Broken Dishes & Poor Customer Service from Fab.com
I love shopping online for the same reasons most people do. I understand the risk I take when doing so, but for me it usually parallels the same risks when buying in person. I only buy online items from places I trust. Taking that a step further (or backwards), I only buy items online that I can't find in nearby stores.
Fab.com / Fab Online
Fab.com is an online store with sales every day and they shuffle through their item selection weekly, so there are always new items. They also offer discounts on these items-- up to 70% (I'll come back to this later). You may have seen their ads on facebook before. As a matter of fact, I think that's how I first found out about them. They have some fantastically cool items-- I'll give them that. But good customer service isn't one of them. One of their core beliefs on their site proclaims,
Exceptional customer experience is our most valuable design.
Nope. My experience with fab.com has been anything but fab.
Shopping on Fab dot com
On February 19, 2011, I ordered some dishes from fab.com. My husband and I had just received our tax return and we still hadn't purchased dishes since getting married. When I saw the dishes, I was in love. They were perfect for so many reasons. They happened to be our wedding colors and the edges even resembled peacock feathers-- which was a huge theme at our wedding. We both LOVED these dishes. I wasn't planning on buying dishes that day but the sale was only for a limited time. Remember, fab.com offers items for a limited time and then rotates to other merchandise. I decided to look and see if I could find them elsewhere, just in case. I couldn't. The dishes are made by Gibson and I couldn't find them on amazon, google shopping, or even the Gibson official website. I concluded that these were either not out yet or left over/discontinued and either way if I truly wanted them, I should buy them through fab. And I did. I ended up spending less than I imagined spending on our first dishes, so all around this seemed like my lucky day.
At this time, I had only ordered one other item from fab.com. It was a penguin print for my husband. Having a brief customer history with fab.com, I was aware that their shipping times are longer than any company I have ever ordered from. The print was supposed to be a Hanukkah gift but it came a month late. The situation was disappointing but not the end of the world obviously, since I went on to purchase from them again.
On March 15, 2011, I finally received my dishes in the mail. Broken. I was so excited to finally get my hands on these dishes and now they were in pieces. I had a lump in my stomach that was two parts disappointment, one part anger. So I called customer service. Or attempted to, I should say. I was on hold for 90 minutes before I decided to leave a message and hang up. Normally, I don't have that kind of patience, but I put the phone down and on speaker while my husband and I cleaned the kitchen and made dinner. I wondered if they were maybe closed after about 30 minutes. So my husband used his phone to call also and there was no message indicating that they were closed. In fact, he got the same message we had heard on my phone every few seconds about how our call was important and they'll be right with us or press a number to leave a message. So he hung up and we continued to wait on my line. After 90 minutes, I hit the option for a message and left a detailed one with my phone number. To this date, no one ever returned that call. My broken dishes had now resulted in wasted time. I posted my disappointemtn on facebook and a friend suggested I tweet about it. So I did. I set up a twitter account specifically for that reason, as I didn't have one. I put a picture of the broken dishes and @fab.com in my tweet.
Poor Customer Service
About 12 hours later I received an email from someone on the fab support team. Her e-mail signature signified that she was the "head crackerjack," a title that I still don't understand and means nothing to me. She apologized for my poor service and remarked that my situation was not what they strive for and is not what I should expect. She and I corresponded back and forth through about 10 emails. I was offered fab.com credit, which I declined because I expressed that I was done shopping with their website once my dishes were replaced. This was in addition to a credit I was issued for the dishes taking so long to get here. (Again, I wasn't interested in using it as I was done with them as a customer). She asked for details like when did I call etc. It felt like she was acknowledging me, my situation, and doing what she could to fix it and make sure it didn't happen again. She said she re-ordered my dishes, refunded me $25 (a little less than half of what I paid for the plates) and would email me the following Monday.
Monday came and went and so did Tuesday and I heard nothing. So I emailed her back. She apologized for not emailing me back as she promised and said the dishes might ship that week (the week of March 21st) but she would email to confirm. I never received a shipping confirmation e-mail from fab.com (like auto-generated) or a personal one from her.
I emailed her again on March 29, stating that again I hadn't heard from her like she said I would. I asked for a status update on the dishes and went on my honeymoon. On April 2, I came back from my honeymoon to a box from fab.com. It contained yet another set of broken dishes. I e-mailed her AGAIN, stating that I was initially upset because she wasn't keeping me updated about the status of my issue and that now I had two sets of broken dishes. I have yet to hear back from her. The most unnerving thing is that even between the two sets, I don't have one complete set.
Great Customer Service from PopBoutique
During all of this ridiculous, I saw a beautiful set of candlesticks on fab.com while I was logging in to get some information from my previous order. Now had I accepted the refund credits from fab.com, I could have received these for free, but as I said, I was done with fab.com. I looked to see if I could find them somewhere else online, and I did. I expected to pay more because of the fab.com limited-time discounts, and I was prepared to pay extra. When I said I was done with fab.com, I meant it. However, I found the same candlesticks LOTS of other places on the web for the exact same price. I ordered these candlesticks from popboutique and was quite pleased and impressed. They packaged them beautifully and even gift wrapped them when I didn't specify them to. It was like a nice gift to myself after all of this nonsense. To add insult to injury, the candlesticks were ordered and delivered in just a couple days (while I was patiently waiting to hear back from the woman at fab.com, in fact). When and if she finally emails me back, I'd love to share this with her. I bought candlesticks for the same price that her company sells them for (so there is no discount like they boast) and to top it off they arrived before she could be bothered to email me back like she promised.
How could this have been avoided?
I blame the entire situation on their shoddy packing. Both sets of dishes were packed identically. The box of dishes was placed in a much larger box with minimal packing peanuts. Both boxes didn't have a single "fragile" or "handle with care" sticker or stamp. However, they had plenty of time to put other fab.com stickers on the box. I would have been satisfied with a 5-yr old writing the word "fragile" on my box(es) if it meant my dishes would arrive safely.
I'm very disappointed that I was never contacted back by customer service. The woman I was in contact with never said that she indicated to customer service that she was taking care of me. So I'm not sure why I was never contacted. I even told her that this disappointed me but she didn't respond to my concern in that particular email. I'm also disappointed that my call was never answered in the first place. She indicated that I called well within customer service phone hours but never gave me an answer as to why I was never serviced.
This entire situation would have been much easier for me to deal with if the support member kept in contact with me, as she said she would. I don't feel like this was an outrageous request on my part. I was simply believing that she was going to do what she said she was going to do. If someone says they're going to email me on Monday, I expect to receive an email at some point on Monday. If it's Monday night and I'm headed to bed, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they forgot and something happened and I'll hear from them tomorrow. I don't expect to hear back from them two days later and only as a reply because I reminded them in the first place. Especially if this is your job. She didn't have to reply to my tweet. She chose to and ultimately chose to take care of the situation. She should have followed through from beginning to end.
Overall consistency would also be nice. Fab.com gave me $10 in fab.com credit on March 7. This was before the dishes even shipped or became broken. This was their way of "apologizing for the delay" as described in the email alerting me of this credit. On the same day that I purchased the dishes, (Feb 19) I also ordered a basket on the same transaction. While the dishes arrived on March 15, the small basket didn't arrive until March 21st. I understand that my items may have come from different suppliers, but how did fab.com decide that I should receive some fab credit to make up for the delay on the dishes, but not the basket? The email said it was specifically due to the delay in the dishes. During all of this hoopla, I even asked the fab woman when I could expect my basket which was ordered the same day as the dishes. She replied to parts of that short e-mail, but said absolutely nothing about my basket.
I just really want my dishes. Waiting is difficult enough, but there is usually a reward to waiting. I was told (and briefly believed) that they strive to give their customers the best service they can. If they're not striving to send me broken dishes, then perhaps they should be, because they seem to be very good at it! You're probably better off not buying from Fab.com in the meantime. Or any time. Have you had a bad experience with fab.com? Leave me a comment with your own story. I'm curious to see if my situations are truly isolated.