Sunday, July 31, 2011

Customer (dis)service

Geox makes very good shoes--it is an Italian company, and has managed to prosper through innovation. Last year, my daughter convinced me to buy a pair (even though they are expensive) and they are so comfortable that I wanted to buy another pair for everyday use. I went to a Geox story in Festival Walk today and the store staff said that Geox does not make half sizes. I told them I thought that was impossible: how can a high end shoe company expect half the people to wear poorly fitting shoes? He assured me that was the case. This is astonishing: it means that brand and image are so important that many Hong Kong shoppers are willing to buy poorly fitting shoes! (Hm, I wonder if their customers are largely Mainland tourists on shopping sprees--they do seem to have shops concentrated in TST--4 of them!--and other tourist areas).  Of course, I went to the website to check, and sure enough, they DO have half sizes from US 8 to 11; here is an online chart of their sizes.

I tried to send a complaint email, asking why they do not sell half sizes in Hong Kong; click on "Customer Service" on the global Geox website and you get a screen that says "Coming soon."  Oh well. I guess here is another damaged brand. I need to find another brand of shoe.

PS/Update (10 August 2011): 

A friend has told me that GEOX in HK is sold by an agent, Belle International. They also are the agent for Caterpillar, Merrell,  Royal Elastics Sebago and Gola.  My friend knows the agent, and he says they don’t have half size shoes due to logistics considerations, i.e to reduce each item’s stock.  Less inventory and simpler management reduces costs. The agent argues that they do this to cater to the majority, but I don't think it is a matter of majority or minority.  If one assumes that the "half" sizes (which are whole numbers in the European way of counting, so not just a minor aspect of sizing) are necessary for proper fitting, then they expect that half the people (those who would fit better in the half sizes) will just buy slightly larger or smaller shoes, ie they will buy ill-fitting shoes.  It shows that many people are so brand conscious that they are willing to buy ill-fitting shoes.  I do not think it is a matter of not being interested in a minority, because the range of foot sizes is a continuous curve. They are only interested in fitting half the feet, because they know that many shoppers in the other half will buy the shoes anyway!  I find this amazing, and a sign of very unsophisticated shoppers.  The most demanding shoppers, of course, are having shoes hand made, so that they fit the foot perfectly.  I would expect only full sizes of a cheap brand, but it is surprising that you see this in a middle-high end brand like Geox. 

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