Why would any e-Commerce site do this to itself?

Ok here's the background of this amazing eCommerce anecdote. My sister had ordered a barbie set from BabyOye.com, one of the online toy retailers, for our niece's birthday some time back. Since she couldn't personally attend the birthday (she stays in the US), this gift was supposed to get delivered to me in Gurgaon. Now a couple of days before the actual delivery happened, I was woken up from my afternoon slumber by a phone call from a Mumbai land line number (might be the distribution centre) asking for my contact details. With half-closed eyes I confirmed that it was indeed me who was supposed to receive the package on the given address. I couldn't give him any more attention than a customary confirmation call would require. But that was before he said something that made me turn around in bed and asked him to 'come again?' The guy on the other side repeated himself. This is not verbatim, but it is effectively more-or-less what transpired between me and him.

'Sir, it's very unfortunate that I've to make this call.The company has had some issues with our product vendors.'

'Ok...?'

'Since the date you ordered the Barbie Set, our vendors have increased the prices from their end.'

'So...?'

"So, Sir the set you bought for Rs. 1250/- is now Rs 1500/-..."

''Oh..Kay....but I've already paid for it, haven't I?'

'Yes Sir, but it's a rare case where the prices increased immediately after you placed the order.'

'So, shouldn't it apply to those who buy from your site after the prices are refreshed online?'

'Sir, you've a point..but the company is helpless in this situation because of the sudden upping of prices by the product vendors.'

'So, what exactly is your point now?'

'Sir, it is requested that when you receive the package at your house, can you please pay the remaining amount to the delivery guy?'

"Hmmm....Ok, here's a thing. I don't mind paying you another 250 bucks. When I can buy 1200/- rupee toy, I can buy a 1500/- one too. It's not that I can't pay you. It's just that I dont want to pay you. I am just not convinced why I should.'

'Sir, I understand your point, but as I told you the company is bound by the prices it buys from its vendors....and moreover..'

"Ok, tell me something.... have you ever gone to a vegetable market to buy vegetables for yourself?'

'Sir?'

'I am asking you if you've ever gone to a vegetable market to buy vegetables?'

'Yes Sir, I've have'

'Has the vegetable vendor ever followed you back to your house and asked for another 50 rupees, just because from the time you actually bought the vegetables till the time you reached home, prices of onions, cauliflower and tomatoes had tripled - and you happen to buy two of those three? Has it ever happened?"

'No..Sir.'

'You know why? Because the Sabjiwala is a smart guy, who knows that he'll not just lose his customer for good but also not get paid anything for putting up this moronic argument.Therefore...', I told him in short, succinct manner, 'I too will pay the price I placed the order at. And NOT a penny more.'

He very obediently sought permission to discuss the matter further with his boss and revert at the earliest. He called me back in another 10 mins and told me that the team has decided to forgo the extra money I ‘owed’ to them and that I don’t have to pay anything more than I already have. I told him that it is indeed the right decision and hung up. 

By now, I was wide awake and thinking how less a margin do these guys play with. All this talk of paying extra was nothing but horseshit - they just needed a few gullible customers to cover up for the guy who made this mess by not updating the online prices on time. May be they operated on a Marketplace model and didn't keep an inventory. But that doesn't mean you transfer your additional costs arising out of operational lapses over to your customers, AFTER they've made the purchase. But more importantly, WHY would an impressive e-Commerce site in a niche area (mind you, they're one of the decent ones in toy industry) have to stoop to such a level? WHO's the brainchild behind setting your customer care guys on calling spree to retrieve as much lost booty as possible? And WHY would you want to lose a customer (my sister was a first timer there) forever and inflict an irreparable brand damage to yourself for a petty 250 bucks?? WHY??

e-Commerce is not just about a swanky, trendy website offering the coolest stuff around at the best prices. It's also about delivery, trust and a good after taste of shopping.  

 

Views: 3735

Tags: Blunders, best, eCommerce, practices

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Comment by Gurpreet Singh Tikku on May 31, 2012 at 3:23pm

I break my promise to reply!!

Appreciated what you say now. Guess we are on the same side of fence.

Comment by Gurpreet Singh Tikku on May 31, 2012 at 2:48pm

Kamal..............Read your comments earlier and found the words too harsh but resisted to comment. But seems this is not a case of genuine concern, but a case of some personal enimity.

DO you think you are God and you and your company cannot commit a mistake?

If you think so, then probably, time has come for you to commit those mistakes and answer those people. Sadly, we may not be there to watch that tamasha(something what you are creating here, froma smimple consumer grievance)..............Wish it will be taken up some time at therodinhoods.com. Pardon me for using the words I am.............But you are forcing me to use them.
 You are repeating the same thing again.............didnt they apologise? Accept Mistake and promise to rectify??

With people like you, they would be wondering, why did they even come here and explain. To be ridiculed to this level?? Have some decency man..............you would cross each other and belong to the same industry.

With this, I rest my case.....and promise not to reply or comment, as I have understood it will not help.

Comment by Anamika Joshi on May 31, 2012 at 12:23pm

I have been following this post ever since the first day... To see an e-commerce website come out in open, show such great level of transparency and put things into action on a complaint posted by a single customer....is an experience in itself.... I hope all other e-commerce companies learn from this for their own sake... 

Anamika Joshi

nailbites

Comment by Gurpreet Singh Tikku on May 31, 2012 at 12:16pm

Wow!! I liked it. Sanjay's reply was Sincere and Reasonable. When we do Business, Mistakes are made, but foolish is one who does not not admit and learn. They admitted and rectified...... I wish Babyoye the best.

Thanks Abhimanyu for bringing this up and Alok Sir for publicising it.......was a learning!!

Comment by Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal on May 31, 2012 at 12:04pm

Sanjay,

Can you please explain this statement by Rahul??

@Abhimanyu - This came as a complete shocker to Sanjay, Arunima (founders) and me (Head of Communication and Social). This just did not sound like babyoye.com. The DNA of our support team has always been to keep the customer in front of everything and there are times when the care team would fight with the Buying team in such cases and allow the customer to have the last say.

With this specific case, we have spent the last 3 hours trying to locate this order and we don't see this in our system. I have dropped a tweet to requesting any details that can help us identify this order and if our rep is found guilty, we will taken stringent action against him/her. 

I only hope this is not the case of mistaken identity. Will await details from you.

 

Comment by Sanjay Nadkarni on May 31, 2012 at 11:04am

Hi Folks,

1st let me acknowledge the fact that one of our care associates did indeed call Abhimanyu and request for the differential amount.  Abhimanyu we owe you an apology and while the team isnt proud of our behaviour, all of us are committed to owning up and learning from the experience.

As an organisation our policy on price / price change is as follows:  Consumers will always be billed at the lower the MRP and display price.  Hence if the MRP on the item is lower than the display price our system takes care of this and in virtually every such case our customers have got a refund or similar compensation for the excess amount.  In the event that the prices go up (like in your case), we invoice you at the display price and absorb the difference.  

In the last few months given the kind of fluctuation that the dollar exchange rate has seen, price changes from brands have become quite common.  There have been scenarios where we have the same product available at different price points across warehouses (we physically stock at Mum, Dlh & Blr). As a practice we dispatch the shipment from the warehouse that is closest to the recipient.

In your case we dispatched your order from our Delhi warehouse.  The stock at the Delhi warehouse was fresh and we did have the same product at Mumbai at the lower MRP.  Our warehouse team made a note of the discrepancy and updated the organisation.  As a practice some customers do call and verify if prices on the product dont match the invoice.  Our care team verifys the input and brings consumers up to speed.

In this case the information got picked by a new care associate, who made the call.  We obviously goofed up in our induction and training.  Being a little over a year old, I guess we still have some work to do on this front. Its unfortunate that the incident has happened, but we do acknowledge it and I truely believe that the team will learn from this.

Another point I will want to touch upon is our delay in giving you a response to your observation.  Our system allows us to track orders basis ph nos, mail ID's, order nos / shipment nos and names. While Rahul was corresponding with you folks earlier we were not able to track the order on any of the above variables.  Thank you for having shared the shipment details, we were able to trace details on our CRM and play out the call over our IVR and share your experience with the entire organisation. I think we have reasonalbly good systems and will be glad to hear on ways in which we can improve. Our social team led by Rahul meanwhile kept the conversation going with you (personally I felt that we might have been a bit too passionate in some of the communication).

We are a young organisation with a single minded focus on making parenting easier.  All of us are committed to creating relationships with our consumers and will be transparent in all our communication.  Thanks once more for your patience,

Comment by Abhimanyu on May 30, 2012 at 10:59pm

I would like to reiterate what i'd said earlier...

Damage is done...but Babyoye can come out of it by conducting a thorough inquiry and set a great precedent for the whole eCom industry. I would love to read a post about how they zeroed in on the caller, what are these deficiencies in the system and how they intend to plug them in future. Rahul has ensured me that their top guys are at it, and they'll soon unravel it. I trust him for not losing my trust the second time.

Comment by Paavani on May 30, 2012 at 10:56pm
That way travel sites are good. Like yatra, which told me they have increased the fare for Nepal package but when I reminded, I asked for payment details long back, so why asking for more. And finally they agreeed on previous cost. Same way Make my trip which made a travel itinerary Including visa charges for Cambodia/Vietnam and gave low fare connecting flight to Bangkok which made us to go through emigration / immigration instead of in-transist but later they paid for Thai visa.
But recent experience with eBay India was/is not good. Instead of having a transparent buyer/seller policy they charge for paisa pay and later 'eBay charges' extra. I mean, I sold a camera, cut the money in one go. But why sending me an invoice after 2 months and saying will suspend my account even they already cut 1200 rs and now asking for 274 rs more.
Comment by Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal on May 30, 2012 at 10:08pm

First and foremost, I would like to publicly apologize to Abhimanyu - the author of this post.

Last evening when Rahul (the social head of Babyoye) declared that they could not even 'locate' this order and hence cast doubt on the transaction itself, I grew restless. All evening and till late night and early morning, I was on tenterhooks, 'coz in the end, it was the reputation of the Oyebaby business that is in question.

Both Rahul and I repeatedly tweeted Abhimanyu, but he did not respond.

This morning, I kinda succumbed into believing that Abhi had made a mistake and warned him on Twitter to either provide facts or be declared a "phony". I even told Rahul to prepare a defence blog favoring Oyebaby that I would promote.

Just then, Abhi appeared and promised details that he was expecting from his sister. He also mentioned that his net was down yesterday and that is why he went silent on twitter and on the reminders.

An hour back he has posted all the details!

Abhimanyu, I am SORRY and APOLOGETIC for losing my cool and calling you a phony.

Thank you for being patient with me.

Now, Oyebaby, YOU guys have some SERIOUS SERIOUS explaining to do!!!

Comment by Abhimanyu on May 30, 2012 at 8:53pm

@Rahul Here are the details - Customer Order #100111377, Shipment # 100094935, Invoice #2031300006595
I think this should suffice. 

 Hope you do something about it now. Waiting for a positive development from your end.
 

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