Recently I ordered a pair of trousers from a well-known online retailer. I order lots of stuff online but very rarely trousers.
Normally I like to buy trousers in an actual shop because, in my experience, the various makers of trousers don’t seem to consult with each other when it comes to sizes and frankly, unless I try them on before I leave the shop, it’s something of a lottery as to whether they will fit or not.
But these particular trousers were not available in the shops. I bought them for doing martial arts, which is something I possess no particular talent for, but which, nonetheless I do my best at twice a week. Most weeks.
It keeps me fitter than I might otherwise be and if someone attacks me, as long as they give me a few moments to mentally prepare and they attack me using a set of agreed, preordained moves, I’d have a moderate chance of defending myself quite well (Obviously there’s an element of self deprecation there – I’m not as bad as all that really, but I’d still rather not be attacked by anyone if that is at all a possibility.)
Anyway I ordered these trousers online because the proprietor of the local martial arts shop closed down last year to focus on the online side of his business. Call me bitter if you like, but I found his change of focus slightly inconvenient and I actually went with a different online retailer for my recent purchase. Although given the catastrophic events that followed, maybe I should have shown more loyalty.
I say catastrophic, but I’m being overly dramatic so that you keep reading.
As I say, I’m very much an online shopper in practice. I do wander round shops from time to time but rarely do I part with my my hard-earned cash in the real world. I hardly ever carry cash, I’m like royalty in that respect. I’m unlike royalty in almost every other respect. I have appalling table manners for example.
But online retail is how I part with my wages, and part with them I do. I may be responsible for the death of the high street, but the overall economy can rest easy. My attitude to spending is cavalier at best. I don’t let little things like ‘economic uncertainty’ dissuade me from buying a Star Wars themed biscuit tin (it had ‘Wookie Cookies written on the side – how cool is that?). I do however let Mrs Proclaims persuade me that, as a couple, we should probably have a more tasteful ‘Emma Bridgewater’ floral pattern on our biscuit tin rather than a Star Wars theme. I was mildly disappointed by that outcome but she still let me fill the new tin with chocolate hobnobs so I was more than appeased in the end.
Anyway, back to the trousers. I found a pair I liked and I ordered them. And they arrived the next day, to a conveniently situated locker, around the corner from my house, so I didn’t even have to be in to receive the delivery.
I reclaimed the package, and with more fervour than a pair of martial arts trousers really merit, I tore the box open.
The trousers were a little on the small side alas.
This was, as it turned out, because they had mistakenly sent me a pair designed for a seven year old child.
I’ll fully admit that I could stand to lose a few pounds but this was always going to be a stretch, and even though the trousers were made from stretchy material, I felt they would never stretch quite far enough…
A little disappointed, I set about returning the trousers. Actually the process was as simple as entering a few details on a website, printing off a label and putting the trousers back into the conveniently situated locker around the corner.
Job done, I anticipated only having to wait a day or so to be in receipt of a pair of trousers that actually fit me.
Unfortunately this is where the problems really began. Apparently, due to a system glitch, my online retailer of choice cannot dispatch exchanges to the same locker that they dispatched the original package to. It’s one of those inexplicable things, that will probably be ironed out in time.
Not a problem I thought – worst case scenario they’ll attempt to deliver and if I’m not in the package will be left with a neighbour or sent to the central post office for me to collect at another time.
I subsequently received the email to let me know that my replacement trousers had been dispatched, and the internal alarm bells started ringing.
For some reason, still unfathomable to me, they had selected an address from my account that was not actually my address.
At times, you see, I have ordered stuff for other people online, people that I know, but people that are definitely not me.
And so it was that a pair of martial arts trousers were winging their way to my mum. My mum has never practised martial arts to my knowledge and would no doubt have been more than a little surprised to receive the package. Also I live a good two hours away from my parents, so it was far from the ideal location for my package to be sent.
I complained, vociferously.
The package was stopped in transit, returned to the depot and re-dispatched to me.
The whole process took a sentence to describe but around a week in reality.
Eventually I receive the correct trousers.
And they didn’t bloody well fit either.
So I sent them back for a full refund.
Which, to be fair, I received promptly.
I now possess a pair of trousers from a different brand, that are allegedly the same size as the original pair, but which actually do fit me. Which goes to prove what a perilous procedure trouser buying can be.
I thought the whole thing was behind me, but I was recently contacted by the online retailer. They offer a service whereby potential purchasers of a particular product can ask a pre-purchase question which will be passed on to prior purchasers of the product.
Someone had asked a question about the trousers (the ones that didn’t fit) and the online retailer had contacted me to see if I could help. Presumably they had contacted other purchasers too. It seems like a pretty automated system.
I was mildly perplexed, because clearly the product had not met my needs, so how was I to answer the question of the prospective buyer.
I needn’t have worried. My experiences of the product were not the barrier to answering the question that I thought they might be.
Indeed it was the question itself which left me perplexed.
I’ll share it with you and if anyone can help, leave an answer in the comments and I’ll gladly forward your answer to the enquiring customer.
The question (I have not altered any of the spelling, grammar or punctuation) was this: