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If you are buying from Decathlon India, don’t expect outstanding customer support

Update: Decathlon took back the shoes and I got a replacement. Read the last section.

On December 6th, 2016, I bought a pair of Kalenji shoes from Decathlon to replace my regular shoes. This was the third time I had bought a Kalenji shoe. I was pretty happy with the older ones – they had fit me well and had lasted for a decent amount of time.

Needless to say that I was quite unhappy to see a mesh tear on my shoe in just seven months of usage. This particular model was marketed as trail running shoes. I am not a trail runner and haven’t been putting them through the rigours of running either. They were mostly my go-to shoes for all casual and office use. I have slightly wider spread near my toes but that kind of shape of feet isn’t uncommon; a tear near the pinky toe in 7 months due to thinning of material is definitely uncommon,

I visited the store (Decathlon Whitefield) and explained the scenario. The staff were bound by the warranty clauses – 2 years for sole and stitches. Mesh cuts were not covered by warranty – no matter when it was purchased. At least the staff helped me in getting a duplicate bill and giving me some contact info.

So, I wrote a mail:

    I had purchased this shoe (product id 798912) on 6th December 2016. Within 7 months there is a mesh tear (usage, not accidental) on right shoe and signs of thinning on the left.
    I had gone to the store where I had bought it (Whitefield). The Kalenji representative said that she cannot do anything as mesh tear is not covered under warranty. She pointed out that I have slightly wider feet and this will happen with all brands.
    While her assessment may be correct, a tear in 7 months, in my opinion, is a quality problem. I have used Kalenji shoes before and that lasted for 2.5 years – which was heavily used and retired in the end with the sole naturally wearing out.
    Kindly let me know what I should do. I am not happy with the product giving up in such a short period of time. Attached please find photos of the shoes and a copy of the bill (Whitefield01*/0080209) I have obtained from the store.

I attached a few pictures, too.

A copy of the bill

The right shoe with the mesh cut.

The left shoe with material thinning outat a similar position.

I had obtained some India customer care address from the store : incustomerhappiness@decathlon.net. No sooner did I hit send, than I got a mail failure delivery notification. I rushed back to the store and mailed it to the inbox of a staff and asked him to forward it to the concerned department. I have no clue if he did that or not. Just to be safe, I had contacted Decathlon India via Twitter.

They quickly got back. Little did I know that this would be the only fast response from them.

Although the staff assured me that I would be getting some reply in 24 hours, I did not receive anything for the next 3 days.

I received a Twitter apology.

This only turned out to be a hollow promise as no attempt was even made to look into the issue. It seemed like they did not give a damn about their customers or their products. I was quite frustrated at this point and wrote back to them.

This time, they were at courteous to give me a call and mention that the team that looks after the brand isn’t there but the issue would be sorted out by 6th. Sad to say, I am yet to receive any reply / response. I have contacted them via Twitter asking for a response. Maybe I will send a link to this blog to some concerned people.

What can Decathlon do?

There are three scenarios:

  1. Stick to the warranty clause and say that they don’t care even if a product fails in such a short duration. Thus, this will give out the message that they don’t care about the quality of their products or the customers who spend on them. In such a case, the shoes will only add up to the landfill. They don’t even sell patch kits. I believe they can take a page out of Patagonia’s branding [8] and really work hard to make lasting products, while promoting the concept of repair, reuse and recycle.
  2. Accept that this was a quality issue but is only an exception and I was unfortunate to get a poor piece. In that case, they should stand by the quality of their product and issue me a replacement / refund. Again, I expect some corrective action regarding their design philosophy that aims at enhancing the longevity of their products.
  3. Don’t accept that it was a quality issue and blame it on poor or incorrect usage on the customer’s part. In such a case, I must re-iterate that I am not a trail runner (I can’t even run properly). These shoes were only subjected to usual walking on pavement, on my office floors and the usual 2×2 km bicycle commute between my home and office. Again, in such a case, the shoes will only add up to the landfill.

They can always take another route and ignore customer complaints altogether. That would induct them into the hall of shame. I hope they aren’t heading in that direction. If they contact me back, I will post a follow-up.

Update: Getting a replacement

A staff from Decathlon Whitefield called me up exactly one week after my complaint and said that they are ready to trade-in the shoes. He insisted that the mesh-cut was a technical problem owing to my wide feet. I don’t buy it. It’s purely a design flaw. There are certain contact points that have to be reinforced. Interestingly, the lady in charge at the counter had similar issues with a pair that her father bought.

Here is my replacement pair –

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