All posts in Selling

Just Fab? Or Fabulously Awful Customer Practices?

Just-Fab-ScamIf you are a girly girl like I am, chances are you’ve seen the Just Fab and Fabletics ads as you wander around the internet, offering really cute stuff for a fairly cheap price… pretty much the way to stop any card-carrying fashionista on a limited budget in her tracks.

Well, after ignoring these ads for months, this past week I got a wild hair and wound up setting up an account at Just Fab to buy a $9.95 pair of precious over-the-knee boots, in sort of a “I am a Girl!!!” moment to counterbalance the 85% athletic/triathlon/cycling gear my money is spent on these days, which is what I also mostly wear. The thing about swimming, biking and running is you must always be dressed for these occasions – such a pain!!

So I was excited, and shared this fabulous deal on Facebook. By signing up to get these boots for so cheap, I had committed to a VIP membership, which means that the 1st-5th of every month they send me a personalized “boutique” of items they feel are suited to my tastes, and I can select from those or find something else to buy for $39.95 a month (shipping is free over $39 so most months you should be able to get something for that amount.) Fabletics, owned in part by Kate Hudson, the actress, operates the same way but I think the monthly amount might be different. Fabletics features exercise gear supposedly on a par with the super-expensive and elite Lululemon but I can assure you the design is not the same.

Should a $39.95 a month subscription throw people off, the Just Fab site promises that you can “Skip this Month” and pay nothing, or cancel your account at any time. So…. nothing to worry about, right?? They have, at first glance, made this whole deal sound pretty good.

But………. don’t get excited just yet. A friend showed up on my Facebook post with a warning as she too, had tried Just Fab and found the quality of her order kind of cheap, but the bigger problem was it took a ton of effort to cancel. She waited on hold on the phone forever with no results (that’s right – no way to cancel online) and finally resorted to simply not updating her CC when the bank issued a new one so her membership fee would just bounce and they would finally get the hint. So that made me nervous and I did a little Google search. WOW. I should have done that FIRST.

Consumer Affairs lists 1648 complaints and reviews for them and the complaints all center around a) not knowing the user would be billed by default monthly… they disclose this pretty well so people just must not have read at all and b) hanging on hold with no one ever answering their call so they could cancel. TechCrunch said their checkout tactics are shady. Valleywag over at Gawker calls them “the biggest scam in online fashion.” And Literally Darling (fun blog) describes a gigantic cluster situation where ultimately she lost money with Just Fab because of system glitches and non-caring, non-listening customer support personnel.

I’m so glad they have my credit card number. Sigh.

So I kind of freaked out and decided to try to pull out before even beginning. That has gone nowhere. After several automated emails saying a fashion stylist would contact me, she showed up, answered my support email with a non-answer and when I wrote back and asked her to answer the question (and not ship my first order and cancel me altogether) she did not respond again. And the shoes have now been billed to me.

So I am going to follow this through as a user experiment, not that we don’t know where it’s going. Those damn $10 boots better be FABULOUS! Here is your user experience lesson for the day, retailers and commerce sellers. Take it to heart because though you may get away with shoddy, underhanded practices initially, ultimately you will bankrupt the company and it will be you, flinging yourself off the ledge.

Retailers, it is not enough to offer cheap, cute, whatever products that customers want. You must follow through with reasonable processes and practices and the Golden Rule perpetually applies… treat customers as you want to be treated, and you can hardly go wrong.

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User Experience Activities for Ecommerce & Software

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Reposted July 2, 2012 as this is applicable to an upcoming post on user experience and influence – watch for it this week!

In an effort to better communicate what we do for clients, I’ve created two PDF documents that describe the various user experience activities that take place on an ecommerce or software design project.

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WordPress vs. Tumblr – A Simple Overview

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This post, originally published a year ago, has been updated as of December 3, 2011 to reflect changes on both platforms and offer new ideas. This is the single most-read post on our site, and daily searches of WordPress vs. Tumblr and Tumblr vs. WordPress is how people find it – so apparently lots of folks are debating this question!

The ever evolving world of blog platforms can be confusing so we try to help our clients understand the basic differences between the options they are considering.  Much of the discussion regarding platform benefits is often slanted from a developers point of view, making it a bit frustrating and hard to understand for someone who isn’t living in the coding world. Therefore, we created this quick and easy overview to help our non-techy friends grasp the “so what” of both platforms.

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The Perspective on Pricing

I had the pleasure of writing this article for the special edition 2011-2012 “The Thinking Bigger – Guide for Entrepreneurs” publication that was placed on the news stands in October. We understand many of our blog readers are from outside the KC area so wanted to shared it here to help anyone who may be involved with setting product and service price points.

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How To Enhance Your Tumblr Site

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Given the vast majority of our site traffic coming to us with Tumblr (vs WordPress) questions, I’ve decided to add some posts on these and other blogging platforms to help people get the most of our their chosen platform. I will update this post of Tumblr “How To’s” as I get specific questions from folks. So let’s get started with some basics!

How To… Choose a Theme

Tumblr has a theme set up by default that you will likely want to change, as it’s just generic. They make “trying on” different themes super-easy though, by using the Theme Garden.

Login to your Tumblr site, and then go to http://www.tumblr.com/themes and look at the available themes. They are organized by Featured, Premium (which cost money), Recent and Popular themes, and they show you how many people are using each theme. You can click the “Preview” button at the bottom of each design to get an idea of what your site would look like using this theme.

There are a few additional places where you can find paid themes. These themes look good as-is, but can also be customized by professional design agencies (like ours) to coordinate with your brand. For an example of this, see the original Style Hatch theme “Savory” and then look at our client’s site, Cowgirl Cravings. Using the same brand identity elements that we use on her other sites, we adjusted the Savory theme to make it unique for her brand.

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Fresh ALERT: New Etsy Feature Will Let Users Find You by Email by Default

This post could be titled “The Almost Perfect Way to Make a Security Change on a Social Site”

This morning I got the following email from Etsy. We sell some templates there so this is in reference to a new site feature that will go live in the next few weeks:

Now, upon first reading this, you might think “Awesome – Etsy actually notifies their sellers IN ADVANCE about a feature that might affect their privacy, security, and usage of the website. What a marvelous approach.”

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Are Recommendations Engines Circumventing User-Focused Design?

Fanboy30_consumeA dangerous trend is making users of ecommerce sites and software unwitting victims in the quest for more revenue. Though money certainly does make the world go ‘round, and the strong flow of money aids the greater good, the latest features being demanded by marketing departments (not necessarily users) are “Recommenders” designed to keep visitors on a site, spending their hard-earned dollars.

User experience evangelists need to stand up for the users of their sites and software, and make sure this feature does not negatively impact the user experience. These tools may not only destroy a positive brand and user experience, they could ultimately result in the loss of customers if they aren’t implemented with integrity and an awareness of user perception when faced with a barrage of recommendations meant “just for them.”

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