There's a big reason the vast majority of my online orders are placed with Amazon.com. When I place an order, it arrives on schedule and comes out of the box in one piece.
A little more than a month ago, I placed an order for glass cleaner refill bottles from the e-commerce site of a major retail chain. That began an odyssey, which left me asking myself, "Why didn't I just use Amazon?"
Phone Call #1
When the date of expected delivery passed, I checked and was told apologetically that the package was in transit and would arrive within a couple of days.
Phone Call #2
True to the call center rep's word, I received an e-mail a couple of days later informing me the package had been delivered. But wait, the address was somewhere in the Midwest and I'm in New Jersey.
I called the retailer again and the confused call center person told me she would check to see what happened. After putting me on hold for a short period, the rep informed me the package was returned to the company's DC because it had been damaged in delivery. Instead of the company just sending me a new order, I was told I would have to cancel the previous order and place a new one. Figuring that any company can run into damaged packaged problems from time-to-time, I placed a new order.
Phone Call #3
My newly placed order showed up on time. It did not, however, arrive intact. In fact, bottles were placed in a box that seemed too big and certainly didn't prevent the glass cleaner from bumping around inside. The result was a very wet box with the contents of two bottles nearly emptied. (I've ordered liquids from Amazon before and never had this issue.)
I called the contact center to inform them of yet another mishap with my order. Again, the person on the line was very apologetic and said the retailer would credit my card for the two bottles. I declined to order replacements.
A short while after my call, I received an e-mail with instructions for returning the spent bottles. Return the bottles!?
Phone Call #4
By this time, my normal good-natured approach to difficult situations had left me. I called and asked why, after two rotten experiences, the company expected me to go find a box, head to the UPS store and return two empty bottles of window cleaner. After being put on hold, the contact center rep apologized and told me sending back the package would not be necessary. He reconfirmed my card had been credited and, although he didn't say so, I'm pretty sure he knew my business had been lost.
Do you think shipping snafus are more or less common with sites operated by brick & click operators than with pure play e-tailers?