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Faulty item or just wrong shoe size? (Refund refused!)

I recently bought a pair of shoes online which are the same style and brand as another a pair I already own, in the same size. The new pair unfortunately won’t stay on my feet properly when walking, they’re elastic backed and the elastic just slips off straight away on both feet.

I contacted the retailer and sent them videos of me walking in each pair to show the problem. Their response was essentially that the shoes aren’t faulty and that sizing can vary between different batches even within the same style and brand of shoe. In their opinion this makes it a sizing issue. They offered me store credit under their shoe size returns policy, which counts as a change of mind return so I would have to cover postage costs to return the shoes to them.

It seems as though the shoes should be considered faulty, as they don’t function for their intended use, and in particular, against another almost identical pair that does (it’s a different colour and the brand has updated its logo but it is the same materials, design, construction, size etc and was sold under the same name).

Does anyone have any thoughts on whether this is correct and if it’s worth pursuing a full refund?

Note: the brand advertises this style for sale with pictures of both the old and updated logo shoes under the same listing online, so it’s reasonable to conclude they’re the same.

Edit: corrected typo

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Hi @winterberry, welcome to the community.

Interesting question.

If the shoe is a different size to the standard show size as labelled (you bought), then yes, it would be seen as misleading under the Australian Consumer Law as the labelled size does not reflect the actual/standard size of that expected by a reasonable person when buying a shoe.

If the size is okay, but due to your foot shape etc the elastic back results in the shoe slipping off, then no. A reasonable person can’t expect every shoe to fit every foot perfectly even if the labelled shoe size is correct. Under the ACL is would be consider a change of mind and is one of the risks of buying online sight unseen.

Depending on the above answers, they might be in the rights to only offer store credit under their returns policy. A store can make their own policy in relation to change of minds (second one above) and offer a store credit.

If they have mislead you, then under the ACL you can see a resolution under the ACL including a refund. To prove they have mislead you, you will need prove the shoes you have purchased don’t meet what would be seen as the standard size in Australia. You will need to be able to confirm standard shoe size measurements for a particular size and that the show doesn’t conform to this standard size.

A twist to the above is if they are based off shore. If this is the case, it is worth reading the section on this page about shopping online with an overseas business:

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A few years back I bought a pair of shoes that were perfect. So perfect I decided to buy another pair. Trying on the ‘new’ ones in the shop did not work at all. Contacting the manufacturer I discovered there were 2 factories making the same shoe. One was perfect for me, the other was not. They told me how to differentiate the factory by a subtle difference in the logo. I found other pairs from the ‘good factory’ and each was perfect. No shoe I tried from the other factory was a satisfactory fit.

I would not accept change of mind and would lodge a charge back. Claiming improper fits for any item of apparel is change of mind is rubbish in my opinion.

That being written t here are a few related topics on the community re size problems and online purchases. The conclusion is the buyer is at the mercy of the T&C of the vendor.

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Hi @phb thanks for the warm welcome!

While I agree that this is the case in general terms, surely if someone already owned a another pair of the same shoes not only in the same size but also the same design and could wear those without issue, it would be reasonable to expect if they bought a second pair of these they would fit much the same? Maybe not perfectly exactly the same, but it would be reasonable to expect that they would at least be more or less similarly functional?

In the event that the shoes met the same standard size criteria, it seems that standard shoe size alone is lacking as a measure of faultiness if there is enough variation in the manufacturing process to allow one pair of shoes to be basically non-functional compared to another on the same wearer.

This I find interesting because in my experience there is enormous size variation between different shoe styles and brands, to the point that I no longer trust labelled shoe size in most cases - even though I did in this case based on my past experience of this particular style.

It seems that, on your interpretation of the law, there is not much protection for online shoppers in this sort of situation, particularly as the retailer is an online only store and the purchase was made during a Covid lockdown where trying the item on in person was not possible at the time. Given the increasing reliance on online shopping, and the push by some retailers toward the online format including those who sell shoes, this whole scenario seems to tip the balance of risk much further toward resting with the consumer - I wonder if the law is a little lacking here?

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Interesting!

I’m leaning toward this perspective (although being a disgruntled buyer surely biases my opinion a bit).

It is interesting to see quite different opinions and maybe that indicates this is grey area territory that should be better clarified in the law.

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I always thought so, but a few years back I thought I would buy another pair of Keen walking shoes I had for a number of years. When trying on a new pair I found them uncomfortable compared to my trusty old pair…it was stiff, felt tight in places, foot didn’t seem to fell right and seemed to push on pressure points. I couldn’t believe the difference a worn in pair compared directly to new unworn pair. I decided to pass on the same shoe and bought some Keen walking sandles which felt far better. I still have the walking shoes and am walking them into the ground…about 20-25km per week and walking on the compressed foam base as part if the sole has gone. Sounds strange, but will miss them when they are gone. I have bought a pair of Merrell to replace them…but even these aren’t anywhere near as good.

Edit: some shoes are hand made either as mass production or niche smaller producers. Being hand made there is likelihood of slight variations between pairs and even left and right shoes.

This is the only way to demonstrate a problem…comparing a faithful old/worn in pair with new isn’t grounds under the ACL.

There can be, some cater for high arches, wide/broad feet etc. Shoes also change shape over time and why old can’t be compared to brand new.

There is if they are an Australian online business, but one needs to prove a problem…not just one’s impression. If the shoe is defective (elastic strap was faulty), isn’t the size as claimed etc, then there are grounds that it doesn’t meet the consumer guarantee under the ACL. Just because they don’t fit as well as worn in/used shoes isn’t sufficient grounds. In the later case, it is a change in mind.

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…the bottom line is consumers should pay close attention to the T&C when ordering *anything) on-line. Some businesses are very consumer friendly and others accomplished the other way.

This is the ‘change of mind’ text you want to read…from ECCO Australia

If for any reason you are not satisfied with your online purchase (including sale items), you may return the items for a refund. Items must be returned within 30 days of purchase, unworn, in their original condition and with their original packaging undamaged.

Going OT but for those with perfect shoes needing soles, even those integrated ones, this is probably the best in the country.

They resoled my prized and perfect fit ECCO Walkers two times before they gave out, about 10 years daily wear time. They were a long discontinued previous version of

image

and yes, the sole is integrated to make the point re their capability.

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I understand that you feel disgruntled, but realistically all products have variations, some minute, some more noticeable. The variations may be size, colour, texture, content, etc. All manufacturing processes have a ± tolerance factor, even on the same product production line. If hand made, the variation may be larger.

I would say that this situation us is unfortunate for you that the second pair which is an

doesn’t fit properly. The almost is the clincher. Then they are not the same shoe even if sold unter the same name, and you’re unlikely to get a refund.

As I see it your options are to either accept their offer of a store credit, or getting them adjusted to fit so they don’t fall off when walking. If the only problem is that the elastic at the back is loose, have you considered going to a shoe repair place and asking if they take the elastic in? You may end up with another pair of shoes you are happy with.

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I agree with meltam about product variations. This is a known fact with many but not all brands. In fact the ONLY retailer who ponies up such caution in my experience is Rivers.
I think under the circumstances a store credit is a reasonale outcome for you.
But as I see it, while you’re agreeable to a store credit, you don’t want to pay the hefty postage cost to return the “dud” item.
May I suggest you contact the retailer by email making clear something along the following lines:

  1. The item purchased does not fit and hence is not fit for purpose;
  2. While you believe you have the right to a refund, you will take a store credit for the full amount that has say 1 year validity (or less if you plan to buy something ASAP);
  3. You reject having to pay the postage to send the shoes back so you want their written agreement that when the lock down is over that you can deliver the shoes to their retail outlet if they have one or another location where they or someone on their behalf can take possession of the shoes BUT that isn’t too far for you to drive to.

If the retailer does not agree with (3) above, then I would say you have an arguable case for a refund or store credit given the retailer is forcing on you a burden (the cost to post the shoes) which is unjust given your reasonableness.

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