Three weeks into wearing TOMS

A few years ago, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie spoke at the Omaha Young Professionals Summit, and from those who attended I became familiar with the TOMS story. Blake spoke at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit in 2010, and it was a great story of building a business while being socially conscious. I even participated in TOMS One Day Without Shoes in 2010.

I love the TOMS story, which is why it pains me to write this post.

I’ve been pursuing a minimalism lifestyle for awhile now. I didn’t want to buy a pair of TOMS until it was necessary. Three months ago the time arrived, and I purchased my first pair. They arrived at the beginning of April.

When I first put them on, they were comfortable. I loved how they felt, and started wearing them consistently. Not every day, but consistently. Three weeks later, the sole started to split from the rest of the shoe. Understandably, the return policy prevents a return with shoes already worn.

Over the next few weeks, tears started to appear in other parts of the shoes. I hadn’t even owned them for two months, but they looked old already. I was disappointed. Partly because they were comfortable, but also because the money spent on them seemed wasted.

Granted, buying a pair of TOMS meant a child in need received a pair of shoes as well. That’s a good thing. But what if I bought a similar pair of shoes to TOMS, that lasted longer and were cheaper, and then donated the difference in money to a charity providing footwear to kids?* I could buy a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor slips, which are cheaper than the TOMS I bought.

*A few years ago, I expanded upon this when talking about a charity drive Starbucks was doing.

I don’t usually leave feedback for a product, but I decided to post a review, on TOMS site, about the shoes I purchased. I was surprised that the shoes had an average of 3.8 starts out of 5. I thought it might be lower, because of my experience. Maybe it was just me.

I wrote up a fair, but critical, review of the shoes and gave it two stars out of five. I posted it, and a message said my comment would have to be approved. Fine. I checked back a few days later. The comment was never approved. I sent out a tweet, with TOMS mentioned, discussing this. No response from TOMS, which is savvy with social media.

The comment has yet to be approved, but a nice five star review has been posted since then by someone else. There are no reviews posted, for this particular shoe, that are lower than three stars.

Now, it is possible that my feedback never went through. However, more likely is the feedback was never approved because it would hurt the rating and reputation of this particular shoe. I began to wonder how often that happened.

One of the nice things about Amazon is you can see the love and hate when it comes to reviews. There have been many products I’ve purchase through Amazon that received one star ratings and scorn. I still bought the products.

I posted the two star review because I did like TOMS. I liked their story. I want their products to get better. I was considering buying a different pair of TOMS, even though the first pair I bought split apart so fast. However, the apparent selective approval of feedback is disappointing and has changed my thoughts with their shoes.

Working at a non-profit for half my life, I understand the pressure to put on a successful front with your efforts. I think that’s general in business…in life. The problem is when you are found out for being selective in your truth-telling it stains you. It hurts your reputation.

I am only one TOMS customer. Thousands of customers have wonderful experiences with TOMS. That’s good. I’m not going to start a crusade against TOMS because I still think they do good work. Well, I’d like to keep thinking that. Blake’s story is challenging and an inspiration. Thousands of kids today have shoes because of TOMS.

The TOMS I have are comfortable, but fall apart easily. I am limited in what I can do with them now. I can’t wear them often because they’ll just wear away even quicker. Unfortunately, I’ll have to buy a new pair of shoes soon because of it. I won’t be spending more money on TOMS.

It was one comment. If it gets approved, what happens? I still think well of TOMS, and I probably buy another pair of shoes from them. Instead, the comment isn’t approved, I think less of the TOMS brand, and I write this critical post about TOMS.

Next time I help kids get shoes, I’ll give directly to an organization that helps with the cause.

Will this post make a difference? Well, for anyone potentially buying a pair of Freetown Black Men’s Classic from TOMS, hopefully it will give them a more rounded perspective before making the purchase.

2 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Buy From TOMS Again

  1. I have a friend who had similar problems with her toddler's Toms. She contacted the company, sent the back, and they issued her a new pair. It may be worth a shot to contact customer support.


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