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The DMV and Expensive French Shoes: Who Treads Better?

Posted on | February 16, 2014 | Comments Off

Repaired shoes

Repaired shoes with tag showing that they were received on August 8, and newspaper from the date they were returned, November 22.

I’ve had a close encounter with the California DMV.  The dreaded Division of Motor Vehicles required that I take the exam before it would renew my driver’s license.  Since I had not taken the written driver’s test for nearly 40 years, the experience filled me with much trepidation, and put me in a room with many 15-18 year olds.

The DMV computer was having a bad network day, and not everything was going smoothly: the lines were long, and I was prepared to grumble about government incompetence.  But surprise: the DMV folks were actually nice, well informed, and helpful.  They circulated among the people waiting, asking what they had come in for, passing out the proper forms, and giving folks clipboards to write on.  Service with a smile, mostly, continued throughout the process.  Despite the computer problems, I was fingerprinted, eye examined, tested, photographed, and out the door in 75 minutes.

Not bad for government work, I thought.  And I contrasted this with the service I’d received recently from the maker of expensive French shoes.  Over the years, I’ve purchased several pairs of pricey Mephisto shoes.  They fit my feet, wear well, and they can be rebuilt to last for decades.  I still wear a pair I bought in 1991.

Last summer I noticed that the soles on a pair of old favorites were wearing out, and so I sent them to the company’s repair service in San Diego, which advertises that the turnaround time would be about four weeks, which seems plenty long enough.

The shoes I sent on August 1 were returned on November 22, 16 weeks including shipping.  The proffered reason was that needed materials had to be shipped from France.  Gee, they’re French shoes; that would be where the repair materials might come from, and—last I knew—cargo planes from Paris landed in California every day.  These soles must have been on a container ship that traversed the Panama Canal.

Mephisto didn’t offer even a hint of an apology much less a refund or reduction price for its lousy service, which in retrospect left me thinking, I’d rather deal with that most dread agency of government, the DMV.  So, when I pass the fancy French shoe rack in the future, I’ll keep on walking.

(BTW: read the manual and take the practice tests.  It’s fun to pass with flying colors while the youngsters struggle.)

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