Saturday, August 14, 2010

We All Deal Feet

We went to Ideal Feet today. As you may know, Shelly has been plagued with foot and back pain for years. I heard Ideal Feet's commercials on 740 KTRH (which, I have to say, is not the best place to find things to try) and I thought it would be worth looking into.

The first thing to say about them is we do not like the way they do business. Most notably (and you'll find this complaint if you web search) is that they have no money-back guarantee. No refunds. Their policy on this is
"Since our products are personal items we do not offer refunds. But should you have any difficulty wearing the supports we will adjust them for FREE!"
What? I should point out that an "adjustment" means you bring them back and they re-measure and give you a different size. And you can do that at any time, as often as needed. The point being, they don't mind taking them back, they just don't want to give you your money back over your dissatisfaction. So it might help to think of this as a service contract, and not merely paying $400 for a couple of pairs of insoles.

On to our experience: we were helped by Brandon, who is a nice guy, and when he's not in the process of delivering the company-mandated spiel, seemed to be inclined to be honest with us. He is a salesman, and was up-front about having no medical expertise.

The spiel, on the other hand, is unadulterated hucksterism. It consists of mentioning "aligning 26 bones and 33 joints" any number of times; a "balance test" that doesn't test balance, but purports to show that the insoles provide stability (but is really just a bit of trickery worthy of the Church of Scientology); and taking impressions of your foot without and with the insoles to show how the pressure distribution changes, which is the most honest (and relevant) bit.

Then came the fitting. He measured Shelly's feet— the significant measurement being the arch length— and took "2 seconds" (yes, part of the script) to go to the back and pick out the insoles for her. Shelly asked whether this was a one-size-fits all solution, and he said that, no, there are some 40+ sizes back there, very precisely sized by arch length (not arch height). As your feet adapt, your arch length can change, and you would then need to come in for a re-fit (i.e., exchange them for a different size).

The insoles are noticeable: there's a big lump right under the middle of your arch, which requires you to gradually work up to wearing them for extended periods. Shelly required that I go through the fitting, as well. I actually like the main insoles; the secondary ones (that you wear when you're not wearing your primary ones, to keep your feet from reverting) I did not like.

In the end, in spite of all the red flags, we got a set for Shelly. Desperation makes you try things that you would otherwise consider stupid. Maybe the company is counting on that. There is a chance that this is a worthwhile product, and that the company is just horrible about how they do their marketing.

We'll let you know. So in the meantime, feel free to go in for a fitting. Enjoy the spiel. But don't buy anything. Tell them you're waiting to hear how they work out for us.

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