Dysfunctional Boot Repair

Classic NY BS

Bought some winter boots a few years ago at West Side shoe store. Have been taking them back every year so for resoling/heeling.
The owner is nice, Ukrainian according to the Web.
The business went from being a shoe-store-with-repair to repair-only. Then he rented part of the shop to a watch repairman.
Although nice, the owner is hardly ever there and his employees are ball busters.
One of them, who also works the counter, is surly and argumentative. I left the boots with him Monday and asked for new heels and new laces.
He said fine, come back Wednesday, they'll be ready.
Wednesday, neither he nor the owner is there, just an even surlier older man in the back who works on the shoes.
The old man finds my boots, they have new heels but are missing laces. He says "What size you want? 38? 40?"
"I don't know, do you have the old laces so we can measure them?"
"No, here, you try 40."
Thinking 40 is too small I tear off the seal and thread one of the boots. "These are too small, see?" I say.
"You rip the seal, you have to pay for them."
"No I don't, where are my original laces? I'd like them back, they fit fine, just a little worn."
The old man doesn't understand my English so he calls the watch repair guy over to translate.
The watch repairman listens to the old man's tirade, then turns to me and says, "You can't rip the seal and not pay for the laces."
At this point I'm starting to, um, criticize their business practices. The old man gets on a cell phone and calls the owner, telling me he is "five minutes away."
The owner comes in, hands me a pair of 54 inch laces. I say "we had a little miscommunication about the laces."
"It's not the laces," he says, which I assume means his problems have nothing to do with me. That's for sure.