When I started this blog, I was hoping it would be about positive consumer experiences, however the past month or so, I have had my share of negative ones. I have often wondered what the advantage is of buying a product online and then picking it up in the store. A few weeks ago, I purchased a bunch of patio furniture from Sears.com for in-store pick-up so that I could get a discount from Upromise. The first order went okay, but the second order was a mess. The website crapped out on me three times in a row after I had filled my shopping cart and gone through the entire checkout process, telling me that it had timed out and erasing all my info. I called Sears.com and they put the order through for me manually, although they could not honor the Upromise discount over the phone. One of the pieces that I needed wasn’t available for pick-up, it was only available for delivery for a fee that was equal to half of the item’s price. I had to get into this whole complicated discussion with the rep about their inventory system. I asked why they couldn’t just tell me where I could buy that single item from regular store inventory, but did not get a good answer. Finally, I just gave up and ordered the items that were in stock.
When I got my confirmation e-mail for my “in-stock” items, I was told that they were expected to be in the store within seven days. I called back and asked why an in-stock item would be not ready for seven days and again I got finger pointing about the in-store versus online inventory…..blah blah blah.. There is nothing I hate more as a consumer than one part of a company blaming another; I don’t care, I just want someone to take responsibility. The final straw was when I realized that one of the items I ordered and paid for had not been given to me at the time of pick up. I called Sears.com again and the woman I spoke with told me that I would have to deal with the store. I inquired why I should have to deal with the store when I ordered from Sears.com and she gave me the same explanation about how they are separate from the store, however this time for an opposite reason. I inquired, “Doesn’t your system track on an item by item basis if it was actually picked up?” Not getting anywhere, I just asked her to cancel the reservation for the missing item and return my money which she did, but not before asking me if I wanted to cancel items that I had already picked up. If I were dishonest, I would have tried it to see what happened.
Bottom line, treating your internet arm as a separate entity is a horrible idea. Customers look at a company as a single brand and shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of poor internal processes. In the future, if I want to buy online, I will, but that’s probably the last time I buy online for in-store pick-up unless it offers me a dramatic price advantage. I also found an interesting article from another customer who had a very similar experience.
Incidentally, we love the patio set, it’s a combination of hardwood and aluminum that looks nice, but won’t require a ton of maintenance.