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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Retail is... aw hell.

Remember last month I declared retail to be dying? I was totally prepared for a follow up post in which I'd validate this point by showing off the two purchases I made online, from the comfort of my home, conveniently shipped to my house.

Last week I ordered not one, but two of the Patagonia "Morning Glory" dresses which inspired that post. REI had a 20% off sale, so I snagged the black one for $55 and the coral one for $40. Free ground shipping. I can always return one or both of them in-store in Bozeman if I'm unsatisfied. See, I thought, this is why retail is dying! I can shop online and with a few strokes of the keys get a better deal for the items I was looking for. Saves me time and gas money.

I also binged on a new purse for the summer. Now lets get something straight: I cannot afford fabulous designer purses at retail prices. But when I got a "sample sale" email from Kate Spade, well, duh. The purse I'd been eying for months went from $465 to $139. Um, yes. Sign me up. Free ground shipping? Don't mind if I do!

Where am I going with this? Well... only to tell you that I'm not sure retail really is dead. I'm not a very patient person, and I anxiously awaited delivery of my Kate Spade order. I mean anxiously. Checked the UPS tracking repeatedly, 4 to 2346 times a day.

Let me interject this rant to mention that Montana received record snowfall in the 2010-2011 winter. It didn't seem like much down here in the valley, we only used the snowblower twice, but in the mountains it piled up. The Madison Range, adjacent to Bozeman's Gallatin Range, is the "lowest" in the state at 139% of average snowpack. That's 39% more than usual, for all you math majors out there. 

How does this affect my retail purchases? Well, snow eventually melts. We live at the headwaters of the Missouri, and darn near the Yellowstone Rivers. Highways usually follow low contours of the land, which means that when creeks and rivers come out of their banks, sometimes the roadway is in jeopardy.

Like Bozeman Creek, which was out of it's banks and overflowing streets near City Hall on Wednesday:

Flooding of the Tounge and Rosebud Rivers in Eastern Montana shut down Interstate 90, which runs from Seattle through Chicago to Boston. I-25, which runs north from Denver, was also shut down at the Wyoming border.

My Kate Spade purchases were shipped from Memphis, to Kansas City to Denver to... Billings. Or somewhere short of Billings. As I tracked their trip to my front porch, I received a notification that the package status had been "delayed due to adverse conditions."

Now, the purse was supposed to be delivered on Thursday, by the end of the day. UPS never delivers to our house before 6pm. I'm pretty certain we're the last house on their route.

So as my order sat trapped on the other side of floodwaters, I realized that if delivery were delayed by a day, the order would sit on our front porch Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and all day Tuesday until we got back from the lake for Memorial Day.

After receiving notification that the package made it to Billings, and would be delivered on Friday by the end of the business day, I called UPS to see if they could stop delivery to my house. I'd come get it from their hub in Bozeman... Except UPS doesn't do that, unless they've tried to deliver the package at least once. Or unless the shipper changes the delivery status.

So I called Kate Spade and explained the situation. They (graciously) put me on hold and called UPS. UPS said sure, they could change the delivery status, but it'd take 24 hours to work through their system, and would take effect on Tuesday.

By which point the package would be sitting on my front porch. And I'd be en route back from the lake.

Customer Service Fail (On the part of UPS).

So how does this story wrap up? Well, as I rounded the corner to our house at 2pm on Friday afternoon, I saw a UPS truck driving up the street on the other side of the pond which divides our neighborhood. My heart jumped! It was only 2pm! Could it be possible?

I futzed around outside, watering overwatered plants, moving flowers around, until finally at 2:39pm UPS stopped in front of our house. Hurrah! Kate Spade in hand, just in time to leave for the lake at 3pm.

I'm not sure if in-person retail or online retail is the best way to go. I find myself shopping online more frequently, especially if I want to shop prices and read reviews. If I can find the item I want in a store in Bozeman, I'll buy it in town. But if not, I'll go running to the internets as fast as I can!

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