Quality Control…or The Golden Ticket

This is a rather absurd story about a doggedly ridiculous quest. Some people will totally relate and others will think “Oh my God, give it up girl!” If you get as weary reading it as I was doing it, feel free to scroll on. It was an exercise in frustration, perseverance and maybe a little insanity.


Some quick background: I have two dress-up events coming up shortly and all the dresses in my closet are a bit too casual for these venues. My sister, daughter, granddaughter and I visited a boutique where, miraculously, I found a dress that would suffice for both events – and it was on sale. What a surprise to have such an easy, practically painless search. The dress is kind of a melange of beige-y, pewter gray, gold, fern, mauve, bruise-purple. So then it just came down to what shoes would I wear with this dress. This is where the ride begins.

Apparently “pewter” happens to be a trendy color this summer. In the shoe section of this boutique, my sister found a pair of pewter colored shoes that would match. They had a slight lift to them and weren’t exactly what I wanted, which was a flat, comfortable sandal that I know I would wear again. And they cost twice what the dress did! But my sister, in the way she always tends to urge you on whenever you go shopping with her, (“Oh, you should really buy that! You only live once”), reminded me that “It’s the last pair in your size”, So for the sake of having the whole outfit said and done with, I bought them.

After sitting with them at home for a few days, I realized I was never going to wear these shoes again. It seemed a large waste of money, and I wasn’t even that fond of them. They would have been fine if I had an office to go to every day, but I don’t. I figured perhaps I could give them to my sisters or my daughters afterward, since we all wear about the same size. But when I asked around, the response I got from all of them was something like “They are really cute! You should keep them! But no thanks, I wouldn’t wear those kind of shoes”. So I decided they needed to be returned. Which I discovered after the fact could only be for store credit, within ten days (which had passed). Luckily they agreed to extend the return time for me but I only got the store credit …..and it cost me almost $50 in gas to drive back and forth upstate to do the return. But at least that saga was over with.

It is incredible and annoying that despite the vast array of shoes in my closet (that I have not been able to discard….because I am a shoe-a-holic), there is not one pair that would match this dress. Wearing my Birkenstocks would not suffice. So I went back on the internet, plugged in “pewter sandals” and found this simple, flat pair on Shoe Seller Z’s site. The color pictured perfectly matched the dress. While I normally would not buy these sandals otherwise, they are flat enough so I will not fall down on my face or tip over while wearing them. They are casual enough that I reasoned I could probably get some use out of them again – and they were less than half the price of the first pair. They are kind of a goldish/silver, called “pewter”, which you can see in the picture from the website here:

The original “goldy-silvery” Pewter that I ordered from Store Z, as pictured

The problem was that I am between sizes. The size I sometimes fit in was available, but the next size up, which was probably the safer one to buy, was out of stock. So I ordered the smaller size and hoped for the best. When they arrived, the color was right but my toes were just hanging over the edge a bit. The next size up was still not available, so I clicked the “notify me when they are in” button and went to look for my size elsewhere.

I found them on the the site of Shoe Store D. Same shoe in “pewter”, same item number, looked the same in the website photo, right size…..ordered them. But when they arrived, the pair I received were specked with dots and dashes of black, with white stitching and were not made as well. They were clearly not as pictured and they didn’t match the dress. I figured either Store Z or Store D must have had the wrong shoe in the box, as they were vastly different in color. Either that, or it was a Quality Control Issue.

Speckles, white stitching, not made as well
Pair from Store D, covered in black speckles and dashes

I sent them back, went back on the internet and luckily, found them in two other places in my size. One was sold by Store N and the other was sold by Store K.  By this time I wanted to be sure I was going to get the same goldy/silvery pewter shoe as the original in the too-small size. So I ordered a pair from store N and another from store K.

Both pairs of shoes arrived on the same day at the same time. Although bought from different stores, they arrived shipped from the identical warehouse source – SpringStep. Both pairs were the dark, speckled variety, not the goldy-silvery pewter I had ordered that were pictured on the store sites.

The one on the left is the ones they sent and the one on the right is the original color I expected. 

On the left is Undesired Speckled Pair I got from Store K and Store N. On the right is original Pair from Store Z but too small.

I sent them both back.

Note here that at this point I’m out money for the boutique pair of shoes, with no cash but only a store credit and down almost a tank of gas. I’m also temporarily floating credit for the shoes I have bought and returned from Store D, Store K and Store N (all of which I have not yet seen a refund on my credit card), in addition to the first pair from Store Z (that don’t fit but I am holding on to them at the moment because better a too small pair to wear to the weddings than no pair at all). At this point, having received three Undesired Speckled Pairs of “pewter” and one too small goldy/silver pair of “pewter”, I figured I should just go to the source and contact SpringStep directly, since that seemed to be the point of origin.

So I call SpringStep, and explained the situation to a really nice woman I will call Jan. I asked “Before I order directly from you, can somebody go into the warehouse and see if they can find me a pair of the correct color?”. For clarity, I texted a picture of both the one I want/expected and the Undesired Speckled Shoes.

Jan assured me, “I’ll get back to you in a day or two with some sort of answer”

About a week later I still had not heard from Jan. 

 I call back SpringStep again and asked for Jan, who I am told is indisposed at the moment. But Jess who took my call says she will do her best to handle my issue and sounds pretty confident, so I explain the situation again. She promises to get back to me within a day or two.

The next day, true to her word, Jess does contact me by email, with photos of a few different sandals within a couple of boxes that she opened. Clearly she was not going to be ripping through every box in the warehouse (as I would have!), but all the photos she sent me were either of the Undesired Speckled Variety or some kind of gray, even though they all had the same name and number.

The ones in their warehouse

She concluded that the maker must have a different run going on now and that they have changed the color. She said the Undesired Speckled Variety is probably all they have now. She said the photos should be updated on the sites (at this writing no store site has updated their photos).  I thanked Jess for going the extra mile for me and decided I was doomed to wearing the too-small sandals from Store Z in the right color to the two weddings. Which of course, since they are too small, I will never wear again….but at least they were half the price of the boutique pair.

Well…. don’t you know, the very next day I get an email from Store Z saying my size is back in stock and there is “only one left !!!!”. I figure someone must have returned a pair, and with any luck they might be the original, as pictured goldy/silvery pewter pair in my size that I so desire.

 So I order them.  

Note here that now I have bought the same pair of SpringStep sandals FIVE TIMES (without refund – yet) from Store Z, Store D, Store N, Store K and again from Store Z a second time…..in addition to the boutique shoes that were returned for credit.

The second pair of Store Z sandals arrived within two days. I was sitting out on my porch when the driver delivered them. I did not even go inside to grab a scissor, but used my nails to tear open the box that was marked “pewter” in my size – my heart beating with anticipation .

Only to find….

…..they were the Undesired Offensive Speckled Variety.

Here they are:

Store Z attempt #2 Undesired Speckled Variety

I’m stifling a scream here. Of course anybody else would have just picked out a different pair of shoes by now, right?

I called Store Z and explained the latest situation. I will say that Store Z is wonderful. Their customer service people are great. The lovely woman I spoke with apologized. She told me to keep the Offending Undesired Speckled Pair, that I could gift them away or do whatever I wanted with them. Her computer showed yet another pair of “pewter” in my size in their warehouse and she was going to send them out to me at no charge.

I was grateful, skeptical and yet naively hopeful. Perhaps this time this sixth pair was going to be “The Lucky Pair” of goldy/silvery pewter Springstep sandals.

The date the shoes were to arrive passed. I waited. And waited. 

When I looked up the tracking number to investigate, my heart sank. You see, Store Z and another store – MegaStore A – are connected. Apparently the shipping was sent by MegaStore A, and sometimes MegaStore A uses their own shipper that will have a TBA tracking number. I have historically had bad luck with this shipper listed as TBA. In the past I have ordered things from MegaStore A that will not arrive yet state it has been “left in the mailroom” (this is a private house, there is no “mail room”) or “delivered to front door” (we have a camera outside the door and know nothing was ever left there) or “in transit” (which remains “in transit” for eternity). When I saw that Store Z sent the sandals via MegaStoreA with a TBA#, I had a gut feeling I wasn’t ever going to see those shoes. Sure enough, the tracking says they were “Sent to seller in Ohio”, whoever that is. Then they “Left seller in Ohio”. At that point they became “Delayed”….. “In transit” with that little icon of a line and a dot frozen in time – stuck, going nowhere – and probably never to be seen again.   

No sandals. I wondered if perhaps they had been the ones… Pair #6…. that might have been the golden ticket.

I called Store Z yet again and got a lovely, apologetic, friendly woman on the phone. I told her what was occurring, said I hate the unreliability of TBA shipping, let her know my shoes never arrived and asked for a different shipping method. She said they never know which carrier will be taking their stuff and have no control over that (sometimes UPS, sometimes USPS, sometimes others). She said she would send me out yet another pair, at no charge, and that if the Lost in Ohio pair ever did show up, we could make arrangements to send those back. 

Two days later the package she sent me from Store Z arrived, via US Mail. This time I had no beating heart of anticipation. The box wasn’t even within a box, it was a box inside a bag mailer.

I opened the box of Pair #7.  Wonder of wonders, is the goldy/silvery pewter pair of sandals. In my size. Ta-da. Lucky Seven.

The Golden Ticket

I don’t know if the Lost in Ohio pair will ever arrive. Based on my experience, I doubt it. If they had, I am guessing they most likely would have been another Undesirable Offending Speckled Pair and I would have cried. But it doesn’t matter. I have my shoes for the events. 

I sent back Too Small But Right Color Pair #1 back to Store Z. The next challenge will be that I will need to track down all the reverse charges on my credit cards that I am supposed to be getting back. This was a lot of work. It’s funny, they are OK, but after all that I’m not even all that crazy about these sandals. The truth of the matter is, nobody is going to notice what some old lady at a wedding is wearing on her feet. And honestly, who remembers what shoes anybody was wearing at a wedding? I don’t. In the long run this was just one of those ridiculous First World Problems. More like a diversion from everything else that is unbearable at the moment. At this point I just hope they are comfortable,



This entry was posted in Are you kidding me?, Fashion, Humor, Shoes, Shopping, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Quality Control…or The Golden Ticket

  1. Old Friend says:

    Your perseverance somehow, someway will be rewarded


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