Reporter: Gordon Harcourt
It's a tiny bit like the All Whites - a minnow footing it with the big boys. Matt Austin from Lower Hutt is just 14, but already he plays for the 1st XI at his school, Hutt International Boys'. He's among the youngest and smallest in the whole grade - most of the other boys are 17 year olds. He plays fullback, and he was man of the match in his first full game for the team. But Matt has a problem with his feet, at least according to Adidas.
Last year his Dad bought a pair of Adidas Predator boots on sale at Rebel Sport - $200 down from $300. Matt started using them in March, but after just a few weeks' use, a split appeared which became quite gaping hole in the toe. Matt's Dad took them back to Rebel Sport, and they sent them off to Adidas. Adidas declined to refund or replace them, saying the tear wasn't because of material defects. But here's the killer blow - they said "this can only happen by kicking the ground more often than any action during ... time of usage".
Matt was not impressed. Matt's Dad was not impressed. Matt's First XI coach was not impressed. Matt is not the sort of player who kicks the ground more than the ball they all say, and from watching him train for an hour (on concrete) I would certainly agree. More to the point, I've looked at three other pairs of boots he uses, and none show anything like the same fault. He got two years out of his most recent pair, and they look fine, although it's only fair to point out that Predator boots are made of softer leather than Matt's old pair.
Adidas offer an independent assessment service for $50, refundable if it is judged there is a fault. Matt's Dad didn't take up that option - he came to Fair Go.
We went to Adidas, and they told us: "Adidas is always willing to come to the table over the kind of problem Matthew and his father encountered. It is a priority for us to ensure customers enjoy only positive experiences with our product and brand. As such we have sent the boots for independent testing and if they are found to be faulty, we will be more than happy to provide Matthew with a replacement pair of boots. Nadia Scott, Marketing Manager, Adidas New Zealand Ltd."
We think that's fair enough, because we like to follow due process. The boots were sent back to Adidas on Monday 28th June, and we'll let you know the verdict.
By the way, the testing is carried out by LASRA, the Leather and Shoe Research Association. There's an association for everything, isn't there!