An Online Shopping Lesson Learned

So back in early fall I was looking for a nice surprise gift for Alisa’s graduation. I knew she wanted a subscription to Us Magazine, so I made a quick little joke about her being able to rot her highly educated brain now that she had graduated. I made a mistake though, I subscribed using an online magazine vendor: MagazineCity. I shopped around a little and found 3 online sites that offered Us, and chose it because it was cheapest, and had no negative reviews that I could fine.

Well hello Google, come index this page, because this is one heck of a negative review!

I was told to expect a delay of 5-6 weeks after paying them before seeing the first issue. There was administrative stuff I knew, and I was sure they were bulk subscribing to Us itself to get the lower rate and so had to wait until Us got its gears in motion.

In early January (5 weeks in) I decided to throw a quick question to their customer service contact just to make sure things were on track. I received an automated email back stating that because I was an international customer and it was a weekly magazine, I should expect a longer wait time as Us was slower in their international deliveries. About 6-8 weeks.

Ouch I thought, 2 months after paying them I could expect my first issue? Maybe saving money wasn’t such a good idea here, though the subscription cost was about half what Us itself wanted. So I decided to see what would happen. I did receive an actual human response to my inquiry a few weeks later (!) stating that my subscription had been submitted very soon after I placed the order, and that I simply had to wait. The customer service rep (Heather) said that if we didn’t see anything by the end of March that I should give their service number a call. “March!” I thought, why would it take that long. That’s just silly, but I kept the email just in case.

So the end of March comes along and I think to myself “Wow, that’s 4 months – 1/3 of a year – and still no magazines.” So I get onto the phone and call their service center. Interesting service center – they’re only open 9-5 EST. I got to know their hold music very well, though not too well as they simply hung up on you after you hold for 7.5 minutes.

“We appreciate your time and patience, and look forward to talking to you soon.”
“We’re sorry. We’re experiencing higher than normal call volumes and cannot respond to your call right now. Please call again, preferably between 11 and 2 EST. Goodbye”

Uh huh, I feel really appreciated right now at 10:00am PST. Thank goodness for redial. After being hung up on at least 3 times I get to talk to someone, though I can’t remember who. She explained that she knew who Heather was as they only have 4 customer service people answering calls. She also said that I should have received my first issue by now. She said she would investigate and get back to me via email as to what the status of the account was. Sure, let’s get this thing done!

At the end of April I still hadn’t heard from anyone, so I called again. More waiting, more hang-ups. An hour later I speak to Debbie. She agreed that I was rightfully angry and she would look in to it. She put me on hold while she contacted the publisher. She came back and said that she couldn’t get through, but that she would continue to call to find out what was going on. I explained that I was starting to feel like I was being bamboozled. I asked her to send me an email to make sure she had the address right – which she did while I was on the phone at my insistence. She said I should hear back from her very soon. I explained to her that I was not wanting to play games, and that if I did not hear from her in the next week or so that I would be contacting whatever resources I could in order to have my purchase refunded and their company properly investigated for fraud. I was mad.

So today I called Visa just to find out what recourse I had. They explained that I should ask for a refund and if the company refused they could get involved. All righty then, back to the phone for a mere 45 minutes of waiting and hang-ups before I spoke to Heather again. She said she would put me on hold and call the publisher. I said I wanted to be on the phone with her when she called the publisher, to which she said that wasn’t possible. Natch. So I waited on hold. She came back and said she too was on hold with Us and could I wait. You bet, Heather. She came back a few minutes later and explained that somehow Us had never received my order when I placed it.

What? This entire time nobody felt they should submit my order that I paid for almost 6 months ago. Seriously?  What about that email from your company that stated that it had been submitted quickly after I paid?

They now are refunding me my money (without interest) and I’m right back where I was in November. Happy Graduation Alisa!

So what are the lessons learned? I don’t know – all I know is that I’m really, really annoyed with MagazineCity and will be looking for ways to exact justice on their crappy business. Hear that MagazineCity?!? I’m shaking my fist at you and writing negative blog entries about you!

Feel my wrath!

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