Monday, June 13, 2016

Amazon: making returning a faulty product harder than rocket science

You'll need a comfy chair and cup of tea/coffee/whatever for this one. So, if you are sitting comfortably, I'll begin.

My new sat nav - purchased two months ago - was not working properly, so I needed to send it back to the retailer I bought it from - Amazon.

Naively, I thought there would be somehow that I could contact Amazon, state the problem with the product, and get a new one in exchange [as I would have done had I stuck with Curry's, see Navigating to a satellite navigator made hard ]].

So I went to Amazon.co,uk and found this page, with a link to 'returns and replacements'
 Which took me to this page ...
So I clicked on 'start a return'
Which took me to this page that required me to identify the item I wanted to return, 
... and clicked on the 'return of replace item' link, I got this page ...
 
Which said I couldn't return the product. 

So I went back to the returns support centre page, and clicked on the 'learn more about exchanges and replacements' link,
Which took me to this page ...

and when I clicked on the link to the page it told me I would get help on, it took me to this page ...

Yep ... back to the page I was on previously - from which I had sought help two clicks ago.

So I sought out the 'help and customer service' section, and came across a 'returns and refunds' page - and clicked on the 'replacements, exchanges and repairs' link.
Which took me to this page ...
 Which I had already been to on my tour of Amazon.co.uk [see above].

So it was back to the 'help and customer service', this time; 'about warranty repairs' - and clicked on a useful-looking link
Which took me back to ...
 ... to which I was now becoming a regular visitor.

So I tried a new tack, and found the 'returns policy' page. And there - a good way down the page was a line that said: 'if a product becomes defective after more than 30 days you won't be able to create a returns label using our returns support centre'.

I can't really repeat what I actually said, but it was along the line of, 'well you don't say - that information would have been jolly spiffing to have been told on one of my many visits to that 'returns support centre' page. 
So, thinking I was getting somewhere, I clicked on the 'contact us' link, and got this page [which doesn't look anything like a 'contact us' page to me].
But still ... I clicked on the 'returns and refunds' link, which took to I page where I was asked to identify the item, and when I did so the page showed a link I had seen before: 'return or replace item'. 
This is it I thought: result. 

Oh drat, I said when it took me to that old favourite ... 
So it was back to the returns policy - with the thought that Amazon were actually breaking the law by not providing a method of returning faulty goods. And there, hidden on the left was a little link that said; 'contact us'.
Which took me to this page ...
... for which there should have been a big sign - and link - way back on the second page I was directed to. Note to self: but there wasn't, I wonder why not?

Eventually, I clicked on the 'phone' contact button on the bottom, got a form on which I put my phone number, and immediately I was contacted.

But that is not the end of the story. The lady who rang was very helpful, but obviously in the Indian sub-continent. Now, I have many colleagues who do not originate from the UK. And far many more students who are classed as 'international' - so I am very used to 'interpreting' English spoken by people for whom it is not their first language. But I really struggled with her accent.

Anyhoo ... the upshot was that she arranged for the sat nav to be collected by a courier tomorrow and I would be refunded for it. So, result - I hope.

So if it was that easy for them to do, why isn't that 'phone back' facility made available - and obvious - on the returns page?

Oh ... and she never asked at any time what is wrong with the sat nav - and no where on the email I have been sent does it request that I say what is wrong with it [but I put a note in anyway, 'cos I'm helpful like that :-) ].

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

This online service doesn't hold water


I just received my paperless online bill from Northumbria Water. After checking how much water I had used and how much I needed to pay, I decided to change my password too the site.

So I looked at the homepage header expecting to see [the normal] link to 'profile' or similar [note that they can't call it 'account' as the account in this example is my water usage account].
 
As you can see: no such link. Note also the live chat facility's hours. As I type this at 7am, it is a dead chat facility. Obviously it is designed only for people who can access their watre bill while that are at work or on a day off [but not Saturday afternoon or all day on Sunday].

So I put 'change password' into the on-site search, and got nothing relevant – the closest being 'I've forgotten my password'.

So I then posed a question in the 'ask a question' facility. Thinking that the answer to this question would take me to a 'profile' page, I asked; 'How do I change my contact details?' I got this response: 
 
So I clicked on the 'online form' link, and got:
 
Hmmm.

Further investigation would suggest that:

* To change my password I will need to pretend that I have forgotten my existing one and re-set the whole thing [that will involve – I assume – and exchange of emails and me following a number of requirements].

* To change – say – my contact phone number I will have to ring Northumbria Water's telephone helpline.

Ho hum.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Website washout?

So after I discovered a pool of water under my washing machine this morning, I was checking out how much a new one was going to cost me. 

And I remembered the ads on TV  for AO.com. 

So - via a search and ad on Google - I arrived at this page... 



If you look carefully - I've added an arrow - there is something chopped out of the page. 

I was using Firefox, so I checked the page was downloading properly on Chrome ... 


Nope - just the same. However, because it is part of my job [and I have this blog to write :-) ] I even had a look at the page on my iPad, and lo and behold - there was the missing content. 


Now, I would say that the missing content was actually some of the most important 'sales' copy on the page.  Oh dear.

But wait ... it gets even worse: take a look at the web page in Explorer. 



Harrumph

I wonder how much all those TV ads cost? 

I also wonder how much those Google SERP ads cost? 

And I wonder how much it would cost to make sure a website is downloading properly? Or to correct this error?

As a footnote: I shouldn't need to say it, but I've said it so many times before why should I break a habit of 20 years? 

If a web page does not download properly, it is not the fault of the user, their device or its software: it is the fault of the website designer[s].

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lost in the post?

OK, so I'm being picky - and it's not really a 'digital' thing; but ...

 RS Components is as close as you'll get to being a B2B 'retail' outlet - and generally it is not only very good, but is often held up as an example of effective digital marketing. 

Which is why I was on their website. As part of my visit I looked for my local RS outlet. It was listed as being; 'Newcastle'. 

But when I followed the link to the 'Newcastle' branch's details, I discovered it is in ... Gateshead. Next door - yes. But across the river Tyne and a completely different town.

 
Maybe it's a historical thing [was the branch originally in Newcastle?], but come on: it's a different place.

I know a number of folk from Gateshead and they are pretty much fed up with being identified as Newcastle's poorer cousin. This is an example of just why that is the case.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Navigating to a satellite navigator made hard


So I was looking to buy a new Sat Nav. Basically, it was to be an upgrade of the one I have now – so I had already decided the exact device I wanted ... a Garmin 2699 LMT-D.

Obviously, I could have ordered one from any amount of online stores [for around the same price], but this one was slightly bigger than the one I have and I wanted to check it would fit OK on the dash of my car – so I wanted a local bricks-and-mortar store.

I was pretty sure that Currys sold Sat Navs and as my local store is about 2 miles from where  live and a mile from where I work, I went online to check price and availability. But when I arrived on the Currys.co.uk homepage, I could not see any kind of navigation bar to get to the right department [a navigation bar is pretty much a standard design feature for online retailers]. After a while I realised I was going to have to call up the navigation feature, and clicked on the 'menu'. Which gave me this list ...



Hmmm, I thought, obviously I was wrong – Currys did not sell Sat-Nav systems.

So ... I put "Garmin 2699 LMT-D" into Google and searched on 'shopping' – and guess what the  'best match' came up as ...



Yep, Currys ... and note the message that it was available at my local store. So I clicked on the link, which took me to the following page on Currys' website.
The URL tells you where on the site Sat Navs are located.

I'll let you do the analysis of just why Currys.co.uk does not seem keen to sell 'broadband and Sat Nav' along with their phones.

FOOTNOTE: I went to my local Currys, and there discovered that they do not stock the Garmin 2699 LMT-D - but they could get one delivered to the shop for tomorrow. I took my £159.99 home with me and ordered it from Amazon. It will be delivered to my place of work in the morning.

I have a background in retail; I understand the cost of stock and stock control. I also understand online and multi-channel retail. I think Currys have just got this wrong. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Back to the future


So I was looking for a website with information for visitors to Vienna ... and sitting near the top of the Google SERP was this site – aboutvienna.org.


It was full of useful – if limited – information over a number of pages, then I noticed the footer on the pages.
Yep ... it is a sponsored – they say 'powered by' – site. So what's the story?


Well, I can recall that nigh-on 20 years ago I held an 'e-commerce' [that's what we called it then] session for hotel and B&B owners during which, as part of the SEO session, I advised them that including visitor tips on their website would help get to the top of the search engines [yes, engines, there where six main ones and Google was over 10 years away]. Or they could sponsor a tourist website as a kind-of back door way onto the SERPs.
 
If you were to come across a 'new' online marketer she or he would call it 'content marketing'.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Not the right salutation solution

Getting your greeting right in a sales scenario can make or break the deal before it even gets started. 

Offline, you make a decision based on what you see, hear and 'feel' - as in 'gut feeling'. 

That final point comes from experience - and you just can't teach experience. Anyhoo, back to the point. 

Online the salutation has to be pre-determined ... coded into the email or web presence; so no seeing, hearing or gut feeling. However, you do have the organization's 'voice', that is, how the organization talks to its customers. This is based on a whole load of things, but mainly the organization's culture, ethos, brand values, the product/service it sells - and its prior relationship with the customer.

Given these issues, I just think that 'Dear Mr Charlesworth' is not right for an email selling holidays.

 
PS note how the content implies it is a leisure trip not a business trip. For business, 'Mr' might be OK.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

ebay ... nice try, but no cigar

I got this email from ebay.


So here's the thing: 

My car's MOT is due in around 6 weeks [if you're reading this outside the UK, all cars must pass an annual roadworthy test - the MOT]. 

I am assuming that it is no fluke that my MOT is, indeed, due.  How did ebay know? Purchased  data from the relevant government department is my guess. I have no problem with that; if the data is available, use it. You could argue it is good marketing. However, me being me, you know what is coming next. But ...

From their own site visitor data ebay knows [should know] that I am a bit of a 'petrolhead'. And wouldn't someone who has a real interest in cars know when his car's MOT is due. And probably already made plans for any necessary purchases? 

So ... good effort at personalization - but not personal enough for this buyer. And flawed personalization - like any poor targeting - can serve to alienate the customer.

PS: if you have read my Digital Marketingbook this should help with the exercise on page 272 :-)

Amazon: excellent; excellent; bad

Every year I address the issue with my students about a website that has the objective of branding and the website that has the objective of sales. The key difference is in the way content is presented - specifically to sell things there must be appropriate calls-to-action. And this screenshot of the front page of Amazon is a perfect example ...


Notice the urgency, immediacy even, of the message 'today only'. Excellent.

Well, I have been considering a 'fire' device for a while, so a £30 saving appealed to me, and I clicked on the link. Notice how alongside the 'free delivery' message the urgency is hi-lighted by a running countdown clock until the offer end. Excellent.

So I clicked on 'buy now' and got this page ...


Yep ... only available in a sort of pinky-purplish colour they call megenta. 

You guessed it. I don't want a device in that colour.

So ... not only did I not buy one - but I feel I have been part of a 'bait and switch' operation [if you don't know what that is, look it up on Digital Marketing Definitions] - which has left a sour taste of the experience ... and of Amazon.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Humble flight pie

The previous entry on this blog was one of a whole series of similar comments about KLM/Air France [for they are now one]. 

Well today, this arrived ... 


Of course, me being me, I can't just make a compliment without some kind of caveat, so: pink writing on a light blue background is not the easiest to read.