8.27.2012

review: Leather Spa NYC and how they ruined my Manolos


what's wrong with this picture?

the heel on the left is a brand new pair of Manolo Blahnik 'Vitrea' (size 37) that was purchased yesterday from Barneys NY. the heel on the right is the same brand new shoe (size 36.5) that i purchased (also from Barneys), blogged about, and just picked up this weekend from Leather Spa NYC.

earlier last week, i had dropped off my Manolos at Leather Spa on 55th and 5th to get the standard 'new shoe treatment': rubber half-sole and rubber heel tip to protect the delicate leather outsoles and to add traction. pretty simple and basic service from an expert cobbler. i'd gotten this done for numerous heels before. Leather Spa charges $40 for this service. pretty pricey, but since these are Manolos, i figured, better not chance it with anyone other than the self-proclaimed luxury shoe experts, right?

i was so wrong.

when i picked up my shoes this past Saturday, i discovered to my horror that Leather Spa's workmen had cut the heel down without my permission before adding a rubber heel tip.

so now my Manolos are a full 0.25" short, from 2.75"/70mm ... down to 2.5". 

left: the size 7 Manolos // right: my size 6.5 pair, serviced by Leather Spa.
you can see that for the size 7 pair on the left, the angle from the bottom of the outsole to the tip of the 2.75" heel is perfectly aligned and rests flat. on my pair on the right, the base of the outsole lifts visibly upward, and the angle is off.
 

Leather Spa ruined the shoes – turning the perfect stilettos into kitten heels.

i called them as soon as i got home Saturday, and spoke with a guy who, after mocking the veracity of my case, adamantly denied that they would do anything to alter the heel. there was plenty of attitude and after getting the runaround from him on the phone, i was told to come back on Monday to speak with the manager, Josephine.

on Sundays, all the shoe repair shops in town are closed. wanting to be absolutely sure of what had happened, i went to the Manolo Blahnik boutique in midtown yesterday, and the shop associate confirmed that the heels were clearly cut down. just to make doubly sure, i went to Barneys and purchased the same Manolos in a size 7. the Barneys shoe salon associate and i compared both pairs side by side. she was in as much disbelief as i was when it was clear the heels on my 6.5s were significantly shorter. i bought the size 7s to bring in as a sample so there'd be no doubt in how they botched my pair.

i went to Leather Spa again at midday today to speak with the manager to obtain two things:
  1. a full compensation for the retail cost of the shoes
  2. a refund on the shoe service charge
  3. an apology for this entire debacle
i spoke with Josephine, who seemed nice enough at first. when i explained to her what happened, she first claimed that the heel had not, in fact, been cut.

i explained that the Manolo Blahnik boutique and Barneys associates confirmed that the heels were altered. i held up the size 7 shoe to explicitly show her the difference between it and my 6.5s.

her response? "i don't care what anyone at Manolo Blahnik or Barneys says." she then proceeded to give me a line of b.s., claiming that, with different sizes of shoes, the heel height would vary. clearly, this makes no sense – so long as the shoe is the same style, a difference in size would only change the length of the shoe, not the height of the heel. after i re-stated the obvious discrepancies, she took my shoes to the back "to check and confirm if the heels were cut."

about ten minutes pass. does it take that long to compare the obvious? she comes back with a different story:
"it's clear that the heels have been cut, but not by us. it's impossible that we would have done this as a mistake. we would never do something that's not requested on the ticket. you were only charged for the rubber half soles and the rubber heel tip, so why would we perform a service that we didn't charge you for? i have no idea what you did with these heels before bringing them to us, but since we would never cut the heels like this, you had them cut before you brought the shoes in."
i was stunned. horrified and absolutely floored that she was accusing me of lying, that they would flat-out deny any mistake on their part, and not make any effort to amend the situation.

i asked why wouldn't they just admit they made a mistake and resolve this issue. to which i get the response:
"we never make mistakes like this."
i mean, wow.

here's what i think happened: Leather Spa botched the heel when they were adding the rubber tip. then, they cut down the heel to cover up the damage. they give me the shoes back, with the audacity to think that i wouldn't notice. that would explain why, when i confronted them about the botched job, they denied responsibility, then lied, then tried to accuse me of lying.

i left Leather Spa with two bags of expensive shoes that i can't wear, no apology, no refund, no compensation.

i went back to the Manolo Blahnik boutique and spoke with two very kind associates there who are looking into getting in touch with the owners of Leather Spa on my behalf. there is also the possibility of replacing the botched heel with a new heel specially ordered from the Blahnik factory...

so there you have it –  you've been warned: this is how Leather Spa chooses to run their farce of a business.

if you have any other ideas for further recourse, please let me know.

update: please share and vote up my Yelp review here. thanks to Yelp's super shady filter policies, the link no longer works and you'll have to scroll down to "filtered reviews" and enter a capcha code to view my review.

update 11/26/12: BBB and DCA aren't able to help. thanks to the support of fellow Yelpers and readers, my formerly filtered Yelp review received 59 helpful votes which resulted in it moving from filtered to the regularly visible list of reviews. however, as of today, my review (see link above) has disappeared again into the filtered section. most of the other filtered reviews are 1) negative, and, like mine, 2) detailed and compelling.

incidentally, Leather Spa's yelp rating has also gone back up due to most of all the negative reviews being docked from view. rottenness all around.

63 comments:

  1. Better business bureau, for sure.

    That's awful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. as i looked up Leather Spa on BBB NY's website today, it turns out they:

      1. are not an accredited BBB organization
      2. have an overall customer review grade of **F** on a grade scale of A+ (best) to F (worst)
      3. have had 6 other formal BBB complaints as of the last year

      Delete
  2. What a horrifying story.

    I would look into filing a complaint with the NY Department of Consumer Affairs.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/html/resources/complaint.shtml


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    Replies
    1. thanks for that link. i'll definitely go through BBB and this as well.

      Delete
    2. No problem! I have heard from other friends in NYC that the Consumer Affairs Bureau is very responsive to complaints. We have a similar organization here in Tennessee, and they were great when I have gone to them in the past.

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  3. I would second the BBB suggestion, as well as suggest you take them to small claims court. You have some pretty compelling evidence here.

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  4. This is horrifying. I would at the very least talk to your credit card company (if you paid by card) about getting your charges from Leather Spa reversed as they clearly did not perform anything close to the service required. I'm so sorry that this happened to you, I hope you get resolution :( I remember when you bought these shoes and you were so happy, I hope you are able to get another perfect pair!

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    1. This!!! A lot of credit card companies will even let you file a complaint online to reverse the charges, and then call you to confirm the details. I managed to avoid paying for a flight that I mis-booked, and which turned out to have no rebooking options, this way.

      Ugh Leather Spa should not get away with this. they should be refunding you a HELL of a lot more than $40. At least now the people at Barneys and the Manolo Blahnik boutique are aware of how they mangled your shoes, sophie. Hopefully word of mouth will spread quickly and prevent them from chopping up other peoples' shoes.

      Delete
  5. Did you read the Yelp reviews before bringing it in there? Seems like they've done this to numerous people.

    Also just a thought -- I don't think they cut anything down - I think they put on a cap and took off the actual heel tap so it made it shorter by .25". Does that make sense? The new cap just goes over the stiletto hence making it shorter. I think it's salvageable if you just take off the cap and put on the original tap.

    Hope that helps! I've had tons of shoe fixing experience and it certainly looks like it could be fixed by a good cobbler.

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    1. i have read the VERY mixed yelp reviews, but both my bf and i have been bringing shoes to them for several years, so i felt like i could trust them.

      i wish you're right, but even the Leather Spa manager after "a careful reexamination" confirmed that the heels have been cut down. if you look closely at the photos, the original cap on on the shoe on the left is much shallower than the rubber tip they put on. the rest of the length on the original shoe is all heel.

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    2. also, the angle of the last of the sole is different in the original. the front part of the outsole in leatherspa pair tilts up above the ground, which looks like they were adjusted after the heels were cut.

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    3. Very strange... why would they cut the heels at all unless they botched up when the taps were removed. Maybe part of the heel broke off when they were removing the taps? Pretty shady.

      I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you had already explored all avenues. :-( You should definitely leave a very bad Yelp review (not that they would care) and I second the credit card complaint - more effective than the BBB treatment in my opinion, not that it saves a pair of ruined shoes. Hopefully the folks at MB gets it resolved.

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    4. EXACTLY. very very likely a botched initial job, then cutting down the heels as a 'fix', then flat-out lying back to the client to get themselves off without any accountability.

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    5. I wouldn't trust a yelp review -- they actually sort them by whether the target company pays advertising. Horrifying. I think that someone should e-mail a copy of this blog to The Leather Spa NYC (I live in the Midwest, so don't know that it will have much impact). Bet they have no idea that folks all over the country follow your blog.

      File all of your complaints. Given the cost of the shoes, you might also consider taking this to NYC small claims court: http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/smallclaims/index.shtml. It will be time consuming, but you might want to give it some thought. It will make the matter part of the official public record, too.

      What I find as creepy and really suspect is the first argument that it is supposed to be like that ... and the second argument, it was cut, but we didn't do it. Hmmm.

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    6. thanks Anon for the link and the suggestions.

      when you put the words "Manolos" and "small claims court" in one sentence, it's starting to sound like a really nightmarish episode of Sex and the City...

      Delete
    7. Yes ... I know. But, that is a lot of money tied up in those shoes!

      Delete
  6. Oh my lord, how horrifying! I hope you get this sorted out asap. :( Let us know how it goes!

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  7. Whoa, that is ridiculous! I'd definitely take it up with BBB. I hope this gets resolved in your favor!

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  8. I 3rd the BBB complaint and also go through your credit card (if applicable). That's horrible.

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  9. Two years ago, Leather Spa "fixed" a clasp on a Prada leather bag of mine. Horribly botched job and a few weeks later, the clasp broke off again. Surprisingly, so many high end stores (including the Prada boutique where the purse was originally purchased) still refer people there. Looks like we were just unlucky customers. Sorry this happened to you. Hopefully you are able to work it out, sending good vibes your way!
    -Missone

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    Replies
    1. i don't think it's a matter of bad luck. any service-oriented business worth their salt would own up to making mistakes occasionally, and immediately work with the customer to remedy the problem.

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    2. in my case, this went from terrible incompetence on Leather Spa's end to outright lying and scamming the customer.

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  10. This is sounds like a complete nightmare! Are you able to return the size 7 ones you bought at Barneys?

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    1. yes, i just bought them as a sample for comparison. and i have to say, throughout this ongoing fiasco, the shop associates at both Manolo Blahnik and Barney's have been very kind and empathetic. it's a shame that Leather Spa doesn't see the necessity for treating their customers with any respect or decency.

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    2. Thats good. I would definatly investigate the option of having the entire heal reparied/replaced by Manolo Blahnik as well as the credit card charge back. Is there some sort of consumer rights act in the U.S? I live in N.Z and have become familiar with the consumer rights act here as some companies try to get round it by assuming the consumer is not familiar with their rights which is ridiculous. I have my own horror story where I was blamed for damaging a very expensive scarf, and then made to feel really guilty after I was refunded.

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  11. this is truly horrifying! i can't believe their lies and deceit. definitely do a chargeback of the expense (if you paid by cc) and report them to bbb. this is ridiculous.
    - alice

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  12. This is absolutely awful, and I can't get over the audacity of the manager to claim that they wouldn't have done that themselves - everyone makes mistakes and they should own up to it rather than lie. I really hope that the situation rectifies itself as I can only imagine how distraught and frustrated you must be

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  13. OH H--- NO!!! I'm sorry to hear about this. And that they have the nerve to turn around and accuse you of doing it. That would get on my goat even more. What a dirty dirty way to do business. What the other people suggested about BBB, negative online reviews, going through manolo, CC charge back, and keep all the evidence: receipts, pictures, etc... Hopefully you are able to get your perfect pumps restored and have those jerks give you your money back. Good luck.

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  14. wow. that is mind blowing. I would definitely try to get a new Manolo heel and send them the bill. I think there is a customer service epidemic happening in N.America- I've had increasingly bad experiences with "trusted" and "professional" companies. With the growing number of choices available worldwide thanks to the internet (not with cobblers, obviously), these companies need to realize that we have options and I am more than happy to put a company on my "banned" list and go elsewhere.

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    1. yes - from international airlines to luxury service providers to indie designers, the atrocious disregard for decent customer service is everywhere these days.

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  15. I'm disgusted by their behaviour! I'm really sorry to hear about your Manolos and I'm glad to hear that at least the company is trying to help you out. I hope you get your issue resolved -- they are quite pricey shoes.

    I had this done by a cobbler before (a regular one). He had cut the heel of my favourite ankle boots. At first I thought it was strange but since they were a little damaged I figured it was my fault. The second time I brought them in to get fixed again, they cut the heel in half then said they figured they couldn't put the tip in. Never mind the tip, how the hell was I supposed to walk with half a heel?

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  16. Never use Leather Spa!!! I brought my suede PS1 there to be cleaned and they made a MESS of the suede. It looked 10x worse than when I had brought it in!!!!!

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    1. god, so sorry to hear that. the more you search online the more horror stories you unearth about this scam of a business.

      Delete
  17. WOW that is horrifying! Such bad customer service! I'd say you got a good start by blogging about it, and definitely completely a Yelp review as well. I would also make sure to email your case to the store's email address, just to prove that you did your best to address the issue openly and honestly. GOOD LUCK! And have faith in karma...

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  18. AUGH I'm so horrified to hear that this has happened to your beautiful new shoes! Maybe it would also help if you could get someone from Manolo/Barneys to write a letter on your behalf. If Leather Spa is getting referrals, such a move might be a potent threat to their business. Total travesty.

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  19. I'm so sorry to hear this. It's awful and so disheartening. It makes me really sad because I know how excited you were to wear your beautiful Manolos. I recently wrote about a good customer service experience that I had and then I hear something like this.

    It's great that you have documentation. They clearly botched the job and then cut the heel to cover the mistake. The nerve to think that you wouldn't know. I would definitely contact the BBB and NY Department of Consumer Affairs. I hate when people play me and these shoes are clearly cut at an angle. Leather Spa continues to ride the reputation that they established 30 years ago. I've heard too many stories of Leather Spa's botched jobs to use them.

    I'm glad that Manolo has been helpful- the sales assistants there are absolutely wonderful. I also have always had great experiences at Barneys.


    I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things work out.


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  20. Also, make sure you read all the filtered reviews on Yelp pages. (Almost every business has them--this is Yelp's way of keeping all the reviews visible, if hidden.) For Leather Spa, all the reviews are from legitimate Yelpers, so this is terrible practice on Yelp's part and consistent with its reputation for extorting businesses to pay for good ratings.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. the unfiltered Yelp reviews for Leather Spa are truly not for the faint of heart.

      the worst thing is, when i was waiting to pick up my shoes, a woman was ahead of mine in line in a heated argument with staff about a botched handbag repair job. SO MUCH AWFULNESS.

      please help spread the word about this so new and potential customers won't have to go through what i and numerous others have experienced.

      Delete
  21. I'm really sorry to hear about your experience!
    It's absolutely disgusting how a company would deny their own mistakes and refuse to rectify it. I'm in the middle of something similar, and though the item is not of the same cost as yours, it's equally frustrating.

    I can't offer any suggestions as I'm not in the US, but I do hope there are avenues through which you can pursue this. Hope it turns out alright in the end.

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    1. ugh, sorry to hear that you're dealing with a similar nightmare. i hope yours is resolved rightly soon too!

      Delete
  22. how awful! i hope you get it sorted out. nothing irritates me more than being accused of lying like that. despite what people say, not EVERY customer is out for free stuff. some of us just want what we paid for.

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  23. That is just appalling. On every level possible. Making the mistake ïs terrible enough, but then to go ahead and refuse to own up and then accuse you of lying! Shocking behaviour. What a third-rate company.
    I am so so sorry you had to go through this. It must be heartbreaking, especially when it comes to such a beautiful pair of shoes you loved so much.

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    Replies
    1. yes at the end of the day, shoes are still just shoes. however, what's ultimately so upsetting is their complete disregard for honest and ethical business practices.

      Delete
  24. I think that it's just downright rude to treat their customers in such a way. They are getting their come uppance though as this post has highlighted to so many what terrible customer service they have provided. All lost business to them. Really sorry about the shoes - it must be gutting if you've made up your mind to spend so much money on something you really considered and wanted and then for this to happen to them. I hope all turns out well for you though and there is a happy outcome.

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  25. What a nightmare :( I really hope the Blahnik boutique people can help you find a solution.

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  26. You should definitely link this post to their Facebook and twitter!

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  27. What an awful situation! I'm so sorry for you!
    The level of disrespect and dishonesty of some supposedly "professionals" is appalling. Do they really think that they'll not be held accountable for their attitude and that their customers will not act to defend their rights?
    I hope that you'll be able to get the shoes fixed.

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    Replies
    1. they do think they they can treat people like fools and get away with it. why? because they have exclusive corporate accounts with so many of the big luxury boutiques and shops on 5th ave.

      see the vicious cycle here and how the individual customer gets screwed in this situation?

      Delete
  28. Could you go higher up in the company? You could also point out, to them, your efforts of spreading the word about what they did to you. Maybe they can still save themselves from being shamed further.

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  29. Omfg... I cannot believe for the life of me that a cobbler would make such a ridiculous thing to a gorgeous pair of shoes. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I really hope you're able to file a claim and go through BBB. What they've done is atrocious - I cannot believe they would deny the whole thing. :( Super shady!! Please keep us posted!!

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  30. I would take them to small claims court. So awful! Also, keep smearing them on the Internet. They deserve it.

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  31. thats tough! you should link to their website or their yelp so other people can be warned.

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  32. I'm so sad for you, I honestly could not believe my eyes when I was looking at your pictures, how horrifying. I'm sending your story to my friends in NYC so they know to avoid this disgusting business. Really really hope you get your shoes back and Leather Spa is punished. I'm also very impressed by the response from Manolo and Barneys. Thank you very much for posting!

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  33. That is outrageous!! I would definitely file a suit in small claims court.

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  34. oh wow, I'm so sorry. I'm shocked at how some small businesses operate. it's good you're sharing so other people won't use their services. I hope you somehow get your shoes. good luck.

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  35. That's terrible! Did you show them your blog post when you first bought them which clearly shows the height of the heel?

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    Replies
    1. nope - the "manager" Josephine was completely dismissive and just kept repeating her lies while i was trying to explain everything.

      Delete
  36. I think it is INSANE that, rather than say "Oh, we did make a mistake, we apologize", and reimbursing your shoes, they decided to go this route. Really? They think that the cost of a pair of very high-end shoes, is more valuable than protecting their reputation for customer service? Clearly not.

    I would go to yelp, and any other online review group (Angie's List, etc.) and post this exact blog. You can link people to here to see the photos. Your blog is well-written, and the argument is compelling, and not merely a "they suck" post. I always read online reviews, and after reading this, I would definitely not use Leather Spa.

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    Replies
    1. only liars and cheats deal with situations this way.

      i did post a Yelp review, but since Yelp censors many negative reviews via their 'filter', my review disappeared after an hour and you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom, click on "filtered reviews" and enter an annoying captcha to get to it. why Yelp does this is another post entirely.

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  37. This is awful. Take them to the cleaners!

    http://herribbonsandherbows.blogspot.co.uk/

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  38. You can prove that they cut the heel down by the fact that the toe area of the shoe is curving upward. I was asked a shoe repair guy about shortening the heel on a pair of Chloe boots and he warned if he shortened them it would throw the entire alignment of the boot off and the sole would curve upward.

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  39. I delivered a 2hrs used boots and they demage them. When I asked a compensation with a store credit they started to use a really unpolite language and arrogant attitude. This people are the worst, they think that just because they have a pretty package they are the best in NYC. DON T GO THERE!!!! I'm Italian and I know what I m talking about shoes... GO SOMEWHERE ALSE, THIS PLACE IS BAD

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  40. I spent over $200 shipping a pair of broken heeled Louboutins to The Leather Spa from Australia. Prior to sending them I emailed them pictures of the damage so that they could assess whether it was repairable. I got my shoes back, and the heel broke again in exactly the same place on the first wear! I emailed them to let them know, and they were rude and dismissive, indicating that it was my fault, not theirs. Why accept a job if you know you can't do it properly?

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