Monday 24 September 2012

Strangest Online Buying Experience Ever

For Christmas last year, my mother-in-law, gave my husband and I a gift certificate for  Given how much we love Scotland and everything Scottish, she was on to a winner.  Like so many gift vouchers, I had put it that safe place which meant it was in a place I would never ever find again until the day after it expired. 

But, no, I tell you, these people were so kind and generous that they wisely did not put an expiration date on the voucher and last week I was ecstatic to find the safe place whilst under taking some autumn cleaning and there was the voucher.  I thought I could find us some tasty goodies for the autumn.

I promptly sat down and set to do some serious shopping.  Alas, this wasn't exactly an easy thing to do.  Keeping in mind that I am somewhat of an expect in website usability, I recognised immediately that the site broke every rule.  The website is difficult to read and long lists make shopping somewhat of a treasure hunt.  Most annoying I had to specify an exact date for delivery but had no guidelines of possibilities.  For example, I didn't know if I could specify tomorrow and next month.  I picked a day and went with it crossing my fingers this would work.

Not to be easily dissuaded, I persevered and managed to get my hamper with all those delicious contents ordered.  Lo and behold, when it came time to check out, the website simply accepted the gift voucher.  Mmmmm, I thought, that's a little strange because with shipping and handling added on, I exceeded the value of the voucher by £4.06.  At the end of the order process I was asked to give a rating out of 4 of the website.  There was text next to each rating and 4 was identified as dismal.  I chose dismal as I honestly felt that this website experience was not up to the standard that it should be.  They asked for my feedback.  I provided it.  And I carried on

Buried within the text of the email order confirmation I received was a number here to ring to pay the balance.  Being that it was late in the evening I wasn't going to be able to ring that number and put it in a safe place.  Needless to say, I forgot to ring them straightaway.

This morning I received a voicemail on my mobile indicating they wanted their exact £4.  Fair enough.  I rang them back.

I was told that the woman on the phone was on the other line and could she ring me back.  Of course, she could.  I understand how small, family-owned businesses work.

10 minutes later I received a phone call, apparently, I was later to discover, from the owner himself, to enquire that if I found the website "dismal" and had taken the pain to enter that word myself perhaps I didn't actually want to purchase any products from them and they would refund my "mother's" money. 

I was confused.  I still wanted the products.  I was only providing an honest opinion to a question they had asked me in their own words.  I hadn't used the word dismal.  They had.  And just because their website is pants doesn't mean their products are.

I tried to explain this to the man but he hung up on me.  Without taking payment for the excess charges.

Are you kidding me?  No, really.  Are you kidding me?

I was speechless.  And I had no idea if I was going to receive my Scottish Gift Hamper or not.

I did what I always do in these situations.  I called my husband.  I explained the chain of events.  He couldn't believe it.  So he rang the owner, who this time did admit that he hadn't realised that wording was on the website.  My husband took pains to ensure payment of our £4.06 was made and I think we are going to get our hamper.  But I'm not sure.

If you are a website designer, or even if you are not, go check out

Or send an email with feedback to

I was merely trying to help.  That'll teach me.

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