Why Customer Care Matters More Online

I’m a big online shopper – have been for years. I got into the habit by buying vintage dresses from Ebay and Etsy, where reading reviews before ordering is standard. After all, when you’re buying something sight-unseen, some level of trust – that the seller will ship the product, as described, for the stated price, in a reasonable amount of time – is required.

Stores must be held to the same standards as individual sellers. And if it becomes clear that they don’t care about customer service, I’m done with them. Customer care is always important – and even more so when it comes to online shopping.

Why Customer Care Matters More Online:

  • Buying something sight-unseen is risky – if you can’t trust the seller to make good on your purchase, you could be throwing your money away
  • It’s easier to find what you want elsewhere
  • If the seller acts dishonestly, it’s easy to capture proof – and share it (one of the many reasons online stores should focus on customer care)

So what brings this up? This weekend, I learned that Lord & Taylor does NOT value customer service. I should have known better: now that I’ve looked online, read their Facebook page, and checked out Twitter, I can see that Lord & Taylor’s poor customer service and glitchy checkout process is a common complaint. Read on for the juicy details . . .

The thing is, I decided on Saturday that I would take the plunge and buy one of BCBG’s bandage skirts, specifically the Scarlett Lurex Power Skirt in Black Combo (doesn’t just the name sound epic?). I just don’t do pencil skirts, but there’s a first time for everything, right?

BCBG Scarlett Power Skirt in Black Combo

Anyway, the skirt was sold out in my size in the BCBG store, so I checked online. I couldn’t find my size for a price nearly as low as the $79.20 sale price in the store (ah, if only I wore XXS!), but I found it for a decent price on Amazon and 6pm.com (about $113-$120, with free shipping & no CA sales tax). And then I found it on Lord & Taylor’s site for $95.04 (+ tax, which would be under $10), with free shipping for purchases over $99. I put the skirt & a pair of tights in my cart and set it aside for later. When I came back Sunday night to buy it, everything looked fine until I started to checkout. Suddenly, the price of the skirt jumped to $118.80 – no explanation. Shocked, I looked back at the category page. As you can see from the screenshot below, the price was still marked $95.04:

On the catalog page, the Scarlett Lurex Pencil Skirt (middle right) was marked $95.04

On the catalog page, the skirt (middle right) was marked $95.04

I clicked through to the product page, and again, the price was still marked $95.04:

On the product page, the Scarlett Lurex Pencil Skirt was marked $95.04

On the product page, the skirt was marked $95.04

But when I selected my size (or any other size, for that matter), the price jumped by 25% to $118.80!

The price jumped from $95.04 to $118.80. Not cool.

The price jumped from $95.04 to $118.80. Not cool.

Still, I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. So I sent an email to customer care, explaining the issue.

No response, except for an automated one saying if the email was not about an existing order, I should contact customer care directly.

The next day, I used their live chat and was told to email my screenshots to giftorders@lordandtaylor.com. I immediately sent my screenshots off, along with an explanation and a copy of my chat.

No response. Not even an automated one.

Several hours later, I used their live chat again. I guess I’m spoiled, because I’m used to dealing with companies like ModCloth, Zappos, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie, who tend to place a higher premium on customer care and respond much more quickly. But anyway, I was told that there was nothing they could do – I had to wait for the management team to review my email and that I should hear back from them in 3 to 5 business days.

Seriously? When Lord & Taylor is having a FINAL sale, I’m supposed to wait that long for what should be a simple resolution?

I asked if there was anything they could do – perhaps a % off coupon that would account for the price difference? – but to no avail. Apparently Lord & Taylor doesn’t actually give their customer care reps any power, and they string up a bunch of red tape, because they’re far more interested in turning a short-term profit than in engaging a long-term customer.

By the way, I finally got a form response from my email to them, and Lord & Taylor said: “We reserve the right to correct any typographical errors, inaccuracies or omissions at any time without prior notice, including after an order has been submitted.”

Ouch.

So now I’m sharing my story with you all, because I don’t think anyone else should have to go through that kind of frustration dealing with Lord & Taylor. And to bring this back to Why Customer Care Matters More Online:

  • After my experience with Lord & Taylor, and reading similar stories online, I can’t trust them to make good on a purchase.
  • I was able to find & buy the skirt I wanted elsewhere, from a store I trust more.
  • Lord & Taylor behaved dishonestly – or at the very least, carelessly – and I’ve shared the screenshots that prove it.

So that’s my story. Do you shop online regularly? What have your experiences been like?

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4 thoughts on “Why Customer Care Matters More Online

  1. Gerardo says:

    And don’t buy too much at Lord and Taylor online because you will realize how disfunctional they are in the ” customer service department ” the ” live chat ” which is run third world country style where the owner sits behind the cash register and decides, case by case who is right and who is not that day.

    Do not be afraid or impressed with those ” we reserve the rights………”. Take them to small claims court and you’ll win. The laws of commerce in each state are what bake the cake, not some ” we reserve the right to ” defraud you – being polite here- when we feel like it.

    The owner’s widow is Bonnie Brooks, who should like to know how mistreated her clients are by those idiotic employees, unless she does not care either.

    Anyway, the email addresses are:

    bonnie.brooks@hbc.com
    bonnie_brooks@lordandtaylor.com

    Enjoy !!!!!!

    I thought that store would go bankrupt during the recession, but rumor has it the pot of cash is getting low.

    Like

    • Yeah, what’s particularly disappointing was that I thought they were a reputable company! But I ended up finding a bunch of statements from other customers online about how Lord & Taylor didn’t respond to customer care issues, delayed on refunds, etc. Even though my screenshots can only attest to the pricing issue, I think the real problem is their poor customer service!

      A tweet from someone who encountered problems with a Lord & Taylor voucher: “Got a @LordandTaylor coupon in the mail.. won’t be shopping there at least until they respond to my email.” (@EMaurer27 on Jan 30)

      From one of the many negative reviews about Lord & Taylor on RateItAll.com: “And when you ask for a manager, the reps give you the runaround and do everything in their powers to make you give up. They would politely ask for your email and phone number over and over again then they would essentially take a message. But no-one will get back to you. They say they will in 3 business days but when you call back 3 business days later, they change it to 5 business days and so on.”

      Like

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