From time to time I find myself involved with online retailers that just don’t get it. Companies that can’t follow a protocol of online transactions that I’ve come to expect as a customer. Perhaps I’m spoiled by organizations such as Amazon that seem to do everything right. It just seems to me that online sales can be so easy. Mostly automated the hardest part has to be finding someone to put the item in the box and print the label.  Wait, even that can be automated for a price.

The Santa Barbara Olive Company is this the inspiration for this post. I met these folks April 18th at the Santa Barbara County Vinters association, wine tasting festival in Lompoc. I tasted their Olives, stuffed with Garlic, Jalapenos, Blue cheese etc. They were great.  They offered a 10% discount to buy online so on April 28th I bought 2 jars of olives and 3 bottles of olive oil. On the 6th or 7th of May, oliveless, I gave them a call.  Apparently the warehouse was in the midst of a software renovation or reorganization or some such thing. The young lady on the phone was very nice, She’d confirmed my olive order was there and would ship soon.

Still oliveless on the 12th of May I called again. After being told there was a fire in Santa Barbara (of course I was aware of this, I was also aware the olive company address is far from the fire. I found out they had lost my order completely. I emailed them a copy of my confirmation email they sent me on April 28. I received no reply or acknowledgment of that email and no apology for losing my order either.

Now it’s the 18th of May and I still see no olives. 20 days since my order was placed. I called them today, and was told there having a really tough time there with their new software. This time they took my name and email and promised to get back to me. Later that day she actually did. And they even offered an apology for the poor service and plea for me to not neglect them as a customer. Well see if the olives make there way here.

On the morning of May 19th I received a call from the Santa Barbara Olive company. The young lady apologized from the troubles with their new software and the inconvenience pf the fire on their ability to get there shipments out. But, she had more bad news. On there site I had apparently checked “pay by check”  Or more accurately the site probably defaulted to “pay be check” Now I’m being told that don’t do, checks. Unbelievable. After double checking my Visa and ATM charges, I discovered I had not been charged. I just went stepped through he process of buying something from these folks again, It turns out paying by check isn’t even an option.

I canceled my order.

Here’s the deal. I propose a sort of online customer’s bill of rights.  A list of expectations that online retailers should all meet.

  1. Send a confirmation email upon receipt of an order. This may include a receipt upon successfully charging the customers credit card. Otherwise another email should be sent one the card has been charged.
  2. Ship the item within 2 business days. It really should be one day. Customer orders something, and the next it’s put in a box.  That’s not to much to ask.
  3. Send another email upon shipping. include a tracking number that works. include a link to the shippers website for tacking.
  4. Then follow up with a “how’d we do” email.  Sort of like when a waiter checks back in with a table to make sure everyone is happy at the start of their meal.
  5. Make sure you have a simple penalty free system for returning items.
  6. If you have a link on your web page that says “shipping info” or “Customer tracking” make sure it works.

There is clearly a culture at the Santa Brabara Olive Company that does not value a guy buying $35 worth of olives. Do they not realize that $35 today could be repeated a few times a year and friends of friends would all be enjoying my olives wondering where I got them.  If I were a large grocery chain I suppose they’d listen.  Unfortunately the small time olive buyer is not seen by these people as anything more than a nuisance.  That being the case they really ought to stop selling online. The ill will they’re spreading can’t possibly serve them in the end.

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