REVIEW: shopping experience

Keep in mind that this has only to do with my experience with the online store, not the physical store.

Background: For Christmas my brother got me an gift certificate. It was an e-gift certificate so it couldn’t be taken into a physical store but could be used online or by phone. At first I was a little upset because I wouldn’t be able to try on but then I saw the policy that you could exchange merchandise from online at a physical store so I was less worried about having to get the exact right thing.

My mother also got me a National City Bank Gift Card which is supposed to act like a visa. I will try not to rant about National City Bank here but let’s just say do not buy their non-personalized visa gift card – there is no address associated with it so you will not be able to use it online (also read ALL of their fine print and if you use it for gas, go in and ask for a specific dollar amount or else it will temporarily charge the card with a $50 charge.)

Now that that’s over with, let’s just say that the first time I tried to make my purchase with I tried to use the National City Gift Card Visa. Obviously it didn’t work because the card didn’t have an address it could verify ownership with (but I wasn’t sure at the time.) Any time you try though it will put a hold on the money and treats it as a pending transaction. Not their fault.

This is the set up for the second time I tried to make a purchase with

Second time I tried to make a purchase I used a bank debit/credit card. It told me the address didn’t match up with what the bank had so it wouldn’t process. So I tried several other possible versions (with “Drive”, “Dr.”, Dr” etc etc) and I even broke out my bank statement and typed it in EXACTLY as it was on the statement and it still said that the address didn’t match up with the card so it wouldn’t process – they couldn’t verify that I owned the card. Each time I tried a different address it put a hold on the amount of the purchase which left my account with a negative available balance (different for actual account balance but it still meant I couldn’t go to the grocery until it processed that those charges weren’t actually going to go through – about 2 days later. Don’t worry, no overdraft charges with the holds that caused a negative available balance.)

At that point I called AnnTaylorLoft because I wanted to report the problem … their online credit card processing is either too strict or faulty. They said it was probably how I typed Drive and would I like to place my order by phone – to which I told them I had tried Drive Dr. and Dr as well as checked my bank statement for exactly how the bank has it listed and that I couldn’t place my order by phone at that point because it had already put a hold on more money than was in the account so it probably wouldn’t process. I don’t think the problem was reported to anyone or any department that might have been able to look at it or fix it.

Third attempt: So several weeks later I get to thinking “Hmm – I still have a gift card, obviously I can now CALL in and see if they can take my order by phone…. but what if the items I wanted are gone…” So this is my third attempt (I swear I would have just gone to the store if it hadn’t been an e-giftcertificate or if I had been trying to make a purchase without a gift certificate.)

I go online and find the two sweaters I wanted that were on clearance. Hey! One has gone down in price by $10 and they have $5 shipping which means the gift certificate my brother bought will now cover the whole thing and I shouldn’t have to enter in my credit card! Yay!

Not yay… I went through the process and entered in the gift certificate number… but it still required my credit card for a $0 amount. So I called … explained again that it was something that really needed to be reported and probably fixed and placed my order by phone. By phone they still required my credit card number despite the $0 amount BUT lucky for them apparently that system is less strict and it went through (though technically if it hadn’t gone through they wouldn’t have to send me any product and would have had the money my brother spent anyway because I would have given up at that point.)

Placing my order by phone takes forever in comparison to checking out on the web because you have to say each number of the items, each number of the gift certificate, each number of your phone number, check that they have the correct e-mail address from the account I set up etc etc … AND they have to say it allllllll back to you to verify each time. I think I spent a half hour on the phone for two sweaters.

I will NOT shop at anytime in the near future. I would warn you that if you try to checkout and have an error, don’t try again, just call them instead. Their phone support is quite friendly and easy to order with albeit a bit time consuming. I would definately recommend shopping in their store instead.

My order did come in safe and sound and on the positive side, I can take the sweater that didn’t fit into the store to exchange it so I don’t have to deal with shipping it back and trying again. 🙂

I filled out their online follow-up survey and tried again to explain that they seem to have a problem with their online ordering system and got this as part of the response back:

“In order to protect our Clients, our website utilizes a billing address verification feature. Although this feature can be frustrating, it is in place to ensure that our Clients are protected from unauthorized orders.”

Somehow they still don’t seem to get it.

Stop spitting back your automatic response to defend your website and actually LISTEN!

I understand why they have the billing address verification feature – it’s to keep unauthorized persons from using someone else’s credit card etc etc. I understand these systems can sometimes be a bit picky about addresses matching. ONE of the spellings of my address that I tried SHOULD have worked when I tried it online (I tried many combinations AND even checked the bank statement to get it EXACT.)

I have no problem with OTHER websites that require a matching billing address for my credit cards (there have been a couple that I have had to match to the exact spelling of the address on my bank statement to get to work and I’m fine with that.)

The problem is that their online system is simply is too strict or faulty!

It is utterly frustrating that their company seems to not listen about this complaint because they seem to think I don’t understand the technology.