After experiencing one of the worst purchase experiences ever via a daily deal website which has broken nearly every retailing rule you can break, here is my What Not To Do post.
On 19 January 2012, I saw a tempting offer from the daily deal website, Spreets to buy $100 worth of Elle Macpherson lingerie for just $39 from an Australian bricks-and-mortar lingerie store in Sydney (which I am sorely tempted to name). They were promising delivery prior to Valentine’s Day with the last day for ordering being 8 February 2012. Thinking this was a wonderful deal, I bought a voucher promptly, knowing I had to wait til late January for the deal to close and to receive the voucher numbers.
No customer reviews, ratings, only one photo, poor description
As soon as I received my voucher, I visited their website to choose my bra-and-knickers set. The shop’s website had no customer reviews or ratings for the individual styles (were they comfortable? Did they ride up?) and there was almost no description whatsoever of the items, other than the size and colour. There was only one photo per product so it made me wonder what the cut was like on the rear of the knickers. I took a chance and added the items to my cart.
Not tested prior to launch
At checkout I entered the provided daily deals voucher number and found it didn’t work, showing my total in full with no discount. So they hadn’t tested the voucher numbers would be honoured! I resolved the error with Spreets in the nick of time so I could redeem my new voucher number by 8 February, the final day to order. All seemed to be well.
Shipping delays, inadequate staffing, customer service delays
Valentine’s Day passed so I emailed the lingerie company and received an email stating they had heavy email enquiry loads and not to send multiple emails or it would delay responses even further. They would respond however within 4 working days. Despite running a big daily deal offer specifically for Valentine’s Day and with lingerie being a favourite gift item for this occasion, they had not organised sufficient staff which was incredible. It was early March til I received my first response. Clearly, they did not have sufficient inventory when they ran the daily deal offer as they finally emailed me to say they were waiting on stock to arrive from China and to wait a couple more weeks.
Out of stock, data feed failures
By early April – nearly 10 weeks after making payment – after I emailed a third time for a progress report, they wrote the supplier had discontinued that line and to choose another set from their website. I particularly liked the lingerie set I had chosen but had to choose another. However, the “out of stock” set was still being listed on their website. Was it only out of stock if you bought the daily deals offer? Who was keeping tabs on their stock? I chose another set and emailed them with my choice.
More delivery delays, generic emails, typos and privacy problems
By early May I chased them twice again for the replacement and received a standard reply:
“A system error within the Elle Macpherson warehouse has caused delays in delivery of a significant portion of stock to all major retailers nationwide. As a major EMI (Elle McPherson Intimates) retailer, this has impacted us greatly.” [so what?]
“We do apologise for the delay in delivery or your order, and the balance of all stock is due to arrive early next week and we ask that you allow another week for us to pack and dispatch all orders.” [why so long?]
Not only did the customer service assistant fail to spell the lingerie brand correctly or consistently, she also managed to bind her generic reply email to a chain of emails sent to and from another customer so I could see this poor pregnant woman who wanted her maternity bras receive the same answer as me. I was also privy to her actual order (although not, thank God, her credit card number in full).
Marketing, customer service failures
On 17 May, I received a cryptic email from “Despatch No Reply” as the sender, with a long alphanumeric consignment note number as the subject line. The email greeted me as “Customer” (no first name?), and told me my parcel (of what?) what sent by TJM Group (which is not the name of the lingerie retailer) but since it was so poorly managed, I was, ironicaly, quite sure this was the lingerie package…
Underwhelming packaging, customer loyalty loss of opportunity
My replacement underwear arrived 22 May, a good four months after the initial purchase. The lingerie itself arrived in a plastic crumpled shopping bag from the retailer, with no note, no card, no printed invoice, no voucher nor even a mini-catalog. Even after all that, a written apology would have gone some way to fixing my impression of this business, but they blew that opportunity, too.
Poor reviews on social media
Wondering if I was the only person – apart from the pregnant woman – to receive such incredibly poor service, I Googled them and found a TrueLocal website with 11 reviews, all similar, and all negative, awarding the business an average of 0.5 stars, with most, saying they would award zero stars if possible.
Have you ever had a worse experience with an online retailer?