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?


Edit Your Comment

  1. MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

    USAA will let you update your billing/mailing address online. Converse should fix this, they have no excuse for not being able to handle APOs, but if they don’t, the OP can just update their information, wait a day, place the order, wait another day or two until it ships, then change it back.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      They have every reason to not ship to anything besides your billing address. Being an APO means nothing.
      All he has to do is add his APO to his credit card as an authorized address.
      Then he could use the APO as his billing address and shipping address.
      I really dont get why he did not do this before bitching.

  2. CrazyEyed says:

    It’s been a long time since I was a CSR but I can most definitely relate. Many times customers are to fault for “issues.” Usually its a missed payment, didn’t click something, entered something incorrectly, didn’t read/ignored their mail and a whole host of other things. T

    his person is partially correct as you must first start taking responsibility before trying to get something for nothing. Nobody should be obligated to give you something just because they are the company being paid and you are the one making the payment.

    On that same note, companies need to do a better job listening to problems and not develop a standardized method to send a customer through a maze of prompts that result in a dead end. Escalations need to be dealt with appropriately and I don’t think this happens often enough to insight consumer confidence anymore.

    • CrazyEyed says:

      This comment was totally for another article. WTF Consumerist lol

      • PBallRaven says:

        They’ve got a bug in their code so that if you are reading an article and want to comment on it and have to sign in to do it, that it will redirect you to some random article after you sign in. To avoid this, you have to sign in first, then open the article you want to comment on.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Consumerist – optimizing the consumer experience since [redacted].

  3. blinky says:

    This is terribly unclear. I’ve got my work address as a secondary address on my credit card or nobody would ship here. Can’t you do that with an AASU account? Or is converse requiring shipping to your billing address only?

    • elangomatt says:

      It sounds to me that they are balking at the fact that the billing address he put into the website does not match the address he wants it shipped to. There is no reason for the OP to have to put his shipping address as a secondary address on the card. Virtually every website I’ve ever shopped from allows you to enter a billing address and a different shipping address. Why bother doing that if you aren’t going to let people ship the item to a different location than the billing address?

      I think the most likely scenario is that someone at Converse doesn’t understand what an APO address is so they think the OP is being scammed or something. How many scams do we hear about on ebay/craigslist where the person pays and then asks to ship to Timbuktu halfway across the world?

  4. tasselhoff76 says:

    Could he just order them through Zappos?

  5. Hagetaka says:

    APO headaches are a common complaint. Personally I’ve had those that won’t ship because billing/shipping addresses mismatch (, Circuit City), those that flat out won’t ship to APOs (Office Depot), and heard of others. Office Depot was the most aggravating example (this was 2005, don’t know if their policy changed). They had a sale on external hard drives, folks in our unit pooled money for a group buy, and after the initial sales rejection I tried all levels of their customer service, and nope- company policy. probably gets a bigger share of deployment pay than any other company. Bored soldiers with massively increased paychecks + increased online access means plenty of Amazon boxes going through the military postal system.

  6. NeverLetMeDown2 says:

    There are a lot of stores that require a billing/shipping address match – it’s a basic fraud prevention policy. Nuisance here, granted.

    One solution would be to get Amex gift cards, and have Amex put his APO address in the system as his billing address. Then, no issue.

    • Republicrat says:

      I don’t know about Amex specifically but Wells Fargo had absolutely no problems adding a secondary billing address to my WF Visa card.

    • Misha says:

      No, that’s completely stupid. Sometimes you have something shipped to work instead of your home address, and sometimes people buy gifts and have them shipped to the recipient.

      • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

        People do both those things. Stores have to decide if being able to fulfill such orders is worth the loss of security associated with additional fraud. Some will fulfill such orders. Some won’t. Looks like Converse is one that won’t.

      • who? says:

        It may be completely stupid from your viewpoint, but that’s exactly what converse is doing. A lot of online retailers, especially retailers that ship things like electronics and cool shoes, will only ship to the billing address, especially the first time someone orders from them. It’s to prevent fraud. I’ve had more than one retailer require me to fax them a copy of my driver’s license to ship to a different address.

    • Draw2much says:

      It’s basic fraud prevention for regular mailing accounts. Having the restriction on an APO/FPO shipping is silly. Military and contractors frequently have a different shipping and billing address. If a company is not going to allow for differences, than they need to warn the customer during checkout. This would not be difficult and it would save everyone time and trouble. :-/

  7. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    So if his wife and kids are at the house which matches the address on his account, why not order them, have them shipped to his house, then have the family ship then to him in Afghanistan?

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      From TFA: “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.”

      • Bladerunner says:

        Right, but 33 days should be enough to get something shipped home (less than a week), then shipped to him (less than 3 weeks…hopefully). From TFComment: “then have the family ship then to him in Afghanistan”

        • Draw2much says:

          Well, you’re awful optimistic! XD When I lived overseas I thought getting a package in 5 days was *fast*. Something taking a month was not unheard of…

    • elangomatt says:

      I imagine one reason is probably the added cost of shipping the shoes a second time when the original website shouldn’t have any problems sending it to the correct place in the first place. Why even bother having the option for billing address and shipping addresses if they aren’t going to allow you to ship to a different address?

      • cactus jack says:

        While there will be the added cost of shipping, at least it still falls in the range of domestic shipping. The cheap price and quick delivery is pretty surprising considering how far it ends up travelling.

  8. Bladerunner says:

    While I do think that they should be able to find a way to ship to him, this:

    “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?”

    …is just a crappy complaint.

    They are trying to prevent fraud; whether it’s plausible you’re in Afghanistan or not isn’t at issue here, what’s at issue is you’re shipping on a credit card with a billing address in a different country from the shipping address. I’ve had my CC decline purchases overseas before (this was a few years ago), and when I call they say “Ok, we’re unblocking it now, we just assumed it was fraudulent”.

    Foreign-country transactions are a pain in the butt. APO addresses add to that.

    Call them first and see if there’s something that can be done, before you complain they didn’t assume you must be active-duty and therefore that overseas transaction was perfectly legit.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      All he has to do is add his APO to his credit card as an authorized address.
      Then he could either use his home address or the APO as his billing address.

  9. SirWired says:

    All he has to do is call USAA and ask them to add an authorized shipping address to the credit card account. They should know what he’s talking about and agree to do so without hassle.

    Some retailers require address verification, and it looks like Converse is one of them. They aren’t being mean or heartless… if they have had a chargeback problem, address verification reduces chargeback liability and results in lower interchange fees.

  10. Robert Nagel says:

    My understanding is that the cable company MUST, by federal law, provide the cable card at a reasonable price to either buy or rent. I have TIVO and Time Warner didn’t so much a hiccup when I asked for the card.

  11. KeithIrwin says:

    It’s probably not an issue with the APO address specifically. I had the same headache dealing with them when I needed new shoes right around the time I had just moved and I hadn’t updated my billing address with my credit card company yet. Their web form is perfectly happy to let you enter two different addresses for billing and shipping, but when you do they send you this email saying that your order is placed on hold. It gave me no idea of how long it would be placed on hold. So I said “screw this” and went back to their website and cancelled my order and bought them from another retailer (American Athletics, which is a store which mostly just sells Converse, and I would recommend except that they don’t appear to ship to APO addresses). A week later, the shoes showed up anyway. This is why although I wear chucks most of the time, I don’t buy them through

  12. Oh_No84 says:

    Why not just add your APO to be an authorized address on your credit card and stop crying about nothing???