The Hard Sell

Recently I had a bad experience trying to buy a pair of new shoes in Runners Needs in Camden. Wanting to try a pair of Inov 8 Flyrocs, I asked for a pair of 9 and a halves instead of my usual 9's having heard they came up slightly small. The pair I tried on felt massive. It turned out they were size 10's. I told the guy this but he tried a really hard sell strongly suggesting that I should have that size. They felt obviously too big so I asked for the next size down. As I had begun to suspect it turned out that the next two sizes down were out of stock. This isnt the treatment I expect from a specialist runners shop and it would have been bad enough on the high st. Should I ring and complain? Surely good advice is one of the reasons we go to shops like these?


  • Wow - thats not good. I go to Run and Become in Victoria and have found the opposite.  You go in and its not the £90 of asics or the £100+ nike you leave with but rather a pair of £65 / £70 shoes that are actually the most appropriate after watching you jog up and down outside the shop.

  • I am a 9 in shoes and take a 9.5 in Flyrocs so you were right about the size you needed.
  • Not defending the shop mentioned in any way, but have found from personal experience that a fair number of runners (not including you in this NLR) are adamant that they are a certain size, only to end up buying shoes in a different size. They were obviously wrong to not tell you it was a different size from the start, but often it can be worth trying half sizes up/down as different brands have varying standards of fit.

    The classic example is someone asking for an adidas in a uk 9 ending up with a 9.5 or 10 because they come up smaller than every other brand...

  • Wish people would read the message first before replying. I said that I had read that Inov 8 were coming up small which is why I thought I would need a 9 and a half. Why dont shops keep in stocks of popular sizes. What use are they otherwise? I tried on 9 and a halfs at sweatshop and they were perfect.
  • I dont think its worth righting off the shop because of one guys fitting on one day.

    I'd have tried his reccomendation, but at the end of the day - they are your feet and you have the final say on what size you want.

    It would have been silly to not try on the shoe - for some people it could have been a perfect fit.

    I wouldnt bother complaining - the guy was doing his best.

    NLR - yeah I'm sure the shop deliberately ran out of the popular sizes = because thats really sensible for them to do.....

  • Coughie, by the sounds of it the guy was doing his best to get a sale and probably a bit of commision. The whole reason we go to specialist shops is for the advice they can give.

    I wouldn't write the shop off either however I would be inclined to complain.  If this guy is selling shoes based on what he has in the stock room rather than what is best for the customer then that's just wrong.

  • but how long does it take to try on a pair ? I have heard people reckon on buying a pair bigger than you would normally wear - doesnt work for me - but clearly for some it does.
  • I understand that but NLR had already asked for a bigger size and from the sounds of it the salesman then gave him the 'hard sell' when he said they were a bit big. I could understand if the salesman's response was "I don't have a 9.5 but you can try on the 10 if you want"
  • Was going to reply to cougie but Leslie you said it all for me. Just a guy trying earn comission at a runners expense. Luckily I had enough experience to say no. Could I really now reccommend that shop to people in my club who are new to running?
  • well i will certainly be advising people not to go to any runners need shops, or cycle surgery (they seem to be associated) any more after hearing of this incident.
  • Well, just for the sake of fairness, whilst I tink this salesman was doing completely the wrong thing, I think I should mention I have bought shoes from Runners Need 3 times now, and they have always been great with me, very happy to take time with me, explain everything and watch me on a treadmill and talk through what they suggest.  They've also been happy to suggest shoes which would not be 'in their best interest' if they were soley commissioon searching - they basically tried to downsell me (when my heart was set on Asics) to a NB pair which were nearly half the price, and in fairness felt pretty good.

     I think Cougar's right, they offer advice, it should be taken on board, but the decision & responsibility is with the customer.

    Oh, and finally, I would phone and ask to speak with the manager, and explain your recent experience.  I'm pretty sure that when he hears your story, and hears you are not a newbie and you are a club member with lots of running buddies with ears, he will be more than keen to listen and speak to the salesmen (not assisitant!) about his approach.

  • I've used Runners need at Canary Whary and I have to say they were very good. Took ages bringing out several pairs of shoes, doing gait evaluation etc. No hard sell. Maybe you got the bad apple. 

  • I absolutely hope I got the bad apple!! I am all in favour of specialist running shops but they mustn't take our custom for granted by chasing sales targets over the good advice that we go to them for. I have had great service from Lincolnshire Runner for many years. In all my years of running this is a first, which is why I felt so incensed. I hope it isn't a sign of the way things are going. If so I think they are making a grave error. Another point is the lack of stock of popular sizes. The internet companies must be rubbing their hands. We cannot buy what they havent got. Sweatshop staff were much better but in the end I had to buy from For the record my 9.5's fitted perfectly and coped brilliantly with the Parliament Hills mud at the London XC Champs.
  • annajoannajo ✭✭✭
    just for the record I'm fairly sure that staff at most if not all running shops do _not_ work on a commission basis. Can't say for Runners Need as I've never worked there but I'd be very surprised if that was how they operated
  • I would always trust my own experience and moreover my own instinct over anything said in a 'specialist' running shop. I've heard some complete nonsense discussed in running shops over the years!

    In fact, while we're at it, I've always suspected that Asics gold dealers sell so many Asics because they are particularly well versed in talking them up to the detriment of other brands! (just my experience)

  • I'm pretty sure I can safely say that no sales assistants at any specialist running shops operate on a commission basis, otherwise we'd all be running in overpriced marshmallowy Asics, surely?

    The shop probably doesn't hold a huge stock of trail shoes (since road running has more mass appeal) which is why they were sold out of the popular sizes.

    As for the hard sell? Well, that's never happened in my experience at Runnersneed.

  • I think the phrase is 'buyer beware'. As I am sure that sales staff will nudge you in the 'right' direction through most walks of life, you cannot always brand the outlet as a bad'un based on a single experience. It could just be an over zealous or inconsiderate assistant in that single instance.

    However, listen to the ones that most runners would recommend from personal experience and ask why they feel so positively about the assistance they were given. My vote is with Dudemeister, Run and Become in Victoria is one of the best and lately I was with my wife who had some great service and advice from the staff in Sweatshop at Harrods [don't knock it until you try it].

    I am sure runners Need would respond if you let them know of your experience but I can well understand your annoyance.

  • GavoGavo ✭✭✭

    I've never had problems with Runners Need & if the shop is fairly quiet they can spend a fair bit of time with you.  I stopped using Run & Become when I heard one of the assistants say something on the lines of "the more you pay for shoes, the better they'll be for you."

    In terms of giving you the wrong size, sounds like they were trying to pull a fast one.  Should have been honest & told you that they only had 10's in but no major harm done is there? 

  • No major harm done is there???? How patronising!!!!! Buying beware??? Well my point is to make the buyer aware. Strangely enough I went into the shop today and was stopped by the manager. Turns out I knew him but hadn't realised he worked there. How bizarre. Maybe next time I see him I will ask what he thinks.
  • Sorry NLR, I wasn't trying to patronise, I think I just used a cliche that you might have felt was obvious. Apologies once again.


  • Ok JW. Nuff said on that. As for Buyer Aware. As far as i know the consumer is entitled to a refund if the product is faulty or if they are mis-sold an item. Not to mention the fact that a consumer is unlikely to return to the shop.
  • Had an excellent experience in Up and Running in Sheffield the other day, did the treadmill footscan thing for the first time and came away with New Balance 858 Stability shoes instead of the motion control brooks that I had been running in.

    The manager was really friendly and helpful, I must have spent 15-20 minutes with him and he recommended the 858's over more expensive shoes.

  • I've had the same experience as Sensible in my running shop: I ask for size 8 spikes, I get 9.5s, I ask for 8.5-9 trainers, I get 8s, but the sizes they say I am do fit. 

  • My local running show is excellent, they are entitled to get it wrong once in a while. They do try their best. JD Sports is always availalbe.
  • My local one tried to push me into a pair of Asics Nimbus 9, which dosen't sound surprising, until you know that I went in saying "I run in Kayanos, but am looking for something slightly lighter to run 5/10ks in". I also said I started running with the Nimbus 8, but then felt the Kayanos were better suited to my running style.

    And the next bit...

    I said I'd been interested in the 2120 / 30 - The bloke tells me "don't run in them, they'll kill your feet and are totally different to the Kayano." He then spotted I had a pair of Kinsei 2s on (I don't run in them, got them as an unexpected present!) and he started on a huge rant "I wouldnt even wear them up town!" At this point I thought bugger it, I'll just go and try shoes on elsewhere, and promptly left!
  • After 2 pairs of Nimbus 9's which were excellent I downgraded to some 2120's. They were just as good. Just bought another pair from sweatshop. 45 quid with 20% off for spending over a hundred with a watch I bought. Also free delivery on Shoes. So I ended up paying only 36 pounds.
  • Thanks for that North London Runner, will have a look at sweatshop!
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