Friday, November 4, 2011

How I Failed Online Shopping

A couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Air Miles Shops. Now, normally I ignore marketing e-mails, but this one offered a 5% -20% discount and bonus Air Miles at Chapters. I had been planning to buy a few things at Chapter, so I figured this was a good opportunity. The discount was available until Monday.

On the weekend, I went through the site and accumulated a shopping cart full of stuff - a Kobo cover, a DVD set, and some kids' books for Christmas gifts. I followed the instructions, put in the promo code, entered a gift card number and a credit card number for the balance, and got the message that the promo code wasn't valid on that order.

I went back to Air Miles Shops and checked the offer. There were no restrictions.

I sent off two e-mails - one to Air Miles Shops and one to Chapters. In both cases, I gave them the promo code and explained what I was trying to do. I asked how I could get the discount.

Both promised a response within 24 hours.

Chapters responded first - on Monday (the last day of the offer). Here's part of their answer: "If you were unable to redeem your coupon at the time you placed your order, we can certainly help. ... we can only adjust your order after it has shipped. Once you receive your shipping confirmation email, please let us know and we will apply the coupon to your order at that time. ... Please note: If the items on your order do not qualify for the discount, we will not be able to process the coupon to your order."

That was nice, but didn't actually help because I still didn't know what items on my order were disqualifying me for the discount. (In fact, I didn't know that it was an item on my order - it could have been the total cost of the order or my mailing address or the zodiac sign I was born under.)

Air Miles Shops took longer to get back to me - five business days, in fact - but they did have the answer. They gave me some Air Miles and blamed the restriction on Chapters, saying that Chapters didn't allow the discount to be applied to electronics and accessories. That's right, it was the Kobo cover that was disqualifying me. However, it was 4 days too late for me to get the discount anyway.

I gave up.

Fast forward to tonight, when I decided to go through the accumulated mail. As is usual for this time of year, I received a Lego catalog. This was on the cover. It was expensive - $79.99 - but I really liked it.

I started checking out that site. I picked a few specific bricks I know my niece will enjoy, then I added that set to my cart.

I wasn't planning to buy today, but before I left the site I decided to see what the price on that set was in US dollars. The answer? $59.99.

I checked out the current exchange rate. $79.99 CDN is $78.58 US.

I walked away.

And that's how I failed at online shopping.

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