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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I wish I could write a better review abouth the AE store at the Woodlands (Houston). I'll try to keep it short. I went in looking for two pairs of first quality shoes a month before a trip to NYC with my daughter. I ended up with one factory second pair (no thanks to the Woodlands store) and am still waiting on a non defective pair of factory first loafers.

Lessons learned. January is a bad time to shop this store they leave rookies alone to help customers with almost no inventory. Rookies who when they try and fail to find what you want in first quality refuse to help with factory seconds even though they can. Then when the one pair of first quality shoes arrives via UPS it's defective, You call and the customer service 800# "says we can't help you and the store is closed." Driving to the Woodlands outside Houston from Austin is a pain, I combined it with another trip. A quality control person not doing their job does not help. Not having the sales assistant and the customer service rep doing everything possible to help is worthless.

If you need help with first quality call the store and make an appointment with the manager Stephanie she appears to have a clue. If you need help with factory seconds call Nathan at the shoe factory he is great. I discovered this fact here.

The store manager told me she has ordered seconds for customers when that is what it took to help a customer. Wish the rookie who helped me had done that. The manager also told me that only now are inventories getting back to normal.

I was very polite and patient with the rookie even when she failed to notice that the shoe she had me try on was not the size marked on the box but in fact a narrower fit. But the whole saga just left me unimpressed.
 

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What specific models were you looking for and which did you end up purchasing? Was this your first AE experience? Is it to be your last? :icon_scratch:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I was looking for an AE black wingtip or full wing, I was not being picky. I ended up with the MacNeil (on my short list) in black calf as a factory second. The cosmetic imperfections were very very minor. They ended up a tiny bit big but that was a blessing in disguise. The shoe was pressing into my ankle. A pair of black (low volume) Superfeet inserts made for a perfect fit and raised my heel so there was no more ankle pain. The Burgundy Walden penny loafers; one was perfect and the other had a big wrinkle on the toe box. Normally a 13EE went with 13EEE in AE. Yes first AE experience. I may check out the Riverhead NY outlet as I have a customer there I call on. I'd have to have a pressing need and make an appointment with the store manager before I visit a first quality store again.
 

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Sorry for your troubles. People with big, wide feet have a tough go at it just walking in an trying on shoes. Even AE can't stock every width and every size in a brick and mortar store, but will order things for you. If inventories are down right now, certainly this means that 1) AE sold a lot of shoes around the Christmas season & 2), the factory is trying to replenish stock. I waited 8 weeks for a pair of Bradleys to be made up in my size (long narrow feet).

My store in Charlotte will actually bring shoes in for me to try on if I call ahead and ask that they stock a specific shoe in my size, but rarely do they have many choices if I stroll in unannounced. Now that you have identified a person in the AE Woodlands store that you can work with, you should be better served in the future. Getting the best service is about developing relationships and maintaining those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't expect them to have my big size in stock. I do expect first quality to be first quality. I do expect when I call customer service they can help me. It would be nice and better employees will go the extra mile to help, sadly this rookie did not. Kind of pointless having retail stores if the wait is 8 weeks. I wait 2 to 12 months for cowboy boots but those folks don't have stores all over the fruited plain. I was willing to wait 4 four weeks but that was not enough time. Nordies in Austin was beyond useless.
 

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^ I'm aware, which is why I didn't make excuses for your customer service problems, nor the flaw in your shoes, and nor for the rookie mistakes. However, you did mention the wait period and your frustration with poor selection, which I believe is understandable for someone with hard to fit feet. People with average feet can walk into an AE store and have an abundance of choices, so in that regard it is not pointless to have retail stores that can serve the vast majority of the public.

Based on the countless reviews here, AE makes occasional mistakes, but works hard to satisfy its customers. I think your experience was an anomaly, but if you feel as if you can get better service and a better selection of shoes from someone else, have at it. Good luck in your search.
 

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I also take a 13 EEE in the AE MacNeil, so I feel your pain. It takes from 4 to 12 months for me to get anything from Alden, so the wait at AE is not bad, and well worth it. AE advertises the MacNeil as its best fitting shoe. Some ideas, you can order directly from AE in Wisconsin and return them to an AE store if they don't fit; there are a couple of stores in Dallas, if you can fit that city into your travel plans. Also, you might want to try the AE Sanford as it is on the same last as the MacNeil, but should have more room inside due to the design of the sole. I haven't tried it yet, but this is what I was told by an AE rep.
 

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Wow, this is really interesting. I had a similar experience in that store. I wish it weren't the case and I haven't let it deter me from their shoes, but I have decided the best place to go for AE shoes is NOT the AE factory stores. Here's why:

I went to the woodlands store, which is 2 hours away, because I had little knowledge of shoe fit and have had bad experiences in the past with getting the right fit in a dress shoe. Trusting the judgement of the salesman, who was also a manager, I got fit in a 10.5A. I bought some shoes, the walnut stand, and had them shipped to me even though the salesman was pushing me to drive back (again 4 hours round trip) to make sure they fit. I got them and the shoes look great ... but they were really tight. I called the store and got no help as to whether they got the size right. I wore them out of the house figuring they just needed to be broke in and I should trust the judgement of the salesman and, after more than a week of pain, I decided they were too small. Maybe not by much but a little too small is way too small really. So I got online and learned what I could about shoe fit (thanks AAAC forums). I learned the salesman was telling me things that were just incorrect and he was a store manager! Such as the proper fit in a balmoral-laced shoe was to have a large gap in the laces (my "large V" as the salesman put it had about 1.5 inch gap at the top lace hole with my flat arches too) the shoes will stretch a bit (AE website says the premium leather they use will not stretch at all) and I was not encouraged to try both on. I'm half at fault for not doing my homework in advance, or at least not asking to throw the left shoe on, but I was hoping the AE store would help me more in that regard.

The real problem came when I tried to return the used shoe. I know I bought it, wore it out, and should keep it. I mean that's fair really, but I already have a black strand in 11C I bought a year ago. They obviously are too big and are sitting in the back of my closet with only 5 or 6 wears in them. I called the store and the 800 number and they were all very insistent I drive back to woodlands. Sigh. I guess it's a policy and wouldn't be a big deal if it were down the road. I can't help but think "what if I had got these online, would I still have to drive?" Another 4 hour drive later and I had the walnut strand in the 10.5B I need. The 800 number folks kept telling me they would accept returns on a worn shoe and that's good customer service, but I kept thinking something hasn't worked out so nice in this case. As a grad student this was an exaggerated and expensive education to sizing shoes.

A side note is the shoe I originally wanted was the kiowa but, being originally sized in an 10.5A, my choices were limited when I made my original purchase. I love the walnut strand but really still want the kiowa. I never brought this up with AE; it would only have complicated this exchange more. The kiowa is no longer on sale for $200 but my wallet is dry from paying full price on the strand anyway. It will have to be on the want list for a while.

Like I said, I am certainly not deterred from AE. The shoes are beautiful and I've never had a problem with poor craftsmanship from them. Just wish this experience had gone a little smoother is all ... :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well the replacements arrived and once again they were defective. At some time the rod they use to keep the tissue paper stuffed in the toe had slipped and left a big dent in the toe box. Maybe I'm being picky but I expect first quality $250 penny loafers to have a perfect toe box when the are new and unworn.
 

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I'd just like to chime in here too, I emailed the shoebank address that was posted here, from 2 different email accounts in case it was blocked etc. and never recieved a response(or an error). Which is rather annoying and frankly pissing me off, I was ready to buy a few pairs; I even bought some new shoe trees and various waxes and creams in preparation.

I'm frankly just more pissed off because I can't seem to find AE shoes anywhere locally in Canada except Harry Rosen which is very pricey and I was really looking forward to some slick shoes to go with my soon to arrive MTM shirts.

I could call but I still need to get the list so that won't help as they don't seem to use email :icon_headagainstwal
 

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A few thoughts, these are in general no specific to AE:
Customer Service is not what it was years ago, a co worker (very brand loyal) mentioned that he had an issue with cell phone, he took it to the outlet and complained, made an appointment for the next day with an expert, finally had the issue resolved. I asked how he rated the CS, his comment was an "A", his rationale was "I ultimately had it resolved to my liking", my take was - I would have given a "D", you had complain, go back another day, and received no further compensation.
I think CS is also generational, a seasoned veteran salesman/saleswoman realizes what they are doing, less seasoned individuals seem to think they are at work to collect a check and entertain themselves. Standard business seems that store employees talk more with each other versus taking care of the customer in front of them.
AE time frame for shoe manufacturing is very good IMO, I've had custom orders, webgems, sale orders. 12C is rarely stocked in shell, but AE turns them around in short order. Alden (also and excellent company) takes much longer in comparison. Worth the wait to me but it is a wait.
 

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The Woodlands AE

I (also) recently had a less than stellar experience at The Woodlands AE. I am a new customer to AE and just moved here, so I figured I would go in and have a look around, and see what sizes they stocked.

I walked in and there was a girl there, who was on the phone (I suppose) with a customer. She never acknowledged me, and I looked around for about 10 minutes. After being there 10 minutes and never being acknowledged by her I left.

I don't expect her to end the current call with a customer just because I walked in, but I do expect her to tell me that she will be with me shortly, etc.

I wish an AE rep. would chime in on this conversation, since there have been a fair number of similar complaints about this location.
 

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I walked in and there was a girl there, who was on the phone (I suppose) with a customer. She never acknowledged me, and I looked around for about 10 minutes. After being there 10 minutes and never being acknowledged by her I left.
As mentioned in my post I see this a a generational epidemic, my wife makes comments in regards to this on stores she goes to as well.
In contrast I've been to the AE Orlando store (shirt/tie/slacks/Shell Aldens) the 40ish salesman finished with a tourist customer, I waited asked to look at some Strawfuts (didn't have my size) I tried a pair of "D"s, he acknowledged that they were too wide for me, he admired the Aldens we talked shoes for a bit and AE, he offered to get shoes in C for me to try if I ever wanted.
 

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The real problem came when I tried to return the used shoe. I know I bought it, wore it out, and should keep it.
Love when people try and gloss over the main point. Anyone that has ever purchased a pair of shoes knows the drill. Wear them on carpets around the house for a bit before you take them out - as once you do - they are yours.
 

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I know this thread is about a specific store, but I have had a terrific customer service experience with AE directly. I can't go into the details, but I told them as a result of their service they have a customer for life. I just wanted to give my two cents - a lot of customer service is bad, but my experience with AE was outstanding.
 

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If you call the Allen Edmonds 1 800 customer service line and leave a message for a call back, you will not get a call back. Tried it multiple times. Your best bet is to wait and speak directly to a representative.

If you ask for assistance by email, most of the time you will get a reply within a day or two. If not, eventually some type of auditor will pick up your unanswered email on a check and send it to a representative for an answer.

I ordered a pair of suede Malverns during the sale in February, and still have not received them. Quality control rejected two pairs made in my size, and I have to wait until another batch is run.

Other problems I've had have been previously posted.
 
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