Thousands of consumers were glued to their computers earlier this week as they surfed the web and moused around for Cyber Monday deals.
This year more than ever Canadian Retails jumped on board the Cyber Monday sale bandwagon piggybacking off of their neighbors down south and hoping to capitalize on all the free media exposure for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
On the consumer electronics front both Future Shop and Best Buy offered up some incredible deals on Cyber Monday however almost a week later many of those orders remain largely unfulfilled. In addition to the lag in fulfilling orders many of the so called Cyber Monday deals were not as enticing as they originally seemed to be since heavily advertised whole order discounts did not apply to most of the Cyber Monday deals and one retailet eliminated the IN Store Pickup option from it’s website forcing Cyber Monday customers to pay high Shipping Charges.
I just finished lunch with a friend George, who told me about his Cyber Monday experience with Future Shop this week. On Monday I got a call from George asking me about the pricing on a couple of TVs he was interested in buying from Future Shop and wanted to know if the TVs were any good and if the advertised price was a good deal or incredible deal. After looking at my costs, I assured him that the TVs were good models for his application and that yes the Cyber Monday Special Pricing was a Good Deal. Great George said and hung up the phone and proceeded to order the televisions on Future Shop’s website.
Both TVs were in stock according to the website, one model had 11 units left and the other had 24 in the quantity remaining category. As if the prices weren’t low enough as an extended bonus Future Shop was advertising SAVE UP TO $200 on your order on the front page of their website so my buddy thought WOW TVs at these low prices and another $200 bucks off GREAT!
A couple clicks on the “add to cart” buttons and presto my George was off to the online checkout – filling in his personal information and credit card. When it came time to select “SHIP TO” or “IN STORE PICK UP” two options which are normally available ordering Online with Future Shop – George kept receiving a “In Store Pickup is Not Available on this item”, normally Future Shop offers In Store or Depot pick up, on all it’s Television online purchases but for Cyber Monday they deleted the in store pickup option from all Specials in order to artificially increase the special sale price by FORCING Customers to pay for shipping. Not only is shipping expensive and inflates the price but it’s inconvenient for most customers who would prefer in store or depot pick up. I’m certainly Not paying for shipping George murmured, but hey wait a minute he thought – no big deal, I still get $50 dollars off with the Cyber Monday online coupon so that’ll reduce the cost of shipping right – WRONG! Once again after reading the fine print on the Cyber Monday Coupon George learned that the up to $200 off coupon only applies to “Certain Products” and most were excluded including all Cyber Monday sale items …. hmmm So let’s review, first Future Shop advertises incredibly low prices on some items however the REAL price is more than the advertised price because the customer is FORCED to pay shipping and does not have the option to opt out. Next Future Shop then advertises Save up to an Additional $200 on your purchase with Cyber Monday coupon once again only to find out that all Cyber Monday Sale Items are excluded … are you seeing the smoke and mirrors and deceptive selling practices yet, obviously the low pricing and promise of up to $200 off your Cyber Monday Order looks enticing and drives traffic to the website for what Future Shop is hoping will turn into you purchasing something else other than the lost leader sale items!
In the end after calculating the shipping charges, not being able to use the Cyber Monday discount coupon my friend George still thought the deal on the two TVs was OK and placed the order for the two (2) TVs on line. Filling out his credit card info and proceeding through the online checkout at the end George received an order confirmation number and on screen message telling him his order had been place and that a confirmation email would be sent to him with delivery arrangements to be coordinated within two days. At the top corner of the email was a print this page button which George did.
After patiently waiting two days and checking his email in box and junk mail and spam boxes George still hadn’t received the promised email from Future Shop so he sent them an email inquiry with the order number to determine the status. Another day passed and still no confirmation or email reply from Future Shop so George decided to escalate things once more by calling Future Shop’s online customer service phone number.
Once connected to the number George immediately heard a recording informing customers that due to the over whelming response for the Cyber Monday Sale that things were moving slower than usual. Still holding the line after 45 minutes George was finally connected to a pleasant sounding Future Shop customer service rep Carol. Carol discussed the delay with George and couldn’t provide direct answers as to why the order was delayed and no ship date was scheduled. Carol wasn’t able to provide George with the how and why answers to his questions only to assist him in moving forward with the order process. While on the phone with Carol, George wonders how many other Future Shop customers didn’t get their Super Special Orders fulfilled and what happens to those orders if the customer doesn’t call the customer service help line? George had ordered a sale item back in September which he never followed up on and he never receive any emails confirming the order or replies to his online inquires. The order is still in George’s “My Orders History” he showed it to me at lunch but the order was never processed or fulfilled.
So what’s the status of the order now I asked George, while after I talked to Carol this morning and she filled out here paperwork – trouble report she told me I will be receiving an email confirmation soon and that the order would be put through within 24 hours and if I did not receive an email confirmation in the next 24 hours to call customer service back. That was only this morning quipped George so we’ll have to wait and see if I get an email over the weekend.
During lunch George and I continued to discuss the merits of Future Shops deceptive selling, not offering In Store or Depot Pick Up and forcing customers to pay shipping. We also discussed how many people we thought went to the Cyber Monday sale website because of the save up to $200 dollar off your entire order only to discover the Cyber Monday Coupon was utterly useless. Lastly George and I wondered how many Special Cyber Monday Door Crasher Sale orders Future Shop received and how many they actually processed and shipped. How many customers had to call Future Shop customer service in order to receive their items and lastly we wonders what happens to all those orders which were taken but the purchaser/customer never followed up on. Like George’s previous order from a September Future Shop Sale – how many orders are placed on-line and never shipped?
The answers to many of these questions we’ll never know … So far George hasn’t received a confirmation email that his order has been fulfilled but still he remains optimistic that his super special Cyber Monday TV’s will eventually show up.
Update 12/5/2011: I spoke with George again today who told me he didn’t receive any emails from Future Shop as promised by Carol the Future Shop CSR he spoke with on Friday Dec 2nd. Carol had assured him that he would receive an email within 24 hours and a status update on the website that the order has been processed yet the weekend passed and nothing. George said he called Future Shop’s customer service hotline again Monday morning (Dec 5, 2011) and spoke with CSR Kalita who once again told him the same thing that Carol did three days earlier, his order is still being verified and is not processed. Verified George queried? I have an order history with you with the same credit card and shipping address what’s the difficulty in verifying the order? Kalita said she would have to put the call through to the verification department. After about three minutes Kalita came back on the line and told George she was transferring him to Ringo in the verification department, Ringo came on the line and instantly the line went from crisp and clear to muffled and noisy. Gerorge said he could hardly hear the CSR Ringo on the other end of the line and Ringo was having a hard time hearing George also and kept referring to him as Mame. George asked Ringo where he was located and he replied the Philippines – that explains the noisy phone line.
Side Bar: Future Shop has at least two call centers for customer support one in New Brunswick where Carol and Kalita were located and then their “Verification Department which is being outsourced to the Philippines.
Ringo proceeded to ask George name, address and phone number questions and then told George that he would have to Wait 1-2 days for a confirmation email and to check his order status online. Wait a minute George replied that’s exactly what Carol had told me and it’s now been 3 days and I never received an email and my order has not be updated on line which is why I’m calling you. George told Ringo that we need to solve this NOW and get to the bottom of what’s causing the delay. I don’t want to wait another two days and then call you back please George implored tell me what the problem is? why the hold up or delay? This is fraudulent George remarked – I don’t believe Future Shop has any intent in selling these lost leader items to me and is just stalling as long as they can hoping I will give up and cancel the order – there by Future Shop will get the benefit of the lost leader sale by driving customers to their website to buy products that don’t exist. Ringo was unable to provide any answers as to what was causing the delay, only to repeat the phrase your order is now verified, you should receive an email confirmation in 1 or 2 days or check the status on line to see if it’s been updated. George now frustrated and agitated wanted answers and resolution to the situation and asked to speak with a supervisor – one moment please said Ringo and placed George on Hold. About five minutes later Ringo came back on the line and said his supervisor was not able to take the call and told George that everything would be fine. George was adamant to get answers as to the delay and told Ringo that he would hold the line until he could speak with a supervisor. Ringo put George on hold again and then 5 minutes later came back on the line saying his supervisor was on another line and George could call back in 2 hours. George continued resolve to patiently wait for the supervisor and was put on hold again. This pattern continued for 3o minutes at which time George asked for the supervisor’s Name which Ringo said was Lucas. George asked for both Ringo and Lucas’ Future Shop or Call Center ID’s and Ringo replied they are only allowed to give out their First Names and nothing else. George continued to hold and the pattern continued to repeat, each 5 minutes or so Ringo would come on the line tell George that his supervisor Lucas was on other calls and that George should hang up and call back in two hours. George continued to hold and at the 47 minute mark Ringo came on the line and told George that his supervisor Lucas had gone into a meeting and would not be available for two hours and would not be able to talk to him, That’s Fine said George I would be happy to speak with any supervisor, put me through to the supervisor on duty. Back on hold George went, this process went on for another 30 minutes with Ringo coming on the line in five minute intervals to inform George that all the supervisors were busy and would not be able to talk to him. At the one hour mark Ringo came on the line and told George he was going for Lunch and would have to transfer him to another department or he would have to call back. Once again George told him that’s fine if you’re going for lunch just transfer me through to another agent or better yet a supervisor, I don’t need to speak directly to you in fact I’ve been waiting to speak to a supervisor. Back on hold George went and once again for the next 20 minutes the process continued. Finally at the one hour and 24 minute mark Lucas (the supervisor who was supposedly gone into a meeting for 2 hours) finally came on the line and spoke to George. Lucas could not provide any information as to the cause of the delay, nor any problem with the identification or reason for delay in verifying the information. The order had never been processed and the credit card had never been billed, basically nothing had been done and even the previous inquiry with Carol last Friday (Dec 2) was merely lip service, nothing was done from that call except to hopefully stall and dissuade the customer from pursuing the order to completion. Lucas assured George that the order was verified and would FINALLY be put through and that he should receive a confirmation email and delivery notice within 24-48 hours. Great George thought to himself, I can’t wait to see what kind of delivery hassles I’m going to have to go through! I guess I’m jumping the gun here quipped George … I still haven’t received my order verification/processing email so I should wait, I might have to call Future Shop up again in two more days?
Update 12/9/2011: George’s woes with Future Shop continue. George never received and email confirmation from Futureshop however he did check the status of his order on-line and saw that his credit card has been charged so at least now they’ve taken his money – That was Tuesday Dec 6th … Now what happens thought George? No email came all week however on Thursday Dec 8th George received and automated voice message telling him his televisions would be delivered the next day Friday Dec 9th, 2011 between 8am and 11am. – OK looks like I’m going to get some TVs.
Friday at 10am George received a call from the Futureshop delivery company telling him they would be at his place in 20 minutes. At 10:20am a Highland moving company truck appeared at George’s front driveway with two persons inside. The passenger got out to open the back of the truck while the driver sat inside rummaging through paperwork and making a cell phone call. The driver politely greeted George at the door and told him he had some bad news – Only one of his TV’s was on the truck and he didn’t know where the other one was? George’s eyes rolled … hear we go again … I can’t believe this, I stayed home all morning for this delivery and now only one TV shows up? The driver said he didn’t know where the other TV was nor did he know if or when it would show up. He asked George to sign for one TV and they’d leave him that one. “I’m not signing for anything George told the driver, I paid for two TV’s I expect two TVs to be delivered not one, I’m not signing for a partial order. Ok the driver agreed – I don’t blame you, then George went back into his home and a few minutes later the door bell rang – it was the driver – Good News Sir, we’ve located your other TV, it’s in Stony Plain, I can’t go get it right now however I will go pick it up later today and delivery it personally to you tonight, how’s that sound? Not good George told the driver but what are my options? If you want to come by after 6pm you’ve got my number give me a call. We’ll see what happens said George, in the mean time I have to call Futureshop again and get to the bottom of this.
George told me he called Futureshop again after the failed deliver attempt to obtain a credit for the failed delivery or cancel the order, George was put through to Tiffany who Geroge said was clearly a new CSR who attempted however sooo slowly to help him, after 45 mins on the phone and no resolution George was put through to another department who’s call center was in the Philippines, Lucy the operator on the line had a terrible time understanding George and like the previous time George spoke with the call center in the Philippines the quality of the telephone line was terrible. George said he had to repeat the failed delivery story more than 5 times and 20mins of additional conversation and still no resolution and No Order Cancellation, Lucy kept trying to salvage the order and was less than helpful in cancelling it – finally George said he gave up, ended his call with Lucy, thinking he’ll try the 1-800 main number once again. Dialing futureshop customer support once again this time George got through to an operator named Sean. Sean was courteous and after listening to George transferred him to the delivery and handling department which once again George got the runaround being bumped from operator to operator for another 10 mins before the was told he couldn’t be helped out and he needed to call the main 1-800 number again. George called the main Futureshop customer support line one more time and as luck would have it spoke again to CSR Sean. George and Sean discussed things for over 45 minutes at which time Gerorge finally obtained a $50 customer satisfaction credit due to the problems with the entire order process and shipping. At this time George still has not received any TV’s supposedly he says they’re going to be delivered tonight after 6pm – will they – who knows? One thing is for certain based on the calls George has made to Futureshop I calculate he’s spent more than 4.5 hours on the phone inquiring about this one order talk about wasted time for George as well as all the Futureshop call center personnel.
Final Comment: – NO TVs: George gave me a call Friday evening to tell me the driver was a NO SHOW and didn’t return to delivery the TVs he promised earlier that day. George said he waited until 8:00pm, on Friday and then called the driver on his cell phone to inquire when he was coming. The driver didn’t answer however he did call George back about 30 minutes later to inform him that he was not going to deliver the TV – that the order was cancelled by his dispatcher and that George would have to speak to Futureshop customer service to obtain a refund or redelivery. George questioned the driver as to how the order was cancelled and why he didn’t receive a phone call to confirm said cancellation? George went on further to discuss with the driver that during his discussion with Futureshop customer service that Futureshop would not cancel the order, that it would be re-delivered as promised and that George negotiated with Futureshop a credit for the amount of the delivery due to the incredible mess up with the order. George went on to say at no point during his conversation did Futureshop tell him the order could be cancelled over the phone on their end, in fact, according to Futureshop the only way to CANCEL the order was to REFUSE it, Don’t Accept It and Send It Back – that’s it! Futureshop customer service went on further to say once the item is refused and sent back to the warehouse and processed a Refund is Issued – this can take up to two weeks to complete.
So What did we Learn: I asked George what he learned from this experience.
1 – The Cyber Monday Sale at Futureshop was a Sham! – I don’t believe Futureshop ever intended to sell the items I purchased at the sale prices they advertised. I feel like I was duped and if I never spend all that time on the phone inquiring over and over again the order would have never been processed or my credit card billed.
2 – Never purchase any large item ON-Line which has mandatory delivery when In Store Pickup is Normally Available – It’s a clear indication that something is wrong!
3 – Futureshop’s Customer Service department is staffed by some excellent CSR’s and then some very poor CSR’s namely the personnel in the Philippines.
4 – YOUR TIME IS WORTH SOMETHING – Cyber Monday was November 28th, it took 9 days and more than 5.5 hours of telephone calls and waiting on hold and being transferred and calling back, following up, emailing, negotiating etc…. only to end up with NO TVs being delivery as promised twice! George told me the current sales flyers from Visions and Walmart have the same TVs listed for a combined total price only $74.97 more than the so called CYBER MONDAY Sale prices from Futureshop, Further George says, I can go to their stores, pay for the TV and Pick them up right at the same time, a quick 20 minute transaction and I’m done – no 9 days and 6+ hours telephone calls!
5 – Conclusion – George vowed that this would be the last dollars he spends with Futureshop either On-Line or In-Store. This experience was bloody awful and not one I wish to go through again. Even if you have to pay a few dollars more it’s worth it, you’ll get your TV quicker and with less hassle and aggravation an that in itself is Priceless!
If you’ve had a negative or positive Cyber Monday or Future Shop experience share it with us. The delivery driver and at least one Futureshop CSR told George that they’ve had a lot of these Cyber Monday screw ups, there’s a lot of unhappy Futureshop customers out there according to the delivery driver.