Buy Once, Buy For Life: New Feature Covering Quality, Well-Built Goods


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Next week, I will be starting a new weekly column on the site featuring quality, well-built goods that will last a lifetime. Our disposable lifestyle is filling up our landfills faster than we can figure out where to build new ones and the only way out of that cycle is to stop buying junk that won’t last a while.

I too end am guilty of buying cheap goods from time to time but this article and an experience with a boot company in the last week has inspired me to try even harder to only buy products that:

A. I need
B. will last many years.

If I can also only purchase items made here in the U.S. that’s definitely an added bonus. But most importantly, I want to spend my hard-earned money on products designed and crafted to meet a higher standard, which in the long run saves money and resources over buying cheaply made disposable goods.

So starting now, I will be gathering up goods to feature on the site that meet all the criteria I mentioned above. We all need to shop, but that doesn’t mean we should look for the cheapest product available. I hope to be able to point you in the direction of, and provide information on, items that could last you a lifetime.

The heel on my Bed Stu boots coming apart after just 4 months.

As for the boot story, well, 4 months ago I spent $100 on a pair of what I figured were decently made boots. After all, they weren’t $10 at Target. The company is Bed|Stü and after some very light use (for a boot, anyway) the heel on BOTH boots started coming apart. Mind you, I don’t mountain climb or kick puppies with my boots; I wear them to do exciting things like walk to the coffee shop and watch television. But I guess that lifestyle was too stressful for this pair of $100 boots made in Chinese factories and they started falling apart. I took to the internet to contact the company and let them know. What I was told surprised me, and the customer service that followed stunned me.

  • First they apologized and asked if I wanted to buy a different pair. Yes, BUY a different pair – they didn’t offer any discount or anything. I told them no way.
  • They replied with “We have had issues with that style. Can we turn you onto another style?”
  • I sat there stunned for a minute before replying with “You know you have a problem with that style and yet you won’t replace the boot or refund my money?” That’s when things got ugly.
  • The person I was chatting with then proceeded to try to blame me for the boot falling apart, saying I was a “hater” for wanting my money back on a problematic style they sold me for $100. This went back and forth, with me continuing to point out that they just admitted that the boot had issues – but it was all for nothing. They stopped responding and proceeded to block my chats. Amazing customer service Bed|Stü.

I am still trying to pursue this with every customer service-related website I can find and I will be filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau as well. If nothing else, it will make me feel a little better about being ripped off by Bed|Stü which not only won’t stand behind its product but also blames a customer for its boot construction problems.

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  1. I firmly stand behind Patagonia and its products. Their “Ironclad Guarantee” reads thusly, “If you are not satisfied with one of our products at the time you receive it, or if one of our products does not perform to your satisfaction, you may return it to us for a repair, replacement or refund. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge.”

    I have on more than one occasion used this to either replace or extend the life of a much loved piece of clothing. For much of my casual wardrobe, my search for sustainable and quality goods ended when I rediscovered this brand. And I shouldn’t forget to mention their commitment to environmental goodness!

  2. Patagonia is a great example of a company trying to do the right thing. Love their stuff and love their openness about supply chains, etc. Thanks for the comment, Tyler.

  3. I agree, Patagonia is a great company. I also look for companies that provide guarantees on products, products that come with manuals (if slightly complicated manufacturing) I like to tinker with products that I own, and those that are open with their manufacturing processes.

    I’m greatly interested in what boots your purchased and why. I, for one, have been looking for a great all purpose boot/comfortable shoe for everyday wear. My current occupation requires me to work in a warehouse environment and I run around all day long, so shoes tend to wear out. Manufacturers also don’t make ‘women’s shoes’ very well and tend to fall apart. Why ‘women’s shoes’ must first look pretty instead of provide a great function is still beyond me.

    One of my favorite companies is Pure-Rest Organics. They mostly focus on the production of mattresses and at the time I was searching for a mattress that was sustainably made, environmentally safe, hypoallergenic, etc, etc the list goes on, they were the only company to meet and to create their own high standards of safety.

    As an avid reader, I look forward to your future posts.

  4. Thank you for this article. I’ve also been trying to cut back on junk, and it’s not just shoe companies that can make this hard. I’ve started getting in the habit of carrying a water bottle with me wherever I go to avoid plastic and foam cups. Many independently owned restaurants are more than happy to fill it up with everything from juice to shakes. Chains though, are a different beast. I had a Dairy Queen employee tell me that it was “against policy” to take my water bottle behind the counter (yet I could see the employee bottles and lunches sitting right there next to the toppings bins).

    Bonus points to you for taking this company, and others, to task.

  5. Hey Dave, I’ve been following some of your stuff on Twitter for awhile now, though I don’t technically follow you. We’re obviously on different ends of the spectrum. But it was interesting to watch the interaction between you and BedStu. For clarification, you did buy the boots from Zappos, right? I’m a small business owner myself — and would do all I could to make you happy. But it seems like you need to pursue recourse via Zappos, as they likely purchased the product from BedStu (I doubt it was a drop ship) and technically take responsibility for the product.

      1. Oh, was it Macy’s? My understanding is that BedStu doesn’t have any retail stores. Your point is taken about the product having issues, but I think you’re trying to milk the wrong cow, so to speak.

        1. If you bought a Chevy, would you fight the dealer or the manufacturer with a major problem? I had to fight VW corporate with a lemon, not the dealer. Dealer told me to call them. That’s how it works. Macy’s has been notified, but its BedStu’s fault for making a faulty product. Manufacturer is always at fault, especially when they admit it publicly. Sorry.

          1. No need to be sorry. Again, from my own experience as a business owner, going through my retailer (I only have one) would be the way to channel recourse. I may be able to eat the recourse caused by a disgruntled customer, but a disgruntled retailer on whom I rely for sustaining my business through bulk orders — that will get my attention. Just throwing that out there. Will continue to follow. Always interested in the “green” approach to some of the political issues we face. Thanks for the dialogue.

  6. p.s. And while I don’t mind companies producing goods overseas, my small business designs, manufactures, and prints our clothing here in the U.S. So I appreciate the “local” sentiment of the post. We’re doing our little part and hope more companies follow suit. Cheers.

  7. Your post surprises me not at all.

    I bought my boots directly from BedStu on their website. They arrived and didn’t fit, or appear to be made well *at all.* I tried wearing them indoors for about an hour to see if they would stretch. When they didn’t, I contacted the company, put the items back in original packaging, paid for return shipping within 14 days and chalked it up to an unfortunate purchase.

    They denied my return. Sent the boots back to me. On account of “wear.”

    After EONS of searching, I found a phone number. Called. The person who answered the phone jumped to an immediate and impassioned defense of their decision. Without asking for my name, order number, email address or phone number. It is obvious that they get calls like mine a LOT.

    I asked for a manager. Was told one would call me back the following week. That never happened.

    I filed a dispute with Paypal. BedStu immediately escalated it to a claim and said they “maintain” that the boots were worn. No conversation. No follow up. No attempt to meet in the middle. Just holding firm that the boots I emailed them about immediately upon receipt and returned within two weeks in original packaging are USED, damn it.

    There is zero — LITERALLY ZERO — commitment to customer satisfaction from this company. They are not the slightest bit interested in maintaining me as a customer, making sure I’m happy with my purchase or resolving this issue in a mutually agreeable fashion. They want my $240 and they don’t care how I feel about the product.

    Better Business Bureau must be getting tired of hearing about them.


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