Category Archives: Life

Lowe's online ordering system doesn't measure up...

lowesI had to get some specialty items from Lowes -- replacements for the rollers at the bottom of our closet doors, which only they seem to carry. The nearest Lowes location that had them in stock was too far away, so I ordered them for delivery through their web site.

It was all good until check out. As expected, I had to fill out a form with the shipping info, but instead of just accepting my input, the site popped up a confirmation box asking if I wanted to use the address I had entered, or the address that the USPS had reported as the 'official' one. The only difference was a period after 'Ave'.

Next was billing info, which is also expected, so no big deal. I put in my credit card info (from KeePass), then clicked the 'Use my shipping info' box, and it filled in the fields -- or so I thought. I went to the bottom to click 'Continue', and got a validation warning -- the pre-fill had inserted my address info, but not my name. So I filled in my name, and clicked "Continue" again, but still no-go -- this time it needed my email address. (I checked at this point, and no, there was no UI indication that the email field was 'required'.)

After filling in the email address, I clicked 'Continue' one more time, only to get rejected again -- apparently the Name and CC Number from the top part of the page had gotten wiped by their validation code. I refilled all that in, then took the time to scan every part of the form to make sure I had everything, and then clicked 'Continue' one more time. At this point, the validation changed from the browser to the server, so it cranked for 10-15 seconds before it rejected the submission one more time. With no apparent indication on the form, it seems the phone number field must also be completed. (You'd think the client-side validation could handle that, but apparently not.)

So, I filled out the phone number field, re-entered the credit card info (which had been wiped as before), and verified everything one more time. When I clicked 'Continue', the page cranked for 20-25 seconds before it came back with a confirmation page. The whole check-out process took far too long.

It's the same problem with other non-Amazon sites -- JCP, Target, Home Depot, Sears. Their process is so clunky, their UI's so flakey, and their delays so long that the shopping experience is a chore.

Carole and I spent a great weekend in Santa Barbara for our 34th anniversary. On Saturday evening we drove up to a ranch in Refugio Canyon for some dinner theater, and on Sunday we walked from the hotel (the long way) to State Street for some shopping and lunch at Joe's.

They suck

staplesHere's a comment submission I just made on the Staples web site, after having to submit a rebate form for some paper I bought earlier today:

I bought copy paper with an "easy rebate", which is bait-and-switch of the first order. An "easy rebate" would be a discount at the register -- not having to submit a complicated rebate form by mail, or on a web site. The "easy rebate" process is not described anywhere in the store (or that information is not apparent), so you have to wait until you get to the register to ask about the details. (No associates were available to assist me before I got to the register.)

The fact that discount prices are only available through the mis-named "easy rebate" process makes it MUCH less likely that I will shop at Staples in the future. (In fact, due to previous problems shopping at Staples, I only came to Staples today because I had a gift card provided as a "rebate" on a previous purchase.)

I realize Staples gets a lot of benefits from their "rebate" program -- shoppers make purchase decisions based on the "discounted", after-rebate price, but only a small percentage actually submit the rebate materials. Staples also collects detailed information for each person who actually does submit the rebate materials -- name, address, phone number (which establishes a "business relationship", allowing Staples to bypass the do-not-call lists for direct phone solicitations), etc.

So, Staples gets a lot of benefits from the rebate program, but customers don't -- most don't actually submit the rebate, or give up when the rebate submission is "rejected" for some reason, and the few that do receive the rebate have to give up lots of information that Staples can use and sell for marketing purposes.

All in all, this has been a disappointing experience, which I only subjected myself to because I had a gift card I wanted to get out of my wallet. Based on this, and on previous poor experiences at Staples, it is likely I will do the bulk of my office supply purchases from Amazon in the future -- free shipping, no rebate nonsense, good pricing, and hassle-free returns. All the things that Staples is not.