Kate Joyce’s boots were not meant for walking.
Her online retailer, Ariat, misfired on her order for new cowboy boots — and not just once, but several times. Ouch.
But this story has a happy ending, thanks to a manager who saw the importance of good service.
I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, I know what you’re thinking: cowboy boots? Yes, and I’ll admit, I own a pair.
Huge numbers of consumers are buying this durable, yet pricey, historic footwear. With beginnings in the old West as a practical work boot designed to control a horse, comfort was less of a priority, despite the investment – boot prices can easily penetrate four figures. Comfortable or not, even city slickers learned to enjoy the authoritarian feel of wearing a pair, increasing sales despite being made from delightfully politically incorrect animal hides. Even National Geographic got into the act with their traveler’s buyers guide.
Recognizing boots’ transition from work use to a fashion statement dominated by two main brands, enterprising newcomer Ariat tangled with the good old boys by emphasizing comfort for the increase of female consumers. There are even fashion guidelines on how to wear them.
When did that happen?
Joyce, a photographer and hiker, didn’t horse around with her western wear – wearing them right, and wearing them out. “I recently had incredible customer service, and I’m glad there’s a place (Elliott.org) to share,” Joyce begins. “I purchased two pairs of Ariat cowboy boots in the past, and my most recent pair was ruined while I was photographing a quail hunt.”
“I went to a few stores that carried Ariat boots, but unfortunately they didn’t have the color I was looking for,” said Joyce. “When I ordered online, I made sure I double-checked the color, but when they arrived at my doorstep, the color was wrong – more than once. I got through to a manager who listened patiently to my frustrations from continually getting sent a lighter color brown boot when I wanted the dark brown.”
If I spent that much for durable footwear, I would want the color I want. And getting it right was serious business to Ariat.
“The manager said that she would have three pairs sent to her office, take photos of the boots herself, and send them to me to make sure I am sent the exact color,” Joyce went on. “When she sent me the photos, I picked out my pair.”
What a great effort to correct a process gone awry, but here is the astounding part. “I asked her how to pay for the boots and the rep wrote back saying ‘Please accept these as our gift to you for your faithfulness as our customer’,” said Joyce.
Wow – this is not an inexpensive item. I almost want to buy a pair now.
“That was some customer service,” she concluded. “Just thought Ariat could use a shout out!”
They got one – and then some.
This story was first published July 2, 2015.