Friday
September 19, 2014

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Doing your shopping online

An Amazon.com employee stocks products along one of the many miles of aisles at an Amazon.com Fulfillment Centre.
By Eric Weil / For The Herald
It's cheaper buying with the computer, they told me. You place your order and on the same day a van will turn up at your door with the goods.

So I tried it, but it wasn’t quite like that.

I ordered a jar of marmalade, a packet of butter and a tube of toothpaste. I stayed in all day, but nothing came. I rang up the warehouse. A machine asked me my name, sex and ID number and said to press button one to order and two for customer service. This brought another voice saying “All our operators are busy, please hang on.”

Hanging on was quite tedious and after 10 minutes a voice repeated the same phrase about operators being busy. I suppose they went out for a smoke or for a coffee. Another 10 minutes and an operator finally answered and transferred me to the dispatch department who knew nothing about my order and transferred me to the purchasing department.

The line was busy, but after another wait a girl answered. She knew nothing about my order and would not take it down as everything had to been done by computer.

I was fed up by now and thought I better just go to the supermarket round the corner, but I wanted to see what would happen, so I again ordered on the computer one jar of marmalade, a packet of butter and a tube of tooth paste.

Next day, I was woken at 7am with the order, but they could not park in front of my flat, as stipulated, because there was no space and they asked if I could please fetch the order from the next block. I couldn’t!

They had sent a box of 24 apple jam jars, one of 48 packs, another with 50 tubes of toothpaste and a bag of coal (?).

That is what the bill said, although the address was somewhere in Rosario. They explained there must have been a computer error. But in the same week I got a bill for 15,000 pesos which had already been debited from my credit card. When I finally got on to the computer warehouse to complain, they said there was nothing they could do because their computer system is down.

The following week, I went to the supermarket around the corner and found it had closed — it gone bankrupt because everybody was buying by computer. They must have been luckier than me.

So much for online shopping. Ordering something advertised on TV — from expanding hosepipes to steel wallets — is another story.

They always offer at incredible prices, but don’t say if the price is incredibly high or incredibly low. They offer you an extra article free if you are among the first 10 people to call (of course you pay for both). Other adds say to call right away because stocks are low.

The list of phones does not include Argentina, but I called Nicaragua a month later. They still offered me two articles for the price of one which means less than 10 people must have called or it was just sales talk. Stocks were apparently still low, which meant that there had been few or no buyers or it was just sales talk.

I was asked in what currency I was going to pay in and when I said Argentine pesos, the answer was “Sorry sir, but we can only accept stable currency.”

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