Foot Solutions stores on hold for refund issues

October 12, 2011 8:36:50 PM PDT
A national shoe retailer tells ABC7News it has put two independently owned Bay Area franchises on notice for violating company standards. The action came to 7 On Your Side's attention after a handful of complaints about two Foot Solution stores.

Both customers 7 On Your Side talked to said their refunds seemed to drag on and on, so we took a closer look.

Victoria Bartz from Palo Alto is a wellness coordinator at a local YMCA. Stephanie Chambers from Sunnyvale is a flight attendant on a major airline. As you can imagine, both are constantly on their feet.

"We don't really sit down at all. You're pretty much on your feet most constantly," said Chambers.

Both wanted a pair of comfortable shoes they could wear for work. Bartz has the additional problem of having hard to fit feet.

"My ankle is so narrow often the shoes, even if they tie, will slip here," said Bartz.

She ordered a pair of custom made shoes in April from foot solutions in Palo Alto, but said the store did a poor job of keeping her posted on when the shoes would arrive.

"It doesn't seem reasonable to have to wait four to five months for anything now-a-days, but especially when they don't give you an update," said Bartz.

She asked for either a refund or the shoes after four months and eventually contacted 7 On Your Side. We called the store in Palo Alto and it refunded the money to Victoria.

Owner Marj Bonsall told us by phone, "We went against our policy of doing a refund on customer orders because custom orders are non-refundable according to our information."

Bonsall sent us what she says is a copy of the store's refund policy and it states, "Custom orders are not cancelable nor are they refundable."

However, the corporation in Atlanta has a different interpretation of the policy. It says refunds on custom orders are allowed, but only when the order does not come on the day it is expected. Bonsall also owns Foot Solution's San Jose store where Stephanie bought her shoes.

"My feet were hurting so bad I could barely walk. When I got to the hotel, the bottom of my feet, the ball of it was actually swollen," said Chambers.

She said she only wore the shoes on the plane and the store was really nice about offering a refund, but said the refund kept getting delayed.

"After two months of it, I called them again and this time they said, 'Well, I'm sorry. We just haven't gotten our bank statement reconciled yet. I said, 'You know what, I really feel like I'm getting a runaround now,'" said Chambers.

We contacted the San Jose store and a refund arrived shortly thereafter, even though it says the shoes were returned beyond its seven-day return policy. The owner told us, "There's no way you take care of problematic feet and issues and do it perfectly every time. There's always going to be some kind of bell curve that comes up."

7 On Your Side has received three other refund complaints this year about the Palo Alto store. Corporate says it's aware both stores have issues and has put it on notice. Chambers was just happy to get her money.

"I felt elated. I said 'Yes, finally someone was able to secure that money back from me,' and I was just so very happy," said Chambers.

The owner of the Palo Alto and San Jose Foot Solutions say the company has no right to tell an independently owned store what to do. But Foot Solutions chief operating officer says it does have the right to direct any store that uses its name and he says it will begin proceedings to force the store to stop using its name if the problems persist.


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