My sad story beings on August 13, 2007, when I emailed Tom Mattimore about getting a pair of his 1740 commoner shoes for Rev War reenacting. The shoe market in Rev War really sucks- you can either get incredibly so-so shoes for up to $100 or hand-crafted works of art for $400+, with no middle ground. A friend recommended Tom as a really nice guy and quality shoemaker, so I thought I would give him a try. So on the 13th, I wrote Tom the following:
I've been looking for a pair of good 18th century shoes for Rev War reenacting and have been eyeing your commoner shoes. Are these straight last shoes? Do you have any in stock? How much would it cost to get a pair that had the full latchets so that the shoes could accomodate buckles? I'm a size 9E, for reference. Thanks very much for your time!
He replied on the following day:
"I am changing my patterns for rev war shoes They have a wider latchet. What type toe do you wish? Tom"
I replied that I would like a pair of pointed toe shoes and he said he had a pair ready to go, clarifying on August 15th:
"I do not have them done but since I have been expeimenting with patterns I have a pair cut out and sewn up. I could have them done in a week or so. Tom"
I told him that sounded great and agreed to pay $180 for the shoes with double sole leather, hobnails, and a heel plate. I paid via paypal on August 19th and received the following from Tom that day:
"To recap a size 9E pointy round toe buckle shoe with heel plates and hobnail. Thanks Tom"
The shoes arrived at my home on August 30th. I tried them on and found that they were 1.5 inches too long, and that the foot hole was far too large, so that my feet kept slipping out of the shoes. I had a pair of Robert Land straight-last shoes on hand which fit my feet fine, and in comparing them to the Mattimore shoes, I did not see a difference in quality which made up for the $80 difference in price between the two pairs of shoes. I wrote the following to Tom on August 31st:
The eighteenth-century shoes arrived yesterday, but sadly they are 3/4's of an inch too long. Can I return them to you for a refund? Thanks!
Tom wrote back asking if there was just ¾ inches of extra space and offered to make a smaller size for me with a foot tracing. I replied:
There's more space than that and the hole for my foot is 3/4 inch too long. The hobnails are more ACW style than Rev War style, as is the heelplate. The uppers aren't attached to the lowers in a period-correct style, and the shoes are of course left and right last instead of straight-last. If the attachment between the uppers and lowers wasn't so obviously modern, they'd be just fine, but I'm looking for something else and have a pair of shoes that will last me for a little while. I could really use the $180 to pay off some credit card bills, too. So all in all, I really appreciate your efforts on my behalf, but I'd like to send these back for a refund. Thanks!
Tom replied on Saturday, September 1st:
“As you wish. Thanks tom”
I dispatched the shoes back to him via USPS priority mail with delivery confirmation, hoping to have my refund within a week or two. When I didn’t hear anything from Tom by the weekend, I dropped him a short line asking him to please let me know when the shoes arrived. Finally, on September 15th, after two weeks of silence, I wrote the following email:
I dug out the USPS delivery confirmation paperwork, which says that the shoes arrived back to you last Friday, September 7th. I really need the $180 refund on them as soon as possible, since I have other bills coming due. Either paypal or a check is fine by me- just please acknowledge my emails and send my money. Thanks!
That evening I received the following email from him, which was the last time he communicated with me in writing:
“You have been in a hurry since this started. You ordered a size 9 or 9.5 (I do not recall which), I made you one in about two weeks when my website states that it is usually 8 to 12 weeks. When the shoes arrived you stated that they were about an inch and a half to an inch and three quarters too long this is obviously my fault since I did not stop what I was doing fly out to meet you and measure your feet myself. It is also apparently my fault that I made you a sewn sole shoe which is what I gather you mean by the attachment of the upper to the sole. Since this was the most common type of shoe construction in the era you wish to portray it is again my fault that I did not discern the esoteric manner in which you wished your shoes constructed. It is also my fault that I did not hand forge hobnails to your specifications and did not ask for the specs before I installed them. It is also my fault that when I make a 9.5 shoe I put a 9.5 upper pattern on it so that the throat is to big for the feet I did not fly out to measure.
It is also my fault that I have been in the shop for the last 21 days with out a day off in order to keep up with my orders. I have not even had a chance to open the box you returned the shoes in. I will immediately rectify the e-mail situation by moving my computer to the shop tomorrow and spending most of my day in front of it so as to not miss any further e-mails from you.
For all my grievous faults I do apologize and will get you out a refund next week. I do thank you for finally forcing me to change my return policy and charging a 15% restocking fee for all orders not sending a foot tracing. Of course it would be unfair to do this on your order
I replied to Tom on the 17th, after giving myself some time to consider his email, and simply thanked him for his attention to the matter.
A month went by and I heard nothing from him, nor received any reimbursement. So on October 15th I wrote:
Just wanted to check in with you, since I have not heard anything further regarding the $180 refund for my shoes since September 15th. I know you have a busy production schedule, and I appreciate your attention to this matter. Hope things are well out West!
I received no response and on November 1st sent him a registered letter, for which he signed, but again did not respond. The letter stated:
“Dear Mr. Mattimore,
I am writing in regards to the pair of colonial commoner shoes which I ordered from you in late August. I returned them to you in early September, with the US Postal Service confirming that you received the shoes on September 7th. The last communication I receive from you was on September 15th. I paid $180 for the shoes and covered shipping back to you. If you would, please dispatch my refund to me as soon as possible at:
If you are not able to refund my money, please send the shoes back to me. Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter.
On November 20th, I emailed him again inquiring about my refund, and receiving no response, I called him on November 23rd. We spoke briefly on the phone, during which conversation he said he had received my letter and had my information in the shop, but asked me to give him my address again and the amount he owed me, promising to get a refund out right away. When no refund appeared, I called him again last Thursday and left a message on his answering machine. I have yet to receive a response or a check.
I am a graduate student in history, so $180 is a lot of money to me. Tom Mattimore has had my money for three months without paying a cent of interest and has left me to hang in the wind, despite my constant attempts to contact him. I am sorry if I offended him with my honest feedback on the shoes he made for me, but I did not understand that in this hobby, you have to flatter some vendors in order for them to deal fairly with you. With Christmas around the corner, I have given Tom Mattimore as much opportunity to do the right thing as I can. Now I have no choice but to conclude that he has no intention of returning my money but instead means to keep it for himself, which I believe constitutes fraud and theft. If anyone could provide assistance to resolve this matter peaceably, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you all for your time and patience.