Monday, January 21, 2013

eCommerce meltdown with happy end

Friends, I need to tell you a story that happened to my sister and me over this Christmas and it has to do with the internet - to be exact with internet shopping.

I am working in eCommerce for over a dozen years now and that means that I am not only an expert, I am also a very tolerant customer. I know how quickly bad things can happen although the people who work on fullfilling an order really do their best, but this experience was even beyond my tolerance level: 

It all started with my Christmas / birthday wish list (for obvious reasons that all goes on one). In the middle of the hockey lockout darkness I decided to start skating again - something I hadn't done really in many years. Besides the severe lack of action on ice at that time the other background of my wish was a lack of sports in my life. I went cycling all summer, but that is not really working in winter ice, snow and darkness and I miss it. I also tried to find an affordable gymn with spinning classes somewhere on my route between the office and my home, but failed. Then I had all those great ideas of working out at home, but .... well ... never happened. Finally it came to my mind that I have the Olympic ice rink practically next door and so I decided that skating could become my winter workout and put new skates on my wish list. And because I remembered vividly how my feet hurt when I went skating the last time, I opted for super comfy K2 softboot skates.

So far so good so difficult - at least with my shoe size. Those boots - K2 Alexis Ice Skates - where available at some shops but never in my size.  Finally my sister found one online shop that had my skates on stock and ordered there. She paid immediatly via Paypal to make sure I would get the skates before Christmas. She  - and that was the start of our shopping nightmare - chose her own address in Muenster as billing address and my address in Munich as shipping address.  That way the skates would not be under the Christmas tree, but we would avoid the challange of packing the huge box into my suitcase or trying to fly with sharp skates in my hand luggage.

Then nothing happened. Then came Christmas. Still nothing. Right after Christmas my sister went back to the office and checked her mails and found a pretty rude email from the online shop that the delivery had failed because the address was obviously wrong and she should figure it out with the parcel service herself. The documents were attached. 

We looked at it and I rubbed my eyes.  Although my sister had typed in all correctly when she ordered (we had the order confirmation for proof)  they had sent it to my address but under my sisters's name. Now is my sister married and has a different family name than I do, which means ... it could not work out because nobody with my sister's family name is living under my address - obviously. But no problem ... I called the parcel service, clarified the address problem and set a new delivery date, when I would be back in Munich and at home doing a home office day. 

The day came, they day went. Nothing. The nex day came, the nex day went - which was already a Saturday deep in January. Nothing. On Monday I called the parcel service, who kindly informed me that sadly just while I talked to them to set the new delivery date somebody else had booked out the parcel and sent back to the online shop. A whole week neither the parcel service nor the online shop had called me or my sister or wrote one of us an email to clarify although they had the contact data. I started to get impatient and tried  to call the shop. Nobody picked up making clear, that the "Please do not call, write an email" note on their website was a serious statement o_O.  

I took a deep breath and wrote an email. I explained why it had gone wrong because of their mistake and added all documents proofing it to my mails and asked for urgent delivery to my home address, which had been the correctly given shipping address when my sister ordered in the first place. 

It took a while before I heard back and then my jaw really dropped. In another short and really rude email they told me, that I was wrong. They had done it right and sent the skates even twice but the parcel had also returned from the Muenster address.  WHAT THE HECK?

1) Why Muenster? My sister's address was NEVER the shipping address of this order.

2) A parcel NEVER arrived at my sister's place. I do not know for sure why, but I guess they now had combined my name with my sister's address and it did not work just like it did not work in Munich.
3) Why the hell they never communicated to make sure they got it right this time and to let us know to look out for the 2nd delivery run?
4) Where the hell were my already paid (!) skates and how I was supposed to ever get them?

That was when I lost my shit and wrote  the angriest email I ever sent to a company and asked them for immediate delivery of the already paid goods to my address - still the one that was the correctly given shipping address in the order confirmation.

It  took again more than a day before I got the next email.  They wrote AGAIN it was not their mistake because they sent it twice.  As you can imagine I was ready to punch somebody real hard now. They also wrote that they would be so kind to give it a third try (I repeat - the skates were already paid - there is no "kindness" in delivering something the customer paid for already), BUT I would need to make sure that I would be finally at home to take the parcel. Yes, "finally at home" like in "all my fault that it did not work" and not theirs. Ahem ... excuse me. I do work, which means I am usually not at home, BUT even with this particular parcel service it is not an issue because they always drop  the stuff off at the car repair accross the street. It is not like I had never ordered something online before, you know.
IF those bloody skates were not so hard to get, that would have been the moment to call the lawyer and just get the money back. But becaue they are kind of rare - at least at the moment and in my size - I clenched my teeth and offered my office address as alternative shipping address were the really nice colleagues from our internal postal service would take care of it. Then I prayed. 

A little less than a week later a really beaten up box on one side covered in stickers as witnesses from the odyssey it had experienced arrived in my office!!!!

I am glad that in the end I got my skates, but that shop and me - NEVER EVER AGAIN. And I can just say:  Your bad, dear eCommerce colleagues, because the shop is one of the rare skating and hockey equipment shops in Germany. They even have some NHL merchandise and there was a really good chance that we would become close friends and I would spend quite some money there, but NO WAY. And just as a hint:  I would have tolerated the whole mess, if the communication would have been nice, customer friendly, solution oriented and quick. But I do not like to be treated like an idiot. I really don't. 

BUT ... you guys ... but ... 

SKATING IS SO MUCH FUN and I love my K2 Alexis softboot skates. I really do!!  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's OVER!

And while we are just talking about how 2013 had a good start here are more good news:


Hockey will be back in about 1.5 to 2 weeks and I can't wait to shout:

As happy as I am it does not mean, that I am not angry anymore how the NHL and NHLPA managed this process. I am still angry A LOT for all the reasons lined out here.
BUT ... I am also still a Pens fan and I am proud that it were the representatives of my team who were the ones who fought hard to end this nightmare at an earlier point. That it was my captain who expressed what we were all thinking and feeling, when he said that he did not understand why the groups were not negotiating day and night while the time was running out fast and more and more games were cancelled. 

And this is why I am such a happy person and can't wait to have my boys back soon again ... and because I LOVE HOCKEY!

This Monday morning I woke up to the of course hockey related column of the Trib's Dejan Kovacevic - one of my favorite local sports writers:

Just be glad that hockey is back

What hit me hard in the bus to work was especially the great final paragraph:

"I only care now that, very soon, 18,387 fans will jam Consol, from Jean Pronovost-era season-ticket holders to the Knitting Lady to Cy “Malka-mania” Clark. Jeff Jimerson will clear his throat, the puck will drop, and the world‘s greatest sport will retake center stage in one of the cities that‘s embraced it the most. 
It will be breathtaking."

Oh Gosh ... YES, YES, YES!!! It will be absolutely breathtaking!!!

The main part of the season I will watch on my notebook as usual, but when I come back to Pittsburgh in April I cannot wait to hug the lovely Knitting Lady and her husband Mike and shake hands again with Cy (I hope I get tickets down there again) and when Jeff Jimerson starts to sing I will most likely cry.



Starting the new year in a new country

Before this trip my only contact with Belgium was a flight change at Brussels airport and so I was curious what to expect when some of my friends suggested  to spend a short New Year's Eve vacation in De Haan, Belgium.
As a kid I spend countless vacation at the North Sea shore but I haven't been there for years and almost forgot how beautiful it is, but right when we arrived the salt in the air and the screams of the seagulls brought tons of memories back.

NYE itself was a rainy day and after our arrival we spend it together in our rented house cooking together, sharing the one or other bottle of wine and talking fun stories until midnight. What a nice and relaxed way to welcome the new year!

The next morning thankfully the sun won against the clouds in a glorious fight:

We enjoyed a wonderful long walk at the beach - what a pleasure for body and soul!

Of course it was cold and windy - like you would expect on a January morning -, but with a nice winter coat, a scarf and some gloves it was no problem at all.

The 2nd half the day we visited the city of Bruges. The stunningly beautiful historical old town dating back to the 11th century in its oldest parts is UNESCO World Heritage and because of its many channels it is called the "Venice of the North".

If you ever make it to this area go to Bruges - it is absolutely worth it!


Oh and before I forget ... all the great things you hear about Belgian chocolate are TRUE!

A great trip to a beautiful country with some of your best friends is a perfect way to start the new year - 2013 is on the way to become awesome already!