February 9, 2001, 12:00 AM

Another Christmas story

Twas the week before Christmas…and while you toiled, I sweated over gifts ordered online. Though I shop the Internet all year long, I had never put my entire Christmas list to the test. The results were mostly positive, but two experiences stand out.

From Art.com, I ordered three posters, one of them framed. I was more than a little nervous about the latter choice-considering the risk of shipping so fragile an item, not to mention the gamble of picking out the frame and matting online. Yet I chose a simple design and colors, and I had no time to tote the print to my local frame shop.

An e-mail confirming the order said to expect delivery in 10 days. Well past the two-week mark, I was worried enough to call. The office wasn’t open yet, so I left a message. Within an hour, a customer service rep called to confirm that the order was enroute. Not only that: She’d traced my packages and was certain they would arrive that afternoon.

Sure enough, a box the size of a bicycle was waiting on my screened porch that evening. The size worried me: I’d measured the artwork and frame when I ordered, but this was more than twice as big. I needn’t have worried. The framed poster, surrounded by acres of bubble wrap, was packed in the center of the box. And it was beautiful.

I was impressed, emboldened. Online shopping rules! At that rate, the copy of Tuesdays with Morrie I’d ordered for my sister seemed like a sure thing. I placed the order with Barnes & Noble on Dec. 7. Since I was sending the book directly to my sister, I paid an extra $2 for gift wrapping. That, plus the shipping, did not make the book a great bargain, but it certainly was convenient.

An e-mail informed me when the book was shipped less than a week later. Then my sister left the following message on my answering machine: “Hi! Did you send me a book about doll collecting? I really doubt it, since there’s someone else’s name inside the package. Let me know what to do.”

My sister does not collect dolls-and the last thing any gift-giver wants is to inconvenience the recipient. So I e-mailed Barnes & Noble and told them so. The next morning, I decided to call for good measure. A customer service agent apologized and assured me that he’d send the correct book via next-day air, along with a postage-paid return label for the incorrect book. For my trouble, the rep offered to waive the shipping fee and, at my suggestion, the gift-wrapping charge.

An e-mail reply arrived the next morning, obviously canned and not very promising: “Thank you for visiting barnesandnoble.com!” it began. The message confirmed that a replacement was being sent, but it did not reflect free gift wrapping, and the way my account was credited, I was still paying 95 cents for shipping. I fired off another e-mail, telling “Marge D” that I’d struck a better bargain over the phone and expected to get it.

Marge still hasn’t replied, but Tuesdays with Morrie showed up well before Christmas-alongside the copy my sister gave me.

comments powered by Disqus




From The IR Blog


Jason Miller / E-Commerce

Six steps to take to make your site ready for the holidays

Images, tags and mobile performance are among the key areas to focus on in the ...


Anna Buchalova / E-Commerce

Four e-commerce metrics that can help increase ROI

Many e-retailers focus on conversion rate, but here are four less-obvious ways to analyze your ...