I’m not one to complain here on the blog or on social media in general (though that’s not to say that I don’t do so IRL, just ask my family and friends lol), but every once in a while, a situation happens that makes me shake my head, raise my eyebrows, and feel the need to share with you all.
Especially when it involves big name brands and advertising.
Late last week, I was looking for some comfortable, but stylish shoes for an upcoming trip. Something with a small heel, cute enough to wear with dresses but casual enough to wear with jeans and shorts. Something I could walk in without being in agony but that weren’t you’re standard flats. I Pinterested and Instagrammed and finally found what I thought would be a perfect pair of shoes and even better THEY WERE ON SALE!
I did lots on online “research” (meaning, I spent a lot of time browsing sites), read reviews, saw some very stylish bloggers wearing the shoes a variety of ways, and was sold on them. I’ve been very careful with my spending lately, in part because I’m working on saving for some upcoming shopping, so I didn’t make the decision lightly. After checking out Wonder Woman (which was FANTASTIC, by the way), I quickly ran into the Steve Madden store at West Edmonton Mall, found the shoes, tried them on quickly and walked around a bit, then purchased them and headed home. After all, I had a six year old who hates the mall with me.
I got home and looked at them and thought about how cute they were. And then, as I do, I looked them up on rewardStyle, seeing about the affiliate links I could use for future posts. That’s when I noticed the difference. My shoes, which had the exact same style name, did not match any of the pictures that were coming up anywhere I looked. So I took a closer look at the description on the Steve Madden site and on the box my new shoes came in and was not a happy camper – they were most definitely NOT the same. Oh, they had the same style name and they looked similar, but they were not the same.
The Steve Madden Rizzaa shoes, as advertised on their site, the Hudson’s’ Bay site, AND the Town Shoes site (which I did not check before I purchased the shoes) retail for $89.99 CAD and include the following features:
Both rustic and chic, the RIZZAA sandal can be dressed up or down. The soft suede upper gives a casual edge, while the silhouette shape and clean block heel elevate with sophistication. Straps cross in front of the ankle and wrap into a tied closure avoiding the need for a buckle.
Suede upper material
2 inch heel height
This is from the Canadian Steve Madden site, by the way. And here’s what they look like online:
The shoes I came home with? Yeah, they are NOT suede. Not even close. They are an inexpensive microsuede (I wouldn’t even call them that, though that’s what the box says) that actually looks more like fabric than faux-suede. On top of that, the straps have a seam in the middle that rubs uncomfortably against your skin and the colour is darker. Oh, and I paid the same (sale) price as advertised online. For fabric shoes. That are advertised as suede.
My immediate thought was ok, maybe mine are an outlet version that someone returned and it’s just a mistake. Inconvenient, but it can be fixed, I’m sure. So I headed back to the store the next day, new shoes in tow and hoped they would order me a correct pair if they didn’t already have them in store.
Except the display shoes, in both black and brown were the same as the ones in my bag. Fabric, seams, and price. So now I was definitely skeptical.
I have to do a shout out here to the staff at the West Edmonton Mall Steve Madden store who immediately saw that they were not as advertised and were fantastic at trying to rectify the situation. They checked all of the boxes in the back and determined that all of them were the same fabric shoes, not the suede ones advertised on the site. I asked them about ordering the shoes online and they were honest, letting me know that if that’s what the stores had, that’s what I would end up with if they ordered me a pair. I wasn’t willing to take the chance of ordering them myself either and ending up with the same shoes. They also advised me that they would email head office to change the description. And then they gave me a refund. On my way out of the mall I checked Town Shoes to see what they had and again, same version, not the suede ones I fell in love with.
As for the Town Shoes site, they are advertising these shoes as suede as well, BUT the picture is different. This is actually what the shoes I took home look like, but with the Steve Madden label (which is inexplicably missing from the photos on the Town Shoes site, hmmmmmm). But they are still NOT suede.
And here are the original Rizzaa shoes again, for reference:
So what is the deal?
Is this some Canadian version and the advertising team at Steve Madden (and associated stores) didn’t bother to actually update the online details for us? Hard to say, but like I mentioned previously, other retailers are advertising the same shoes the same way and they are also not the suede version. Was there a run on these shoes and they had to quickly restock and this is the outcome? Who knows. If that’s the case, they still need to update their details AND their price. Honestly, a similar version was available at Forever 21 for $39.99 but I wanted what I expected would be a higher quality version of these lace-up sandals.
That’s not what I got.
I don’t mind microsuede shoes at all, as long as I know that’s what I’m getting AND that they are a more affordable price! I have the Steve Madden Odessa otk boots (as seen here) and love them – they are microsuede (they are a much thicker and nicer suede alternative than the sandals) and were $130. I also have the Steve Madden Restler boots, which ARE suede and were $220. Makes sense, right? What I take issue with most of all is the advertising – how many people bought these shoes and didn’t notice the difference? If you knew that somewhere someone paid the same price as you did for the same shoes, but in a higher quality version, wouldn’t you be annoyed?
And again, I wonder WHY these shoes aren’t available in suede as advertised!? They obviously had been at some point – I have seen them on other bloggers and they aren’t the version I came home with.
In the end, the whole experience was extremely disappointing (with the exception of the amazing service I had when I returned them) on a lot of levels. Disappointing advertising, disappointing quality, and disappointment because I really loved the shoes in the picture. But not the ones they wanted to sell me. Like a lot of bloggers and fashionistas, I’ve been a fan of the Steve Madden products for a while because they offered great styles at a reasonable price point. But this was a very disappointing situation and not one I would have expected of a company of this calibre. I’ll be much more careful about my purchases from them in the future (and I likely won’t be ordering online!).
In the end, I picked up another pair of shoes at DSW and while they are cute, they aren’t the lace up ones I fell in love with. However, they are suede (for real) and I paid $52 CAD (with tax) for them, less than I paid for the Steve Madden Rizzaa shoes. But more on the new shoes later.
I would love to get some answers about this situation so I’m hoping this post will get some traction. In any case, hopefully it will save some of my readers from a similar experience.
Oh, and by yesterday, the extra 20% off from the weekend sale was gone, so the Rizzaa shoes were back up to $79.98.
Have you had a similar shopping experience before? What did you do about it? Let me know in the comments below.
Enjoy the pretty things in life,