Friday, 14 August 2009

Buying Online is Painless Right?

I’d like to talk about a recent experience I had while shopping for my husband’s birthday present. I wanted to buy him some clothes but didn’t have enough spare time in my busy schedule time to go to the shops. The perfect place for me was obviously online; shopping at whichever shops I wanted all under one roof, no rain, no fighting for car spaces and most importantly, no hordes of people.

After some virtual ‘window shopping’ I finally found the perfect gifts all on one well known site for less than I had hoped to spend. My total basket came to £150 and I was very satisfied with my shopping experience, all I needed to do was pay but this was where my nightmare began!

I only had 10 minutes left before work but for some reason my account wouldn’t accept my password so I followed the instructions and my correct password was emailed to me instantly. Although it was the same as the one I had previously entered, I was impressed by the speed of the response. However, when I tried to log in again, an error message flashed saying I had tried to log in too many times and had now been logged out for half an hour! My happy online shopping experience was slowly fading away.

An hour later (just to be on the safe side) I tried once again to log in but still nothing. After a further two hours of receiving the same message I was more than a little annoyed and started trying to find a help line I could call. Surprise surprise, there was no customer service number listed, only an email address. I Googled the company and found a number for their head office.

Whilst the lady I spoke to was very polite the only help she could offer was “I’ll email customer services and they’ll get back to you within the hour”. I informed her I had done this 3 times already over 3 hours ago and hadn’t received a response. “Well that’s the best I can do for you I’m afraid, but I will mark it as urgent”. Great, this was not going well at all and I was beginning to lose the will to live.

I tried to forget about my little shopping drama and move on, feeling very frustrated. I wanted to shop but no one would let me, my husband does that enough I thought, I don’t want my favorite online stores to stop me as well!

At around 4pm that day I received a call from the Customer Care team but they weren’t particularly interested in hearing my vent. They just wanted to tell me I could back log in but all I wanted to do is tell them about what had happened, after all, feedback is important right? I asked the Customer Care agent to stay on the phone while I logged in which she agreed to with a very loud huff, making me feel like I was keeping her from something infinitely more important.

At last, I managed to log in and tried to pay for my items realising though that I couldn’t as the contents of my basket hadn’t been saved. Marvelous, all I want to do is spend some money with them! So back I went and started to look half heartedly for my items. I found the first which was a jumper but it’s sold out in the size I wanted… argh!! I shut down my browser and threw a bit of a tantrum in the style of my 3 year old son, much to the amusement of my work colleagues which left me feeling a bit silly.

After work that night I drove to my local shopping centre and found all I needed within half an hour (a new personal record). Any questions I had while shopping, the staff in the shop concerned solved immediately. I got home exhausted but happy and feeling good for getting my shopping fix… I also gave in and treated myself while I was out (well you would, wouldn’t you!)

Looking back on the whole experience, I honestly think that if I could have picked the phone up and spoken to a real person the second my password stopped working I would have placed my order by 8.30am and been a very happy girl. Instead they lost my order and any future purchases as I really do not have the time (or indeed inclination) to deal with these kinds of issues again. I was a very loyal customer spending on average £100 a month, £1200 a year, maybe £2000 if you included shopping for Christmas last year but the whole debacle put me off using the store again. It’s a shame but like so many people when things go wrong you just want to talk to someone.

I’d be interested to hear about your online shopping experiences, have you had the same frustrations and are e-retailers missing a trick by directing us to only deal with them via email?

1 comment:

RaxRaxRax said...

Sadly this isn't an isolated example of retail refusing to join the dots between eCommerce and customer service.

That said, I've regularly started shopping more and more online purely down to convenience. Sites like Amazon, and even Tesco have it down to a tee and often pass savings onto the customer by increasing efficiencies in chain management.

Great blog btw.

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