First of all, I’ve carried my Ulta Platinum rewards card since 2013. Obviously, that means I spent hundreds of dollars there over the past 4 years. So, naturally, I thought they valued me as a customer. Not the first time I was wrong about something. Because after making a mistake on an online order, Ulta refused to help.
Instead, they had me go to extreme lengths to resolve the issue on my own. Extreme, as in, borderline illegal. I really wish I was joking here.
So, let me back up a few steps. So, to spare you the boring details, several makeup items that I use happened to be on sale for half price for one day only. I loaded them into my online shopping cart and checked out, only to realize a second after that the shipping address was incorrect. As in, heading all the way to Pittsfield, MA to my old apartment on East Housatonic Street.
Yes, brainless mistake. They happen. Ulta inserts your saved address as the destination, probably to save the customer some time. So no “send to” address popped up when I checked out and I didn’t really think much of it. I moved back to CT about two years ago, so I haven’t had to think about my old address for awhile.
But as most online retailers allow, you can change or edit your order up to a certain amount of time after placing it. Even on Amazon.com’s next day delivery.
Unlike most retailers, Ulta doesn’t have that option. Trust me, I searched and clicked around my account, thinking I was blind or something. Figuring I already spent too much time searching the site, I immediately called customer service, thinking a representative can make the change for me.
But, the agent explained to me that the warehouse packs orders as soon as they come in, so it’s unlikely I could have the address changed. So, once you click “check out,” it’s final.
But, the representative said she sent in a cancellation request and told me that since I called so quickly, chances are that the order can be stopped.
Another call back to Ulta’s customer service, the agent told me to contact UPS the following morning to reject the package. She explained that once the package winds up back to the warehouse, they’ll issue a refund within 5 business days.
Okay, I figured, a little weird. But, if I had to do that to get my money back, it’d be worth it.
Still, Ulta had the package on their property. Because you can’t mail a package 9pm at night. In hindsight, that made me realize how lazy they actually are.
— Megan Stone (@MeganStoneCT) September 26, 2017
Then, the agent switched her tone and told me to still take advantage of their sale. Because it was such a great price and a one day only sale, it’d be over by the time they issued the refund. So, she convinced me to make another order and have it sent to the correct address.
Which I did since I figured the issue regarding the first package would be resolved tomorrow.
I phoned UPS the following day with the tracking number, and also DM with UPS representatives on Twitter. You know, because I’m THAT kind of customer. However, they regretfully told me they couldn’t stop the package since Ulta marked it for “sure delivery.”
Meaning, only the sender can change or cancel the delivery.
Obviously, I called Ulta back since I knew they still had the package and hoped they could do something about it. Because they were the only people who actually could.
Instead, the agent told me that since UPS can’t stop the package, they’ll mark my order as delivered once it arrives in Pittsfield, MA, which means they can’t issue a refund. But they can give me a $35 gift card!
But this is where the call got interesting. Since, again, I’m that customer who wants her money back for a package she’s never gonna get.
The agent suggested I call the person living in my apartment to see if they’d return the package for me. Considering I don’t know who’s living in my old apartment, I didn’t feet comfortable calling a stranger.
On top of that, calling them would require the slightly illegal act called stalking.
It was also recommended that maybe a friend could pick up the package for me. Again, slightly illegal since it requires the act commonly known as trespassing on private property. And taking a package.
And today, despite me bringing up these issues about their online orders and customer service, this awaited me in my email this morning.
Long story short, I have three friends staking out my old apartment. I also have calls to the Pittsfield Post Office and their local UPS (S/O to Joseph Mindlin) to see if they could possibly hold the package until I trek the nearly 3 hours to claim it.
Plus, another call to the Pittsfield Police department (S/O to Officers Darren Derby and Sean Klink) so if someone does report my friends for trespassing, they know what they’re there for.
But, overall, this entire situation could have been avoided in the first place. True, had I seen the small widget in the far left hand corner of my screen that said “address,” I could have done something. But I didn’t see it nor was I prompted to view it.
But Ulta could have easily taken care of that. They’re a MASSIVE company enjoying the era of online retail, which happens to be killing brick and mortar stores by the dozen. Instead, their online store seems to operate on an “all sales final” model.
Plus, add the fact that their representatives recommended stalking and trespassing as means to get my refund, shows something is very wrong with this company. The package didn’t leave their facility until 5:38 the following morning (as shown on the UPS tracker.) So, between 9pm and 5am, they had plenty of time to do something.
Not to mention they could have immediately rectified the address or cancelled the order. Ulta’s inaction on their part proves they really don’t care about their customers. Because they refuse to work with them.
Online stores can’t function like that because not everyone will go the extreme lengths that I did to try and get my package.
Instead, people will just shift their spending to another store.
Meanwhile online juggernauts like Amazon, Zulily, Lush, to independent Etsy sellers like FizzyFairyApothecary have no qualms about changing or editing an order before it’s shipped out. They work with their customers because they realize mistakes happen.
Heck, a coworker explained her son, who lives in Florida, mistakenly put his former CT address as the shipping destination of his new golf clubs on Amazon. He immediately noticed and cancelled the order and made a new one with the right address.
Heck, I had a package from Lush stolen one time. A call to customer service had them sending out a new box that afternoon.
Had that been an Ulta box, I wouldn’t see a replacement or refund. Once the UPS tracker shows the package has been successfully delivered, they consider the transaction complete.
So, in comparison to practically all other online retailers, no matter their size or popularity, Ulta’s falls far behind the rest.
EDIT 09/28/17 – Major kudos to Jeff from the Pittsfield Post Office on Fenn Street for intercepting and holding the package. This ordeal will finally be over on Saturday when I drive 3 hours to The Berkshires to retrieve it.