My running and fitness habit was in a shambles after a packed vacation week and general chaos about the house in preparation and recovery from the trip. I needed a plan to make positive changes.
Logistics were not working in my favor for reinvesting myself in running. It didn't help that my gear was no longer functional or appropriate. I need gear for cool weather, but not frigid. I really needed new shoes--the cushioning was shot and holes had developed in the forefoot region. Unfortunately, I never found myself near a place to buy my trusted Asics 2000/2100 series, the shoe I have purchased as many as 3 times per year for about 14 years. Running an errand in a different part of the metro, I thought I might find a store that carried my shoes. I found The Sports Authority near Southcenter Mall in Tukwila. I found everything I needed at a fair price (not great, but fair). While checking out, the clerk offered me a buyer protection plan for my new Asics 2140 running shoes for the low, low price of $10. She told me if anything goes wrong with the shoes over the period of one year, then I could get a refund for the shoe. A supervisor came to the register to affirm the great offer The Sports Authority was making me. Now, I know that one year for a running shoe is a long and productive life, and with regular use, one year is a bit too long. For me, I can only afford about a six-month life span for my running shoes, though about 4 would be ideal. If I had a shoe that went kaput after 6 months of good use, I wouldn't return the shoe--because I had received what I paid for--an above-average quality trainer (in a category just below top of the line). I couldn't in good conscience return the shoe after getting what I paid for.
What bothered me about this "protection plan" was why they wouldn't give me a refund if the shoe was defective without an extra 10 dollar payment. These protection plans are scams in the first place to separate you from your money. That was irksome enough. What is more troubling is that basic knowledge and trust in the products a store carries and relationships with customers has mutated into a faux assurance gesture. With all of the running enthusiasts in Western Washington, I think I'm going to find a specialty running store and buy my gear there. I would rather build a trusting relationship with a quality merchant that costs a little more than deal with someone who is trying to dupe me out of extra money with a bait and switch.
Though I'm sure the clerk was well-intentioned and was only given a flow chart to sell this awful air of assurance, I had to let her know, "I've been buying these shoes for 14 years and have never had a problem. No thank you, I am not buying the protection plan." If the shoe falls apart too early, I'm taking it to the manufacturer, not The Sports Authority. I'm sure the size of the company makes it that they don't care about my business, but I will not make a purchase at The Sports Authority if I can at all help it.
I'm practicing to be a curmudgeon. How did I do?