Alt-Berg discontinue refurbishment service

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#1
From Alt-Berg:

We have received emails from some customers asking why we have decided to discontinue our refurbishment service from 7th December 2011 (it was wrongly stated in the previous email as 2012 – a typing error).

We have offered our refurbishment service for the past 15 years – and it is with regret that we’ve decided to withdraw the service.

We have never made any profit from refurbished boots – the amount of work we do in stripping the boot down, and then re-making ‘from scratch’ – as well as hand-cutting key worn components costs about 60% more than the work we do in a brand new boot. But we’ve always accepted this, because we felt it was a good thing to do environmentally, and we felt it was genuinely appreciated by our customers – in spite of the fact that we lost money on every pair.

We occasionally would have issues with a customer who would expect refurbished boots to be equally as good as a brand new boot!!! But refurbished boots are not as good – the leather and stitching are worn, and not so waterproof – and most of the key components are old – we don’t replace everything! Normally after we explained to customers that their expectations should be realistic, the majority of customers accepted this – but there were exceptions – and they could be very time consuming, as well as causing a good deal of stress for our office and factory staff who had to reply to their ongoing sequence of emails, telephone calls and letters.

We believe that the recession has made things much more difficult for everyone, and this may be the reason why, during the last 6 months, we have seen an increase in customers who are uncompromising in their expectancy of our refurbishment service.

We refurbish about 20 pairs each week, and with the vast majority there are no problems – however – there have been three specific cases in the last 6 months where customers have been so confrontational and aggressive, that in our opinion, it fell little short of bullying in order to get what they wanted – and if they didn’t get what they wanted, they stated quite clearly that they would use social media to discredit our reputation.

Everyone who works at Alt-Berg cares very much about the business, and about our customers – it is our livelihoods – and like all small businesses we do not have the time, or resources to handle what we believe are sustained, ongoing, unreasonable complaints – and an expectancy that a refurbished boot should be equal to a brand new boot in terms of performance and durability is unreasonable.

One of the three complainants we have had in the last six months was steadfast in his belief that having purchased a pair of Alt-Berg boots in 2002 – he should never be expected to purchase another pair again – he expected that by having them refurbished, they would last forever. Also the time from new to 1st refurbishment was 6 years – so he expected a further 6 years once refurbished – anything else was unacceptable – and Alt-Berg’s problem!

The email/letter exchange with this customer lasted over 5 weeks – he was adamant that if we could not offer him a further refurbishment, free of charge then we should give him a new pair of boots!

There is no way that we, as a small business, can handle this – and for the office and factory staff, the situation was unacceptably stressful.

Last week, after considering the situation, we have had to conclude that the refurbishment service – although ‘well meant’ – is open to abuse, and so with a genuine sense of regret, we decided to discontinue the service.

We continue to offer our resole service – done in our factory, on the original lasts – and if there is any way in which we can sustain the lifetime of Alt-Berg boots – short of full refurbishment – then we will certainly do what we can.

We very much appreciate our customers – and we continue to appreciate the work that you give us.

I hope that this email explains the situation from our side.

Mike Sheehan, and all at Alt-Berg


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Sounds like they've been dealing with a right bunch of knobbers eh?

Having said that, a refurb is all very good and well but nothing beats a spangly new pair of black cadillacs although if you just want a re-sole from them it's pretty reasonable value for money.

So dies another small part of one of the only military boot manufactuers in the UK to offer an all-singing, all-dancing service.
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#2
Maybe they could also look at making boots the actual size they should be i.e. if I order a size 8 it should be that and not a size smaller. The linings wear out, they are poor quality for a lot of money.
 
#5
Ditto, this is a shame.
 
#7
It is a shame, Alt-Berg boots are outstanding.
The only boots the P Coy staff wore whilst I was at Catterick. Fair enough, they got them at discount but they all loved them. The mileage they did in a week gave them plenty of confidence in the boots comfort and robustness
 
#8
I had a pair of the "Sneeker boots", they are all undersized as Jarrod has stated and furthermore they are pretty poor quality for the money. The uppers on mine fell apart before the (rather thin) soles wore out. Wouldn't have bothered refurbing them even if there had been enough left to work on.
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#11
I've got a pair of the original military boots which I have had since 1992. They have been resoled once and completely refurbished once - the service has always been great, but no-one should expect a refurbed boot to be 'as new'. Typical that some gobby shite has ruined it for everyone else.
 
#12
I've had a pair of Defenders and a pair of Peacekeepers since 2002, they still have good tread on them after god knows how many miles tabbing while I was an instructor at ITC. Exercises and Ops have never wrecked them and they are without a doubt the best boots I ever purchased. Well done Alt-Berg and I will be buying from them again.
 
#13
Napier I got mine late '92 and they lasted until summer'99 with one resole. Definetly worth the cash, as to the under sizing Jarrod, can't say i had the problem with my size 9s.
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#17
Doesn't add up does it.
In what respect?

Also, you've obviously had a crap experience with Alt-Berg which is a shame as a pair of Sneeker Mk II's I bought in 2005 are still going strong to this day and have covered christ knows how many miles over all kinds of terrain from Belize to Afghan.

If you had a problem with the boots did you contact the company to see about having them take a look and possibly repairing or replacing them? Their after-sales service is top notch.

Although I do agree their sizes are at least half a size smaller than you'd expet.
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#18
In what respect?

Also, you've obviously had a crap experience with Alt-Berg which is a shame as a pair of Sneeker Mk II's I bought in 2005 are still going strong to this day and have covered christ knows how many miles over all kinds of terrain from Belize to Afghan.

If you had a problem with the boots did you contact the company to see about having them take a look and possibly repairing or replacing them? Their after-sales service is top notch.

Although I do agree their sizes are at least half a size smaller than you'd expet.
It doesn't add up that they'd alter a service because of a few complaints.
I can't complain over boots that most think are ok. I suppose if the mail order service had given a width fitting I could have ordered wider boots. I guess if the boots were sized correctly I.e. not a size smaller I'd have been fine.
It seems most people are happy with the poor linings that wear easy, who am I to complain?
The boots have differing grain leather and cannot be polished. Gaps between the leather and sole take in mud and aren't easy to keep clean.
The hooks for the laces are also difficult to keep clean of mud.
The angle of the hooks when lacing the boots isn't angled so in a hurry it's not easy to fasten them.
Otherwise they are great

Again it's just my opinion and others tend to find them to be excellent boots.
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#19
It doesn't add up that they'd alter a service because of a few complaints.
I can well believe it. I sacked a £750,000 contract this year because the amount of time, effort and reputational damage being caused by idiots complaining without cause outweighed the profit earned. If they are not earning much from it, it is an easy decision to make.

And before you think I am sticking up for them, I'm not. I went to their factory for a fitting, paid extra for the alterations they suggested for a perfect fit, waited 2 months longer than their projected delivery date and received a set of boots that were no better than the ones I tried on in the factory that I had been told (correctly) didn't fit!

Yours in Hanwags,

Duke
 

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