Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Online Ordering - Rants and Raves

It felt like Christmas here one day last week. Three boxes arrived via UPS in one afternoon. I actually prefer to have them spread out through the week, rather than having one big makeup party. As fate would have it, the party wasn't perfect.

Anyhow, my Ulta purchases came, with that cool purple bag full of freebies. Additionally, I got a fun box from Benefit and another from Sephora. The only disappointing part of the makeup party was that Sephora's box smelled too good before I opened it - suspiciously too good. Turned out they had packed a liquid soap without properly securing the top, and the product had leaked out all over the box. Since it's hard to shake loose a screw top, I suspect the error occurred on the packing end, which is too bad. That box had to go back. I was able to wipe off and save the other products, but Sephora lost some money on that shipment (I felt badly for them - I almost never return items). Fortunately for their customers, Sephora has an easy, pre-paid method for returning items. They are a "stand-up" company.

I have received other boxes - one not too long ago from a cosmetics firm - that were damaged. In that instance, it was amazing the products were still inside the box. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that everything was intact.

How well do online stores treat you? Some, like Sephora, take returns with no questions asked, normally pack well, and make you feel like a valued customer. Others have so many warnings on their Web sites, it's intimidating to order. I think twice about placing an order with a site that basically says, "We don't trust you...we absolve ourselves of all responsibility for errors or damage...and you are up a creek of you don't like what we ship or the way we ship it."

How about sites that won't pay for you to return a product that was clearly shipped to you in a damaged state? "Sorry, our Web site clearly says we don't pay for return shipping." That means even if they sent you something that was defective.

One thing that really gets to me are the "free trials" that aren't free at all. The fine print says that if you don't return the products within a certain amount of time, they charge you for them. Who reads the fine print?

The ultimate insult is a restocking fee! Some sites will charge you up to 25% of the cost of the item (after you have paid to send it back) to "restock it." That's robbery in my book.

How can you avoid such hassles? Just read a Web site's shipping, return, and other policies - before you order. You can always find them. Sometimes they are clear, sometimes not. That great price may not be worth the hassle, should something go wrong. Any other warnings you want to share, beauty lovers?


Unknown said...

I agree with you about Sephora's great return policies; that has really been a big motivator for me to continue handing over much of my hard-earned cash to them :-) But in terms of shipping issues, I was really disappointed that Sephora stopped offering their cute boxes or satiny bags free with every shipment. I guess it's more environmentally friendly, but I've used every single one of those boxes and bags, and never thrown one out ever!

Charlestongirl said...

I agree, Monica. I loved those bags! And, like you, I reused them all. I suspect it's the economy and their costs, so maybe when things improve, we will get our black bags back?