Sorry, No Converse Sneakers For Contractor In Afghanistan

More than one Consumerist reader has heard the siren song of the John Varvatos Converse sneakers. Not long ago we shared the story of Tim, who bought two separate pair that each fell apart in less than a year. Meanwhile, Riley isn’t able to tell us anything about the durability of the shoes because Converse won’t take his money. ships using the U.S. Postal Service, useful since he uses an APO address. They shut down his transaction because his billing and shipping addresses don’t match. That’s because he’s a contractor working in Afghanistan, and his bank accounts and credit cards are all registered to his actual home, back in the U.S., where his wife and kids are.

Even though The Consumerist recently had a post about a customer’s complaints about their quality, I broke down and decided to order a pair of Converse by John Varvatos. The pair I picked were expensive but it is a luxury I felt I have earned; I am a contractor working in Afghanistan. I have 33 days until I go home to visit my wife and children and I wanted to have nice, comfortable clothes and shoes to wear on the long flight home.

When I buy things and have them shipped here to Afghanistan, I have to find a retailer that uses USPS for shipping. My APO address obviously cannot be served by UPS or FedEx. Fortunately, I found the shoes I wanted in the correct size and color on and they ship to APO addresses. I put in my shipping address, I entered my credit card info, and submitted my order. If I have to return them for a different size, I should have plenty of time to get it all straightened out before my time off next month.

The following day I received an email from saying that my order was placed on hold pending verification of my shipping address. They continue to tell me that I should call or reply to the email them with an address that is on file with my credit card company. The email also said that if it was not taken care of soon, my order would be cancelled.

My reply was: USAA is my bank. USAA is a bank that does business specifically with the military. Is it hard to believe I would have a stateside address and an address in Afghanistan?

There was a time when I lived in Germany as a soldier when I did have my APO address as my billing address but my wife and kids lived with me there. Here that’s just not feasible. It’s a joint account and my wife is at that address in the states. It seems if I want the shoes, I will have to have them shipped to my wife and have her reship them to me.

I know their customer service isn’t great so I am guessing this battle could be lost already.

It’s hard to believe that a site won’t let someone ship to a different address than the one they use for billing. Does no one ever purchase Converse sneakers as a gift and mail them directly to the recipient? Have none of these recipients ever been stationed abroad or at sea in the military or Foreign Service?

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.