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Ashe Mischief’s Shopping Bill of Rights

by Ashley on October 1, 2009

shopping
Via We Heart It

Chances are, if you’re online shopping, you’re looking for something in particular: great deals, a wide variety, and–(hopefully!) most importantly–security in your shopping process.

In these harder economic times, people are more cautious about how they’re spending their money, particularly if they’re doing it online.  Most of us aren’t rolling in extra income, so the customer service side of shopping has become even more important.

I believe that retailers should value their customers above all: they should recognize that the exchange of my money for their products is a sacred act (*cue porn music*), and they should respect my choice to support their establishment.

When it comes to online shopping, I hold particular values near and dear to me. Few retailers are 100% perfect, and I accept that.
shopping
Via We Heart It

  • Thou Shalt Offer Exchanges: I think for any retailer NOT to have an exchange policy in place is ridiculous, particularly for online retailers where you can’t try one & fondle the products. If I’m only given the option of returning, or returning and rebuying? You can guess which one I’m going to pick (especially if it incurs extra shipping costs!).
    I’ve had instances with Wet Seal and Steve Madden where I’ve taken advantage of a Buy One Get One Half Off–only to need to exchange for a size.  Their reponse? Return the old, and reorder it for the full price.  You can guess where I don’t shop with anymore.
  • Thou Shalt Offer Price Adjustments: Amazon notoriously doesn’t do price adjustments–to their own detriment. When I want something, and I want it BAD? I will repeatedly order it over and over again, AND use your free shipping option, until I get it for the lowest price.  If you would just offer a 2-week or 1-month price adjustment policy, you’d save more money in the long run.
  • Thou Shalt Have a Kick-Ass Return Policy: Many e-retailers stick us with a 2 week return period. Which is ludicrous when it comes to trying to get something, try it on, and get it shipped back (especially since post offices aren’t open 7 days a week!).  It makes me resentful to get stuck with products I don’t want because I have a super short time frame to get it returned.
  • Thou Shalt Abolish Re-stocking Fees: For smaller, more independent businesses, I can understand a re-stocking fee.  Sorry to pick on you again Steve Madden, but when you charge me spendy shipping both ways, PLUS a $7 restocking fee? I’ll only buy your shoes at in-person retailers now, thanks…
  • Your Customer Service Representatives Shalt Be Quick & Responsive. There’s little more I hate than emailing or calling for some customer service, only to have my inquiry go unreplied.  This has happened on multiple occasions for me, unfortunately.
  • When Possible, Thou Shalt Offer Free/Cheap Shipping & Returns. This is my ultimate wish/desire. I hate to get smacked with $12 shipping 3 ways to pay for shipping, a return, and then re-shipping (John Fluevog, I’m looking at you!).  $36 is an awful lot to pay for shipment on a reasonable item–especially if it’s impossible to get the item locally.

Anything you’d like to add–what makes and breaks your shopping experience? Or any customer service triumphs or failures that have completely changed the way you interact with a company?

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{ 23 comments }

Alicia October 1, 2009 at 1:26 pm

This pretty much sums it up…nice work, Ashe!
.-= Alicia´s last blog ..All Black Everything =-.

Sheena October 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I agree with all of these points. I’ll admit, I’m pretty new to online shopping because of the policies that a lot of stores have, I’m never sure if I’m up for the headache. Especially if I can’t even try the item, so if it doesn’t work out, then there will be a hassle returning it. Then again, I know so many stores have much better offerings online than in the stores these days, so now I’m just really, really careful about the policies.
.-= Sheena´s last blog ..Letter to a Younger Clandestine Chic =-.

birdie October 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I have been waiting for this for AAGES. Well done. *applauds*
.-= birdie´s last blog ..The I in Relationship =-.

Andrea October 1, 2009 at 2:49 pm

This is so true! Great points! I love the convenience of shopping online, but only when it truly is convenient. Multiple trips to the post office and shipping fees are so annoying. I wish more retailers would take these points into consideration.
.-= Andrea´s last blog ..Top Ten Drugstore Beauty Buys =-.

Christy October 1, 2009 at 5:26 pm

It takes so much for me to actually purchase something online! I couldn’t agree more about low/free shipping and fair return policies.
.-= Christy´s last blog ..Slow Southern News =-.

Rachel October 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Love this! I couldn’t agree more!
.-= Rachel´s last blog ..America’s Most Stylish Blogger – Is it You? =-.

Ashe Mischief October 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Dawn, you make some incredible points that I didn’t get to touch on in this post. I definitely and ABSOLUTELY believe that many of these are more flexible for independent retailers (such as Alice and Isa) than they are for big box chains.

Especially regarding things like returns and shipping, I know that having too flexible a policy can really hurt indie business, which is not what I want at ALL. Which is funny, because I find it’s smaller/indie businesses that really work towards having good policies for the above because they DO realize the next shop is a hop away.

For me, it’s definitely more the case with larger retailers who are controlling their own merchandise, who are getting large volume discounts on shipping, etc., and ironically–who are the ones that have lost sight that the next shop is next door. They focus more on the “well, the next customer just walked in” mentality (I know this from the management I’ve worked with at U.O., especially).

I also think, or would like to hope, that most customers would understand the small return window for the small, indie business, especially when it’s explained to them! Often it seems that more transparency, and education, could work wonders in the buying marketplace…

Ashe Mischief October 1, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Ladies, I’m so glad to see many of you have the same complaints…. it may be because I shop online so much (the shopping here is VERY limited), but these are big complaints I have with bigger boxed shops!

dawn October 1, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Ashe – As an online retailer, I agree with most of what you posted – especially the importance of good customer service. As a small retailer, I believe this is what really sets us apart from other larger shops.

My main concern is with returns. Our return policy is, in many cases, dictated by the designer (several of whom don’t allow returns and are clearly marked as so on our site). Why? Because 90% of what we sell is via consignment meaning we don’t issue payment to designers until a product sells. If a return comes back after we’ve cut the designer a check, it’s a bookkeeping headache – hence the limited return window.

However, a friendly email letting us know the situation does wonders. I’ll go the extra mile for the customer I feel is kind and courteous. It may not always work out the way we want it too, but it’s my duty as a retailer to make sure my customers are satisfied with their Alice and Isa experience. And I know too well, the next shop is only a click away.

Ms Constantine October 1, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Great points. I almost never buy clothes online because it’s so hard to get the right fit and shipping back to America usually cuts into any savings I might have gotten from buying online.

My business is tiny, with really low price points, and shipping to America is just not something I can afford to cover 3 times if the customer wants an exchange.

I haven’t had any complaints though, the jewellery should fit everyone, and I always cover the cost if I’ve screwed up or the mail carrier has broken the item. They are SO rough!
.-= Ms Constantine´s last blog ..Pin All Your Hopes and Dreams =-.

Ashe Mischief October 1, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Ms. C–
Oh gosh doll, international shipping is a WHOLE other can of worms I didn’t even get in to! I think you’re definitely in the category like Dawn is– I think indie business (most often) sets a great model overall, especially in regards to customer service. There’ve been a few sellers who’ve really pissed me off, but overall, I wouldn’t expect you to front the shipping every way for your buyers… and I think your buyers expect that…

Michelle October 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Agree with everything, Ashe! I think Fluevog’s return policy is kind of a PITA, but I’m willing to cut them a little slack since they’re a relatively small business. And their shoes are so darn awesome. However, I really don’t shop at Wet Seal or F21 online specifically because of their return policies (which really, translates into me not shopping there at all, since I’m not a mall person). I really feel like big box businesses need to get the message that the customer comes FIRST – and after that, the numbers you need will follow. But if you treat me like a barcode and not a customer, I will never shop with you again & bitch to everyone I know about your crappy customer service.
.-= Michelle´s last blog ..Daily Outfit + Shopping Recap =-.

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com October 2, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Definitely #1 on my list?

SHIPPING TO CANADA :D

And not for $80 or something crazy…

(P.S. I think you have to update your ComLuv, it’s giving errors?)

Audi October 2, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I’d also add: thou shalt have accurate size charts! This is particularly true for retailers who carry a lot of different designers, because the sizing can be different for all of them.
.-= Audi´s last blog ..Capsule Wardrobe Challenge, Day 4 =-.

Ashe Mischief October 2, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Oh, Audi, that’s a good one! I love it when companies carry unique size charts based on the designer and/or style of the dress…

Mallory October 3, 2009 at 10:04 am

This is super helpful as planning my online store has been on my mind a lot lately…

I just remembered another one after clicking through a link to an amazing looking Etsy shop from another blog… If you want to do artistic photos of your products, that’s great. But PLEASE do shots from every angle, so that you can actually see the full product straight on. Like, it’s great that you have these cool angles but give me at least one shot where I can see a normal view of it? Otherwise I’m never gonna buy cause I don’t really know what it looks like!
.-= Mallory´s last blog ..1000 Markets – My New Favorite Handmade Marketplace =-.

IdStyle October 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

I have to admit i have never bought any fashion purchase online yet. I just enjoy the process of shopping so much that online doesn’t appeal to me as much. Plus I have a difficult body to fit and fear all the extra costs in returning through the mail abd there are so many additional costs to ship to Canada. But when schedules get tight, I’d like to try it more and I will definitly follow your guidelines!

Jazzi M October 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

total agreement! i hate flat rate shipping because all items are NOT created equal when it comes to size/weight, and it is such a rip-off.
.-= Jazzi M´s last blog ..What I Wore: LA County Fair =-.

Kara October 9, 2009 at 11:35 am

To add to Audi’s comment, I think retailers should give measurements of clothing like eBay sellers do. Telling me a garment is a “4″ is fairly meaningless; if I have the bust, waist and hip measurements, I can decide if the it will work for me. Then I wouldn’t HAVE to return 75% of the stuff I buy. (Looking at you, Target.com!)

Annalisa October 10, 2009 at 2:34 am

I agree 100% about the shipping. I especially hate it when a company’s shipping fees are based on a multi-tier structure based upon the price you paid for the merchandise. The price you pay, is not always related to the amount, size, or weight of the merchandise you are buying. I might spend a whole lot more buying a delicate little necklace, than a whole pallet of baby clothes from Old Navy, or the like, but I might get hit with a bigger shipping cost? Personally, it makes sense to me to offer free shipping with orders past a certain price point. Lots of stores are doing this now; Forever21 being one of them. I know that on several occasions, I throw extra things in my cart, just to get it over $75 or $100, so it’s definitely in the stores’ best interest to do this.

One thing that really irks me, is when a merchant utilizes a shipping service, such as DSL, which have no outposts around me, and then expects me to drive 40 miles to take it to one, if I need a return? That’s bogus. The other day, I got some shoes in the mail, delivered via FedEx. The merchant had sent me a completely wrong pair of shoes – wrong style, wrong size, wrong color. I hopped online with customer service, and was told they would issue me a return authorization number, which I would need to print out within 2 days, repackage the item, attach the label I printed, and take it to FedEx. HELLS no! I don’t even have a FedEx around me? So I demanded they issue a number to FedEx, and if that FedEx guy can come to my door to bring me shoes, he sure can come back to retrieve them, right? Being pushy, in this case, did work for me, but it’s lame that I even had to go there.

V October 12, 2009 at 11:24 am

Great post and a great blog…recommended reading!

Alice October 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I get above and beyond angry when I don’t get a response to an email from online shops. It can get so bad that I am particularly arsy to the person who eventually does decide to email me and be wholly unhelpful.

What is a price adjustment and why have I not heard about this before? lol You may be unable to answer the second part of that question.
.-= Alice´s last blog ..Thoughts On: ‘The Ghost Writer’ =-.

denji November 3, 2009 at 11:55 pm

This blog is nice to read.Only fewer bloggers write this way. I like it, I hope to see more post from you. Thank you!!!

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