So, here I am trying to buy just over £300’s worth of furniture from an online retailer. Nothing terribly unusual about that – I’ve spent way more in single online orders in the past, I consider myself a pretty confident online shopper, and this is a well known UK retailer.
There are a couple of things about this transaction that are really rubbing me up the wrong way though.
Firstly, I keep getting error pages during the checkout process. The last time this happened was during the “taking our payment” stage, which has left me not entirely sure if the order’s been placed or not. (The website being so flaky at the moment, I’m not entirely sure I trust the accounts / your orders section.)
The error page also has a line on it saying that if I’d like to place an order, I can phone them up. Calls will cost at least 5p per minute. Now hang on, why on earth would you charge your customers for the privilege of buying something from you? Ok there are certain cases where I can see the benefits of this, but really only if you charge your customers a lot so buying from you becomes a desirable status symbol. Charging a small overhead just makes me feel like you’re penny pinching.
I have no idea how long the order call would take. My experience of corporate phone lines makes me think 5-10 minutes of being on hold, followed by 5 minutes for the order. But maybe the computer system is misbehaving for their phone staff as well, so the call will either be wasted, or take much longer. But I’m going to estimate that placing my £300 order would cost me somewhere between 50p and £1.
Similarly, I am being charged £5 for delivery. This is a flat fee, and doesn’t scale depending on the number, size, or weight of items I’m buying. Again, it’s possible to look at this as “wow, having two pieces of heavy furniture delivered for so little is a bargain”, but since I don’t really have any anchor here I’m seeing it as “wow, I’m spending £300+ and they’re trying to stiff me for an extra £5”.
So overall my opinion of this retailer has plummeted, mainly through the perception that they’re trying to unfairly add an extra 2% cost on to my order. User experience – it’s not all about the colour of buttons, you know.