Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What You See Isn't Always What You Get

I always prefer to write about positive experiences I've had with products, services and companies, but sometimes I think writing about negative experiences can be helpful, too.

Needing to buy shoes for Kat last week, I took her to every retailer in our town that sells shoes. We found only a few styles that we both liked (why do designers think 6-year-old girls need heels?), but none of them were available in her size.

Before driving farther away from home, I decided to do some comparison shopping online. I found suitable (and cute) shoes for Kat on sale for $19.99 at the JCPenney website. The site indicated they were available in the store and not just through the website. I hate ordering shoes online that may not fit, and didn't want to wait for shipping, so I drove 20 miles (each way) to the nearest JCPenney store. When I got there the shoes were on sale as a BOGO 1/2 Off (buy one pair at reg. $34.00, get the second pair at 50% off). I asked the clerk, but she knew nothing about the $19.99 pricing. She brought up the JCPenney website on her register monitor, which showed the shoes at full price. I didn't want/need to buy two pairs of shoes for $51, when the website indicated I should be able to get just one pair for $20, so I took Kat elsewhere.

When I got home, I was still confused about the pricing, so I went to the JCPenney website again. Again, I saw the prices at $19.99, with the words "In Stores" just below it. Then I clicked on one of the styles to get more details. On the page where a person might actually put the item into their shopping cart, near the bottom, in small print, were the words "Store Prices May Vary". I hadn't gone that far into the website because I hadn't intended to buy online.

With that I realized that JCPenney had their out, but I sent their customer service department a letter anyway. It wasn't a rude letter, but I made clear that I felt they'd pulled a little of the ol' "bait and switch" trick on me, leading me to believe that what I saw on that first page would be what I'd find in the store. I did receive a response, but found it confusing and unsatisfactory. I don't plan to pursue the issue further, but I won't be giving JCPenney my business any time soon.

So, here are a few words of advice: Be mindful when you use the Internet to comparison shop before going to actual brick-and-mortar stores. Dig deep to find the disclaimers. Print the sale pages to take with you when you shop.

A few more words of advice: Try shopping at Sears instead. Their prices were exactly as listed on their website.


Leanne said...

Grr I hate things like that, especially when theres a huge difference in price. Some of these shops must think that they're customers are genuinely stupid enough to walk in the door, realise there's a $30 difference but think "aw well sure I'm here anyway, I might as well buy them". Stick with Sears, at least they seem to assume their customers are intelligent!

Leanne said...

Why did I have to say the word stupid and include a glaring spelling mistake in the same sentence? *Hangs head in shame and wanders off*

Frances said...

I am so sorry you had that bad experience. I really like JCPenney better than Sears, but I usually only shop in store, so have not had the issue you had.

Annie Jones said...

Leanne: I agree with your first comment. I laugh at your second.

Frances: I don't remember having trouble with them before, but to be honest, the last time I remember shopping at one was about 9 years ago. I don't think it will be a hardship for me to avoid them now. I don't like Sears clothing as well, but I've bought shoes there several times and Shane buys tools there often because of their guarantee.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bring this to my attention and Sears rocks! I would be upset about the time and gas wasted.

Miranda said...

Love your new look, Annie! Very cozy and fall like.
Also, I've been watching your debt totals on your sidebar. You guys are doing great!!

Annie Jones said...

SonyaAnn: I was probably most upset just at the fact that the ads didn't match up, but it was a waste of time, too.

Miranda: Thanks for the compliments, and for reminding me that it's time to change the debt progress. We're under $7500 now!