I was looking for a particular kind of digital thermometer and found it in a printed catalog I had received from Wine and All That Jazz. Item # in hand, I went to their web site to order it. There was no place on the site to order by item number so I did a search on the item number. The search yielded the item name and description but with no link to buy it! I then searched through category by category and finally gave up trying to find it. Their “e-business” was impossible to use — completely dysfunctional — and after wasting a lot of time, I called and ordered by phone. The thermometer was delivered in white instead of brown. I called customer service (had to wait until 9-5 M-F of course) and they said they had shipped what I wanted. I reminded them again that I did not receive what I ordered. They didn’t agree! How can a merchant disagree with a customer in that way? They said that I could return it at my expense and they would ship the brown one for an additional $8.95 shipping charge. The thermometer weighs 1 once! Plus I would have to pay the shipping to return the item. I told them to forget it and called American Express. AMEX cheerfully applied a $50 credit to my account for any shipping I might incur for the overall transaction and will follow to make sure I get credit for the item itself after I return it. Moral of the story: 1) never buy anything from Wine and All That Jazz; 2) always use your American Express card.
One reader sent me an email telling me about a Canadian company that might have what I am looking for. I sent an email to the person he referred me to and received a quick reply which included some picutres and descriptive information about their products. At the end of the email reply it said “If you would like to purchase one, please feel free to call our inside sales desk at 1-800-XXX-YYYY ext. XYZ for a store nearest you.”. Maybe a new kind of “link”. Just call and you get driving directions. I really did like the product so I called. It was 5:30 PM and I got a message that said “We are closed. Please call back during our normal business hours….”
This scenario is unfortunately not a rare occurrence. Most of us have experienced something like it. That is why I say in my book, Net Attitude, that we are only a few percent into what the Internet has to offer for our business and personal lives. I’ll be adding more to this story . Stay tuned.