Howard steps up for man told to take a hike

Gino Falzarano has some mighty wide feet — size 14 QUADRUPLE E!

To put it in some perspective, Shaq wears size 22 but his width is supposedly only triple E.

Gino wears New Balance sneakers because he says it’s the only company that routinely makes shoes wide enough for him. But now he’s at war with the company.

It started back in 2015 when Gino bought sneakers he says were defective.

“The padding in the heel disintegrated. Totally disintegrated,” he told us.

Gino returned the sneakers and got a coupon good for a new pair. The problem: he needed heart surgery and forgot about the coupon. Afterward, New Balance was good enough to issue a new coupon.

But in 2016, the company told Gino this would be the last exception to its usual policy of refunds only within 30 days for unused shoes.

Then last year, Gino returned another pair of shoes he says were defective. New Balance accepted the return.

“I didn’t have these sneakers 3three months, not even 90 days," he said. "My toe was coming through the top of the sneaker.”

Now, New Balance won’t give him credit or a refund for that pair. It says he’s been fully credited for all returns. To be fair, there is a confusing chain of emails over the past three years. We tried to show the company they weren’t properly crediting Gino for the second defective pair he returned. The company stuck to its guns.

But the sneakers cost $85. Why did we even bother to get involved? It’s because of the letter and email the company sent to Gino. Here’s the important part:

“After reviewing your history, we are unable to provide the service or products for your needs and believe another vendor may be a better choice for you. Please refrain from calling, emailing, chatting or sending correspondence as they will not be responded to or accepted. Going forward you will not be able to purchase from NewBalance.com.”

The company banned him from buying from their website! We wanted to know why. After all, it’s one thing to deny a credit. It’s another to tell a longtime customer to permanently take a hike.

In an email, New Balance said it only blocks customers “in extreme cases.” It said, “we took this step with Mr. Falzarano because of his use of language with our associates and for his history with us.”

But the New Balance email does not say Gino used “bad” language. And the “take a hike” letter from New Balance never mentions anything about his language. We never received clarification about that even though we asked. Gino says he just got agitated on the phone but doesn’t cop to saying anything foul.

“This is an absurd situation,” Gino said. “I’ve never heard of anything like this before.”

Neither have we. That’s why we wanted to tell you Gino’s story, even if it’s only over $85. As for Gino, he still needs new balance for his extra wide feet. But now he’ says he’ll have to buy them at online stores.