The Pleasure (and Perils) of Shopping Online
After a week with lots of weather (yes, that is what I have decided to call it now; not bad weather, a Winter Storm, or the worst February ever, just lots of weather) I found myself wandering through shops online, and trying to remember outfits that didn’t require a scarf and boots (usually my favorite thing to wear, but I think I am actually starting to scowl at them now when I see them waiting by my front door).
Internet shopping is so much easier than it used to be, and I am sure it is a favorite Winter activity for many of us, but in spite of its ease, large purchases should probably still be approached with a small level of caution.
I wrote a while ago about redecorating my daughter’s room, and buying her a new bed, but what I didn’t mention was that the bed that she wanted (a low, black platform bed) had to be ordered online. It was a lesson that made me both appreciate, and fear, online shopping. I had never bought anything like that, sight unseen, but I feel fairly confident with a few tools, and the process seemed to be as simple as ordering a pizza with a few extra toppings.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t like ordering a pizza at all; a couple of weeks later it arrived in a box that was about 1 x 8 feet, and weighed almost 300 lbs. We had to pay extra to get them to bring it into the house (thank you very much), and an additional charge if we wanted it carried upstairs. Needless to say, the box sat in the Living Room for a week while I unpacked it and took the pieces up to her room a few at a time.
When I had got over my shock, I started to lay out the pieces according to numbers and letters. Of course, some of the numbers were missing, and I seemed to have 27 screws instead of 22, but I still knew that it wasn’t going to be that complicated. Daylight came and went, and I started to curse the reviews that said it was quick to assemble, and the instructions were easy to follow.
Umm, no, they weren’t. It took me almost two days, and a tube of extra strong wood glue, to get it to look like the picture. Maybe I didn’t need the glue, but by the end of the second day I wanted to take the entire thing and fling it out of the window, so the glue was definitely the way to go. The bed actually turned out great, but I would not recommend it to anyone with limited patience, limited time and a bad back.
In spite of my experience, I do still shop online, and I will recommend it, but I now have a check list before I click that final button.
I try to read as many customer reviews as I can.
Check measurements and shipping box sizes, to see if they will fit through my door, up the stairs, and around the corner.
Look at the shipping charges; especially if the item is particularly heavy, or a funny shape. If they are unclear, I call the company and ask.
What is the return policy? Is there a time limit, a fee, refund or exchange only?
Do they have a “Ship-to-Store” option? Would this be easier, or more difficult (it is usually free, but can also be more inconvenient as well).
If it is an upholstered or decorative accessory, can I see the colors and patterns clearly? Will they send me a sample before I order?
Will it be a lot of assembly? Do I have someone who will help me, and will I need special tools? Do they offer online assistance if I have a problem putting it together?
If it is a large item, ask what happens if I am not home to accept delivery. Do they leave it at the curb, or return it to the truck? Will there be an additional fee? (Sounds crazy, but I was honestly told that if we weren’t home, they didn’t need a signature and they would leave the 300lb box at the end of my driveway).
With case goods (chairs, tables etc) I read the description, and make a decision based on my budget, what I really need, and how long I would like the item to last. (Try to find out if they use glue, veneer, paper-clips, hardwood, pine, bubble gum or screws to hold it together).
If I shop late at night, or the wee hours of the morning, I save the item in my shopping cart until daylight. Then, I check it all again, take a sip of coffee and click “Pay Now”….
Delightfully Crooked Lamp by Andrew Oliver
For more by Wendy and the Blue Giraffe, go to: http://www.thebluegiraffe.com/