Friday, February 21, 2014

Customer (Dis)Service

                              "Dear Zosia- Thank you for shopping with Macy's. Your order has
                              been cancelled. Please click here to shop."

Ummmm.......hello? What exactly does this mean? This is the email I received in response to a recent online order I placed with Macy's. In a single sentence they managed to thank me for shopping, informed me that they cancelled the said order but invited me to shop with them again. How would I do this and more so, why would I want to?

Unfortunately, I wasn't all that surprised when I received this message since I have received similar ones from other United States based retailers in the past. This is a pesky, all too frequent problem for those of us who live overseas but choose (or want) to shop from American retailers. Many, but not all, large retailers refuse to ship items to US based mailing addresses when the originating IPO is foreign. (Ironically, many of these same retailers will ship directly to a foreign country but if I was to go this route I would spend more on shipping and taxes than the cost of the original purchase). When I called the "toll free" number to rectify the situation (Actually, I made Glenn do it since I was so frustrated by the whole ordeal) I was told that these are simply security precautions and I can always call them directly to place an order. This is a nice option and all but these "free" numbers are by no means free when dialed from overseas.

Yes, I could purchase a devise that would give me a default US based IPO but why should I have to? I have money and want to spend it yet these companies make it so difficult to do so. I know this is totally a first world problem but it irritates me none the less. The potential customers who are the most effected by these policies are the military and other Americans who are living and working overseas. Because of this, I am doubly bothered by the fact that many of these same companies profess to being "military friendly". It sounds like a good tag line but if they truly were, wouldn't they make it easier for military families to shop?

I am by no mans solely blaming Macy's for this policy. Two years ago I had a similar problem with the website and there are yet other companies I refuse to do business with because of their cumbersome policies. I actually engaged in a back and forth conversation over their policy and while they refused to budge, they did offer me a generous gift certificate to use for future shopping on their site. While that could be viewed as a nice gesture, it was useless to me since I still couldn't shop online from my overseas address. And since there are many online businesses that are willing and able to do business with those of us living overseas, it can be done.

Over the past few years I've learned which retailers are easy to shop from and which ones make it an ordeal. For the most part I've learned to avoid those that won't allow me to online shop from the comfort of my own home, those that won't ship to APO addresses or charges extra to do so. But every once in a while I find myself in the conundrum of really wanting an item that is sold by a particular retailer. As was the recent case with Macy's I was shopping for replacement dishware and found dishes I liked, on sale for buy one set get one set free, at Macy's. So I placed my order and hoped for the best. And my order got rejected. I debated just looking elsewhere but I had looked elsewhere and hadn't seen anything I liked as much. And these dishes were on sale. Reluctantly we went ahead and placed an order via the telephone and my new Fiestaware in on its way. I'd like to say I won't shop from Macy's again but I won't say never. I will say that I will think twice about doing it and in the meantime hope that they, and other businesses with similar policies, rethink what it really means to be military friendly.

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