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Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
My bout with Boo.com
Paul Sissons
Paul Sissons ran out of patience with Boo.com
Why did Boo.com fail? Analysts have offered up a number of reasons, from its sluggish website to its failure to generate revenues in order to offset massive start-up costs.

But for one customer, at least, the company came a cropper when it came to that most simple yet sacred principle of retailing - customer service.

Paul Sissons, a seasoned online shopper, first went to Boo.com last month to order a pair of trainers for himself.

"It seemed like a good idea, because my feet are a bit bigger than most people's and so often when I go to shoe shops, they don't have my size in stock," he said.

They were the wrong design, the wrong colour and the wrong size

Paul Sissons

  • After spending some time browsing the site, which Paul said was badly laid out and slow, he settled on a pair of DC trainers costing 75. He keyed in his credit card number, clicked the confirmation button and immediately received e-mail confirmation or his order.

    Another e-mail followed, to say the shoes had been despatched, and Paul received the delivery within three days of ordering.

  • So far, so good. But when Paul opened the parcel, he was sorely disappointed.

    "They were the wrong design, the wrong colour and the wrong size. In fact they were boots, rather than shoes."

  • He telephoned Boo's helpline and explained the problem.

    "The woman was very polite but I had to convince her they were the wrong pair. She kept asking me: 'Are you sure they're not the right ones?'"
    Trainers on the Boo.com website
    Return to sender

    The operator told Paul that a straight swap was not possible. Instead he had to return his boots, wait 10 days for his money to be reimbursed and then make his order again.

    He was also told the matter was complicated by the fact he was not a "Boo member", although it was difficult to understand why.

    "I had wanted the trainers for the weekend, but that was out of the question. I knew then that when I got my money back, I'd go elsewhere."

  • There were further problems when Paul phoned the courier to arrange for his boots to be picked up. When asked about some details on the original delivery form, he realised the wording was only in German.

    "I had to go through line-by-line with the operator, who was translating for me."

  • After returning the boots, Paul had to wait not 10 days but three weeks for his 75 to be reimbursed. The money finally arrived on Wednesday - the day Boo went into liquidation.

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    See also:

    18 May 00 | Business
    Top web retailer collapses
    02 Jan 00 | Business
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    25 Jan 00 | Business
    Boo.com axes staff
    17 Jan 00 | Business
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