I love bargains. Love ’em. Live for ’em. Won’t buy a thing full-price. I have purchased deals from Groupon, TeamBuy, DealFind, etc. and experienced minimal problems. Ergo, when TeamBuy had a great Holiday deal on Android tablets, I thought “what a great idea for a Christmas present.” I know the ipad is the ultimate in tableture, but at a bargain price, I figured why not try out the Android, and then take it from there.
The site stated that all orders had to be placed before December 9th if you wanted them to arrive before Christmas. Using my TeamBuy certificate, I placed my order with CoolDroids on December 7th. Then I checked my account. I checked it every day. On Monday the 19th of December, my account still said “Awaiting Fulfillment”. This did not bode well for the timely delivery of Christmas gifts, considering the CoolDroids website says it will take 7-10 business days to arrive once an order is shipped.
I called CoolDroids. I pressed 2 for “Support”. I was told “This is not a viable option”. I could feel my chest tightening. Had I been scammed?
I called TeamBuy. I spoke to a nice-enough guy, who assured me that all orders placed in time would be delivered by the 23rd. I asked if there was a phone number where I could speak directly with someone at CoolDroids. He said no.
I checked the “Q&A” section of the TeamBuy website. Hundreds of people were on there voicing the same concern as me. (Scroll to the bottom of the thread for the really angry posts). We had all placed our orders on time. We had all tried to contact CoolDroids, and TeamBuy, and anyone who might be able to answer the question “WILL I GET MY DELIVERY IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS?!”. We were all given the run-around.
I went to the CoolDroids website and waited for an “online operator”. I started chatting with “Geraldine”. I’m 99% sure that Geraldine is a chat robot. Here is the transcript of our conversation. (You probably have to open this image in another window and enlarge to see the text of the chat). Basically, the response was “yeah… we’ll get back to you on that.”
Anyway, it’s been 48 hours. No reply from Geraldine. No communication from TeamBuy, so I tweeted at them. And they tweeted me back. TeamBuyHalifax was on it immediately (thank you for that), and TeamBuy_Toronto (where the head office is located) responded within 24 hours. Their customer experience team is working on it.
Fair enough. But why hasn’t anyone been on this TeamBuy thread where so many of TeamBuy’s customers are upset about having no effin’ clue what’s going on with their Christmas presents? Some of the complaints came from parents voicing concern over the fact that these were gifts for their kids. How do you explain that one on Christmas morning? “Sorry kids, Santa won’t be showing up with your presents for a few more weeks, or possibly not at all.” It may be out of your hands TeamBuy, in fact, I’m quite sure at this point it is – but people bought the deal from you, and they want answers to their questions.
Not everyone uses Twitter, and I was getting frustrated with TeamBuy’s lack of activity on their own forum. Anyone in any kind of social business will tell you that it is part of someone’s job (if not everyone’s job) to engage with customers over issues of this nature. Why wasn’t anyone doing it?
I know that small companies sometimes get overwhelmed by immense TeamBuy/Groupon/DealFind responses and that can slow things down and screw up business for them. However, CoolDroids also placed similar ads on other group-buying sites, so one would have to imagine that they were looking for a surge in orders. If you guarantee that something will be delivered by Christmas, you better be ready to follow through with the customers who placed their order weeks and weeks ago when their order status says “Awaiting Fulfillment” only a few days before Christmas. When things are going poorly and orders aren’t making it out the door – you get EVERYONE on the phone and on email and on your support forums and you DEAL WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS. Don’t leave this task to Geraldine the Robot. If you do you, then please be ready for a crap-ton of reports to the Better Business Bureau.
If all of this wasn’t enough, it appears that CoolDroids.com is actually a re-seller/alias for another site – http://kascadian.mybigcommerce.com/ CoolDroids/Kascadian seem to be the exact same site, but with different names. One thing that leaps off the page is that the prices at Kascadian are cheaper, with the exact same tablet retailing for $94.99 instead of the $389.99 (discounted to $119 + $16 tax). Either way, it still looks like the TeamBuy purchasers are paying more than what the tablet is worth. What the hell is going on here?
Teambuy – I’m sure you didn’t want this. Did you research this company particularly well before signing them up? Probably not. Did you notice that Kascadian Electronics has an “F” rating from the BBB? Probably not. But I’m sure you didn’t want this. Ideally, the orders would be shipped, we would all have our tracking numbers, and everything would be right in the world and your customers would be happy. But that’s not what happened, and by abandoning your message boards and not addressing the 2000+ customers who purchased this deal, you aren’t doing very much to instill faith in your brand.
So that’s where we are right now. As it stands, my order says “Partially Shipped”. I don’t know what that means and I have not received a tracking number from CoolDroids, or Kascadian, or anyone. If my order does arrive in time to make it under the tree, I will chalk it up to being a Christmas miracle, but I’m not holding my breath. Next time I’ll know that when buying any physical product from a group buying site… buyer beware!