There's a florist at the end of the road my brother lives in Stornoway. They are a mile away from my folks. I want to send them flowers. They want to slap on their standard 5 quid delivery.
I notice their 'free delivery' service. I get this message:
Sorry, we are unable to deliver to this address. If it's possible to reach your recipient using a different address please enter this below and re-submit your order.
As this is not the only issue I have had this weekend with companies, I am left predicting that before this recession is over, many companies will have gone out of business and people will have lost their job because customers are walking away from transactions with hidden delivery problems, eg:
- non-business transactions that use delivery companies that only deliver in working hours.
- companies that charge unreasonable delivery charges (eg Argos charging over 5 pounds to deliver a wee card with 2000 wii points on it).
- delivery companies that do not have collection depots open at non-working hours.
- the UK mainland is just that - the main island of the UK. If the company fails to recognise this, and want to slap on extra charges and they have not said so, clearly and openly at the beginning of the ordering process, then I walk away. If the company fails to realise that pi55ing off the customer will result in the customer walking away, then they are in the wrong business.
The delivery of the goods is part of the transaction, not independent of it. Even though they are sub-contractors, if they screw up the delivery, then I will cancel the order and get my money back.
Because websites are the faceless, soul-less representation of the 'real world' company, people like me are less drawn to the high-street versions of a company with a poor website.
I want the whole shopping experience to be fun. It should not be a chore. If the shop - real world or online world - can't go out of its way to realise that, then they are in the wrong business.
I had thirty quid to spend on a wireless router today, one that would allow my Nintendo Wii access to the Internet. Clutching a 17-page printout of router reviews and problems, I left the flat at 0930 and arrived back at 1230. I had been in:
- Tescos (open early and a family shop)
- PC World (restocking problems after Christmas ... yup, I know it is the 11th of January)
- Staples (mainly a business retailer, so higher-spec/price kit)
- Comet (Kittybrewster)
- Currys (Berryden)
- Toys 'r' Us (I was getting desperate)
- Asda (just in case)
- Comet (The Links)
In the current economic climate it should not have been that difficult to have parted me from my money. If the world economy is taking a nose-dive, maybe the retailing sector should look at one issue – who in your business actually cares about selling your goods? The kids in the front line? The managers hidden in the office? The people who build the websites? The cluckers in the call centres? If you are a retailer, your core business is that: selling.
Get your act together or you are going under – you can blame the recession all you like, but the truth is that your customers are smarter than you think; want to speak to someone who knows the product (I can read an information card myself, thank you); and can spot when you are lying. A lot also have Internet access on their phones and can do their own price comparisons (I noticed about 100% price difference in a Wii game today, and 50% difference in identical hardware).
We all have lessons to learn in the next few years, the one from this weekend is:
Confusion can lose you a deal – KISS.
Prosperity and long life.