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    December 2011
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Boxing Day

What a decadence!

And this is not even all:  I took the picture too early, before my mother in-law came home from mass and doubled the volume of presents for her grandchildren.  My biggest present is also not here:   I bought it online, at Best Buy’s Boxing Day sale that started at 8PM EST December 24.

Besides Boxing Day front running the Christmas Mass, I found the online Boxing Day experience rather dull and unappealing.

Throughout the day the website was closed with a place holder count down stating that the site can be browsed from 6PM and the actual shopping starts at 8PM.  While I find it perfectly acceptable to take retail sites down for major upgrades rather than trying to keep up the mythical 24/7 standard at unnecessary extra cost, scheduling the upgrade for one of the busiest times of the year is IMHO a bad idea.  And I think downtime should be kept to the necessary minimum and not serve to mirror the drawbacks of the brick & mortar experience of the event.

I logged in at 6PM, made my choice, took the time to register a profile, a credit card, and a shipping address.  I was hoping to make the shopping experience smoother later on.  I was wrong.

When finally the time came and the “add to shopping cart” button was activated at 8PM, I added the item to the shopping cart, headed for the check out and the bad surprises started.

First, I was asked to log in again, even though I was logged and made sure that I am logged in a few minutes earlier by editing my account’s settings.

Then the site recreated another piece of brick & mortar experience I would have gladly done away with:  waiting in line at checkout.  A message asking to wait patiently displayed for a few long minutes, accompanied by a warning that hitting the reload or back button will forfeit the position in the queue.  Neither the internet nor the site itself were clogged: on another browser window product pages were responsive.

When I finally got through check out, I still had to fill in the credit card security code (why not asking for that when registering the credit card in the first place?), and a step through the “Verified by Visa” thing added to the cumbersomness of the process.  Have those responsible for the site ever shopped at Amazon?

Then there was this weird feeling at the end of the transaction.  Did it come through or not?  The web page said something about a transaction number, but a confirmation email arrived only the next day.  Too little too late in an online real time world.  Moreover those emails are in HTML format and reference bandwidth-heavy graphics.  This is a complete lack of respect for the circumstances of the shopper:  I could have been on prohibitively expensive wireless roaming.  Nowhere on the profile there is an option to select the faster and cheaper plain-text format.

Shopping from the comfort of the home is a blessing.  It’s nothing new – I have placed my first orders with Amazon in 1998; bought my first Dell PC in 1998; and have been hooked ever since.  It would be much better if those designing and implementing the processes would be mindful of the consumer’s circumstances and prioritize user comfort over self-satisfying gimmicks and features.

Best Buy’s online shopping: barely recommended.


Swiss Comfort

Thank you Costco for bringing to Canada this Swiss comfort.