10 February 2017

ObserVation: A day ‘in’ shopping

little recap, I buy all my girl clothes exclusively by the global store called On-Line Inc. That is except for rare occasions in the pre–on-line era where I would pluck up my courage and buy stockings / pantyhose and sometimes lipsticks in stores a long way from home.

On-Line buying started early ‘14 as I got to grips with social networking and creating avatar-ic like e-mail accounts. I soon realised I could send all my purchases to work, drive home with them in the boot of the car, and when the coast was clear smuggle them into the house and down into the cellar.
Well until the end of last year that is, but more on that later.

When I started buying On-Line ..

[Ed: Please note dear reader that when she talks about ‘On-Line’ this is only to do with shopping exclusively for ‘her’ and not ‘him’. He goes way back and was quite active, that is until madam licked blood and changed his passwords.]

.. Amazon was the only site I had an account for. In the early days I was rather reluctant to flash my credit card and details about with other stores. I use to browse the on-line shopping stores quite regularly, mostly at work and of course only in my ‘spare time’. Later I branched out and added some high street stores which had larger collections in my size with reasonable prices.

You can pay the earth for some very lovely dresses but I would only be wearing them in the confinements of the house, so I held back. With shoes I’m glad I have a size that limits me in buying lots of them. For quick browsing on my dedicated ‘Abi-iPad’ I have search profiles bookmarked for various stores like Newlook (mainly for shoes) and Zalando, ASOS, Navabi for clothes.

 With Amazon I try and restrict myself to prime. That is selling and post & packaging and not just where Amazon carries out p&p logistics. With prime any mishaps that occurred I got all my money back. You pay a little extra up front on the article but it's worth it in the long run and up a relative low limit the p&p is free...

[Ed: Free? There is no such thing as ‘free’. How often do you browse like mad looking for articles to top up the shopping basket to save on p&p and end up way over the limit?]

Ok, yes I do ‘top up’ as you say, usually with something from the makeup counter, a lipstick then a polish to match and then look for earrings that match then .. ok, point taken .. 
As said I stick to Amazon Prime as far as possible and try to steer clear from Amazon’s market place due a number of ‘problems’ in the past. If I do find something that looks like a bargain, then there are a few things I look at and out for before hitting the buy button. 
Such as:
The amount of p&p.
You're probably not going to get back the p&p if the article has to go back for whatever reason. From my experience you’re going to get lumbered with the return costs as well.

For example, I bought a pair of Andres Machado heels via Amazon. The shoe price was reasonable and also the p&p. It looked like they would come direct from an outlet of the manufacturer so I saw no problem with ordering. I have a few pairs from them that fit well and are quite walkable. This pair was in my size and the style more sandal like than the others and as I hadn’t any sandals at that time I went for it.

Well, I couldn’t get them on let alone stand and walk in them! The model was either labelled wrong or someone had a bad day when designing them.
I decided to send them back. On printing the return label I saw that the return address was the HQ of the manufacturer in Spain! I got my money back for the shoes but not the p&p when buying and the return p&p costs. The result, the total p&p was almost the price of the shoes! I had in effect paid for them in shipment costs but didn’t have them to even look at let alone wear!

Seller location and their review profile history.

The location of the seller can be decisive (as in the return above!). Always check where they are. Sometimes you need to put the article in your basket before the correct link of the seller appears. China usually means long waiting times (if not forever). A problem in general with far eastern manufactures, when looking at the reviewer’s complaints, is the size discrepancies. Here you can forget the so called international standard conversion charts (you can usually forget them anyway!). The label sizes they give are often at least two sizes too small for westerner wearers. That’s ok for people in mid-range sizes who read the reviews, they know they can compensate for this when buying, but for a big girl like me that means I end up way off the scale and a frustrating no go! 

Having said that I did once order a Chinese product. This was a waist clincher. I decided to apply Abi logic to this: If the Chinese sizes are always too small and the clinchers job is to squeeze and give the appearance of a smaller size then there is a good chance it should fit and I can still breathe! And as it was only £6 I ordered it. 

Well eventually it did arrive and going by the state the package it looked like it had been half way around the world.
Which on reflection it had..

I totally forgot I had ordered it until I received an email in Chinese via Amazon. I could see from the layout it was flight information as there were times in 24 hour format and international 3 letter airport codes for Frankfurt and Beijing sprinkled in between the pictograms. As my Cantonese was nowhere in sight I threw it at the Google translator. It was only informing me about the future arrival of the clincher in Germany and not as I suspected that I had to go to Frankfurt to pick it up. After sitting around in customs gathering dust for 3 weeks someone eventually decided to clear their desk and it ended up on my desk a week later. The package was a mess, dirty with grime and a sprinkling of Frankfurter customs dust...

[Ed: How can you be certain about the dust coming from Frankfurt? Did you have the package analysed?]

No my dear Watson I did not. The grime was all over the package, even my address, but not over the customs label and stamp. Therefore the grime was before Frankfurt. The dust covered the complete package stuck mostly to the grime but still present on the customs label.
Therefore the dust was of German origin not Chinese. The journey times I took from the partly readable smears on the tattered sad looking object.

[Ed: Yes, I suppose, totally unnecessary that last analytical bit but it’s not my blog. By the way I should remind you that you wanted to report on buying a pink prom dress, but you’ve gone off, as is your wont, at a tangent before getting round to it.]

Yes your right, almost forgot about why I started this post. Maybe more about this next time. What thinks you?

[Ed: Me thinks as I said, it’s your blog. I don’t think you needed to plug the ‘Pee Pee Dee’ here so that someone will read the next post. Anyway the title will have the words ‘Pink’, ‘Prom’ and ‘Dress’ in it and that should be enough to get people interested.] 
Yes, and some candid snap shots as well…

[Ed: Pictures! Now as your editor I’m not sure …]

Let’s get on please! You can look through the numerous bad quality shots I took, while I will end here with one last antidote and then I’ll dedicate myself to the task of trying to analyse why I bought the ‘PPD’ as you call it, in the first place and the trouble I had. So for now one last story from a online shopping junkie..

Article 'very cheap' plus p&p ‘on the high side’ could = a scam.

Again shoes and Amazon market place with a slightly different outcome. I found a nice pair of heels, this time on Amazon UK. As it was UK I usually check first to see if they are offering them here in Germany which would save exchange rates (£2€) and usually some p&p. Well I couldn’t find them so I went back to the UK site. P&p was a bit high but combined with the low price of the shoes result reasonable. I ordered and they arrived two days later which I thought was pretty quick for the UK.

So far so good.

I opened and checked the invoice, the company name was the same as on the web but the address was from a town only a 30 minute drive from my office! I checked the postage and read off 4.50€ and not the £15 postage I had paid up front! If that was not bad enough the shoes were labelled 2 sizes smaller than I had ordered and were way too small!

I sniffed fowl play!

All manner of scenarios went through my head each one adding to my raised blood pressure. They ranged from; so sorry it was totally unintentional and will be cleared up in no time, that’s your problem matey not mine! Up to organised shoe criminality on an international scale. After I had calmed down a bit I rang the owner directly instead of opening email communication via Amazon. Steering clear of the p&p differences I hit the German seller (in English of course) with the wrong size problem. He was apologetic and asked me to return the shoes and of course I would get my money back. The return costs were nothing like the original p&p.

Again so far so good, I would get something back at least.

Now what? Would this be just the shoe money or everything? At this stage the question was while still on the phone do I mention the p&p? Maybe it would be included but I wasn’t sure. I decided to leave it. If the p&p was not included I would ring again and give him an ear full along the lines of as he had sent the wrong shoes it was his fault not mine and therefore I should get all the p&p back including the return costs.
Well as I suspected only the money for the shoes was returned.
After a couple of calls and some hints to why the size could have been ‘incorrect’, the seller saw the errors of his ways and in the end I got everything back. Maybe finding out I was ‘just round the corner’ may have had something to do with it.
The hint I made with the ‘incorrect’ size was that before calling again I found in the net that this model was not made in the size the seller had advertised!
Now how much was a scam or just incompetence I will not like to say. It’s interesting that the seller was only advertising certain shoes in extra-large sizes in the UK and not here in Germany. Either he thought the Brits all had big feet or speculated that maybe someone in the UK would be reluctant to contact a German based seller about declamations.

[Ed: I hope you’re keeping track of that ‘later’ at the beginning because I’m certainly not!].

Your right, a lot happened in the second half of 2016 that has kept me away from posting. I finally go round to selling the companies and hit retirement at the end of the year. It sounds like the work should have eased off and more free time as the year came to an end, but just the opposite I was working like mad up to midnight on my last day (looking back I’m not sure why, but I was!).
I turned off my computer and listened, nothing, I was all alone. I left the building and locked up as usual as if I would be back the next day. Pretty weird I must say when you come to realise with a mild surprise that a major phase of your life has ended and a less hectic and stressful phase is about to begin. Well now after a month at home I have the feeling I have less time than before!
I think I will need to collect more data to support this or not, will report.

Retirement has had consequences also for my stash. It means I don’t have a ‘post box’ for Abi’s clothes & Co to be sent to any more. My company was not only the arrival area but also the try out and send back area if on the rare occasions the item didn’t fit.

As I mentioned in past posts I could use the long corridor evenings as a catwalk to ‘break in’ my heels while at the same time trying not to break an ankle. Well that’s all over, no more evening wobbly walks.
And no more listening out for approaching staff while trying on dresses and shape wear in a cramped cubicle in the rest room.

[Ed: Are you going to miss it all?]

Yes, I think I really will.

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