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My Bootfitter Saga

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm writing this to share my experience which some very is bad....and some is very good (Boot Lab in Vail to the rescue).  I'm not going to name the shop who I was very dissapointed with but I will disclose it if anyone wants to PM me.  The shop is well known and the bootfitter is registered on EpicSki.  I suppose if really persuaded I might post it though just to steer people away.


Late this season but not yet spring ski time I had an issue with my boots XR9s which yes, I have had for 15 years.  They were causing me quite a bit of pain which I had never experienced before.  Desperate I went into the local mountain shop which had this bootfitter.  I explained the situation and they strongly suggested I buy a new pair of boots rather than mess around with the old ones.  Their reasoning sounded  good and I started the process of being fitted for a boot which they told me was complimentary with the purchase of the boots.  They made a few modifications for my feet and told me to expect some discomfort while it broke in.  The boots felt fine in the store but certainly the test would be on the slopes.  I'll just add here, I probably should have run.  I got the feeling that this shop was a little overconfident and thought pretty highly of themselves and their ability to fit boots.  Boy was I right 100 times over (more on that later).  One other red flag should have been the nickel and diming.  Sure the fitting was free but a couple pieces of styrofoam and readjusting my bindings cost almost $50!  Wow.


I skied on them the next day and was in excrutiating pain.  I went back into the shop and here began the drama.  The bootfitter made some minor adjustments, started to argue with me that I need to let it break in more.  He seemed quite put out that I came back.  Then he started asking about how I ski.  He told me I was leaning too far back which I why I was in pain in those parts of my feet, maybe I don't know how to ski on new skis and that I should take a lesson.  WTF?!  I'm too nice because I just smiled and said maybe you are right.  I raced as a kid and into my young adulthood, USSA, not some flimsy high school team. I know what it means to get forward, work a ski's edge, flex the whole ski and snap out of a turn.  I ran rapid gate SL and raced GS  and was ranked in my state.  Sure, I'll get right on that lesson, thanks. 


After another day of mods I was still in pain but he refused to mod anymore since I only had 2 days in the boots.  Fine.  3 weeks later I went back to the mountain to take a "mental health" day because of the great conditions.  Boots still bothered me so the next moring I stopped into the shop.  This time I worked with an associate who from the start was not that happy to have to deal with me.  She had nothing else to do for crying out loud.  I came as the shop opened their doors.  She listened to what I had to say, begrudgingly made some modifications to the shell to give me more room and gave them back.  Since I probably wouldn't be skiing again this year I asked if I could come back next year after I tried them again.  Guess what!  She said NO!  It apparently was not their policy to continue fitting into the next season.  I wanted to tell her what I thought of the shop using a lot of explatives.  Not to mention the fact that 3 weeks later they were trying to clear inventory for spring and the boots I bought were $130 less than what I paid.  Never going back there again....they frankly don't deserve to be in business.


Enter my impromtu trip to Vail.  Spent 4 days skiing. On the first day when my feet hurt I was referred to Dave at The Boot Lab in Lionshead.  He seemed very sympathetic, measured my foot, noted I had the right size boot but said he never would have sold that boot to me.  Why?  I apparently have a wide foot and I was sold a manufacturer who makes a narrow boot.  He suggested I see if I can return them...ha....fat chance given my experience.  I told him look.  Do whatever you need to do.  You don't need to guarantee the work but do your best.  He told me how much it would cost (which was was nothing) and I let him loose cutting and stretching the liner and toe box, expanding the shell.  Next were incredibly better.  I skied in them a whole day without finding a place to rip them off for a break.  But I felt it was almost there.  I went back and said I think we are 50% there and Dave went back to work.  Next day my feet finally felt like they fit the boot with the exception of a little tightness in the toebox.  Final test.....I found myself skiing and forgetting that my feet hurt.  He did it.  I even paid him extra (which he didn't ask for) because I was so happy.


Moral of the story....if you have a gut feeling about a bootfitter....follow it.  Oh, and I can't recommend Dave at the Boot Lab enough. 



post #2 of 7

Name the boot make/model you bought.

post #3 of 7

That's an amazing story.  Name the guy and give him a chance to defend himself.  No one should suffer through such a rotten attitude and poor service.  I buy my boots at Taos Ski & Boot.  They have made adjustments to 6 or 7 year old boots - no charge.  The expectation is that boots will need tweaking from time to time.  That's just part of the deal, service after the sale.

post #4 of 7

I've been back to Nick Blaylock at Mount Snow several times for quick questions or adjustments.  The last time, he spent 20 minutes grinding a hard-to-get-to place.  When I asked him how much I owed him, he said "free adjustments for the life of the boots". 

post #5 of 7

If you're paying retail then they should at least guarantee the initial fit. Ask them first, and if they say no, walk out.


I really do sympathize. It's hard to listen to that "take your money and run feeling" when you really want them to be right.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi - I've been getting PM's asking who the boot fitter was.  I've thought about it and decided to disclose who they were.  Not cause I want to be vindictive or because I want something out of this but because I want to allow them to respond if they so chose (I'm sure the owner would be pretty upset to hear how his customers react to his "certified" employees).  I recognize there is always two sides to a story and I'm sure there are many people out there that have been very happy with the service and product they got there.


This experience was at GMOL (Green Mountain Orthotics Lab) at the base of Stratton, VT.


My lesson learned as some of the posters acknowledged were, ask in advance about follow-up fittings (free adjustments for life), ask what exactly is included in the price (does it include wedges and inserts), does it include readjusting bindings to fit the new boot, what is the guarantee on the fit and can you bring them back.  Unfortunately I wish I had clarified these prior to giving them my business. 


I don't want anything or need anything from the shop (make it right, refund my money, etc).  I fixed the problem myself.  I don't need to hear from the shop or frankly any members flaming me because they had a great experience there.  Great for you, I am sincerely happy for you.  I posted this once I had confirmation that this boot was customizable to my foot enough to end the pain and that it wasn't me.  Dave at the Boot Lab warned me it may not get there 100% but at least we got pretty close.  And to answer the first responders question the boots were Lange RX100s.  In hindsight coming off a racing boot I might have gone a little stiffer (RS maybe)in (obviously) a wide size.  I leaned toward the RX as I consider my racing days over and fancy myself more of a recreational skier.  Hope this helped

post #7 of 7

I can relate.  I'm just chiming in to say that even if you get a "Guarantee on the fit for ever", it might not be good enough.


I too have not had much luck with boots.   At one point I decided to start over and got a pair of boots with a fit guarantee.  They were really tight, but as the fit was guaranteed, I didn't worry too much.  However it was a hassle constantly going back for further stretching and punching out.  I think I probably spent as much on transportation costs (gas/wear and tear on the car) going back for fit improvements as I spent on the boots in the first place.  The boots never quite packed out to the point that I could wear them for any length of time with socks in them.  However the punching did alleviate the pain in the side of my foot and in the sixth toe area.  The problem is that the heel also packed out.  Now my heel has lots of room, the toes are comfy, and the mid foot is in a vice; my skis can pivot about the middle portion of my foot.  To make matters worse, I like you had been talked into a too low flex rating.


I didn't notice how bad it was until I finally bit the bullet and finished the job on my race boots by cutting the liner, so my feet could expand into the punched out shells (from a previous attempt at finishing the fitting process on the old race boots). 


Good news is that the process seems to have worked on my old boots.  Though they are still not ideal.


Getting Proper ski boots is a real PAIN!mad.gif

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