My New Boots

By Ernie diRollo

This year, since no day course had been arranged, I decided to take advantage of the free tuition at Rossendale. Accordingly I booked in with Trudy and arrived for the November session. My enjoyment of the evening was slightly marred by my boots causing some discomfort. I went home and worked out that they were five years old and that I had had nearly thirty weeks use of them! As a result I decided that it was time for a new pair.

I went to my local shop only to find that they no longer sold skis or ski boots. So I looked around and found that I had a choice of two that were fairly convenient. I chose the nearest.

On getting into the boot fitting area I carefully explained that, because of my broad foot, I would be there for the afternoon and would no doubt require some boot adjustment. I was assured that they would be able to accommodate me and readily find a boot to fit. I pointed out that out of my last five pairs of boots only the last two pairs had been comfortable. I said that these had been made by Nordica. When a pair of Technica Boots was produced I became slightly apprehensive and expressed my reservations. I was assured that the fitter knew his business and as the numerical size ended in "0.5" I made no further comment, since at least I knew that "0.5" denoted that they were a wide fit.

The boots were put on and for two hours I either read my book or perambulated around the floor area. There was a considerable amount of hardware, catalogues and ski books to keep me busy. After the two hours the boots were removed to reveal the not unexpected red patches. The fitter produced a chart, made the necessary notes, and said that the boots would be adjusted. I was assured that there was a fitting guarantee. I was slightly amused when told that the expansion had to be done overnight: not much I could do it but agree to come back after they had dealt with the boots.

I collected the boots the following week and had an hour's skiing. As the hour progressed the soreness developed. When the time was up I went into the reception area. Having forgotten to take a ballpen with me I borrowed one and got a few laughs when I set out to mark the red areas. I went to the retailer on the way home, showed the marked areas to be told that not many people presented with feet where the problem areas had been so carefully outlined. While waiting for help I noticed that everyone was being fitted with Technica boots and then wondered why! (Extra commission?) Again I had to leave the boots.

At the next Wednesday "Keep-fit session", I had a moan about the new boots. It is interesting how different people react "You've been to the wrong supplier. So and so is better!" Or "You should buy them in the resort!" The last remark set me thinking. As some of you know we go away for five to seven weeks, so maybe the comment was justified - later on I shall come back to that remark.

A week later I picked up my new boots and returned to Rossendale. At the end of the hour out came the ballpen as I started to mark my feet there were guffaws and the remark from the counter, "Still having trouble!" - Very few people obviously get trouble with ski boots. Back at the shop the fitter pointed out that, it had not registered with me, both feet showed identical patterns of soreness. Another customer, observing my situation, remarked that he had always thought that soreness from ski boots was the norm, until, like me, he had found otherwise. So I definitely am not that unusual.

Having received the phone call to say that the boots had been eased and were ready. I decided that this time I would wear them at home. The right foot was fine but Oh! My little toe was going numb. So here I was, four days before going away and still having problems. Now I knew I was making progress and so I returned the boots further easing. Fortunately the dealer was open on Sundays and I was able to collect and wear the boots for three hours in the house. Joy of joys! I had promised to telephone and say if all was well. I phoned and was greeted by name; I assumed that very few people had such difficulties with having boots fitted! When I arrived in Meribel and got chatting to a lady from Leyland I found out that other people have more extreme problems getting the appropriate boots.

I was delighted to find that after my first day's skiing that the boots were an exceptionally good fit. So good in fact that I was now wearing a pair of very fine cotton socks. Unfortunately I came away at the end of the first two days with very wet toes! My first I thought was, that as a result of all the expansion, the outer skin of the boot had been damaged. Close inspection of both boots revealed that the sealing flaps were reversed and after I had repositioning them the seal was restored.

As I said earlier the choice when one has the choice is "Does one buy boots at home or in the Resort?"

We spent 18 days in Meribel and had a pleasant time skiing with two other couples, one of which came from Leyland. At the end of the second day I was complaining about my wet toes. So we got chatting about boots.

She told me that she had bought new boots in the resort last year. When in the shop she had been very impressed with the care that they taken to fit her correctly. The boots were tried without the inner boot in place - I did not have that experience. She was delighted with the initial attention. After the first day's skiing the boots did not feel quite right but, thinking that with new boots one has sometimes to be a bit patient she kept on with her skiing.

At the end of the week she went back, explained about her discomfort, and some padding was added. This went on and off for six weeks! By now she, an experienced skier, was rather fed up and about to invoke the full refund guarantee so getting her money back. She decided to give the retailer one more chance.

On her return to the boot shop the person with whom she had dealt was not there. As a result she had to go into a lengthy explanation to a different shop attendant. He listened to her tale of woe and then remeasured her feet and asked her to wait until his return. He disappeared for ten minutes and came back empty handed. "I am sorry madame but you have been given the wrong size of boots. Unfortunately we do not stock boots that would fit such a narrow foot" and promptly returned her money in full. She went to another shop in the resort and got boots that fitted perfectly! Her conclusion was that the original fitter had presumed that she would only be in the resort for a week and so had provided the nearest fit assuming that she would have gone home before being able to return for any remedy. The expression I believe is "Caveat Emptor".

In conclusion, I can only say that "I shall continue to buy my boots locally even if it costs more".