Tuesday, 8 December 2009

In Which There is Shopping (or not)

I've been doing a fair proportion of my Christmas shopping online. (no change there, I do a fair bit of my non-christmas shopping online, too) So far, virtually all has gone smoothly - the stuff from Etsy sellers arrived promptly, looking just like they did in the pictures, as did various books and so on.

Then we get to WHSmith. I had actually been to my local branch, but they didn't have the particular items I wanted. Nor did the independent stationery shop I normally buy from. Or Waterstones. So, I decided to order online instead. I mean, big retailer, should be fine...

In hindsight, this was my first mistake.

WHSmith's website didn't look terribly impressive, but as I already knew exactly what I wanted that didn't seem to much of a problem.

It was fun to discover that adding a second item to the basket automatically emptied it. As did hitting 'go to check out'

I probably should have given up at that point.

But I didn't. I tried again. This time, I got as far as the checkout. Filled in the details. Pressed 'submit'. And got an error message, apologising that my tranction had not gone through.

I definitely should have given up at that point.

I did. for a bit.

A day later, having failed to find an alternative supplier, I went back. Oh, I was careful. I double checked that the order hadn't gone through despite the message. No confirmation e-mail, nothing showing in orders.

So, I tried again. This time the order went through sucessfully. Confirmation e-mail arrived, all good.

[Pause for hollow laughing]

Next morning, I checked my credit card. And found that there were two, identical, payments. (Well actually there were 4, as bizarrely, each individual item had been separately charged)

So, my first call to Customer Services. Using Lorraine's patented Be Nice To Customer Services approach (which I have to say, is the route I'd go down anyway, in most cases) I got past person#1, who wanted me to accept that the only possible thing I could do was to wait until eveything was delivered, then send some of it back, and then they would give me a refund (but wouldn't refund the postage back) once they received the good.
Person#2 however, agreed that perhaps she could ring dispatch direct, and get them to manually take the ghost order out of the system, and also that she would in any event process the refund straight away, and would give me a freepost address if she couldn't stop the order going out. she even called me back, a few hours later, to say she had managed to stop one order, so I wouldn't need to send anything back.

"Excellent", I thought. All sorted.

As If.

Next morning I checked my credit card again. Partial refund. (remember the whole, each ite,m billed separately? Yup. Only one refunded. I even gave them the benefit of the doubt and waited 24 hours in case it was just a delay with the admin on the card.

So, 2nd call to Customer Services. After a little delay (because after all, just because I know the order number, billing and delivery address and the name of the last 2 people in customer services I spoke to is no proof I'm me....) I was given an apology and assurances that the rest of the refund would be made.
(of course, when I checked the credit card I found they had refunded the wrong amount, then clearly realised this and corrected it by separately refunding a further 76 pence to correct this, but as they managed to correct that one without me calling them it hardly counts as having made a mistake)

OK. So now it's all sorted.
On Monday, my order arrived. Well. Sort of. It seems they cancelled half of each of the two orders. And, just to put the cherry on the top, they sent two of the cheaper item so I'd been overcharged, too.

3rd call to customer services. Mangaged to get person#2 again. She was very apologetic, and promised to sort it out.

So, the current position is this.

I have sent back the unwanted duplicate (freepost)
She is reordering the correct one.
They are going, allegedly, to send me a gift card by way of apology (because, obviously, this experience has been so positive I'll be wanting to shop with them again...)

Given the stunning performance they have managed so far I am on tenterhooks waiting to find out what will actually show up with the 'corrected' order.

On a positive note, despite the truly abysmal performance when it comes to actually, y'know, delivering what I ordered, and charging me correctly, the lady in customer services couldn't be nicer in trying to sort things out. Still, I don't think I shall be using their website again any time soon.


Phiala said...

I don't understand how a major retail outlet in the 21st century can be so non-webbish. Not selling online would be a legit choice, though a stupid one, but doing it badly costs you all kinds of business, online and off.

Wendy Withers said...

Things like this happen where I work quite a bit. They actually handled things a lot better than I would have been able to, because my boss is out for him, him, him and is often big on making customers feel that things like this that happen are all the customers' fault.

But, I only have to stay there for two more weeks and two days!!!!!!!!!

Marjorie said...

Phiala - I found it surprising too - and I don't think even the original problem was *just* a glitch - the website is really badly designed and user-unfriendly, too. If I hadn't alreadyy known exactly what I wanted, down to the specific name of the size & design I wanted, I don't think I'd have been able to find it.

I certainly won't be using their online shop again. I already don't use their 'proper' shops much because they no longer stock the kind of good quality and variety they used to, and sell very liuttle now that I couldn't equally well buy in the supermarket. (They also seem to sepcialise in employing young, rude & clueless staff, presumably because they're cheap, althouhg that may be just my local shop.

I'm fairly laid back, but when you've got a queue of 5 or 6 people, and no-one is being served becasue th assistnats are too busy having an animated discussion about their night out...

Wendy - I think I was lucky with the (2nd) person I got through to - I'm sure that being pleasant and polite (but firm and making it clear I wasn't going to be brushed off) helped.

Having a Boss who can't see the effect of poor customer service sucks. I had a Boss like that a few years back - would never, ever let me resolve a minor complaint by (say) knocking a small amount of a bill but would insist on going through a formal complaints proceedure every time. Spending 2-3 hours (which you can't bill for)and ending up with a pissed off client when you could have resolved the issue by knocking half an hours worth of time off a bill and ending up with a happy client never seemed to dawn on him as a good idea...