Thank you Sir, may I have another

Customer service can be pretty hit-and-miss around these parts. In the past couple of weeks I had some of the best and worst customer experiences I can remember.

1 - The Running Room, Sherbrooke Street, Westmount.

I've started running again. However, my father had 'appropriated' my 4-year-old pair of Asics Gel runners to do his gardening because they're comfortable. As all the other shoes I own are either dress shoes or zero-support-Converse, I needed to buy a new pair. I know enough about sports to understand the importance of buying a shoe that fits and supports your foot properly, and I knew which brands I wanted to stay away from. Your shoes say a lot about you:

- Adidas: I'm an aging, nostalgic hipster, ecstatic to find that the same shoes I was wearing when I was 12 have come back into style.
- Nike: I listen to terrible hip hop and rap like The Game or Kanye West, admire gold teeth and have $4,000 wheels on my $2,000 car.
- Reebok: Dur Dur Dur, shoes coming with da free helmett?
- Puma: I don't care if they feel like corrective footwear! They have a goddamn' PUMA on them!
- Converse: I am brilliant, and either an upcoming artist or a clever writer. Or both.
- Asics: I am very athletic and will be in top physical shape for the rest of my life.

I wear Converse and Asics.

I don't have anything to say about FILA or New Balance because nobody cares about them.

I was telling a friend that I wanted to start running again, but that I didn't know how to be sure to pick the perfect shoe. She recommended "The Running Room" on the West Island very strongly. I balked at the idea of setting foot on the West Island so I looked up The Running Room and found a location in Westmount.

I walked into The Running Room, and was immediately greeted with a smile and asked what I was looking for. I explained to the salesguy that I wasn't too sure what kind of shoe I needed, but that I was starting to run 3 - 4 times a week and would like a basic shoe to get me started. He went to get another saleswoman, and they asked me to remove my shoes and walk up and down the store. As I'm walking, they're looking at my feet, pointing out imbalances, watching the way I skip hop trot jog, and talking to each other about the movements. Of my feet. In my socks. After a few minutes of this, they pick out a pair of (pricey!) Asics off the shelf, and ask me to try them on, which I do. I'd never felt shoes that seemed so tailored to my feet before. They fit perfectly. I walk up and down the store again, and comment on how great the shoes feel. They ask me if I want to try on a New Balance or another model, but I'm already swooning over these. A few questions later and I also pick out a couple pairs of running socks.

Just by looking at my feet(!), they picked the perfect product for me. This personalized service cost me nothing extra - the shoe is priced the same at any other shoe store. But two weeks, a couple hundred dollars and two whole seconds off my running time later, I urge runners looking for great, friendly, professional and knowledgeable service to stop by The Running Room.

2. Harry Toulch, Greene Street, Westmount and St-Laurent.

I need new glasses. Badly. I have 3 pairs of prescription glasses: beautiful black Ray-Bans precariously held together with superglue, hot black secret service prescription sunglasses that have been bent and warped beyond utility or recognition, and a generic pair of 'accountant' glasses that are so scratched they surround everything I look at with a beautiful, misty haze. I also don't have a girlfriend to shop with me and choose something that looks decent, which means that I have to rely on the salesperson to help guide my choice.

I considered corrective laser eye surgery, but I've read some pretty strong evidence that it's not ideal for athletes or other people who might receive impacts on or near the eye areas, which happens to me, like, all the time. And, oh yeah, I need my freakin' eyes. So I'll hold off on the "laser" for a bit.

Across from Laika is a pretty snazzy looking optics boutique called 'Harry Toulch'. I'd never gone in but lately Boris told me that he bought his designer glasses there and he was pleased with the service, so late one afternoon I decided to walk in. Now, this is not a big place, maybe the size of a couple of living rooms. There were three salespeople, one of whom was helping a client already. I started looking around. And looking. Aaaaand... looking. I tried making eye contact with the saleswoman, stood around a bit, went from window display to window display... and finally left about 15 minutes later. 15 fucking minutes! No, I don't want to plead with you to help me; I don't even want to come up to you and say 'Excuse me, can I try these on?' If I'm going to buy a 900$ pair of glasses from your store, the least you could do is come to me and ask me if I need help.

I wouldn't think much of the situation if the exact same thing hadn't happened a week later at the other Harry Toulch location in Westmount. Against my better judgement I stopped in to this place on Greene ave., which was bigger and busier than the St-Laurent location. More salespeople, more clients, but still some salespeople hanging around, clearly not occupied, talking on the phone with friends, playing with their hair, etc. Another Harry Toulch, another 15 minutes wasted. I walked out almost laughing.

Someone recommend a good optometrist who carries Oakley prescription? :)


Monday, July 30th, 2007
mir's picture

I went to a place on Maisonneuve near the Tdbank, and where the Bens was, to get one of the arms of my glasses bent back. The very stylishly dressed (always important in a salesperson of accessories) man who ran the place fixed my glasses and got his friend to run out and buy me a mint tea. He then walked me around his shop telling me about all his different specials while I sipped hot tea (Good plan that). I walked out holding a pair of new red glasses and the refitted brown ones.

Also what about Saucony's? We were discussing the running shoe last night and the question was, how do you pronounce that name, and, are they better than Asics?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
stevenmansour's picture

Mir: I will be sure to carry copious amounts of mint tea whenever I try to sell you something.

I've heard good things about Saucony too actually. The people at The Running Room explained to me that the main difference between all these shoes is how they deal with support; Asics has its "gel", Saucony has a sort of pillar structure (or was that New Balance... anyways), etc. But sometimes you just try something on and you're like "Yeah, that's me", and then there's no point to try anything else. I'll stick to Asics for now methinks.

Hugh: Glad it wasn't only me. But why did you end up getting your glasses there anyway, and will you go back again?

Friday, August 3rd, 2007
vieux bandit's picture

What I still don't understand, 21 years after my first pair of glasses, is how I'm supposed to choose a new frame while not wearing my old glasses. The whole point is: I need glasses to see!! Last time I bought frames, I went twice, with my best friend and with Herb, to get more opinions, because I would have bought anything, being absolutely unable to see what they look like on me! (Contacts are no longer an option for me) Can't they solve that problem somehow? (and here I show my utter lack of any memory of what went on during my Physics classes...)

As for laser... I think about it from time to time. Then I go: my eyes. MY! EYES! Infinitesimal risk, you say? I repeat: MY EYES! (Then I run away screaming)

Sorry can't recommend much: you say "designer", my ears go "meow meow meow meow" (while my eyes see all the stratches on my own glasses...). I stick with (ahem) cheap stuff. With my eyesight, cheap still means 500$. Which reminds me my glasses are five years old. Oh boy...

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
Antje's picture

Hi vieux bandit,

I'm not such a pro in buying glasses since I only got my first pair a couple of months ago but believe me, it was a long process to find the right one for me. But luckily my friend need a new pair too so she and I had the great idea to take digicam with us when we went shopping. So at the end of a tiring day full of trying billions of stylish or not that cool glasses in at least 9 stores we still had the pictures to help our memories (cause we're not the youngest girls with the best memory either ;)) ... and it was a good thing to see, what fits you and makes you most comfortable..

but never do the fault and try to make a survey out of this to let other people give their opinion. In the end you only get confused... believe me. hahaha! :)


Add new comment