What Happened After the Soles Separated From My Running Shoes in Vilnius
Thankful that they did not decide to come apart while I was walking outside in the cold winter weather in the middle of spring in Vilnius, an employee of the hotel property brought a tube of super glue which was the size of two fingernails; and its supply was almost exhausted. Still, I used a few drops in strategic spots — and that seemed to work, which is why the photograph at the top of this article does not show the sole completed separated from the rest of the running shoe.
That employee went above and beyond in terms of service when he returned with two tubes of glue — one of which I used that lasted for the remainder of the trip and for the return flight back to the United States.
Prior to leaving for Eastern Europe, I decided to retire the most recent pair of running shoes which have traveled with me, as they were wearing down to the point that I was unsure that they would survive this trip.
I planned on contacting someone at New Balance about what happened; but at that point, I recommended avoiding purchasing running shoes from New Balance — and I did not plan to purchase another pair from the company unless they provided customer service to my satisfaction. That is a shame, as I had used New Balance running shoes for years. To me, New Balance symbolized quality — or, at least, that used to be the case.
While on a trip to Europe, the soles completely separated simultaneously from both of my shoes — which have only been worn a dozen times or so prior to the trip; so they were practically brand new. I attached a photograph of one of the shoes while at the hotel room in Lithuania. An employee of the hotel ran out to get me two tubes of glue so that I can at least use the shoes for the remainder of the trip; and now they are a gluey mess — not that I can trust wearing them. I have been a customer of New Balance for greater than 20 years; and I have never had anything remotely similar to this happen. I am angry and extremely disappointed about the unacceptably poor quality of the product. Worse is that when I attempted to call customer service and opted for the automated call back option, no one ever called me back. At the very least, I would like for these shoes to be replaced. Thank you in advance.
I then awaited an official response from New Balance.
Communicating With New Balance
I only had to wait slightly greater than 24 hours for a response from Eric at New Balance, which arrived via e-mail message at 4:40 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, April 28, 2017.
Thank you for contacting New Balance. I am sorry to hear about the issues you are experiencing with your shoes, and I will gladly help you resolve this.
I am truly sorry for what you are experiencing with these shoes. I wanted to assure you that New Balance has excellent testing and quality control programs in place, so it is uncommon to experience this type of issue. We certainly stand behind our products and guarantee your satisfaction.
In order to further assist, I would like to gather more information about your experience with the shoes. Please provide more details from the list of questions below:
What is the full style number of the shoes? (this can be found on the tag inside the shoe)
Is the issue occurring on both shoes or just one of them?
How long have you had the shoes?
When did the problem start to occur?
How much room do you have between your longest toe and the tip of the shoes? (You can use a thumbnail as a comparison.)
When your shoelaces are tied, do the eyelet pairs across from each other grow further apart or come closer together at the top?
What kinds of activities were the shoes worn for?
How frequently do you wear them?
Are you currently in the United States?
Do you have a proof of purchase of the shoe?
Once again, I apologize that your expectation has not been met and look forward to your reply so I can further assist.
Thank you for shopping New Balance and have a great weekend!
Exactly two hours and one minute later, I sent the following response:
Greetings, Eric —
My responses to your questions are shown below in bold dark red type.
If you have any other questions or need additional information or photographs, please let me know.
I agree that the quality issue with which I am experiencing with my current pair of New Balance shoes is unusual — that is the main reason why I have been a customer for greater than 20 years — but when it happens, confidence in the product is seriously eroded.
Thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it.
Fifteen minutes later, I received the following response from Jake at New Balance:
Thank you for taking the time to email us. I am sorry to hear about the issues you are experiencing with your New Balance Shoes. The MX530BS is such a great style for us and I wish it had met your expectation. I really hope to help you reach a resolution.
To ensure that our product developers are aware of these issues, I passed along your experience. We take customer feedback seriously, and I can assure you that it will be noted to help us grow and improve in the future.
I noticed that you said you do not have a proof of purchase for your 530s. We do require a proof of purchase to accept any sort of return. That does not mean we are not willing to assist. I would be happy to offer you a $40 coupon to NewBalance.com. Simply respond to this email and let us know if you like to receive that coupon.
Let us know if you would like the coupon and hope to hear from you soon.
I answered the offer with the following reply on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 2:05 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time:
Good afternoon, Jake —
Thank you for your offer of providing a coupon worth $40.00 towards a purchase at NewBalance.com. I have been trying to track down the receipt of the shoes in question for the past several days; but because the shoes were purchased for me by someone else, I have been unsuccessful.
Considering that the least expensive shoe offered at NewBalance.com is $67.94 when shipping is included, that offer to provide a coupon worth $40.00 is tepid at best. I am not sure you understand the inconvenience, loss of time and even expense during my recent trip to Europe which I experienced as a result of the unacceptably complete failure of the shoes that I currently own, resulting in a lack of confidence in the product. We are not talking about a mere minor defect — nor neglect or misuse or fault on my part — pertaining to the shoes. I included a photograph of one of those shoes to this e-mail message as a reminder of the complete failure of the product.
I am not seeking an expensive top-of-the-line pair of shoes to replace the ones I currently own. All I want are shoes of a similar style and color — such as the 501 Ripple Sole or 501 Ballistic or 420 70s Running as three examples, if they are available in my size — on which I can depend and be fully confident when I travel on future trips without worry or concern.
Please reconsider your offer by adjusting the amount of the value of the coupon to at least $70.00. I really do not believe I am being unreasonable in my request considering the circumstances.
Thank you in advance.
I waited one week for a response to my request and did not receive it; so I repeated my request on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 1:10 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time. Here is the response which I received from Sarah at New Balance on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 9:52 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time, with the ticket number deleted:
Thank you for contacting us back! I am so sorry for your experience with our New Balance 530’s. I would like to help you with this.
I could only image how frustrating it was to have the sole of your shoe come off while on vacation. I would be happy to make this one time exception and offer you $70 off and free shipping on a new pair of shoes. To make this happen, you must give us a call to place the order at 1-800-595-9138. Please provide the representative this ticket number XXXXXX. I apologize you must call in, but we don’t have a coupon in that amount.
Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. I am happy to help. Thank you!
I thanked Sarah for the service recovery and her offer, which is more than fair. She turned the customer experience into a positive outcome.
The New Running Shoes
During a live chat on Friday, June 23, 2017 at 4:40 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time, Carole from New Balance helped me decide between running shoes, which were narrowed down to the 574, 420, 501 ballistic, 690v2, 510v3, and possibly Trailbuster Classic models. I let her know that I am an avid walker and a hiker but not a runner; and I seek long-term durability — especially in the sole — and that I travel internationally and explore parts of other countries on foot.
“If you are using for hiking, need to stay with a style built for this activity. The 690v2 & the 510v3 are both great options for off road & road. The other styles 574, 420, 501 ballistic are from our Lifestyle collection and are built as an everyday kick around shoe, fashion statement style. The soles are very minimal and will not provide the cushion and support protection that the trail style will.”
I decided to choose the 690v2 model, which is the New Balance 690v2 Trail running shoe style MT690RG2 for men. Only one color was available for it: forest green, which was fine with me.
The description was as follows: “Kick it up a notch with the rugged, all-terrain 690v2. A synthetic/mesh upper and gusset tongue wrap the foot in a lightweight protective layer. An improved AT TREAD outsole helps provide optimal traction. When the going gets rugged, this neutral cushioned men’s trail runner takes it all in stride. The AT Tread outsole provides superior traction and a gusseted tongue helps keep out debris.” The detailed items were described as follows:
Toe Protect™ rubber compound provides reinforcement and protects against the elements
AT Tread® all-terrain outsole combines both running and trail lug configurations for on- and off-road use
8 mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 8 mm drop are approximate
IMEVA (injection-molded EVA foam) midsole for firm yet flexible cushioning
NB Response 2.0 performance insert
Gusseted tongue sewn in place to keep debris out for midfoot protection
I received a sealed cardboard box which contained a shoe box which contained the running shoes. What I first noticed was how light they weighed and wondered if I had chosen wisely, as they felt rather flimsy.
Rather than write and publish the follow-up article, I decided to wait and see how the running shoes performed.
Fast forward to the year 2021; and I must say that after greater than four years and hundreds of miles in countries such as the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, Luxembourg, Iceland, Colombia, Belgium, Spain, Chile, Portugal, Panama, Germany, and many parts of the United States, the running shoes held up rather well. As of earlier today, a tear had developed on the right side of my left running shoe…
…as well as a smaller tear on the left side of my left running shoe.
The soles of both running shoes are worn below the toe — with a couple of small holes which started to develop — but not abnormally worn, as some of the tread still remains after hiking on many trails, pavement, and through undeveloped land with weeds and rocks over the years.
Much smaller tears developed on both sides of my right running shoe as well; with some wear and tear on the rear of each running shoe.
Final Boarding Call
Not yet at the end of its life for me, the New Balance 690v2 Trail running shoe style MT690RG2 for men — which was manufactured in Vietnam and apparently is now discontinued — served me well and continues to do so.
Combined with the customer service, I once again recommend purchasing New Balance running shoes based on my personal experience…
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