I really don’t want to write this review, but I’ll do it as honestly as I can without any bias whatsoever.
For those who have been following this blog and my twitter (or kept an eye on my twitter via my blog), you probably would have realised that I bought a digital camera about a month ago. About 2 days before buying the camera, I ordered a memory card. It’s only today that I received the memory card, after borrowing my friend’s card for the past month ish.
Background on the website
For those who haven’t heard of this website, ShoppingSquare.com.au (from now on abbreviated as ‘SS’) is a division of Apus. When you visit the website it appears that they have won numerous awards and they have a lot of products that are at great prices. I myself have been eyeing the Escada perfumes for a very long time – but never justified it since I don’t use perfume all that much. The only setback it appears at face value, is high shipping costs.
I’m honestly telling you all that this is a really popular website – make no mistake about that.
Recently SS had made a Facebook fanpage (you can search it up if you want, I’m not going to advertise the website here) and made a promise to give away gift vouchers of certain values if they made it to a certain number of fans by a certain time and date.
People were warmed up to the idea of getting $10, $20 or even though it seemed fleetingly impossible $50 vouchers for their purchases and referred their friends to “like” the page.
When the promotion was over about 5000-6000 people signed up, enough for the $20 voucher – however SS changed their terms and conditions last second and split the vouchers into measly increments and made it so that you could only apply one voucher per order (and note that the minimum shipping they charge is generally $10). They made the vouchers only applicable to items excluding promotional items (although at the time when they advertised the vouchers, they said you could “use the vouchers on anything you like”).
People were furious, complained, SS apologised, and quickly issued $20 vouchers instead.
For me, I was one of those people who got a $20 voucher. The entire process was fairly simple – collecting the voucher was hassle free. The only problem with the voucher was that you couldn’t use it towards shipping, but that’s okay.
You can read more about the voucher business here: http://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/26278 The comments pretty much speak of different experiences and on the general side, it’s not particularly pretty.
It’s not a surprise that most of the complaints and stuff have been removed from Facebook (particularly those that weren’t worded too nicely). Their apology still exists on their Fanpage as a note.
Why I chose to buy from them anyway
I still believed that they can’t be too bad since they are reputable and so on, so I just hung onto the voucher.
Then came the 16th July 2010, when my friend tells me that SS has a free shipping promotion going on. There were SDHC Memory cards either going for free (less than $20, free shipping) or very very cheap.
I settled on getting a Sandisk 8gb Class 2 SDHC Memory Card for just only $2.40.
Free shipping. Voucher applied.
The description said that the RRP of the card was $99.95. I’m starting to think that it’s complete bluff, because on Officeworks the very same card I ordered is going for just $31.46 [NB: EDITED LINK AND PRICE – I got too confused since I waited too long for it, sorry about that]. FYI, the RRP they wrote of the $99.95 was probably referring to the $99 Sandisk extreme 8gb Class 10 card – which this clearly was NOT.
Either way, I’m still stoked that I only have to pay $2.40. I don’t need to travel to an Officeworks, and it comes to my door.
I paid and ordered on the very same day via PayPal and just patiently waited. It took them about 3 business days for them to dispatch my order. (There was a weekend in the time equation, so it wasn’t particular fast by my standards – I technically waited 5 days).
Problems started to arise.
I wasted several days at home thinking that I’d receive my memory card soon. I just couldn’t figure out why it would take several days for a memory card to be dispatched from the warehouse. Does anyone else feel the same? You just print a label, find the item, put it in the envelope, seal it, and put it into a mailing bag and wait for Australia Post to collect it in the afternoon.
I just honestly couldn’t understand why it’d take so long.
After when I finally did get the email saying my card was dispatched, I patiently waited thinking that I’d have it delivered to me.
Wrong. It never came.
On their website under the HELP category in regards to the transit insurance question, “Is my item covered with transit insurance?” it says:
For your peace of mind, all the items you purchase from ShoppingSquare.com.au and Apus Auction Express are covered with transit insurance. All items that are ‘Missing in transit’ or ‘Damaged in Transit’ are covered with a third party insurance provider.
Buyers can be reassured that they don’t have to deal with insurance companies in the event of a missing or damaged parcel. Once we receive the documented proof for ‘Missing in transit’ or ‘Damage in Transit’ from the courier or the Post Office, we will send the replacement item immediately.
I naturally assumed and was under the impression that all items would come with a tracking number. I mean, it sounds logical, if they were going to guarantee that you’d receive the item. Their partner was “Australia Post (eParcel)” so again I assumed that all items would be sent as eParcels. I guess NOT? I was merely under the impression that was the case. It was subconscious false advertising, in my opinion, for them to leave out any detailed information in their Help section. I wish they added detail – that way they wouldn’t get so hammered for fail postage methods that us as consumers least expected.
I didn’t get a tracking number under my account details or in the dispatchment email – so I wrote to Customer Service using a Support ticket and asked them what the tracking number was.
By this time, I had waited until the 26th July to ask them this. It had been about a week since I paid, and I must say this – I live VERY close to their warehouse. It should NOT have taken anywhere as long.
They replied me on the same day saying that it was tracked, but wouldn’t give me a tracking number because I can’t track it on the AusPost site (not registered post). They suggested I let them know mid-week if I still received nothing.
Wednesday, 28th July, I replied to the Support Ticket stating I didn’t get anything.
2 business days later on the 30th July, Customer Service told me that they would have sent a memory card/ small item in General Post/ Mail in an envelope. I’m assuming they meant they send it with a 60c stamp, and I was not impressed, since their website implied (rather deceptively) that items would be posted in a way so that you wouldn’t need to have to worry about it not coming. See, why would you tell me that it was “tracked” in the previous reply when it wasn’t? It’s just general post – it means you slap on a stamp and it’s ready to go.
They also told me that they would have to send me a “Replacement Agreement Form” and asked me to provide them with my email address and to confirm that they had my correct address.
Feeling a bit exasperated that they had my email address to begin with, I replied them anyway.
It was on Monday 2nd August (since they don’t work on weekends) that they replied me, but they failed to email me the form.
I replied telling them I didn’t get anything.
Guess what? A business day later I just get a reply merely saying “I have sent it again. Please check now.”
If I made a mistake like that I’d apologise at least (even if it wasn’t me personally, I’d apologise on behalf of a coworker), because they wasted an entire day of mine since they failed to send me the replacement form!
The Replacement Form, for those who are curious, is a ridiculous word document which asks you to sign and agree that they’d send you a replacement, and in the event that if the original item came, you had to send it back to them. Uh well okay – but I DO NOT THINK I’LL GET ANYTHING – it’s been weeks already! And I hope you realise that with such inconvenience already having to go through this form and waiting so long for replies that you probably have to send back the item (if it ever came) AT YOUR OWN COST back to SS. Sigh.
After 20 minutes of receiving the form I emailed it back (signed and dated) and posted on the Support Ticket thread anyway to let them know. I told them I sent them the form in an email reply.
Their response on the same day? “We will send you the form shortly.”
It’s like they didn’t even read what on earth I was writing!
I waited an extra 2 business days and because I didn’t get a reply or any notification on whether or not they had received my form (honestly, it’s NOT HARD TO HIT “REPLY” in the email and to type “Thank you, we have received your form and will process it shortly”), I had to post yet another reply asking them what the heck was going on.
So it was “processed” and will be dispatched sometime next week. By the time I got this reply, the date was 6th August 2010.
Just imagine yourself if you were in my shoes – I paid on the 16th of July! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that a memory card located maybe 20 minutes drive from me to take 3 weeks to get to my place.
Finally, I received a dispatchment email – this time with a tracking number, and I’ve received it now today, 11th August 2010.
Receiving the memory card
So it was tracked. Was it well packaged?
I’ve read horror stories about shipping costs in relation to packaging (a girl on Facebook wrote that she paid about $15 of shipping when in reality it would have only cost $2.95 for SS to ship, and the worst part was that it came in a paper envelope with no padding – methinks it’s not so much the padding, but the possibility of the items wrecking the envelope forcing it to get lost in transit.)
This is what I got:
Well, it wasn’t too bad. It was a highly durable, tough plastic envelope. No padding whatsoever, but I could feel something inside.
And inside the envelope I found this memory card in a plastic case. Nothing else. No packaging of the card (like instruction booklet or stuff you’d usually associate with buying a memory card), no invoice, nothing. Just this little case and the card.
The card works and it ‘s fine. It was cheap at just $2.40. It did eventually come to me.
It looks like it’s only worth $2.40 though. That’s the disappointing and great thing about it. Disappointing because I felt I didn’t get a bargain since all the packaging was gone. The great thing was I didn’t pay $22.40.
Depending on who your customer service person was, the length and nature of the replies were polite to just plain short and damn lazy.
Especially the ones replying “k I sent it again” (paraphrased) or “We’ll send you the form shortly” – what?
It took them mostly 1 entire business day to just write a reply, which is just plain slow. I can understand customer service taking that long for initial queries, but for the entire process it was took almost 1 business day per reply. I could get Gmarket customer service to cancel the item same day, and they don’t even speak English as their native language!
The website indeed is quite deceptive. This card is not $99.95 RRP – that’s just a load of rubbish – I should have checked other sites beforehand, but silly me, I thought that I could rely on SS and with the voucher I thought that I’d get a deal. I have doubts on whether or not they well and truly did dispatch my memory card in the first place, because I know for a fact that Australia Post generally delivers unless if some idiot sorts mail incorrectly, or the item itself was labelled so poorly it was illegible, or packaged poorly it affected the address on the envelope to the point you couldn’t deliver. I’m not sure if any of those possibly could have happened, but I find it ridiculous either way that a small envelope could get lost in transit, about what, 6km away from me. Is that stupid or just stupid?
SS is having another voucher promotion giveaway (I don’t know if it has ended or not – I do not care).
Was I satisfied with my purchase? Let’s say yes. I paid just $2.40, but it took almost a month for it to arrive. It’s not just merely an inconvenience – it was an utter waste of my time having to chase up Customer Service just to send me stuff and reply me/ update me. Things that Customer Service should do on their own accord.
Would I purchase from them again? The Escada perfume? No way. I’m not going to ever buy from this website again. The service was shockingly slow, there’s no guarantee I’ll receive it on time, and there’s no guarantee it’ll come to me in one piece, especially when I’ve seen packaging look like the photo I just posted above.
Do you regret purchasing from here? Yes, I do. Even though it was just $2.40 and you think the money was well worth it, I would have rather just gone to Officeworks and paid $29.93 for a Class 4 Sandisk Ultra SDHC 8gb card complete with packaging and receipt instead of paying $2.40 and miserably waiting for this thing to arrive in a month. I’ve had overseas purchases sent via normal mail, unregistered, and it has taken faster than this ridiculous order located so close to where I am situated. I order occasionally from DealExtreme and even though they are similar to SS (low price, free shipping sitewide, worldwide), they come from Hong Kong, it only takes 10 business days for it to arrive, and even though the items may be crushed, at least they use a bubble envelope – so they tried. SS kinda didn’t.
To me, even though money is tight, time is more precious. I do NOT like having my time wasted, especially when it comes to something as simple as this. I buy it/ pay for something – you have to send it to me. Why that logic even failed in the first place and took about a month to do so – just – really?
Honestly speaking and reviewing this place – if you can get a great deal from them and don’t mind the wait (after all I finally did get my card), go for this site. They are slow, and it did feel like at a stage they were deliberately being slow and trying to run down my PayPal dispute period so eventually I wouldn’t be able to file one (a bit like basketball players running down the shot clock towards the end of the last quarter) – but they aren’t scammers as such. They really do have some great prices – but take into account shipping costs. It’s not necessarily the case that it’s always cheaper to buy online – it could very well be cheaper and worthwhile to buy in person.
As for me, personally, I had to “Unlike” their fanpage. I’m no longer a fan, and whilst I’m barely a satisfied customer, I do not support this website. I will not be recommending it to any of my friends and I suggest you all to carefully do your research before you purchase from them, or at least brace yourself in the unlikely (or perhaps likely) event that things go wrong. In my case, things did go wrong and I wasn’t too impressed. But at the end of the day, I got my item, and that’s it.
Have you bought from SS before? If you would like, please leave a comment sharing your personal experience. I’d like to hear from you.
Until next blog!