Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Customer dissatisfaction: my Cue online shopping experience

The long and tedious experience of buying something from Cue begins. I’ve been walking past the store for a couple of weeks and they have a huge picture of a model wearing their products. A pair of shorts catches my eye.
I go in-store and point to the product displayed, but apparently this particular store isn’t stocking that product. Great. So you show me pictures of things I can’t actually buy here. Fantastic.

So I figure I’ll try buying them online. Affronted by the AU$14 shipping charge from Australia (I’m pretty sure you can send a pair of shorts to Australia for about NZ$5) I found that they had the product in an Auckland store, so went back in to the shop and asked if they could have it sent down for me.

“Yes, they have some pairs up in Auckland,” I am told. Pleased with this, I ask if they can have them sent down for me. And that’s where Cue’s shopping experience begins to sour for me. Cue won’t have an item transferred for you. They were going to charge me $15 to have the item sent down to Wellington. Not only is that the same price as they charge for international shipping, it’s complete rubbish to charge to have a product sent to another store. I was in Ultra Shoes the other day and the girl ran to the other store in town to get a pair of shoes for me, just to make sure I could try on one size up and one size down. And I was just perusing. Take a note, Cue: that’s customer service!

Not only is it (comparatively) expensive to have the item sent from Auckland, I’m told they can’t do a money transfer from the store I’m standing in to the one in Auckland. Because it’s a sale item. Because it’s a sale item, I’m expected to call up the Auckland store (myself, no offer to help me sort it out) and give them my credit card details over the phone. There’s a good Tui billboard for you. Anyone could be on the end of that line. How about secure payment Cue? Customers really like that shit for some reason.

So now I’m back to online shopping. While I’m in the store though I asked the girl to help me with sizing. Cue is one of those vanity sizing places which allows me to sometimes go for an 8, rather than a 10. “Definitely an 8,” I am told. That’s fine. It’s not an exact science. I know they have size charts online, but who keeps a measuring tape at work? So I take the girl’s word for it.

I am pleased to find the parcel turns up within a few working days. It’s in a fancy box that makes me smile. But it turns out the in-store sizing was a bit off, and after a few tries on to make sure I can’t pull off the 8 (because I really hate the hassle of exchanging stuff), I decide I need to exchange for the 10.

My shopping mood is darkened once again. There is no option to exchange an item online. I’m going to have to send the item back (out of my pocket), wait for a refund, and then repurchase the larger item. For all I know they could be out of stock by then, and I’ll be damned if I’m paying for two pairs of shorts when all I want is one pair that fits me. So I send an email, asking if I can exchange rather than return the item. Two days later and this is what I get. “Unfortunately at this stage we are unable to provide exchanges for online purchases. This is a system we are currently looking to improve. If you would like the size 10 you will need to purchase it in a separate transaction.” Great. At least my suspicions are confirmed: Your system is SHIT.

God knows why, but I decide to take my problem back to the Wellington store, to see if they’ll be any more helpful.

No. Because they don’t have the item, I’ll have to call the Auckland store. Precisely what I was trying to avoid in the first place. I’m pissed off by this time. It seems like I’m never going to get the product I want. I start to think about writing cranky blogs and telling everyone about how shit their service is. I know it’s not the shop assistants’ fault, but even the managers I speak to show me no sympathy. I try to tell them that their system is rubbish, in a polite “I-know-it’s-not-your-fault” kind of way, but it falls on deaf ears. “It’s just the way the system works,” I am told. Yes, I realise that. But your system is convoluted and rubbish.

I’d like to say at this point I won’t be shopping with them again, but I really want those goddam shorts.

Three hours later…

So now here I am, $25 out of pocket for tracked shipping, doubly paid for my “half price” $77.50 shorts, doubly paid for ridiculous postage, and I’m not much happier. On the phone to the Auckland store (after discovering that, as I feared, the item was sold out online) I am told by the store manager, “We have to charge you to have them sent to Wellington. They’re on sale, so if we didn’t charge you postage the company would be out of pocket.” Fantastic. A customer service gem right there. If you can’t afford to sell items at a reduced price – and keep your customers happy – maybe don’t do it!

When my precious arrive and I can actually wear them the retail rage will abate. But until I get my refund and a reply to my ‘dissatisfied customer’ email (in which I can’t wait to see what kind of fob-off I receive this time) I heed you this warning:

Do not shop at Cue online. If the shop nearest you doesn’t have what you want in stock, you’re shit out of luck (or $50 out of pocket).

Caveat Emptor.

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