Online Shopping – the personal touch goes off line
I am a huge online shopper – groceries, gifts, items for the house, and family… I love to shop online, it’s often the only opportunity I get for spending my hard-earned money.
There have been occasional issues – parcels disappearing (usually at the hands of our rather pathetic national postal service, but that is a whole other blog to write!), items missing or incorrect. But they were minor problems from vendors that had customer service at their heart and went the extra mile to fix the issue. As a Quality Manager, one mistake is ok – learn from it, implement changes and move on. So those stores stayed in my circle of online stores to use.
Then, in the last 2 years, there was an explosion of online stores and sellers – as every man and his dog got on the bandwagon of chasing profits. Some of these sellers are the deals groups. I don’t like them. Too much miss rather than hit. Disappointment rate too high to make the rare bargains worth suffering for. Many of the misses relate to incorrect RRP claims, or claiming the RRP of the brand name item when offering a cheaper alternative. Which is pretty naughty – and illegal. ACCC seems a little slow of the mark dealing with these. Then there are the deals where you just cant book in for the service – had this happen twice. The only times they would give me were ridiculous of a working person. Lost my dough on those. And then there is the quality of items – a disgrace in some instances. So I am passing on those deal offers now.
Online stores that drop ship from a multitude of sites are another bane. Tried a number of times to get items shipped (having paid upfront) for Xmas and birthdays and even though given 2 weeks notice, each failed dismally. IQToys, sends stock from NZ to AUS then on to customers – dont hold your breath waiting for them to ship, they failed my Xmas present order by 7 days (ordered on 9th December). Fishpond.com.au – who seem to advertise based on what potential vendors display on own websites, have such disgraceful inventory understanding that it took 2 weeks and a reminder email from me, before they finally told me the item I had ordered could not be fulfilled. Wow – that’s pathetic. And then they had the gaul to tell me I would not be refunded for 2-3 days, having had my money under false pretenses for 2 weeks! No customer service focus there! They are just a website, they stock nothing, they order from vendors you can order from yourself, and take a profit (if of course they actually manage to find the item to send to you).
The other online trick I came across in numerous online toy stores is to indicate low or free postage – always a great way to get people to shop with you. So you order up big, then go to checkout and see the fine print, and an astronomical postage fee is attached to your order. Talk about waving a red rag to a bull – it is automatic hit delete and never come back for me when that happens. Note to all online vendors – adding a tiny asterix to such claims doesn’t make your customers sit and think oh its all my fault, I will order anyway, it makes us think you are deceptive.
My bad run didnt end there either. My niece wanted a pillow pet for her birthday. Doing the right thing I ordered from the Pillow Pet people themselves, ensuring it was authentic and putting profits in the original inventors hands. Also ordered one for my daughter. A week later my daughter’s one turned up, but nothing for my niece, it was dropped off the order, no communication! So I had paid for extra postage for nothing. Annoying. I complained, ordered one elsewhere, and did get a call back 3 days later saying there had been a system failure in inventory management. And would I like the pillow pet sent now with a free mini as an apology. Of course, that meant another round of postage costs. Being sick at the time, and already ordered elsewhere, I asked them to ring back, which never happened.
Sadly, these stores have no tangible contact with customers, and what I see happening is simple – without face to face customer contact, the impact of failing to provide good customer service is inconsequential. Never mind, plenty more customer fodder out there.
Makes me want to go visit the shopping mall and hug a shop assistant!
Hmmmm – what a nag that was. I will return to usual humour (well – that is what I call it LOL) tomorrow!
For now – beware with whom you shop online.