Merchants who lie on the web: Breathing Space

20th December 2005

To the list of the companies to avoid on the Web, I am afraid I must add Breathing Space, who sell air-conditioning equipment, dehumidifers and suchlike.

The front page of their shop clearly and explicitly states (in bold, no less): All our dehumidifiers are in stock and are despatched on a next day delivery at no extra charge. The price you see is the price you pay.

So on the 19th of December, needing to get a dehumidifier delivered in time to give as a Christmas present, I ordered an Ebac 2650e for 169.00. Now there are other Internet stores that sell the same hardware at cheaper prices, but none of them promised to deliver by Christmas, which is why I went with Breathing Space. After all their Ebac 2650e product page clearly states (in bold, no less): In stock now.

Because I really, really needed to have it by Christmas, I followed up my order with a phone-call to Breathing Space to check that it would definitely be with me the next day. And the nice man I spoke to reassured me that, yes, it definitely would. Great!

--

At two o'clock the next day I get a phone-call. ``Sorry, we can't deliver when we promised''. So I tell them that's OK so long as they can get it to me by Christmas Eve. I'm nice like that. The call ends with everyone happy.

Then, ten minutes later, another phone-call:

``We can't get it to you by Christmas Eve.''
``But your site promised.''
``We're sorry.''
``But that's the whole reason I bought from you.''
``We're sorry.''
``Is that it? An apology? That's all you have?''
``We don't have a unit to give you.''
``Then WHY DID THE WEB-SITE PROMISE IT?''
``We're sorry.''
``So what are you going to do about it?''
``We're sorry.''

At that stage, they could have offered to arrange to have another company fulfil my order. Or they could have offered instead to supply me with the next model up (which is advertised on their site as being in stock, but who knows whether that's true?) But, no; it seems that they'd rather have a frustrated, angry customer than go the extra mile to sort something out. On the positive side I did get a nice apology. Several of them, in fact.

The upshot of all this is that I have lost two crucial days in what is now a pretty much doomed quest to get hold of this Christmas present, because Breathing Space's web site lied to me.

So I can only conclude that you should not risk trying to buy things from Breathing Space, because you can't rely on what their web-site tell you. Good luck finding a supplier who actually supplies, which is what I am now going to try to do.

--

Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, in his column of 25th July 2005, writes:

What's Still Good About Amazon
Fulfillment. When you buy something, you get it. [...] Of course, that's the way e-commerce should be, but all too often it's not when you shop on other sites. Amazon's success with fulfillment clearly proves that the total user experience goes beyond the user interface.

This really is rule number one. There is no excuse for a site that exists to sell you stuff, then refuses to deliver it.

Feedback to <mike@miketaylor.org.uk> is welcome!