Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Why I don't (usually) shop online

My sister is one of those people who won't go into a mall or a store if she can help it. She's quite happy doing most of her shopping online (and she's been in heaven since online shopping was extended to her local supermarket). I gather she's not alone, from the numbers of package delivery trucks I see outside our condo building every day, and the number of packages waiting outside our neighbours' doorways (many from Amazon, or one of those meal-in-a-box services). Online shopping during this pandemic has been a blessing for many people who either don't want to or can't easily go out to shop for the things they need (especially when so many malls and standalone stores were/have been closed for so long). 

I'm not a complete online shopping neophyte. I have bought stuff online over the years -- books that I couldn't easily find in the local bookstore (or ebooks to download to my Kobo), CDs & DVDs (ditto), my annual Filofax calendar insert (so that I don't have to go all the way downtown to the one fancy stationery shop that I know still carries them), handmade sterling silver jewelry from a local entrepreneur (friend of a friend & one-time blogger), presents for my sister from her favourite store (which doesn't have an outlet near me), photo Christmas cards from an online provider...  

Generally, though, I much prefer in-person shopping. (So far during this pandemic, dh has been able to get me most of the things I've really, really needed at either the supermarket or pharmacy, and I've been happy to postpone the "wants" and recreational shopping forays until more stores reopen &/or it's safer to venture out again.)  

Here's a story that illustrates why!  

Back in late May/early June, I got a marketing email from Old Navy, promoting their new line of cotton face masks -- masks in every colour & pattern under the sun, for both adults & kids.  I'd already been making a few no-sew masks out of old socks for dh & me, but I knew that we'd probably need a lot more masks for the two of us, once things started opening up more and we started going out into the world more often. Rather than completely deplete my sock drawer ;)  I'd started looking at various masks for sale online, trying to figure out where to best direct my business. Old Navy is a familiar brand, I shop there a lot, their cotton masks were cute, easily washable, and best of all, the prices were very reasonable and shipping was free if you spent enough money. I ordered one package of 10 masks, two packages of 5 masks each (including one pack featuring fun animal prints, for myself), and six hair bands/wraps in various colours, to help keep the hair out of my eyes (because it was driving me crazy, and at that point, we still had no idea when we might be getting haircuts again).  

This was June 1st. (Our local mall with the Old Navy store in it didn't reopen until last Friday, June 19th.)  I was advised when I ordered that some of the items might not be available until June 22nd or 29th. Oooohkay, I figured we could muddle along with sock masks (and shaggy hair) until then. I began getting emails and texts advising me when certain items had shipped and when they were supposed to be delivered by UPS. 

Last Monday, June 15th, I was notified that my package was on a delivery truck. The phone rang that morning. It was the building's front door intercom system. I buzzed the guy up, he handed me my package, and I excitedly ripped it open to find... ONE hairband.  Just ONE of the six I had ordered (and nevermind the masks).  All righty then... 

Next morning (Tuesday, June 16th), same scenario.  Telephone call from the front door intercom.  Dh answered and... the phone went dead. (The handset desperately needs a new battery... which of course, would require a shopping trip we've been putting off making, because, COVID...)  I ran out onto the balcony to keep an eye on the delivery truck (I figured I could shout & wave, if necessary?) while dh ran down the stairs to see if he could catch the delivery guy before he left. He returned with my package. Four hairbands this time. 

The next morning (Wednesday, June 17th), we returned from a walk to find another package (#3) by our door. One hairband (the final one!).  Still no masks.  

I got another notification yesterday (Monday, June 23rd) that yet another package was on its way -- supposedly containing two packages of masks. Nothing arrived then, but I checked the tracking number and saw that it was on a delivery truck this morning. Got the phone call, buzzed in the delivery guy, eagerly accepted the package from him (#4!) and opened it. This time, I got... the package of 10 masks I had ordered and... a black ribbed tank top that I hadn't even ordered -- even though the invoice said the package contained two packages of masks (one of 10, one of 5).  

So it's now more than three weeks since I put in my order. I have received FOUR packages, and I'm STILL out two packages of masks -- one of which I'm not sure I'm going to get at all (since it was supposed to be part of the package I just got, but wasn't) and one which (I just checked) may not reach me until at least JULY 22nd.  And I have a tank top that I didn't even order, and that I'm going to have to go through the rigamorole of returning, either by UPS or in store/at the mall, which I haven't been near in almost four months and have no huge desire to visit just yet. (Dh told me it's not worth it and to just keep it. I'll see...!) 

Yes, I was able to order and receive this stuff from the comfort of my home, without venturing out & increasing my COVID risk (and possibly not being able to find any cloth masks for sale in any of the stores I went to).  Yes, the shipping is free, so I'm not paying any more whether they ship it all to me in one package or five (or six??). 

But seriously?? Is this any way to shop, or to run a business?? 

Do you shop online? What's your experience been like? 


  1. I'm usually the exact opposite of you- I try to buy as much as I can online because trying to make the time to go into a store feels so stressful.

    I would say online shopping and delivery right now is not at all representative of what it is usually like. I buy clothes for the kids from Old Navy often. Pre-COVID, when I'd order, I get the clothes within days (sometimes the next day, even with just regular free shipping) amd I never had an issue.

    Since COVID, I've placed two orders with them. Both took weeks to arrive and one order had something missing. Their helpline is useless because it is voice-recognition, but if you just shout HELP enough you get a person. They arranged to ship me the missing item right away and gave me a special offer for my next shop.

    I've heard the mail right now described as "Christmas on steroids every day" and I think that's accurate. So I really would not allow any COVID experience to influence how I felt about online shopping in the future.

  2. I only shop online at certain stores. I will use Zulily because it's cheap, but it's also awful - sometimes their stuff takes forever to ship. I like Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack and Kohl's because I can easily return to stores if I need to. My problem with Old Navy is that I can stand in the store, while shopping online, and have completely different inventories and prices. I once had to leave the store, go home and order the exact thing we were looking at from my computer, and then go back and pick it up next time I was nearby (it's only a couple miles from my house, so it's not a huge deal), because the item was $5 cheaper if I bought online. I also occasionally buy things online from Target or Walmart or Best Buy, but I usually pick up in store from them - I just want to reserve my item. I can't buy food online yet - I need to be able to see what I'm getting beforehand. And I don't like Amazon's world dominance, so I only shop there if it's an item I can't find elsewhere AND I have a gift card.

    The thing I hate most about multiple shipments is that I usually have to spend a certain amount to get free shipping - it's like...we would have both saved a lot of money if you had just given me free shipping on the one item I wanted instead of mailing me 5 things one at a time.

  3. I am in the same camp as your sister. I shop online as much as possible. Don't give up on online shopping. You can save money because you do not get sucked into end of the aisle purchases.

    I think this is an exception. Every store I have ordered from since March has had massive shipping delays. I have even had to dispute two charges with my credit card company.

    I know stores are very lenient with the return policy now. So I agree there is no need to rush to the store.

  4. Oh no, that's a miserable shopping experience! I'm so sorry that happened, but I can tell you that as a somewhat obsessive and impulsive online shopper, it's not the norm. There are some places that are experiencing really interrupted shipping, but I've been mostly fortunate. Except one package that I ordered in April and didn't come until June! I'm relying on curbside and delivery for now, too nervous to go in stores. I hope the rest of your masks come in! How annoying about the tank top.

  5. I had a similar experience with online shopping. I ordered some food storage containers that I like since I was buying more groceries because I was eating all of my food at home. My simple order came in three different boxes over a month later. And I was still missing items. Then I got two more boxes of items I didn't order. After calling the store nearest to me, an awesome employee placed an order for my missing items (that I'd already paid for) so I could pick them up directly from their store. When I finally got everything I ordered, it was five boxes, a three hour errand, and a month and a half later!

    But overall, I agree with everyone else. These experiences are not typical of online shopping. I usually have pretty good luck. And I've ordered fabric several times in the last several months--all easy and arrived on time. :)

  6. I'm glad your hairbands arrived just in time for your haircut - today (tomorrow your time)! lol

    I'm wondering if it is ... gulp ... an age thing. Because I don't shop much online. Like you, I buy things like iPad covers and other stuff from TradeMe (NZ's version of ebay), gifts and other things here and then, so I don't have much experience to go on. Except that shopping online in NZ is SOOOO expensive because we have high shipping costs. But I certainly don't trust clothes shopping, because sizing and manufacturers and shapes differ so much. Though that said, this week I got a T-shirt I ordered online from our National Radio that has artwork on it marking the end of lockdown (will that be a famous last words T-shirt?) here in NZ, and it fits!

    Though if I were you, right now in Canada or the US or UK or anywhere with active community transmission, I would be shopping online too.

    1. Gulp... you may be right!! (lol)

      I also think I consciously try not to do too much online browsing for the simple reason that it's just WAAAAYYYYY too easy & WAAAAYYYYY too tempting! I buy too much stuff in bricks-and-mortar stores as it is!

      It is nice to have the option to shop without leaving the house right now, though!