Living abroad can really make you lazy in some ways. For me, shopping from the comfort of my couch is one of the indulgences which I have really grown used to. So much so that going out to stores and trying on stuff is a real chore for me. What can be better than browsing online through entire new ranges at my favourite stores, getting everything I need delivered to my doorstep, trying things out at home and having returns picked up without the hassle of visiting stores?
So when I came back to Pakistan in 2010, I was really bothered by how our banking system was still pretty behind the rest of the world. Debit cards cannot be used online, and even using credit cards online is such a hassle. You need to call up the bank which only allows you to use it online for a couple of hours, and that too giving you paranoia-inducing warnings.
When I came across Liberty Books as the first store offering cash on delivery back then, I happily placed an order. Which never arrived. A couple of weeks later, I just went to the store and bought the book. Around a month after, the Liberty Books people called me up asking me for my address to deliver the book. Teething problems, I guess. My sister ordered from them later on and the service was pretty smooth though.
This time on my return to Pakistan, I discovered that quite a few stores as well as home-run businesses operating through Facebook had started offering cash on delivery. Must hand it to our local entrepreneurs for keeping pace with the global online shopping trend. Cash on delivery is such a great, convenient solution to the difficulties in using a debit/credit card online. I thought I’d give it a shot. And the experience has been pretty decent so far. Well, mostly. So here’s my verdict on some of the online stores.
Daraz.pk has a great website and a reasonable enough range of products. The pictures and product descriptions are pretty neat, tempting me enough to order things I might not really need. But both orders I placed with them have had issues. A few days after my first order, they texted me that they won’t be sending me one of the three items as it wasn’t available. Fine, that happens once in a while. The other two things came in snazzy packaging and I was a pretty happy customer.
However, my second order met with the same fate. One of the two things I ordered wasn’t available again. The Daraz.pk people really need to get their act together with regard to their inventory issues, since repeatedly failing to fulfil orders leaves many a customer annoyed.
But that wasn’t it. The pair of chappals that was actually delivered to me was damaged. The label on one of them was torn off, leaving behind an ugly adhesive mark. This was gross negligence on their part since it’s not possible that someone repackaged it in their cute little box without noticing it was a faulty product.
I emailed them a picture of the damaged chappals asking for a replacement. They got back to me a couple of days later saying that since they did not have any replacement, they will issue me a voucher instead for the amount I paid MINUS the delivery cost, valid only for 3 months. Since they never seem to actually have the stock listed on their website, I doubt I would actually be using that voucher, especially in the next 3 months. And wilfully sending damaged products at least warrants a different refund policy as compared to a return initiated by a customer. Charging me for delivery, even though it’s just Rs 150, is poor customer service. So I shot them another email about the voucher. It’s been five days and they haven’t gotten back to me. So much for their “7 day return policy”. The 7 days passed without a response from their side.
Oh well, lesson learnt. I’ll keep the damaged chappals, they can keep my money. But I won’t be buying from them again since they don’t seem to take their customer service seriously.
But one (or being rather specific, 1.33) bad experience with Daraz.pk aside, there are other online businesses who are handling it pretty well.
Shopistan.pk is one of them. Their “try-before-you-buy” service as they put it is pretty interesting. And the fact that they are also selling homeware is a great plus for the lazy shopper in me.
They could do with better pictures of products though. And when you go to the women’s T-shirts section, you only see pictures of men. Agreed they are uni-sex tees, but seeing pictures of guys under the womenswear tab may be slightly off-putting for some. Creates a disconnect.
But that aside, when it comes to the actual products and service, Shopistan.pk is really good. I received my order very quickly, the products were great and the tees came in really cute packaging. Will definitely be ordering again from them.
Hoping to avoid going to a computer accessories shop, I came across Vmart.pk. Was their service swift or what. I ordered past midnight on a Sunday, and the very next afternoon, my order was delivered. I am, however, reluctant to use it again because I am a bit concerned about how they treat their delivery staff. The poor guy who came to deliver the order had been sent on a bus, and had to walk for more than half an hour to find my house in the afternoon heat. And he seemed pretty annoyed when he finally got to my place, something I can’t blame him for at all.
Another online seller I tried recently is one with a pretty strange name. Just4girls.pk is in need of serious rebranding and better website design. I found out about it from a desi fashion blogger’s list of vendors she purchases from, and needing some make up in a rush, I decided to try out the website. Despite a dated feel, their product range is pretty good and I was very happy with their customer service and speed of delivery. The makeup I bought online also turned out to be the real deal, despite my initial reservations and apprehensions.
Here’s hoping more local businesses follow suit, making shopping less of a hassle for me. Not so good for my bank account though.