British welly brand Hunter has been slammed by customers for boots that are peeling and splitting, with thousands claiming they have struggled to get a refund.
Shoppers have raised questions over the quality of the high-end boots – which cost upwards of £85 – after the matte finish of their wellies began peeling off.
Floods of customers say they are still waiting to get through to its customer services team, months after a glitch on the Hunter website occurred in November, which left them unable to get a refund.
Shoppers have branded the customer service at the company ‘dreadful’ – despite the brand having a royal warrant and being a favourite of celebrities such as Kate Moss and Alexa Chung.
The company – which has its headquarters in Edinburgh – outsourced production to Asia in 2008, with the famous boots now believed to be predominantly made in China.
Hunter has apologised for the technical fault and insists it has maintained the same ‘values, production process and quality’, despite production moving elsewhere.
British brand Hunter has been slammed for its ‘dreadful’ customer service after shoppers struggled to get a refund due to a technical glitch. Some have complained that their wellies have started peeling (pictured)
Hunter has been hit with Twitter complaints from buyers unable to get through to its customer service team.
Aristy Zorbas commented: ‘Very disappointed with your view on faulty items. Shame on you Hunters for not believing in your brand and not wanting to make things right.’
Tracy Glaser added:’@HunterBoots very disappointed in your customer service and on-line ordering. £poorcustomerservice £25minutesonhold.’
Meanwhile, Katheryn Gordon wrote: ‘Do you respond to anyone? You’d think with the amount of continuous complaints…you might step up your customer service game #theworst.’
Some customers have reported that the matte finish was peeling off her boots (pictured)
One person complained that there were holes in her boots eight months after purchase
Hunter boots have become a British staple after being spotted on countless celebrities.
Princess Diana wore Hunter Originals in her pre-makeover engagement photos to Prince Charles, while Meghan Markle was seen running errands in them in rainy London last year.
The company had been struggling with cash flow problems in 2006, due to high production costs, but the brand saw a resurgence in popularity in 2007, with sales up 85 per cent.
The following year, Hunter made the decision to relocate its production to Asia, with its boots now predominantly believed to be made in China.
Its website states that its products are made by supplier factories located in China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam, as well as the UK.
The resurgence of the brand over the past decade is thought to be thanks to Hunter boots being worn by countless celebrities, who have been spotted wearing them to wade through the mud at music festivals such as Glastonbury.
Countless celebrities have been spotted in the boots over the years, including Kate Moss at Glastonbury Festival
Model Kate Moss was credited with making them cool again after she paired hers with tiny hotpants at the festival in 2005.
Others followed suit, including Alexa Chung, Ellie Goulding, Lily Allen, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse, Emma Watson and Stella McCartney.
However, Hunter’s official account has been flooded with complaints about the quality of the boots.
Jonathan Layzell, 38, found his Hunter wellies had split in November after just eight months of wear.
They replaced a previous pair which also split after 18 months after the rubber perished, leading to the boots leaking.
Mr Layzell, from north east Somerset, said: ‘At present Hunter assert that there is no defect with the second pair which have started leaking. It’s my fourth pair I think.
Many customers have complained after struggling to get a refund due to a technical glitch
A number have also described how their boots have been peeling and splitting
My sister-in-law had a pair which lasted eight years and my mum had perhaps two or three pairs in 25 years so there does seem to be a change in quality and certainly in how long they last.’
He says he was offered a 20 per cent discount on his next pair – but would rather shop elsewhere.
He added: ‘I am frustrated that a company with a strong reputation historically and which made – past tense – good quality, comfortable, functional boots no longer seems to be able to do that.
‘The 20 per cent discount voucher is of no interest to me as until I am reassured about the quality I would rather buy elsewhere, which is a great shame. What a way to run a business.’
Mr Layzell’s complaint is one of dozens of similar ones on the famous brand’s Twitter page.
Kim revealed how her Hunter boots had begun peeling after 18 months, commenting: ‘It’s the first and last pair I’ll own. They’re poor quality and you only get a bad warranty.’
Customers have been sharing pictures of boots where the matte finish has started peeling off
Alix Clarkson had the same issue, with the matte finish peeling off her boots, which were a Christmas gift in 2016.
She said: ‘I also have adjustable boots and the straps have broken off. No leaks yet but I don’t use them very often but there is no real reason why they should be eroding. All I’ve gotten from Hunter is automatic emails.’
Meanwhile, Stephanie Bridwater’s boots also only lasted a year before they split.
She said: ‘They are very poor quality – my boots have lasted little over a year and they are perishing and cracking.
‘Customer service is absolutely appalling – they are not interested in helping at all. You are simply paying for the name.
‘I advise everyone to stay well away from these massively overpriced, not fit for purpose wellingtons.’
Hunter recently outsourced some of its production in 2008 to China due to rising costs, but the brand says a pair of its Original boots are still handcrafted from 28 parts
Hunter began life as the North British Rubber Company in 1856 and had its factory in Dumfries, Scotland, up until recently.
Described as a heritage British brand, Hunter holds several royal warrants as suppliers of waterproof footwear and is a favourite of the hunting set.
The company was forced to outsource production in 2008 due to rising costs and the famous boots are believed to be mainly made in China.
Planet Retail retail analyst, Natalie Berg, said Hunter should be very careful of its customer service standards.
She said: ‘Social media reinforces that old adage in retail that the customer is king.
‘It may be quick and somewhat gratifying for shoppers to publicly air their issues, but this often leads to unrealistic expectations when it comes to response times as many shoppers expect their issues to be resolved instantly.
However, customers say they have been left disappointed by the quality of their boots. Pictured is a pair of splitting wellies
‘Social media can not only expose but also magnify any quality or service issues, potentially leading to long-term damage to a brand’s reputation.’
A spokeswoman for Hunter has apologised for falling below ‘the level of customer service that should be expected’.
She said in a statement: ‘At the end of November, a technical fault with our global website meant that a significant proportion of customers were unable to complete the automatic returns form online.
‘As a result, anyone wishing to return product was reduced to calling our customer services phone lines. This technical fault coincided with our biggest trading period of the year.
‘We were not prepared for this and it therefore resulted in a significant backlog of calls. We took measures to increase staff numbers, which in the last week have increased further.
She continued: ‘As a 160 year old British brand, we take the expectation of our customers and our reputation very seriously. Hunter has always prided itself on its quality and hand assembled production.
Hunter boots have become a British staple over the years, championed by celebrities such as Alexa Chung
‘In fact, we extended the manufacture warranty on our Original Wellington Boots from 12 months to 24 months in September 2017. Our Original boot continues today to be made in the same traditional way as it was in the brand’s birth place of Scotland.
‘Production moved to Asia in 2008 to safeguard the future of this heritage brand, but did so while maintaining the values, production process and quality that was established over many decades in Scotland.
‘Regardless of geography, a pair of Hunter Original boots are still handcrafted from 28 parts and assembled over a 3 day period; a process that hasn’t changed significantly over the product’s lifetime.
What is the history behind Hunter wellies?
In 1856, the company – then known as the North British Rubber Company – was founded by American entrepreneur Henry Lee Norris.
The company grew from just four members of staff to over 600 by the mid-1870s.
At the start of the First World War, production increased dramatically as the company was asked to supply sturdy rubber boots to soldiers.
The company was commissioned again to make rubber boots for soldiers during the Second World War.
Hunter comes with the royal seal of approval, after being awarded a Royal Warrant by Appointment to HRH Duke of Edinburgh in 1977. The company later received a Royal Warrant by The Queen in 1986.
In 2004, Hunter became a stand-alone company for the first time, after being bought out by an investor group. Over the years, it had changed hands several times.
The company went into administration in 2006 after suffering cash flow problems due to high production costs.
It was bought out by a private consortium, with production moving to Asia in 2008.
The Original Green Wellington boot was first created in 1956 and still remains one of the brand’s most popular designs.
‘As the Hunter brand thankfully grows and becomes successful around the world then clearly our volumes increase and with greater numbers of boots being produced there is a higher potential for manufacturing defects.
‘We’re very proud to announce that our product defect levels are at the lowest they have ever been. However, as with all brands we can improve and we strive to do so daily, pushing to improve on our established quality levels to deliver the best possible experience to our customers.
‘Inevitably product defects will happen from time to time, but it’s our commitment and duty to our customers that when they do, we react quickly and effectively to resolve the situation. It is this area that we are actively improving. ‘
Wellington boots were worn and popularised by Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, and became common among the aristocracy in the early 19th century.