Online business fail

A few months ago, I wanted to change to spelt bread from wheat, as I believe for us, it’s healthier. Here’s the challenge: the bakery is open from nine, and during term, I had to leave for college way before that. The spelt bread is usually sold out by lunchtime, so getting it on the way home wouldn’t work. I wasn’t comfortable with placing a standing order, because I’d need bread on odd days, not every day, and knowing myself I KNEW I’d often forget to collect the bread. Also, it would be a pain in the butt to always make sure I have cash on me, and make sure I have enough cash to pay for the bread.

The solution? They have a website, with an online ordering facility. Great, I thought, I’d order the bread in advance, pay for it online, and if I forgot to collect it or was home too late, I would not have to feel guilty that they’d lost a sale they would most certainly had made if the bread had not been put aside for me. I didn’t care if I lost the money for that day’s bread, I cared that I could know it would be there for me and that I didn’t have to stress myself to death if I didn’t collect, it would be no loss to them.

Great, right? You’d think so.

The first time I fetched the bread, the staff were unhappy with me ordering online. They insisted I place a standing order, picking regular days of the week to collect my bread, so they could scribble it in their tatty paper diary they keep near the counter. I’m quite sure I made it clear that I would not mind losing money if through my own fault I didn’t get the bread I’d paid for, but they would have none of it. Over time, I kept missing collections, they got more and more politely exasperated with me not collecting bread they’d put aside for me, I got more and more freaked out every time I would realise just after their closing time that I had forgotten to collect the bread, it became an increasing mess until I cancelled my standing order and went back to buying bread at the supermarket.

As someone who is keenly interested in websites and the online world, this whole experience has kept bugging me ever since. We’re urged to buy local, support small businesses, but at least in this instance, the small business’ backward thinking lost them roughly €300 per year.

It really bothers me. I am considering going back there, speaking to someone in management rather than at the counter, insist on the arrangement I had in mind to begin with, perhaps with the addition of “…and if I haven’t collected my bread by 5pm on days I have one on order, please give it to the soup kitchen across the street.”

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