Very bad pre-order experience with IndiaTimes shopping

23 Jul

Pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with . Their order confirmation mail said that they are going to email me the shipping details once they start shipping the product. However, there was no activity from them till Saturday evening, the day of the book release (which started at 6.00am) in India.

So I called them up to ask what their story is. The customer service folks (after making me wait for more than 10 minutes) said that they are going to deliver the book on Sunday, but they didn’t have shipment details yet. That is bad enough. That is very unpleasant experience by itself. The purpose of pre-order is not sinking in their minds I suppose, because if there is no need to receive it on the same day, I would have purchased it at leisure.

They didn’t deliver the book on Sunday either. Their IVRS never went to a live person, may be they never support customers on Sundays.

I called them again on Monday. This time, the experience is much horrible. The first service representative transfered me to someone else, which is a 13 minute wait. Then the new person tells me that he needs to fetch the records (another wait of about 5 minutes.) He just gave me a TNT consignment number, but not sure if TNT had a website. He just gave a tracking number and their phone. He also made me wait for few more minutes to check if I can cancel the order, now that the delivery is not done for more than 50 hours after the release.

When I checked with TNT representative on their phone line, I was told that the shipment hasn’t been received yet from Delhi (this is at about 8.50am on Monday, 23rd) but assured that the delivery will be done on the same day. Meanwhile, I could find the URL of TNT (which was skypak earlier in India) and started tracking the package.

Finally, the package is delivered at about 2.30pm on Monday, about 56 hours after the release of the book in India. If I did traditional shopping and spend as much time I spent with the IndiaTimes folks on phone, I would have got the book within two to four hours of the release.

What is more interesting is the way IndiaTimes planned its shipments. Every package should have originated from Delhi. What a foolish thing to do for a high volume sale. Especially these people with their country-wide newspaper network. I liked the way, a cocern of Business Standard, planned their shipments. They promised here that anyone in the following cities would get the book on the same day of release.

Free Shipping! The book will quietly slip out of warehouses across India on July 21, 2007 and get delivered at your doorstep absolutely free of cost.

The book will be delivered on July 21st in the following cities : Delhi, Noida, Gurgoan, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkatta and Ahamadabad.

Here is the final log from TNT package delivery tracker.

99829XX64 Details
Reference 1106XX419
Pick up date 21 Jul 2007
Destination Hyderabad
Delivery Date 14:35, 23 Jul 2007
Signatory XXXX
Date Time Location Status
23 Jul 2007 14:35 Hyderabad Delivered
23 Jul 2007 10:39 Hyderabad Out For Delivery
23 Jul 2007 09:08 Hyderabad Import Received
22 Jul 2007 07:08 Delhi Consignment Received At Transit Point
21 Jul 2007 15:51 Shipped From Originating Depot
21 Jul 2007 10:48 Consignment Received At Transit Point

What this means is that the shipment originated in Delhi much after all the morning flights to Hyderabad leave and there is absolutely no chance of delivering it on the same day. Once TNT scanned the package in Hyderabad, they delivered it within 5.5 hours. Impressive!

Now that my kids started reading the book, I am not planning to return the book with a cancellation request. However, it puts a much doubt on‘s ability to deliver anything pre-ordered on time. At least they can’t give their customers decent information. They simply lied while saying that they are going to deliver on Sunday, even without tracking the package in their systems.

Next time, I may choose or someone else. Hope the IndiaTimes people understand the concept of pre-ordering at some future point of time.