Consumer Report
Clifford James' footwear

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How long should a pair of boots last?

Mens Thermal BootsI bought the boots in question in March 2007 and wore them once or twice per week after they had become comfortable.

In the middle of October, I investigated a pain in my right heel and found that the heels of the boots had worn out in around six months of modest use.

There was a split about an inch long in the middle of the heel of the left boot (see picture below) but the heel of the right boot had split from side to side. In the picture below, I have stuck a piece of white card into the split to show its full extent.

The pain in my foot was caused by a stone (see picture below), which had penetrated the split in the right boot heel, lodged in the hollow heel and worn a couple of large holes in the inner sole of the boot and a smaller hole in the thermal insole. The pain that I was experiencing was due to this rocky fragment sticking into the heel of my right foot.

Left boot heel


Left : Left boot heel with split marked in white paint

Below : Right boot heel with a piece of white card inserted into the split


Right boot heel

Right : Interior of the right boot; the holes in the inner sole
Below : The rocky lump with a 5p coin for comparison
Inside the right boot, the hole in the inner sole
The rock and a 5p coin

I am now in the unfortunate position of having a pair of boots which look okay – the uppers are in excellent nick and there is still a lot of wear on the front part of the soles – but they are completely useless after only 6 months because of the enormous holes extending completely through the right heel.

Is this fair wear and tear after only 6 months?
When the boots have been worn only about 30 times?
I put this question to Clifford James on 2007/11/01.

Thursday, 08th November, 2007
No response from Clifford James so I sent them another emails with the pictures of the worn-out boots attached. Success! I can send them back for an exchange but they're threatening to charge me a fiver if they don't think there's anything wrong with the boots.

Monday, 12th November, 2007
The boots collected by Parcelnet.

Friday, 30th November, 2007
Received a brief letter from Clifford James to tell me they've refunded the cost of the boots to my credit card instead of replacing them. Which suggest to me that there's a design fault in the moulded sole construction. The voids in the heels might save on materials and make them lighter, but it also makes them too flimsy to last very long when worn by someone weighing a modest 11½ stones.
   But looking on the bright side, I did get my money back with only a month's messing about.

Friday, 07th December, 2007
I checked my credit card account online the day before and there was no sign of the alleged refund. So as Clifford James had sent me a cheque and an offer of 10% off my next order, I assumed they'd tried to make the refund to a cancelled credit card (see the Credit Card Fraud report), it hadn't gone through and that was why they'd sent the cheque, which I paid into my account.

Wednesday, 02nd January, 2008
Sent an order to Clifford James taking advantage of the 10% discount.

Monday, 07th January, 2008
I received a letter from Clifford James the Saturday before asking for the return of the refund made to my credit card. Today, I faxed back the letter with a note saying that my last credit card statement, dated 11th December, didn't show the refund. Their move.

Thursday, 10th January, 2008
Checked my credit card account on-line, still no refund.

Friday, 11th January, 2008
Spoke to a lady in the Clifford James accounts department, she said they had tried to recover the refund from Lloyds TSB only to be told that once a sum has been accepted on a customer's behalf, it cannot be returned to its source. Wrote and posted a letter to Lloyds TSB Card Services asking where the money has been since 2007/11/28 and faxed a copy to Clifford James.

A complication
The card number which Clifford James used was cancelled in May 2007 due to some bastard in Bristol using it to buy pizzas, among other things, and replaced with another VISA card with a different number. This second VISA card was then replaced at the end of 2007 when Lloyds TSB switched from VISA to MasterCard.
It would be reasonable to expect the bank to refuse to accept a credit made to a closed credit card account, but since when has 'reasonable' been anything to do with banking?

Wednesday, 16th January, 2008
One of the pairs of boots ordered on 02nd January received.

Friday, 18th January, 2008
Checked with the Lloyds TSB PhoneBank service and found that, even though I have heard nothing yet from the card services, the refund has found its way to my account. Tried to phone the lady at Clifford James at about 2:30 on Friday afternoon but she had gone home until Monday.

Saturday, 19th January, 2008
Received a letter from TSB card services telling me that the refund had finally been credited to my account (but no explanation of where the money has been until now.) Sent a cheque and a covering letter to Clifford James.

Wednesday, 30th January, 2008
Checked with the TSB PhoneBank service and found that Clifford James had cashed my cheque. No sign of my other pair of boots from the order sent on 02nd January.

Thursday, 07th February, 2008
Sent an email to Clifford James' customer service department asking about the incomplete order.

Saturday, 09th February, 2008
Checked my emails and found a reply from Clifford James. The bloke wanted to know what I had ordered as there was no record on the CJ system of items outstanding. And none, apparently, of the money which they'd had from me for a pair of boots which they hadn't sent. Sent him an email with the details of the order, awaiting developments.

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