Brand Loyalty and Vibram’s Poor Customer Service

Filed Under: Life

Once upon a time in a land far, far away–Arkansas–journeyed a brave explorer–Tucker–and his merry band of men–Tucker’s dad, brother in law and a family friend.

Sad face cookies


As their great warships–canoes–fought through the raging water, a naiad capsized the warship the brave explorer had been piloting and his sacred shoes–his Vibrams–were swept away.

That was back in 2007 and we’re just hipster enough to roll our eyes at the celebrities who wear the shoes now and say to each other, “We knew about those before they were cool.” I have been listening to Tucker complain about losing those shoes since then about twice a week. That’s at least 402 times I’ve had to live through the retelling of the sad, sad tale of how his shoes were forever lost to him or was forced to listen to him complain “his” color wasn’t available in the States anymore. I didn’t even count the numerous trips to outdoor stores so he could pet different styles of Vibrams.

After considerable research, Tucker discovered the style of Vibram he loved was only sold overseas:

Vibram Five Finger Foreign

The U.S. site has these guys available:

Vibram green

vibram tan

vibram black

In desperation, I kid you not, Tucker emailed Vibram.

Back in 2007 I bought a pair of khaki and black fivefingers classic. Unfortunately they are beyond gone, and I can not get that color here in the states.

I see on the international site that khaki and black color scheme is still being made, just not shipped to the US. Is there any way I can order direct. I will gladly pay the international shipping. If I had the money I would cross the pond and pick them up myself. I love wearing my fivefingers and I love that color!

Thank you,

James Tucker

A couple of days later, Tucker received a response:

Hi James,

Thank you for your email. The men’s classic is only available in the black/black, brown/walnut, and castle rock/verde/gray. http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/Five-Fingers-Classic-Mens.htm.

There are certain models and colors offered exclusively in the Europe and unfortunately our Eurpoean office will not ship to customers in the USA. Do you have any friends in Europe? I’ve heard of people shipping to their friends, and having their friends forward the shipment to the USA. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Thank you,

Kristen Murphy
Customer Service | Vibram FiveFingers
Vibram USA Inc.

Tucker forwarded me the email with this:

do we know anyone in europe or asia?

The response upset Tucker and I was pissed for him. He hadn’t been asking for free shoes or free shipping. He offered to compensate the company for the international shipping and we would have happily paid more money for the actual shoes so Tucker could get what he wants.

If you haven’t already figured this out, Tucker LOVED those Vibrams and he became a sort of ambassador for them. Each time someone would make a comment about the shoes–and that happened often–Tucker would explain a bit about the history of the shoes and how comfortable they were to wear. Not everyone could be converted but Tucker did his best. With Tucker’s initial email, he made it clear he had done his research. He conveyed that he was a longtime custom and the subject of his email, “Please Help” showed a certain amount of desperation.

The response was unsatisfactory because Tucker didn’t feel the custom service rep. had fully appreciated the lengths he would go to get the shoes he wanted. He contacted some Navy buddies stationed overseas. Tucker even checked into getting a forwarding foreign mailbox so he could have the shoes sent there and then to us.

Ultimately the only resolution that would have satisfied Tucker was Vibram allowing him to pay the extra money for the shoes and pay for international shipping.

I wish there had been another outcome. Then Tucker would have the shoes he wants and I wouldn’t have to hear about it anymore. Looks like neither of those things is going to happen.