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Friday, December 21, 2007

The answer to my Christmas gift-giving is not online shopping after all. I thought it was, and I hoped it was, and I acted as if it were the answer, but itís a partial answer at best. When youíre at the mercy of people you donít see face to face, you have to accept that there will be glitches. By ďaccept,Ē I donít mean sit back and let them take your money even when the stuff you order doesnít get here on time. Or at all.

This happened with just one online company this year, and itís a company Iíve shopped with before with no problem. But since there had been no problem before, I wasnít familiar with the way they dealt with problems when they do come up. The short answer is that they donít. The slightly longer answer is that they give you the runaround and donít let you talk to a person.

But wait. Itís even worse than that. This company wonít even let you email a real person. You go to their customer service page, and they have a form that lets you vent. You give them all the information: order number, tracking number, and the shipping date that they provided. That date, in my case, was almost a month ago. I think that if they shipped something a month ago, and it isnít here by now, we might have a problem.

They did have a tracking link on their site that I could click, but it led to a dead-end page that asked me to be sure Iíd entered the right tracking number. Since I hadnít entered anything, but had only clicked on their link, I got worried. So I emailed customer service with all the information and got an immediate response. It just wasnít a response to the particular questions I asked. It was a generic response that ended with an instruction that if they hadnít solved my problem (they hadnít), I should phone their 24/7 customer service line.

So now weíre getting somewhere, right? Isnít that what youíd think? I donít like making phone calls, and I avoid them whenever I can, but I called their 24/7 line. I had a hard time finding that number, because it wasnít in their generic email and it wasnít on their customer service page. They tell you on that page to call the number, but they donít tell you what the number is. You have to hunt around the site for half an hour to find the actual number, in small print at the bottom of the main page.

So I called. I even waited until business hours, even though it was supposedly a 24/7 number. After getting through the first two menus, I got to a recorded voice that told me to speak my order number clearly but at normal speed. Then it asked me to speak my zip code. Then it told me to wait while it looked up my order information. Then it came back on the line and said, ďIt appears we have a technical difficulty.Ē Then it hung up on me. I went through the whole sequence again and it hung up on me again.




20 December 2007

Cloudy in the west.



I havenít given up. It wasnít a lot of money, but it was enough that I wouldnít say the principle is more important than they money. The principle is important, but so is the money, and so is the fact that three gifts, inexpensive as they might be and insignificant as they would seem to anyone but me, including probably the recipients, will not be under anyoneís tree this Christmas. They might still be at the warehouse, or they might have been delivered to someone else, who didnít pay for them. I intend to find out, even if it takes another phone call, or a letter, or an appeal to the Action 7 News Team.

I know itís a mistake, and not a big company trying to cheat me, but I want to make them wish theyíd helped me the first time I asked.




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