, rendering the shoes unwearable as other laces don’t work in the multi-eyelet sneaker. I’ve been calling and emailing Converse since September 15, 2008 (!!) to try to buy or somehow get a replacement pair of laces as they are not available as an independent item and there’s no way I’m buying a new pair of $90+ sneakers just for the laces. Out of desperation recently I almost pilfered them off a pair at a Saks outlet but decided it wasn’t worth it and wouldn’t that be a hilarious mug shot and Leno “Headlines“-like crime.

Anyway, after what seemed like endless emails and Converse saying they’d sent them, then saying they lost my info, then they would again, etc etc etc, today, SIX months after my first attempts to simply tie my shoes, I finally can say they arrived! And, low and behold, they actually sent two pair (which is what I requested since Harlo and I both have pairs but I never figured they’d do it after all that. ) They were in a mangled envelope that apparently had been eaten by some mail sorting machine and the most recent delay can be actually blamed on the USPS and not Converse.

Regardless, all of the other delays were Converse‘s fault for losing sight of who their customer is and how to service customers successfully. I had told them everything I could, that I’m a fan since my punk teens, that Harlo and I had our Converse shoes featured in a museum exhibit this past fall on sportswear, that I am a fashion instructor and fashion blogger and fashion Ph.D. and that I’d make sure to spread the news how awful they were starting to become. Do you think in my punk style book I’d happily write about the Ramones wearing Converse turning a legion of young punks and eventually emo kids onto the shoes if I didn’t get my *!% laces! I think not.

But, today they arrived, so unless they do something else to screw it up, Converse has been removed from my list of shameful apparel companies who care oceans more about their bottom line than their customer satisfaction. Don’t they know how closely tied (no pun intended) those ideas are anyway?!

I did a project last year for school about punk fashions reinterpretation and proliferation throughout the Mall of America and it was a fun study of design symbolism and style evolutions. I think a good follow up sister study would be to look at companies that had formerly boasted a strong focus on their target markets (such as Converse and subculture although I know the brand started and maintained other target markets), and then look at how they handle growth, brand development, and movement into new markets.

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