What Do Customers Say?

Our Ratings Tables report how area shops were rated by their surveyed customers. (We survey primarily Consumers' Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers.) In our survey, we ask raters to judge shops they used as “inferior,” “adequate,” or “superior” for questions such as “doing work properly,” “starting and completing work promptly,” “letting you know the cost early,” “advice on service options and costs,” and “overall quality.” Our Ratings Tables show the percent of each shop’s customers who rated it “superior” (as opposed to “inferior” or “adequate”) on each question. Click here for further discussion of our customer survey and other research methods.

Check Examples of Finished Work

Before risking your own shoes, ask to see some finished work. If you first discuss with the shop what your shoes need, how much it will cost, and whether the result will be worth the price, it’s reasonable to ask to see other shoes on which they performed similar work. If your job is a common one, the shop is likely to have samples of other customers’ shoes on hand. On resoling jobs, check for the points noted above regarding shaping and removal of old stitches. On many jobs, simply determine whether the trimming, stitching, dye-matching, and other features make the repaired shoes look good enough to wear.

Can You Communicate with the Repairperson?

Some shops don’t perform their own repair work, or at least not on the premises. This is most often true of drycleaners, which may subcontract out their shoe repair work or serve as an agent for the actual shoe repair shop. Naturally, such shops won’t offer one-hour service, and you may also find it difficult to communicate with them. If you want a strap added, for example, discuss with a repairperson how you want the strap to look and whether it will be possible to stitch and dye the strap to match the shoe. Such a discussion is not possible if the repairperson is not on the premises.

Communication will also be difficult, of course, if the repairperson doesn’t speak your language, or you find the repairperson abrupt and difficult to talk to.

What’s the Turnaround Time?

Some shops are set up to do work more quickly than others. If speed matters, get a promise before you drop off your shoes. Shops’ scores on the “promptness” question of our customer survey (shown on our Ratings Tables) tell you how each shop met its time commitments.

What Will It Cost?

For simple resoling or re-heeling jobs, each shop will have a standard charge that is easy to find out by phone. For more unusual jobs, if the first shop you visit quotes a price that seems high, take the shoes elsewhere for more estimates. Sometimes prices differ dramatically, as indicated on the table below.

Our Ratings Tables list price comparison scores, which show how each shop’s prices compared to the average shop’s prices when our shoppers, without revealing their affiliation with Consumers' Checkbook, checked prices for eight common jobs. Price comparison scores are adjusted so that the average score is $100; a score of $90, for instance, means that the shop’s prices were 10 percent below average.

Our Undercover Shoppers Were Quoted Big Price Differences by Shops

Description of job Low price Average price High price
Resole pair of men’s dress shoes with full soles (leather) and rubber heel lifts $55 $82 $119
Resole pair of men’s dress shoes with half soles (leather) and rubber heel lifts $45 $64 $95
Resole pair of men’s dress shoes with half soles (leather) $28 $49 $74
Replace a 15" zipper on a women’s leather riding boot $20 $52 $85
Replace 1/4"-wide rubber heel lifts on pair of women’s shoes $10 $13 $20
Replace rubber heels on pair of men’s dress shoes $14 $26 $48
Replace rubber and leather heels (English heels) on pair of men’s dress shoes $24 $31 $46
Replace rubber heels on pair of women’s pant shoes $10 $18 $30
Replace rubber and leather heels (English heels) on pair of women’s pant shoes $10 $24 $46