Online shopping; it’s a parent’s best friend, isn’t it? Long gone are the days of being able to lazily wander around shopping malls and high streets, meandering between rows of clothes and struggling to choose between homeware items. Nothing will speed a shopping trip more than the addition of a small child making their protests loudly known whilst doing their very best to escape left, right and centre.
No, nowadays shopping in our household is done almost exclusively online. Whether it’s finally hitting the buy button on furniture I’ve lusted over for weeks or a quick phone-based purchase having realised we’re completely out of XYZ (insert every household essential possible), I’ll admit to being an addict. Don’t even get me started on my love of Amazon Prime… I swear, the combination of night-feeds and Prime almost killed us in an avalanche of brown boxes.
What’s not to love about shopping in the comfort of your own home? I don’t have to drag a child around with me. I don’t have to drive to the shops. If I want to shop at 3am, no-one’s going to stop me (trust me, I know). Things seem to magically go from being on my screens to in my hands within a matter of days with minimal effort from me.
Then there’s the ‘dark’ side of online shopping; returning items. It’s the equivalent of taking an armful of clothes into the changing room and finding that the majority look horrific on. It’s getting a parcel that looks like it’s been kicked from the warehouse to your front door. It’s buying a new toy for your child that turns up looking nothing like the photo. It’s those moments that turn online shopping from a best friend to a potential foe… what’s the returns policy going to be like? Are they going to be helpful? What are my options? Can I speak to an actual human?
Let’s face it. That’s the main issue isn’t it? It’s all very well and good having the ease of automation from using a computer but when push comes to shove, I want to talk to a human being. In just a few minutes of conversation, you can usually sort the problem compared to hours and hours of emailing backwards and forwards. I’ll tell you a story; at Christmas I ordered two products from a company… one arrived, one didn’t. Trying to chase that missing parcel was a nightmare, the only way to contact them was via an online portal that they’d take 48 hours to reply to each time. I’d get a different person at every step and a handful of things I needed to do in order to prove that I hadn’t received the parcel, despite the shipping company agreeing that it was lost in their hub. As frustrating as it was, the worst bit was that a five minute phone call (if that!) would have allowed me to explain what had happened, get advice from them and find out what to do if it did arrive. Which, coincidentally, was exactly what happened when I re-ordered the item with Very the day before Christmas Eve; a quick phone call to confirm it would be delivered on Christmas Eve and my fears were dealt with… hurrah!
That’s why I’m a huge fan of the Contact Numbers UK #ReturnsPolicy campaign. The ability to talk to a company, especially an online based one, gives shoppers that peace of mind that they deserve when making purchases. With contact numbers for a variety of major retailers such as Amazon and Very, they’re highlighting the importance of being able to talk through your options over the phone directly with the retailer; no waiting around for a stream of emails or attempting to find your own solution online, just a quick, simple phone call. From those phone calls you’ll be able to find out if you need to return the product in it’s original packaging (often required so don’t bin it just yet!), if you can get an exchange or a refund, information on both delivery and returns collection as well as help with what your consumer rights are.
With that in place, it goes a long way to alleviate my online shopping worries and ensure our relationship stays one that’s positive and fills me with joy. Even if that is the joy of knowing I can order treats in the middle of the night and have them surprise me on my doorstep, hassle free.
This post is in collaboration with Contact Numbers UK.