Monday, December 13, 2010

Buying on Line – how to resolve problems

Buying on line.... it is a bit of a gamble for some people as they are handing over money with the promise that someone will send them the product they are buying for. It does take a little bit of time to feel comfortable with this process, however once you have some good results, it becomes a way of life. No crowded shopping centres, no trawling through racks of things you don’t actually want to find what you do want, and all at the touch of your finger tips.

Obviously having an online boutique I am comfortable with the process of buying on line. I also try to support my fellow on-line shops rather than the big department stores. It is with regret that I blog that I have had a bad experience with buying online.

A few months ago I bought two dresses online from different stores. After a month I hadn’t received either of these dresses. I contact both buyers who confirmed that they had sent the dresses to my work address rather than my home address and due to an error the dresses had been sent back to the post office and consequently back to the sender.

I contact both senders and asked them for a refund on the products once they received the item back. I thought this was fair. No special treatment required, I just didn’t want to pay for postage again, as advised both senders that I was more than happy to wait for them to receive the item in return before they refunded me.

One sender was very nice and said that was fine, although she was happy to resend the dress at no charge to the correct address. Great – perfect outcome and very pleasant customer service professional to deal with.

The second questioned me continually on why I had two address, was rude, refused to cooperate and actually name called!! Can you believe it? Of course she is claiming she has not received the item in return and consequently I will be out of pocket. As a consumer all I wanted was for the shop owner to say “No problem, I will look out for the item and contact you when I have received it”. If she had come back a month later and said she hadn’t received it and was still polite, I would have accepted the outcome as a lost in post transaction. Instead I have contacted a dispute resolution centre about this and will reluctantly provide negative feedback about the store owner.

I am sure we have all had a bad experience with customer service, be it online or in person. What I have trouble understanding is how any customer service person can act in such a manor to a customer. I have worked in customer service for many many years, and in insurance at that (not the nicest industry to work in when it comes to customer service) and I can honestly say that regardless of the issue (my fault or the customers fault) I have never felt the need to be rude. In fact I believe it is our job to resolve the matter with a happy outcome or at the very least a reasonable outcome for both parties.

What is the silver lining? I have an even greater willingness to provide great customer service to our customers now. Not only will I never shop at the online store that was so rude to me, I will provide negative feedback on their website, however reluctant I am to do so. The store that was pleasant and did their utmost to resolve the problem – I will return to and shop from again and I have already raved on their feedback forum about how cooperative and thoughtful they were.

So how do you know if an online store is going to provide you with the service you expect? If you are purchasing through somewhere like Etsy (where my little problem has eventuated) or Ebay each seller should have a Feedback Forum. Read all you can on their feedback page. Some feedback can be very petty, so be open minded and read the good feedback as well, as sometimes no matter how much store owners try to resolve problems the customer is never happy. If for you the bad feedback out ways the good feedback, move on.

But how do you rate a store that doesn’t have a feedback forum which most independent online stores will not have (like Shimi). Most stores will have a Testimonial page from happy customers, but of course most Store Owners are not going to put negative feedback on their Testimonial Page. So ask lots of questions. We online owners understand that it is a big commitment to buy online, so most of us are more then happy to promptly answer any question you have no matter how big or small. Any concern you may have ask away and make sure you understand the returns policy if you are worried about being happy with the product. Rowena and I always aim to reply to any question within 24 hours and are more than happy to talk to our customers until they feel comfortable. This should give you a feel for the store owner and hopefully will prove you with a sense of trust.

The next thing you can do is google the stores name. There are numerous forums out their that people can post the grievances on, so should you be dealing with someone dodgy, someone out there will hopefully have shared their experience.

Hopefully this is helpful to you, but remember that you can have just as bad experience buying in person and always trust your instincts. Most online stores are even more helpful to their customers because we know we only have one chance to impress you, rather then the stores that have foot traffic passing them everyday. We hope that on your next online transaction you have a really wonderful experience.

Jen & Row

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