Even if you managed to steer clear of Black Friday, it’s hard to avoid the shopping milieu this time of year. You can fast forward through the commercials on TV, you can quickly turn the pages of your favorite magazine and not look at the ads. You can even turn off the unwanted ads on the car radio. But there’s always email.
I get emails daily from all the online and retail stores that I have frequented at one point or another. Amazon, Banana Republic, Mrs. Beasley’s, Harry & David, Macy’s, and Pottery Barn are just a few that contact me at least once a day this time of year. All offering me the deal of the day: 40% off, 20% off. Free shipping today only! I’ve heard them all.
Most of these I ignore. But every once in a while, I can’t resist. After all, some offers are too good to refuse.
Of course, I quickly learn, not everything is as it appears. There’s always a catch. You know what I’m talking about. Otherwise known as:
The Fine Print
I’m very well familiar with The Fine Print which is why I read it the other day when I decided to take advantage of a $10 discount on purchases of $25 or more, that was being offered by a nationally known skin-care company (that begins with the letter “O”). The special included free shipping, which definitely was enough to pique my interest. A quick scan of The Fine Print indicated that the offer was not valid on gift collections. Which didn’t matter to me, since I only intended to buy a small jar of facial cream, that women of a certain age tend to need, and, based on its price, more than met the minimum purchase requirement. What a deal, I thought. Easy, peasy.
The email mentioned an offer code I needed to use, “TENOFF.” I found the item I wanted, added it to my shopping cart and began to checkout. And this is when it all went awry. I went to check out and typed in the code, but it said my purchase didn’t qualify for the discount. How can this be? I was following the rules. This solitary item was not part of a gift collection. I tried a couple more times. No dice. So I called the 800 number and Nancy, the lady on the other end of the line, was baffled, too.
“It should work,” she said. Check.
“But it’s not,” I replied. Mate.
Well, you can place your order now with me, at the full price and then call back later to get your discount.”
“But I don’t want to call back later for my discount. Can’t you give it to me now?”
“No, because it’s not working and I don’t know why. “
“Neither do I.”
Were we at a stalemate? Nancy said she’d ask her supervisor and promised to call me back. She didn’t.
The offer was supposed to be good for 48 hours. Later that same day, I tried again. Still nothing. The offer still wasn’t kicking in. Worse, my shopping cart indicated that the product was now temporarily out of stock. The web site has a live chat option. I tried it, only to find that live chat hours are only available weekdays from 9 to 5.
So, I sent them an email describing my problem.
The next morning I got a response to my email. The tech crew asked what server I was using as they’re pretty sure that’s the problem. I wrote back and said I have tried placing my order on two different servers on my computer and also on my iPad, to no avail.
Later, I called their toll-free line again. A different woman answered. Midge, as in Barbie’s best friend back in the day. (So this is what happened to Midge? She became a toll-free customer service operator?) Midge takes one look at my cart and surmises the problem.
“Well here’s the situation. You want an item that’s out of stock. This offer is only good for items that are in stock.”
“Well The Fine Print doesn’t say it’s not good on out of stock items. Only gift collections and, Midge, this isn’t a collection.”
“Well, honey, you can order this item and pay the full price. Then, when you receive it, you can call us back and ask for the discount.”
“But why can’t I pay for this item and you give me the discount now? Why do I have to wait for the discount. It’s not as if giving me the discount now is going to break your bank!”
“No need to be sarcastic. You know we can’t do that.”
“Why can’t you do that?”
“Because it’s not in stock, dearie.”
“But, Midge, when I first put it in my shopping cart, it was in stock!”
“Well, it isn’t now. You should have purchased it when it was in stock. Then you could have gotten the discount.”
“But, Midge, your site wasn’t letting me have the discount!”
“You can still buy it now at the full price and call us when you get it, so we can give you the discount!”
“Yeah, but by then I’ll forget. I’m no spring chicken, Midge, which is why I need this facial cream. Trust me, I already can’t remember the discount code!”
We go it another round or so and finally, I hang up, completely frustrated and defenseless against Midge and the corporate inanity she represents.
Just then, I receive an email message from the tech crew. Ah, I think. They’ve come to their senses and are going to give me the discount!
I open the email and here’s what it said:
“We apologize that you are still experiencing difficulty with our Web site. Thank you for providing us with additional information that we require to further assist you. We ask that you please follow the steps provided below to help resolve the issue you have experienced.”
They then proceeded to tell me how to get my server to accept their cookies. As if that’s the problem. Well, I don’t want their darn cookies, so I hit the delete button on the email and empty my shopping cart.
Tomorrow, I’m finding a new facial cream. Let’s just hope my face doesn’t completely sag by then.
How about you? Ever have any trouble with alleged special offers or shopping online?
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I take great delight in marking all these offers as spam and watching them disappear. The revenge is silent, and goes unnoticed, but it’s my own quiet victory over the fine print. Nice read!
I love how you handle these offers. I’ve taken to doing that, too. I’m also now hitting the “unsubscribe” button. That’s the best way to get rid of them!
You are way more tenacious than I am. I would have given up without even calling. I tend to vote with my wallet. If a company frustrates me, I don’t shop there anymore. Done and done.
I was persistent because I like their facial cream. It has mint in it. But I also was confounded and yet fascinated, by their inability to help resolve the problem. Anyway, I’m over them now. The cream, too. 😦
I would be so mad I lost all this time! BTW, I use Jojoba oil on my face. So cheap, but so pure. You can get it at the grocery. I put a few drops of essential oil in. Frankincense, Jasmine and Geranium. Does wonders for the lack of sleep eyes of a writing gal!
I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only writing gal who suffers from lack of sleep! It’s goes with the profession I suppose, but you’re right about the eyes. Makes me look like I’ve been on a bender every night! So, if I get the Jojoba oil, are the three items you mention also available or do I have to dig in my neighbors’ gardens looking for Jasmine and Geranium? Actually, I have some Jasmine growing in my patio (though not this time of year), just wondering. I appreciate your advice because, if you ask me, you have gorgeous skin. And you photograph well! 😉
And thanks to your blog, I am now a member of She Writes 🙂
Really? When did you join? You should “friend” me! I’m a volunteer coordinator for the site, so you can find me by my name or in the “About” section of the site. 🙂
Oh Monica, I could so relate to this. I can never understand why they have to be so condescending, are they not supposed to help us? it’s always as if they are doing us the favor – yuck! I get so put off. It has happened to me on more than one occasion and I shop on the web a lot… just because it is easier, but now try to be conscientious and go to the mall.
Thanks for commiserating. It’s frustrating but I’m over it now. Wasn’t the first time; won’t be the last. 😉
–Because it’s not in stock, dearie.”–
What a brat!
Monica, they should be bending over backwards to satify the consumer….ya know?
I’d be like…. “Here, hold on. Miss, I’m getting Mr. Liverpool on the phone.”
I know. I do believe she was being fresh with me. I think, more than anything else, it was the condescending tone that turned me off to shopping on their site again.
By the way, if something like this happens again, do you think Mr. Liverpool would get on the call for me? That sounds like a marvelous plan!
I ordered a shower gift on-line last summer that also didn’t qualify for the “summer” discount. According to the customer service rep I spoke with, not all items were eligible for the discount. Worse that that though, when I hit send to recipient I sent my gift to the bride. Of course the store was then closed and my package could not be rerouted before shipping. It took three days, two phone calls and many minutes waiting on-hold before the package was re-routed to me. In the mist of all this I experienced my first hot flash. The joys of on-line shopping.
I thought shopping online would be easier than going to a store. But sometimes it does help to talk to someone in person, ask questions and work out a solution. There’s something to be said for the good old-fashioned mall shopping experience. 😉
I’ve had conversations such as this although not with facial creams! It is frustrating to say the least but I try and hold out for a supervisor.
With my last fiasco with Delta Airlines, I called and was unsatisfied. When I called back they asked me what I was calling about and I asked for a supervisor. I absolutely refused to go through it again without benefit of a supervisor. Finally the kid on the line got frustrated with asking me a question and getting the same answer and he put me through to a supervisor.
If that doesn’t work for you, I really like the Laura Mercier products. The last time they had a special it was free shipping. They also had a special if you spent $60, you got three free items (you could choose from about 12). It was absolutely the way they said. I paid for my products, got three free items and free shipping. 🙂
Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂 I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. Talking to a supervisor makes sense. I think I was so furious with the lack of trying to help me and make a sale,that I gave up. We were at loggerheads and I ended up throwing in the towel.
Monica, the fact that they have someone working in Customer Service named “Midge” should’ve been a red flag! hee hee! Lady, my suggestion would be for you to start going natural, as in use food products. When my skin feels dry, itchy, and itchy, I use olive oil instead of bath oil. Coconut oil and cocoa butter work miracles too! This reminds me of an interview with Sophia Loren where the interviewer asked her how she stayed so young and she replied, “Olive oil, on the inside and the outside.” And if it’s good enough for Sophia, it’s damn well good enough for us, sister! So chop, chop. Into the kitchen we go! 🙂
I know! I should have just hung up as soon as she said her name. I haven’t thought about natural products. But it makes sense. When I was a kid, someone spilled milk on my head. After that, I had silky soft hair. And you’re right. If it’s good enough for Sophia Loren, then it’s good enough for us. 🙂
Grrr….how incredibly frustrating!! That just made no sense at all. TERRIBLE customer service. She should have just given you the damn discount and sent it when it was in stock. I had a bad experience like that with JC Penny’s so I never order online from them or from their catalog. I do go into their store though as it’s the only real departments store close to me. No recommends for face cream. I’m still fighting pimples at age 47!
Michael Ann, so it sounds like I’m not the only one who’s had trouble with bad customer service. I guess, maybe, I will have to brave the malls to get my facial cream. Oh, well.
So frustrating! It’s hard not to be sarcastic when this type of thing happens. Same thing happened to me when I tried to place an order over an automative system. Even though I only wanted one item, once I ordered it, they asked if I would like about 15 other items unrelated to the one that I called about. Batteries, a blow dryer, facial hair removal kit, leggings, foot massage, magazine subscriptions…it was crazy! I wanted to hang up but I hadn’t given my credit card information so I knew my order hadn’t been placed. FINALLY, after saying NO over and over, my order was complete. When it arrived, they had sent the wrong item…two of them! Talk about losing my mind!
OMG, Annie! I can’t believe what trouble you had when placing your order. It is in incredibly frustrating when this happens. I guess we should be thankful when companies actually get the order right! 🙂
Monica, you always make me laugh so much!!!!!
P.S. Sorry about your face cream (still chuckling)
Bassa, I hope the tall person is laughing with you. 😉
Gee, Monica, I feel your pain! It’s so frustrating (especially at this already-hectic time of year) to run into “glitches” like this. You’d have thought they’d do whatever it took to keep a happy customer, rather than making you endure the run-around. But you know, THEY know most women would jump through a zillion hoops to keep buying their special products, once they’ve found them, rather than hunting for something else to do the trick! So they have you over the proverbial barrel, my friend..
There are some companies that do really try to keep customers happy. For example, Snapfish.com once sent me an offer of 20% off if I ordered a book of my photos within 7 days. Well, I decided to take advantage of that but when I went to checkout, same thing in that the offer code wasn’t giving me the discount. I contacted their online live chat–which was available 24/7–and ended up getting a 30% for my troubles. Now that’s what I call customer service!
You crack me up! If anything online requires I spend more than a few seconds figuring it out, I bounce up and away. My time is too precious and anything too good to be true, normally isn’t except, of all places when I get an email alert from JC Pennys for free shipping if I order over … this was a big surprise to me. As for you moisturizing needs, try Lather.com, for face creams and any other body product, they are yummy. Stay sane, your book proposal needs your head in one piece.
My time is also precious, which is why I prefer shopping online. Usually it’s fast, and I really haven’t had trouble in the past when it came to taking advantage of offers. But this one was just so frustrating! I will definitely check out lather.com. Thanks for the tip!
Oh, that sounds like a Walgreens experience! I’ve called them over not-so-free shipping when you spend so much only to hear that the offer does not apply when items adding up to the qualifying total are shipped from different warehouses.
You see what I mean?? Now, THAT is really frustrating!
I feel your pain, Monica! There’s nothing worse than online sites that don’t work (and nothing more frustrating than unhelpful customer service reps!). I think I might have been typing “F***OFF” in the coupon code line had I gotten to the point you did!
Is there a local source where you can buy your face cream (I’m not sure what brand “O” is, not being the girly-girl type!)?
Wendy, yes it is sold in retail store locally, but the experience left me with such a bad taste, I’m reluctant to go in. Besides, I’m way too busy these days to go shopping at the mall–and I hate the traffic when I do! Sigh.
I’m frustrated simply READING about this; I can’t imagine the actual experience!
I have two words for you: Jan Marini. Love the line — and I’ve never had difficulties ordering online.
Screw Midge. You deserve your discount, dammit!
Jan Marini? Am I showing my age if I say I’m not familiar with him or her? Anyway, Mikalee, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened and it probably won’t be the last. It’s just frustrating when it happens, and it doesn’t make sense at all. Give me the discount, for crying out loud, and send me the cream when it’s in! That’s all I ask! 😉