The worst customer service ever?

Over a week ago I got ridiculously excited about the arrival of American fashion store Forever 21 launching an online UK store.

The brand has opened their first store in the UK in Birmingham (which I was hoping to visit tomorrow if I ever manage to make it to Birmingham). Although I wouldn’t travel that far simply for a shop, I was prepared to take the risk and buy online from the shop.

This risk I speak of is not necessarily delivery related, but more in terms of size. It seems that their sizes in Forever 21 land are quite strange – a ‘small’ is a size UK 4 – 6 according to their site (rather than an ‘extra small’ as you’d expect) whilst some skirts in a size ‘small’ have a 27″ waist, which doesn’t quite correlate for me.

To ‘play it safe’ I decided to order some Christmas presents from the site. I’m on a budget and Forever 21 are known stateside for their fashionable bargains (like a more upmarket Primark, you might say). I found a few things I thought my friends would love (and I quite fancied myself too!) and headed to the virtual checkout. I popped in my billing address, set my delivery address to my work (in case the postman couldn’t deliver to an empty house during the day) and paid via Paypal.

What happened next was the most confusing part. I received an instant notification from Paypal about my payment, but did not receive the expected email from the online store. After a few hours I was concerned and tried to find a contact for customer services.

The customer services section of the site was confusing and unhelpful. I looked at the ‘order’ section of the contact area and it had a contact form. This form required a customer order ID, but as I hadn’t been send one, I couldn’t actually use it! I tried to use a form that did not require an ID but it refused to actually send.

I couldn’t find an email but eventually managed to find a number for the site… however when I rang this there was no recorded messages or an answer – just rings that rang empty and answered.

The next day I logged back onto the site to find that my cart had been refilled with the products from the day before. I checked my Paypal account and noticed that the money had been authorized to leave and I couldn’t cancel the transaction. Wondering if I’d ever get the items, I tried to complete the order (as the items were still in my ‘basket’). As I tried to change my delivery address to my work address the browser refused to respond to my request. After a few attempts I noticed that I’d just received an email from the store. It was an order confirmation dated for that morning claiming that I’d paid by card and requested my delivery to my billing address.

This new email was confusing. I hadn’t entered card details and I had not confirmed this second attempt at an order so why was it delivering items to an address I had not wanted in my previous attempt at ordering and why was it saying I’d paid by card? It felt like a totally different transaction that had no even been ordered.

Again I tried the phone but received no response. I managed to find an email after rooting through the site and send an email detailing my problems and requesting a phone call with an explanation of where exactly my goods would be heading.

I got the following response:

Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for emailing us with your concern.
According to our records we received your order today, Nov 23rd and it has been shipped out today.
The following items have been ordered:
ITEMS 1-4

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you experienced while using our website.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us at ukonline@forever21.com.

Thank you for choosing Forever 21.

I received this email on November 24th, something they acknowledged in a second email:

Dear Valued Customer,
Correction to the previous e-mail: Your order was received yesterday, Nov 23rd and shipped out yesterday, Nov 23rd.

Contrary to this email, I do not feel like a ‘Valued Customer’ – I feel ignored and very, very pissed off. My items have still not arrived, despite paying nearly £4 for postage. It was been over a week and although there has been snow, there has also been post so I do not see the weather as a reasonable excuse.

I have sent another email to Forever 21 informing them that the items have no arrived but still have received no response. I desire a personal service, not someone imitating a robot. How can an apology be sincere when no effort is made to address the customer and their concerns directly?

Has anyone else had any issues with Forever 21 or another online store?