Thursday, March 31, 2011

Go Pearl!

It's amazing how one stick-in-the-mud person can ruin it for everyone. It's also amazing how one awesome person can redeem even the sticks-in-the-mud.

Last year I spent almost $600 on run shoes only: racing flats, trail shoes, and training shoes. Since I don't have a shoe sponsorship or even pro-deals on shoes, I turned to Pearl Izumi which I can get through Missoula Bicycle Works because of our cycling relationship with them. Pearl made my favorite article of athletic clothing, a black and red riding jacket that keeps me warm even in Montana. It's so good that I even run in it. They're also relatively new to the run game but I figured I'd give them a try and see what they've come up with. The catch is that there isn't a Pearl Run dealer in all of Montana so, all I could go on was their website, reviews and research. It turns out I ended up with a shoe that wasn't ideal for me.

The warranties and exchanges guru at Pearl, essentially told me to piss up a rope when I explained to him the issue. The problem was that I hadn't purchased the shoes through an authorized dealer. When I asked him how he suggested I do that when the closest one is over 600 miles away, he just said, "Sorry, it's not our problem anymore." ...and he was right. He was doing his job and I'm sure he was conforming to some internal standards set by not-him. A company can't last if it's repeatedly taken advantage of. More deadly, however, is a company that alienates potential life-long customers by not standing behind their product and tells customers "it's not their problem" over a shoe that probably cost them about $20 to make.

Enter G. A consummate professional in both business and running. She not only had in depth technical knowledge of all Pearl shoes, guiding me to a more appropriate shoe, but also the other brands and models I've been running in. She also saw the opportunity to engender the lifelong support of a serious athlete and customer.

So to everyone at all those companies who are more concerned about supporting athletes rather than the bottom-line, thanks. Keep it up and take a page from Pearl.

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