Simple isn’t always best


I’ve often heard that running periodic sales just trains customers to wait for a sale before buying. Well, that’s very true for one of the online stores that I purchase from regularly. Their shipping charges are substantial, causing me to wait for the free shipping specials that they run every few months.

So when I got an email about the latest free shipping promotion, I filled up my cart and went to find the free shipping discount code. The trouble was, they didn’t have one. Instead, the email said to just get your total over $75, and the discount would be applied automatically. Well, I did just that, but the shipping charges remained on the ordering page. I even opened a live chat with their customer service folks, who insisted that the shipping would be taken off once I finished checkout. I followed their instructions, and was rewarded with a receipt that showed a hefty shipping charge.

Long story short, I had to call them to get the shipping costs removed. The person on the other end of the line said the automatic discount wasn’t working, so everyone using the offer presumably had to call to get the charges taken off. Lame.

Of course, there’s a lesson here. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or do unusual things just because they seem a tiny bit simpler for the customer. In this case, the store abandoned the tried-and-true discount code in favor of an automatic removal of shipping charges. As I described above, it was a total failure.

The next time you’re given the opportunity to make something simpler, be sure that you’re not introducing all sorts of other problems just to save the customer a few seconds. When things work as expected, they certainly won’t be complaining about a tiny amount of time savings, anyway.