New Shoes Hurt, New Balance Replaces Them

Sean’s new shoes hurt his feet. When he realized that this wasn’t because he was out of shape or had bought the wrong size, he figured it had been too long since buying the shoes, and he wouldn’t be able to return them. Not so when the shoes were from New Balance, purveyors of sneaker awesomeness.

About five years ago I purchased a pair of New Balance athletic shoes. It was the first pair of what I considered to be expensive shoes I had purchased. I the coming years I considered them to be one of the best purchases I had ever made. Five years later, I finally decided I had to buy a new pair. Not because the old ones were worn out, but simply because they no longer looked good enough to wear to work.

I made a trip in early March of this year to a local New Balance store, and eventually purchased a pair of shoes I believed would feel as good and wear as well as my five year old pair. Within about 1 week, I traveled with them and did a lot of walking. My feet hurt, but I attributed that to being out of shape. But when about two months had passed and I realized that shoes which I had paid over $150 for were hurting my feet during my normal day, I knew something was wrong. While I believed I knew the cause, I also knew that I was wearing a pair of shoes I had been wearing for two months. It’s difficult to get anything replaced after two months, and I guessed that any chance I had of getting that pair of shoes replaced was long gone.

Still, I wanted New Balance to know my story, so I sent off an email to the customer support address on their web page.

Within a day not only did I get a response, but they were going to replace my shoes with a new pair. After a couple of emails and one phone conversation, I ended up back at my local store, where I was able to choose a new pair of shoes. They even refunded the difference, without a single hesitation or murmur on their part.

In an era where customer service seems to be going downhill, I thought it was worth pointing out a company that values it.

Frankly, we’re appalled. Making shoes that look nice for years on end, and replacing products without a second thought when customers complain? New Balance, that is not the way to business success, and you should know it.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    OK, I’m game. What was the cause?

    • legotech says:

      Different shoe lasts…there are three or four different lasts designed for different models and some of them are weird…I wore NB for years and years and then they developed a new last that made my feet hurt like crazy and never seemed to break in. I stopped wearing them after that since I couldn’t know which model used the horrible last.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        So basically the shape of the shoe?

      • bentleywg says:

        legotech: You can find out which last they used for any model shoe on the New Balance website. Once you find the last that works for you (or the one that hurts your feet), you can also find out which shoes use that last. Scroll down to Sizing Charts and look for Shoe Lasts on the sidebar. (I posted this on Saturday and it hasn’t shown up yet. This is the second attempt, this time without the direct link.)

  2. GrayMatter says:

    Hey! Snark in the writeup!

    WHOO HOO!!!!

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    And every article about NB should mention they are MADE IN THE USA. Your purchase is employing Americans, not foreign sweatshops or potentially child labor.

    • eezy-peezy says:

      some of them are, some of them aren’t.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        Details please. I was not aware of this.

        • Laura Northrup says:

          Some are made here, some assembled here, but not all. Check the labels next time you shop for shoes from them.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          New Balance is also threatening to shut down their remaining USA production lines if the free-trade pact the Obama administration is pushing goes through. It’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would pretty much open the gate to a flood of cheap shoes from Vietnam.

          • wildgift says:

            Another reason to buy NB!

            I have owned several pairs and am in two right now, one of them a direct replacement of what seems to be the same shoe. Very comfortable. They fit my feet, and I buy them online as well as in the store.

    • Kaniac says:

      Not all New Balance are made in the USA. I’d thought so too until I found cheap NBs at DSW ($25 or something). Checked the label and saw they were made in China – price mystery solved. Shoes that cheap made me question how strong their anti-sweatshop policies actually are… Would love to know definitively if anyone has info.

      • majortom1981 says:

        The ones that are made in the USA have this huge tag letting you know. My last pair bought in a noutlet were made in the USA

    • Mike says:

      To be fair, not all the shoes New Balance makes are made in the US, and not all of the ones that are made in the US are made from domestically sourced materials, but they are doing far more than any other sneaker manufacturer to support US workers.

  4. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    I’m starting to like Laura….

    • Laura Northrup says:

      Finally. It only took three years!

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        Honestly? I have always liked Laura! Good and topical posts, solid proofreading and she reads her comments. Throw in some humor and appropriate snark, and you have the makings of a great writer!

    • Scooter McGee says:

      She’s probably burned out on all the Sears posts. Including the one I will be submitting of my dad’s experience in getting them to fix a lawnmower under warranty (they won’t), once dad gives me all the details, timeline, etc.

  5. ronbo97 says:

    After years of wearing only Nikes, I switched to New Balance and never looked back. Quality construction and they never seem to wear out, even though I wear them every day. Nice to know that their customer service is awesome as well.

    BTW, the New Balance shoes that I described above cost around $65 at JC Penneys.

  6. The Tick says:

    I do love my New Balance shoes, and don’t own anything else. I never wear them out; they just get too dirty to wear in polite company.

    That said, do a Google search for ‘New Balance cat pee’. Some of us have sweaty feet and a body chemistry that breaks down the polyurethane insole into a component that is shared with the product manufactured in Mr. Fuzz’s kidneys.

    The last pair I bought didn’t have the problem, so I suspect they have resolved it. I do, however, keep my shoes up on a high shelf when they’re not being worn…

  7. eezy-peezy says:

    I have had New Balance replace shoelaces for me, free of cost, when the old ones broke. Awesome company and some of their shoes are even made in US.

  8. BrownLeopard says:

    When my last pair of NB shoes started falling apart a month after I bought them, NB not only replaced them but gave me the next model up (which was $40 more expensive) for free. This is what keeps me an NB customer and makes me tell everyone else to buy NB over any other shoe.

  9. bben says:

    I love my New Balance shoes. I was a Nike wearer until I got my first NB – Now, the only sneaker I will buy in NB. My current pair is over 2 years old and still wearable – and I wear them every day.

  10. dwtomek says:

    Was just thinking about ordering a pair of their minimus shoes. Now I’m certain that I will.

  11. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Someone did not do their job at his local New Balance store. When I got my new shoes from my local store, they made it a point to not only measure me completely, but also do the pressure analysis to make sure I got the right shoes.

    BTW, Laura, lose the snark at the end. It’s uncalled for.

  12. HoJu says:

    I had a very very similar situation happen recently (except I’ve yet to ask for a replacement!). I live bear the NB factory and ultimately the factory store. I bought a pair of shoes with much thinner soles. More like the Vibrams. I assumed that they were hurting me because I just don’t do well with those shoes and I need more support. It’s been like 3 months but I just can’t wear them.

    I suppose I should let them know.

  13. HoJu says:

    I had a very very similar situation happen recently (except I’ve yet to ask for a replacement!). I live bear the NB factory and ultimately the factory store. I bought a pair of shoes with much thinner soles. More like the Vibrams. I assumed that they were hurting me because I just don’t do well with those shoes and I need more support. It’s been like 3 months but I just can’t wear them.

    I suppose I should let them know.

  14. Hi_Hello says:

    i grew up with paylesshoes. I figure they last about a year, cheap and I”ll buy another one.
    Tried Nike and addidas (sp?) once… didn’t like them… plus too expensive and only last a year.

    Then came NB. They are the only pay I own know…sneakers anyway. It would be nice if they make dress shoes.

  15. eaddict says:

    I love the free shoelaces for life too. Sometimes my laces get caught in a bike gear then I head down to NB and they toss me another set. I have been hooked on NB since they supported the Modern Pentathlon at the Atlanta Olympic Games. I was a results/scorer/timer there and NB not only donated food/drink to the athletes but us workers as well. Scored my first pair of NB there and haven’t looked back. Walking, running, work, and hiking. ALL NB.

  16. jacknval says:

    Another NB supporter here. I emailed them when my sons latest pair didn’t hold up as well as the previous ones had. They sent me a new pair free and told me to keep the old ones as well.

  17. wkm001 says:

    I have been wearing NB shoes for coming up on ten years now. As a heavier than usual runner I normally get 200-250 miles out of a pair of running shoes. I only got 75 out of a pair of 890s, which they described as lightweight daily running shoes. While I loved the shoes they should probably only be used for racing. After nearly six weeks NB exchanged them for me too. They really are a great company.

    Sadly I do have to blame the OP here a little. Even if you wear a pair of shoes once a week for five years, they are surely worn out. You may have purchased the wrong shoe last like some of the other commenters stated, but I suspect you got use to walking in worn out shoes. Take your old shoes to a Fleet Feet or some full service shoe store and ask them if they are worn out. While it is very self serving for them to say yes, I suspect they will tell you the truth.

  18. HogwartsProfessor says:

    They hurt because you’re stepping on the kitteh inside them.

  19. Real Cheese Flavor says:

    I love New Balance because they’re one of the only companies that realize that feet come in different widths and the way to compensate for a wide foot is to not buy a bigger size.

    The fact that they last for ages and they have outstanding customer service is just icing on the cake.

    I just wish they made dress shoes.

  20. newsbunny says:

    They also still make a good portion of their shoes in the U-S, including my old neck of the woods, Massachusetts.

    I love New Balance. They make great stuff. And it lasts.

  21. SporadicBlah says:

    My wife turned me on to NB a few years ago. Pair them up with a Super Feet Green Insole and you have one comfortable shoe!

  22. shifuimam says:

    I bought a pair of shoes and insoles at the NB store in Georgetown a couple years ago. Didn’t wear them anywhere but decided to return them after I found a good pair of athletic shoes at Kohl’s for a better price. Got on the metro with them, got distracted talking to some nice strangers I ran into, and left them on the metro.

    Four months later, metro called me and told me someone had returned my brand new, in-the-box shoes and insoles, complete with receipt. Went to NB, and they were more than happy to refund my money even though the return period was long over.

  23. AntiNeutral says:

    I wish there were more stories like this one……..what does it say that there aren’t many others like this to tell?

  24. cantiloon says:

    What was the specific shoe? If the shoes are minimal (the kind that are closer to barefoot) then that could explain the pain. You’re should really only run in those shoes and will experience pain are soreness if your form isn’t tip top. I know from experience. When I tried them last summer, my endurance level was such that I could run about four miles or so and I had arch, shin, and knee soreness after less than one mile. I realized that my form must have been pretty bad.

  25. ScytheNoire says:

    Only brand I’ll wear. Only running shoe that doesn’t fall apart or end up feeling worse a few months later. NB’s biggest problem is that they last so long and so well, you don’t need to replace your shoes as often. But I’ll never buy another brand, none have came close to my NB’s.