Xero Reader Thought

Even though there have been complaints about advertising before, because they either bashed right-wing or left-wing politicians (and, because of what advertisers want to say, readers call me a “communist propagandist” or a “right-wing pukebag,” respectively).

Still, I was surprised this weekend, after writing a short review of a long-time advertiser’s products in the free edition on Friday, that a reader unsubscribed in protest!

It never ceases to amaze me what sets off a reader, at what things they choose to be offended by. The review was after the end of the stories, of course, and I even took the space to note that the advertiser didn’t pay for the review. But sob!, that’s just not acceptable in a free publication! Heck, even if it was a paid placement, does s/he stop reading every publication that includes a review or an ad? That’s the only way they can be consistent in their protests.

The Review

Anyway, here’s what I wrote — every offensive word:

You’ve Probably Noticed the Ads now and then for Xero Shoes; there’s one this week, above*. They’ve been running here on and off since before the founders were on Shark Tank. I’m really intrigued by their “minimalist” running sandals, even though I’m not a runner. So much so that when they started running ads in True, I bought a pair (they didn’t give them to me); my wife bought two pair. We both found them hugely comfortable to walk in …but I didn’t like the lacing post going between my toes (Kit was fine with them, and wears them a lot). I told my contact at Xero my experience, and he said “wait a bit.” Well, I waited, and earlier this month he sent two pairs of their new product, the “Amuri Z-Trek” — a pair for me, and another for Kit. The Z is for the strapping system; they don’t have anything going between my toes anymore. They’re so freaking comfortable they’re amazing. Kit, who liked the originals, loves these even more. She’s on her way home from a trip, and wore them pretty much the whole time. Yeah, it’s winter in Colorado: you can wear socks with these!

Xero Shoes logoThey’re not “flip flops,” which I never have liked. Not only do they have something sticking between your toes, but having to grip with your toes is just not a natural way to walk. Plus, most flip flops are made with foam that slowly compresses, misaligning your feet and ankles until you’re standing on an unstable foundation. How can you tell? Just watch someone walking in them: most people fall off one side or the other, or step over the front edge. It’s clearly not stable, and not a healthy way to walk. Typical sport sandals, like Teva or Chaco or Keen, are typically really stiff. One of my Z-Treks (men’s size 11) weighs less than 8 ounces, compared to my clodhopper Keens, which weigh 19 (each!), and they’re so flexible they can roll into a fist-sized balls: they can fit into no matter what tight space you need to pack them into …unlike my Keens. I get a good chuckle that Xeros have a “5,000 mile warranty,” yet they’re half the cost of the typical “sport sandal” I’m never going to buy again.

Their regular sandals (the Cloud and the Venture — my previous pair is the Venture) have a huge advantage over flip flops, and this part I liked: the lacing system goes all around your foot, so it holds on without you having to grip them with your toes as you walk. They’re waterproof, too. I even left mine on when I went swimming at the beach. (I did say the lacing makes them secure! Try that with flip flops!)

Finally: a perfect replacement for my something-to-be-desired Keens. And no, they definitely did not pay me to say any of this: they’ll be hearing this reaction for the first time in this issue, just as you are. 🙂

* (Note: actual ad not included in this post. Click the logo if you want to go to their site.)

Terrible, Ain’t It?

An awful thing to include in a free newsletter, after the stories, that subscribers are not required to read? I just don’t see it. Rather, ads are what make the free edition …free. They are how you’re able to get the stories delivered to you; they pay the freight. So if someone advertises a product a lot, then sure: I want to check it out. No extra charge.

It’s certainly amusing what people get bent out of shape over.

March 2016 Update

When I said in a recent issue we were headed to Hawaii (and that’s where we are this week), Xero Shoes emailed to say they had a new sandal coming out that would be perfect for my trip, and if I waited until this week to say anything about them, since they weren’t announced yet, they’d give me a review pair. I suggested he give Kit a pair instead, since she wears sandals a lot more than I do, so he gave us both a pair.

Like the previous style, they don’t have something between my toes (which I hate): the “Z” strap makes them very comfortable. So what’s the difference from the previous style? Their slogan is “Feel the World!”, and with the previous kind, you really can. They’re “minimalist” running sandals with just enough sole to protect your feet, but you can still …well… feel the world.

The new ones have a very slightly thicker and tougher sole that reduces the feel. And it works: I’ve walked around on chunks of rough lava on this trip with no trouble, and still wore them while swimming in the ocean. You can see them here. Our deal is, I’d give them an honest review in lieu of an ad this week, so there you go. (And they do have some regular ads scheduled for after release!)

Kit in her new sandals
A cliff-sitting Kit snaps a pic of her new sandals.

Oh, and yeah: I’ve given my Keens to a thrift shop.

As noted on the Privacy page, I won’t recommend products unless I use them myself. In no case of recommendations have I been paid to say something nice about the service or product — I doubt any company would want to pay as much as I would charge if I didn’t actually like the product! And in no case was the product even provided to me for free for review, and I’ll say so if that ever happens. However, when I link to a place to buy a product, True will sometimes receive an “affiliate” commission if you click on the link and buy it from them after you click.

41 Comments on “Xero Reader Thought

  1. I actually thought the content of the review showed that you did it for free. If you’d taken money to review them, you’d have glossed over the toe-post version and just mentioned the other one (because who pays for a review that’s even partly unfavorable?)

    There you go, actually THINKING and coming to rational conclusions! Sheesh! -rc

  2. Randy, let me say this about that. I for one thoroughly appreciate the fact that you would take the time to describe your appreciation for a product which obviously more than piqued your interest. And especially after contacting the purveyor of such footwear and suggesting improvements, AND THEY LISTENED!!!

    Your comments about your usual dislike of sandal-type footwear hits a chord with me, as I have always disliked what I have tried on rare occasions. But since I have always wanted to find such comfortable sandal-type footwear, I am prompted to check them out more!

    But, you know, since I am both, premium and free issue subscriber, you really need to pull the ads from my free edition. Especially those soliciting readers to become premium edition subscribers – as I said, I am already a premium subscriber.

    So much for sarcasm. I would not have been upset if you included the essay in the premium edition. In fact, I would have liked it!

  3. Well, guess maybe I should unsubscribe as well, as I know you must have been holding a gun to their head and forced them to read every word of your review, and are probably even now holding their family hostage until they buy a dozen pairs of those shoes.

  4. I don’t get it….why on earth do they feel they have the right to offended by something they get for free and were not forced to read? As my mother would say, ‘Some people’s children!’ And my favorite riposte: ‘Don’t try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.’ Keep up the good work; the smart ones appreciate it.

    Exactly. As I said, “It never ceases to amaze me.”

  5. Sometimes your obliviot readers are more entertaining than the obliviots in your real-life stories — and that’s saying something!

  6. I personally am offended by the use of the word FLIP FLOP.. That, good sir is what a politician does… Every “normal” person knows they are called THONGS.

    Indeed politicians “flip-flop” — but what do you call the women’s underwear that has a narrow strap going up the butt crack? We call those “thongs” (or, usually for me, “butt floss”), and I wouldn’t want them on my feet! -rc

  7. Really, Randy. YOUR opinion on YOUR experience on YOUR site on the FREE edition. Next thing you’ll be doing is endorsing brass balls. Sheesh.

  8. I hope you refunded his free, the nerve you showed! Saying something on your own blog. The shame you must feel since he caught you. Why, if he really has the courage of his convictions, he may unsubscribe two or three more times. That’ll show you. (If he was a she, sorry)

    The gender is unclear. No name given, just initials. Happily, the initials were not even “F.U.” -rc

  9. I agree with Nola from Queensland (comment above). And I would just like to add that the way some woman wear the footwear that she mentions, at the beach, is close to obscene (and probably unhygienic).

    I think you’re making a joke about women wearing thongs on their feet. Indeed, that sounds unhygienic! -rc

  10. My new Xero shoes (Cloud) should arrive this week. Thanks for your terrific review.

    Let me know what you think of them. -rc

  11. I had the same issue. I am so fed up with advertising in free online content that I closed the email before seeing the unsubscribe message that you have claimed is at the bottom. I googled “unsubscribe from This Is True” but had to close the window before learning how – are you aware that Google also follows your practice of displaying advertising on free content? I suppose that I must now just keep enjoying the newsletter, yet another issue +pun intended) that I blame on you.

  12. So right wingers call you “communist propagandist” and left wingers call you a “right-wing pukebag”.

    This would seem to indicate that communists need their point of view broadcast, and right wingers puke a lot.

    Good to know. (I guess)

  13. Love my Xeros and wear them increasingly both for running and for walking. I can hardly wait for the new model and will probably change to them.

  14. I must be super dense today, becasue I can’t see what they got offended by, unless they prefer going barefoot. On a side issue, here in Australia we’ve been wearing those foam footwear and calling them thongs for a long time, I got my first pair in the early 1960s. When I first came across a US written story where they called them flip-flops I wondered what the heck they were, and found out that’s what people in the USA started calling the footwear in the 1970s. As to the ladies underwear, the reason they call them thongs is becasue they look like the straps on the footwear. Which just points out some of the issues us authors have to deal with in regards to naming things.

  15. I am surprised that Nola from Australia said THONGS were the term used for the footwear. THONGS is a term I learned long ago in the USA, but in downunder I have always been taught to call them JANDALS.

  16. My left foot is bigger than my right — does this make me a communist propagandist or a right wing puke bag? What if I typed this using two fingers, am I a thumbnik? I jactate a lot too, every night in fact.

    You are likely BOTH a communist propagandist and a right-wing pukebag. Since I don’t know what jactation is, I am forced to assume it’s evil and you are also the devil incarnate. -rc

  17. Funny thing is that I appreciated the write up. I bookmarked it for possible future action (even in Florida this is not the season to be buying sandals). Can I subscribe to the free edition twice to make up for the obliviot? ROFLOL

  18. Some years ago you reviewed and recommended a ScanSnap scanner. This has revolutionised my paperless office. Keep on reviewing good products Randy.

    Isn’t it amazing? We now have two ScanSnaps — one for my office, one for my wife’s. An amazing tool. -rc

  19. Thanks for posting the shoe review in your blog; perhaps I should also thank the obliviot for causing you to do so. I’m a Premium subscriber & don’t take the free edition so I miss out on the ads & your reviews. In summer I live in sandals, and the Xero shoes sound like just what I’ve been looking for, especially after reading your comments! I followed your link & signed up to get the new style when it comes out. Do you have a separate blog for reviews of products you’ve found especially good (or especially bad)?

    I tried a blog for spectacularly bad, Cranky Customer, but that was another of those things that got good traffic, but didn’t pay. Glad you found this positive one, though! -rc

  20. Two things: first you are obviously impressed with this footwear because for the many years I have been a subscriber you have always said what you think without any BS. So I take what you say as your honest opinion and not a “bought” statement.

    Second I have worked retail for most of my adult life (I’m 59) and there has always been that small segment of society that is just LOOKING for a reason to be offended. Sometimes I think it is just for the attention. Keep up the good work!

    A career in retail? Now there’s someone who needs to keep a good stock of GOOHF cards on hand! -rc

  21. Well I actually appreciated your essay when I first read it. I subscribe to both premium and free, but I almost always just delete the free version without opening it. I don’t know what possessed me to open it this week, but I did and when I saw the ad I made a mental note to look up more information on the shoes. My fiance hates flip flops but he is looking for a good pair for our honeymoon in Jamaica. Then I saw your essay and was sold — I told him we were looking them up and I would buy them for him. I was not offended at all by your review, it was helpful and gave me information about a product you liked so much you wanted to share with your readers. And if I would not have been interested I could have scrolled right past it. If your personal opinions were so offensive to me I wouldn’t have signed up for true in the first place; keep up the good work!

    Have a great trip! -rc

  22. When I became a premium subscriber, I purposely did not cancel my free subscription precisely because I wanted to see your ads. I saw no reason not to support those that support your publication for free even though I had the benefit of the link to your premium issue. I was most interested in your product endorsement of Xero shoes, and was prompted to look them up. I am very interested in getting the thongless sandal for myself, & I believe the other members of my family would love to have them as well. Thanks for steering me that way.

    Glad to have helped! -rc

  23. When I joined the navy in 1950 and was first introduced to the rubber shower sandal we called them go-aheads because that was the only direction we could go in them, ahead. 24 years later we still called them go-aheads, not flip flops. I have been retired for over 40 years so don’t know what they are called now.

    It was downright weird not to have to worry about these being on my feet when I went swimming. They stay on! -rc

  24. I for one appreciated the review. While I am often an ‘inattentionally’ blind to the adverts, I read the review and then went on to buy a pair to see what this ‘barefoot’ craze is about. I always appreciate the heads up on products that might (or might not) be of interest to me but are nonetheless perceived as being honestly provided and more valued for it.

  25. Haven’t had so much fun reading through comments in such a long time! So many thoughtfully expressed sentiments! I had thongs for my feet as a kid. Didn’t know what a flip flop was til Jimmy Buffet came along. 🙂

    I very much appreciate your review of the Xero, and like Chris in PA, wouldn’t have seen it. I used to get the free edition, but rarely found the time to look at those so I unsubscribed. Now, I wonder, What other things have I missed?

    Not much, except for the ads themselves. Anything of real interest I’ll at least link to in Premium, such as in this case. -rc

  26. Being a person who is “as curious as a cat” by nature, I found myself checking on “Mark, Brisbane”s comment referencing the word “jactate”. I found jactation at my friend, dictionary.com (aka dictionary.reference.com).

    For your edjumacation, jactation is a noun meaning:

    1. boasting; bragging.
    2. Pathology. a restless tossing of the body.

    As for Nola in Queensland, given that one in every four Americans battles some form of mental illness every year and one in three over the course of a lifetime, there are plenty of us “non-normals” (I myself included, as I have been battling Major Depression for many years) to justify plenty of gratuitous use of the expression “flip flop” for many years to come. So there, Nola. 🙂

  27. I usually don’t see reviews, assuming they were just ads. I can somewhat understand their concern: they may be afraid the email may turn into a typical “magazine” with one free review turning into another, etc. (Fear — it makes some people stupid!) i don’t see anything offensive or alarming about it, although I do see it somewhat out-of-place with “This Is True:” could you see any of the “geniuses” not featured the “Honorary Unsubscribe” wearing them?

    I wouldn’t be bothered if you did more reviews, as long as it doesn’t affect the main content I do enjoy. (Won’t be able to guarantee that I’ll read them: in cases like last week I’ll skim through my main stuff, have my laugh, and check to see that there’ll be one next week.) It’s you’re email, and I hope someday soon to be able to turn my long-time free subscription into a paid one in the near future. Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

    I talk about all sorts of things in the Author’s Notes area. I’ve done movie reviews, reader letters, rants, told stories about my past, told stories about my present, editorialized, pitched, educated, etc. But I have never held a gun to anyone’s head to force them to read it. -rc

  28. You know, I was so offended that I decided to subscribe to the Deluxe Edition of This is True.

    Now I don’t have to read your ads at all.

    That will show you!

    Foiled again! -rc

  29. I would love something like the Xero, but I’ll have to stick with my heavy Keens, as I need the arch support, or my old knees will start complaining. Keep up the reviews. I depend on personal recommendations for most of my purchase decisions these days.

    That’s what I used to think, too. We only “need” arch support because we’ve gotten used to it. Billions don’t wear shoes at all: walking barefoot keeps their feet strong. Maybe the Xero Shoes owner will pipe in and explain it better…. -rc

  30. Jandals in New Zealand, Thongs in Australia, Flip Flops in the USA. Why do you wear them when swimming please.

    Where do you leave them when you go into the ocean? Are you confident you won’t walk over something sharp under the water? I was simply more comfortable leaving them on, and could come out of the water where I wanted, and not have to find whether my belongings were still where I left them. -rc

  31. After reading all the comments, I was surprised that no one had used the term “slippers”, the term used in Hawaii.

    I learned (the hard way) about not going into unknown waters without footwear. I ran barefoot into Lake Mead back in the ’70s and learned why everyone else was wearing shoes. Instead of a soft sandy bottom, there were nothing but rocks (none smaller than 3″) hidden under the water’s surface.

    The modern shoe provides support that makes the foot and lower leg weaker. I’ve coached high school distance runners for 44 years and we now spend time counteracting this modern problem. Barefoot running (and other exercises) have helped us reduce problems caused by the shoes. BTW – It has been reported that Nike did a study about 30 years ago that proved that the best footwear was the least footwear. They didn’t publish the test results.

  32. I don’t remember how I first heard of Xero Shoes (maybe from “True”?), but I bought a pair of Amuri Clouds last year, in spite of my aversion to having anything between my toes. I got them because I was dabbling in barefoot running and thought they would be a good transition and/or protection I could carry with me to put on when the terrain got too rough. So I was more than thrilled to get the email announcement recently about the new Z-Trek sports sandal sans toe post. I went to the website to take a look, and there I saw your brief testimonial among the others. I was delighted to see someone I “know” up there.

    I actually didn’t get a chance to read last week’s “True,” so hadn’t seen your full review until you mentioned it this week. Thanks for the in depth review…silly that someone would unsubscribe over it. I left my new Z-Treks in the shopping cart…think I’ll go back and complete the purchase now. BTW, I also bought a point-and-shoot camera that you reviewed a few years ago and was very happy with it (until it was stolen while on mass transit in Quito, Ecuador LOL). I value your opinion and enjoy reading your reviews, which you only seem to write when you want to share some great product you’ve found. I loved “Cranky Customer” too…sorry it didn’t work out. So add me to the list of your readers who support you speaking your mind, even if it happens to be about a product, whether that product is one of your advertisers or not.

    And mostly, indeed they’re not advertisers. -rc

  33. Well Randy, you clearly offended the fashion police by saying: “you can wear SOCKS with these” (where these=sandals).

    Tsk, tsk! 🙂

    During my entire JPL career, I wore Birkenstocks — with socks — including on multiple business trips to NASA headquarters in Washington D.C., even when it was snowing there. I’m sure they just rolled their eyes and muttered “Californians!” -rc

  34. Found your comment that you wore Birkenstocks — with socks — while with JPL and at NASA HQ interesting. A visiting German scientist at NASA GSFC about that same time had a similar taste in footwear year round. Coincidence? Where did you acquire your preference in footwear?

    In college — it was pretty much a hippie town. -rc

  35. Flip Flops? Thongs? My mother (deceased) wore those things whenever she wasn’t playing tennis. She called them, alternately, “Zories” and “Go Aheads”. How did those uncomfortable, impractical sandals get so many names?

    P.S. http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2013/08/zori.html describes the origins of the various names for flip-flops, etc. It also solved the mystery about my mother’s vocabulary: she was a “Navy Junior” in the 1920s and a Navy wife until her death. She lived on Navy bases most of her life and my father had posts to Hawaii and Japan among his tours.

  36. The first time I can recall encountering these was when I joined the Army in 1965, and we called them flip-flops. I agree the column between the toes took getting used to. I notice at least one of the Xero style appears to have something that would run between the toes, and the other styles have an ankle strap that I’m not sure I would care for.

    One thing about the style I got in the Army, however. After I got married and we acquired a puppy, the used (not new) flip-flops were one of his favorite chew toys. Replacing the flip-flops was cheaper than buying new toys, and he did allow me to wear them for a while before destroying them.

  37. Add me to the list of “sold” readers. I just bought the Amuri Clouds. Hopefully they’ll arrive before my trip next week — I want to wear them on the flight (going to Idaho to see my sister.)

    Give them a quick call to say you’re a TRUE reader and need them in a hurry. I bet they’ll rush them for you. -rc

  38. I went straight to Xero’s website to check them out. After all the years of reading True (in both free and Premium versions) I trust your opinion. As soon as my bank balance recovers from my upcoming trip to Japan to visit my grandkids, I am going to try them. I am a new Kauai resident (next time come to Kauai!) and we live in sandals here.

    BTW, I agree with the dislike of the post between my toes!

    My wife and I both want to go to Kauai. I hope someday soon! -rc

  39. Thanks for the review. I have ordered a pair for myself. Had you not mentioned it in the premium edition, I would have not known about them. They sound great!

    Let me know what you think. -rc

  40. I sure wish these sandals worked for me. Everything about them was exactly what I wanted and needed, but they weren’t wide enough for my feet. So, if you have particularly wide feet, be aware that their pre-made shoes might not work for you (the kits you put together yourself would likely be a different story if you measure right, of course). It’s been a year and I’m still sad they didn’t fit.


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