Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mixed Message

Recently I bought a pair of Red Wings ladies boots. I thought to myself, OK Red Wings, they are a little more money but they are Made in the USA so they are better quality. So I purchased the boots from Shoebuy.com and waited a few days and presto there they were sitting on my front step. I was pretty excited to have finally found a pair of women's boots that were Made in the USA. I proceeded to unwrap the package and remove the boots from the box but something was amiss. There were no big tags on it with an American flag saying Proudly Made in the USA or anything like that. I then pulled out the tissue they stuff inside the boot to look at the imprinted label and to my shock and amazement these Red Wing boots were made in China of all places. I was shocked and very dismayed. When did this iconic American shoe company like Red Wings shoes sellout to the Wal-Mart set?

I looked the boots over and took note that these boots that cost me nearly a $150 could have been easily purchased at Payless shoes for a fraction of that price. I then proceeded to start the return process with Shoebuy.com. They are easy to work with so it was a no hassle return, you fill out a form and they give you a return label to print. Then you take the box to the nearest UPS store or give it to your UPS delivery person and they're gone and you get your money back. Shipping is paid for both ways.

I wrote to Red Wings shoes to tell them that I was extremely unhappy they have decided to sell out the American worker and sell poorly made shoes at Red Wings prices when the same product could be purchased at Payless shoes for one third of what I just paid for these cheap boots. I added that at least Payless is honest about their products, they fully admit that their shoes are cheaply made Chinese products. The advertising for ladies Red Wings both on the Red Wings website and Shoebuy.com said nothing about them being imported much less that they were manufactured under the brutal iron fist of a communist ruled dictatorship.

There was no reply from Red Wings shoes as I expected. They are ashamed of their behavior as they should be. They try to keep this ethical lapse as quiet as possible so standard business practice is do not reply to such questions or comments. We have to shame these companies to stop being lazy and trying to do underhanded sleazy things to make a buck. It is up to us to hold these companies to the American values and standards that we were taught by our families. It has always been up to us because this isn't the first or last time an American company will be run by people that have limited ethical standards.

I wrote to Shoebuy.com to explain my position and I must not have been the only one to do so because Shoebuy.com now provides a search option on their website that allows you to narrow your search for products that are Made in the USA. I do have a problem with companies selling communist made shoes but I can't change that and it's their business if they choose to do such a thing. I just want to know which shoes they are so I can choose not to give my money to a communist government or buy from companies that are less than honest about where their shoes are manufactured.

Red Wings shoes still make shoes here in the USA. They make high quality motorcycle and work shoes for men and have limited offerings for women. Red Wings comfort and fashion shoes and boots are all made in China. Other American shoe and boot manufacturers have opted to have the Chinese put American shoe company names on poorly made Chinese shoes and then make an attempt to pass them off as Made in the USA by using American name recognition. They do not advertise or specify where the shoes are made unless they are Made in the USA. Even though Chippewa, Double H, Danner and Justin still make shoes and boots in the USA they have been putting their names on inferior Chinese made products too while making little or no mention of it. I believe this practice is extremely dishonest and downright despicable.I own Chippewa and Justin American made boots. I also own Danner Chinese made work shoes that I didn't bother to check immediately and I was unable to return them because they had been worn before I thought about checking them. So I have been burned and I check everything before I buy now.

If the American shoe makers are proud enough to charge any of us the prices they ask for shoes bearing these iconic American names then they should be proud and honest enough to let us know where those shoes are made and let us choose which ones to buy based on truthful information. Being underhanded and dishonest is a short term business practice that leads only to contempt and eventually to failure as it should. If you sell a shoe or any other product that is made in China then clearly state it and tell us how proud you are of that product. The phrase for American shoe manufacturers should be "Proudly Made and honestly sold in the USA".

UPDATE*** This is from a 2007 Red Wing shoes Newsletter that insructs retailers about signage.

Made In USA Signage Reminder


Due to some Red Wing branded products now being sourced off-shore, Red Wing retailers can no longer use Red Wing Shoes brand signage that carries the Made in the USA reference. As you know, all Red Wing footwear is clearly labeled as to its country of origin. We ask that you help in this effort to make sure your customers are not confused about this issue. We would ask that you review all of your interior and exterior signs and make sure you are in compliance.Signs that carry the reference must be removed.Only those Red Wing products that are labeled as Made in the USA can be displayed on slat wall shelving carrying this description.Please look carefully at all Red Wing branded materials(floor mats, clocks, etc…) to make sure you are in compliance. Your Red Wing sales representative has been instructed to help you with this task. New slat wall shelves, clocks, floor mats, etc.are in stock and eligible for 100% co-op reimbursement. Please contact Red Wing Customer Service to order your replacement signage.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Stimulus Check

B F Goodrich Long Trail T/A,


OK, what did you do with your stimulus check. Did you buy something made in America? I bought something made in America by American craftsman. I bought 4 new tires for my American made GMC pickup truck. The tires were made in the USA but the company that owns the plant is Michelin and they are French.

I bought 4 BF Goodrich tires. BF Goodrich used to be American owned but in the 1980's Michelin bought them out. I did a lot of research of who owns what and there are two major American owned and American made automobile tire companies left in America. They are Goodyear and Cooper tires. Goodyear is the world's largest tire manufacturer, they manufacture the best and near worst tires. Cooper tires have a few plants but the ones in Texarkana Arkansas and Tupelo Mississippi have seen nothing but problems over the past few years with process, management, quality control and material. They have had quite a few recalls. The last ones just occured in March of 2008. Check here to see if your tires or vehicle are under a recall. Recalls.Gov

I ended up buying BF Goodrich tires for a few reasons. The first reason is they are made in America by Americans. The plant they were made at according to the DOT code is Tuscaloosa Alabama. The whole process of choosing the right tire for the right price was made much easier by a website called The Tire Rack. I found the right size tires, I read the customer reviews and then compared the prices. The whole time I was doing this I kept in mind that for me the tires had to be made in the USA and they had to be of recent manufacture (tires are good for 6 years).

The DOT code on the tire tells the story of where it's made and when it's made. The first two digits after the initials DOT are the codes for the manufacturer. The last three or four digits tell when the tires are made according to the week and year. Here's an example, my new tires had the DOT code that looked like this: DOT BE ---- 4207. The "BE" indicates the BF Goodrich plant in Tuscaloosa Alabama. The dashes represent the manufacturers size and style codes. The "4207" at the end indicates they were manufactured in the 42nd week of 2007 (the week of October 21st 2007).

Anyway, my new tires look nice, they ride nice and they were manufactured here in the good old USA even though the company that owns the plant is based in France. That was an acceptable compromise to me.

Now tell us how you spent your stimulus check or we can talk about tires if you like.

Here's some links to check out your own tires.

NHTSA Manufacturer's information
(uncheck all the boxes at the left except for tires and enter the first two digits of your DOT code at the very bottom box marked DOT ID)

Autopedia a comprehensive list of tire manufacturers.

All the DOT Tire Plant Codes

Sidewall Markings at Tire Rack Tech Center