By: Jasmine Phat
A blatant bubble with the score “2.8” blares brightly in the Impala Skates Facebook page, an indication that customers have numerous gripes with the soaring skates company. With an exuberant variety of styles at a reasonable price range, Impala Skates seemed like a beacon of hope in the midst of a rollerskating renaissance. However, not all that glitters is gold as this company has a history of poor customer service, covert racism and poorly designed roller skates.
Blooming in 2017 in Australia, the brand appears to be the most ideal and approachable company for roller skating products, especially for young women aspiring to get wheels on their feet. The company boomed in 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which was also a time of roller skating resurgence as people desired a new yet fashionable hobby. Impala successfully branded themselves as a feminine, all-accepting, affordable and colorful mecca for a newborn age of gliding through rinks and streets.
In an infamous Youtube video, skate influencers Indy Jamma Jones, Karen the Karrot and QueerGirlStraightSkates discuss the controversies surrounding the skate company. In the video, Karen expresses her frustrations with the company, as she was hired as a representative and was not paid for her work, in contrast to her white coworkers. Throughout the video, Jones consistently defends the company, much to the dismay and disapproval of viewers for gaslighting and putting down Karen, a woman of color, for speaking up on her personal injustices.
“Sorry but Indy made me extremely uncomfortable. Gaslighting, speaking more than the PoC, saying she’ll carry them regardless, low key justifying why some people aren’t paid,” Youtube user xoLoveLeti said. “She talked more about her business than the issue at hand and acted like we should be grateful a WOC was even featured?
In turn, Karen made a video regarding the entire predicament, delving deeply on her experience with the company.
“It’s all about race when you’re a person of color and you feel like you’re not being treated equally,” Karen said. “It’s sad because we’re used to it. We’re used to being lower than white people, it’s a history thing.”
Overall, despite the issues, Karen intends to continue supporting the message and efforts of the company. However, The video also covers difficulties of Impala’s customer service skills and quality of skates, issues that numerous customers endure.
“Multiple emails and phone calls about a defective product have gone unanswered,” said one customer in a review on the Facebook page. “These were a gift. The boots tore while I was tightening them. They are an inferior product.”
A plethora of similar reviews pepper the site. A multitude of customers share the same predicament: a lack of customer care, incorrect skate sizes and low quality. A Reddit thread titled “Impala Drama Llama” endures similar conversations where customers discuss the gripes they have with the skate company, specifically, the questionable quality. Given that the skates are at a lower price point of $99, it comes as no surprise that the boots with wheels come with consequences, such as an unmovable toe stop, which hinders personal accessibility, and poorly-made boots, which tear at the heel approximately a month after skating.
“I’m most frustrated with Impala’s false advertising,” Reddit user Wrongnicole said. “ Impalas are sold as skate-park ready when in actuality even their skatepark team skaters are shredding through their own Impala skates rapidly.”
As such, Impala skates serve as an inevitable threat to beginner skaters who are utilizing the products at skate parks, given that skate rinks have shut down due to the pandemic. The skate’s materials could not fully be sustainable against the rough terrain that comes with outdoors skating.
Overall, Impala Skates has an abundance of room for improvements, as the skate revolution soars on, and more people discover a love for skating.