Every experienced shopper knows the value of customer service. What happens when that order doesn't show up on your door at the expected time? What if you have questions that aren't answered by looking through the Web site (or what if you don't have the time to look for your answers)?
Most on-line stores don't have corresponding bricks-and-mortar stores. This is a big plus for the merchant because it is easier to start an online store than it is a physical store because overhead is significantly minimized. In fact, many merchants are nothing more than a storefront for other, larger merchants. This detail is something many shoppers don't realize. Because it can be difficult to tell between quality stores, wanna-be's and even a few con artists, you take a slight risk when you shop at a store that doesn't also have a well-known physical store. However, you can often get your best deals from Internet-only stores because of this extremely low overhead.
So how can you better protect yourself? How can you have more confidence that you are dealing with a professional, quality merchant? While e-mail correspondence is fine for some customer service inquiries, there is often no replacement for the telephone when it comes to series of questions and answers, time-sensitive issues, or problems that seem to be ignored when you use e-mail (it's easier to ignore an e-mail than a phone call). Many shoppers always make sure there's a real phone number available before they place an order. This is something that you should consider if you feel it is important to you. We at StoreVillage.com have made purchases that never even showed up on our doorstep and where we didn't have a phone number to follow-up with (and our e-mails have never been returned)--don't worry, those merchants are permanently banned from our village! When we evaluate online stores, we always call their Customer Service departments and grill them on various aspects of their store. When we place orders, we have really appreciated a convenient phone number to get any specific questions answered right away. We won't shop at a store that doesn't offer Customer Service via phone (or interactive online chat). Our trust level is just too low.
And what about toll-free vs. long distance numbers? Ask yourself why the merchant doesn't offer toll-free numbers. These numbers require additional overhead for the merchant but if you purchase products directly from them, we feel that a merchant would want to provide this service to you...if they are service-oriented and make enough sales to cover the extra costs. It makes sense for some online businesses to not have toll-free numbers, but online merchants have very few good excuses.
tip helpful to you? Please let us know by sending an e-mail to Webmaster@StoreVillage.com.
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