Dear Retail America: This is Why Amazon is Destroying You

I got a gift card for Boscov’s a while back. I don’t shop at the store, because the nearest one to me is located at the mall. And I hate going to the mall. The mall is, allegedly, only fifteen minutes from my house. But because of how several major arteries deposit traffic in the immediate area, the real time to get to the mall is closer to thirty minutes. Then there is finding a parking space that is not a mile away from the entrance.


Look, I admit it. I’m spoiled from shopping online. Why should I have to spend an extra hour of my life driving to the mall, finding a parking spot, and then driving home just to buy a pair of shoes?


But I had this gift card for $50. And I needed shoes. So I decided to go to boscovs.com and see what they had.


Now you would think that the store’s online inventory would be more diverse than the local stores. One of the things I hate about shoe shopping is that everything is an open toe, an open heel, or high heels. Finding a pair of basic flats in a brick and mortar store in my size is next to impossible. But you would think the online store would have more variety than any one store.


You would be wrong. Of course. As I discovered. But I eventually found two pair of shoes that met my basic requirements (flats with no open toe or open heel). I don’t think my requirements were unreasonable. And technically, I didn’t find two pairs of shoes. I found one pair available in two colors. So I bought one of each in my size.


Now about my shoe size. I wear a 10W to 11 regular depending on the brand, manufacturer country of origin, or what mood the person who labeled the shoes was in that day. Because shoe sizes are arbitrary nonsense that have no bearing on reality. These shoes were advertised as 10W. So I bought them. Because they are flats and I can just wear them with stockings instead of socks. So a 10W should be good.


The shoes arrived and there was NO WAY they were 10W. In fact, I was going to give them to Mike’s mom, because she wears a 10. But they were also too small for her.


So I had to return the shoes.


So I go to log in to the Boscovs.com account I created and…the site doesn’t accept my credentials. I tried the password reset, and got an error telling me that there was no such account. Now I HAVE a confirmation email for my order, so I know they have my email address.


I hunt on the site for their customer service email. I sent them an email on the 14th. I explain to them that I cannot get into my account and need to return the shoes. There was no packing list in my order, so I couldn’t follow the instructions on the packing list as it did not exist. I did get an email right back with a copy of my packing list and a return address (for the store in Egg Harbor.)


I had to pay for the shipping to return the shoes, which was $7.95 with USPS tracking. I COULD have driven to Deptford; spend a half hour driving to the mall, found a parking space, waiting at the customer service desk, then driven home. But you know, an hour of my time is more important to me than $7.96, particularly since the only time I would have to do this would be on a weekend, when I have a hundred other things to do besides go to the damn mall.


I got the confirmation email from Boscovs today that my gift card would be credited the price of the shoes…but not the $9.95 shipping they charged me to deliver it. And certainly not the $7.95 I spend shipping it back. So my $50 gift card is now worth $40.05 instead of $50.


Technically, they aren’t crediting the gift card. They are sending me a paper credit slip in the mail that is just like a gift card.


Meanwhile, I bought a privacy filter for one of the managers at the office from Amazon.com. She didn’t like it and asked me to return it. I logged into my account, clicked on the order, and processed a return label in less than five minutes. And Amazon is arranging for UPS to pick up the item. All I have to do is have it ready for pick up. I don’t have to pay for return shipping. And I had free shipping when the item was sent to me (Thank you, Prime!).


This, Retailers, is why Amazon is destroying you. I can buy products from Amazon with zero risk, or I can buy products from Boscovs and lose money on the return. Technically, I’m out $17.90 because I made the mistake of buying something from Boscov’s online store. Sure, you can say I’m being petty because I made a decision to mail the shoes back instead of driving to the nearest store. But that is sort of the problem. Because going to the store sucks.


Retailers love to whine that companies like Amazon are benefiting from preferred tax treatment because they don’t have to collect sales tax. Amazon does collect sales tax on purchases I make because they have a nexus in the state so they do collect sales tax. But I don’t shop online to avoid sales tax. Sales tax is not even on my radar when I am shopping.




I shop online to avoid traffic. I shop online to avoid teeny-bopper crowds that congregate at malls. I shop online because your brick and mortar store has a hilariously tiny selection for any woman who is not a size 2 or less. I shop online because your brick and mortar store prefers to stock stuff that teenagers wear instead of professional women. I shop online because your sales staff is either too pushy or non-existent. I shop online because it is convenient and I can do it on my time, not just between your store hours.


You operate your online stores like they are nothing more than extensions of your brick and mortar store, and expect your customers shopping online to act in the same manner of people who shop in your store. So you make me eat the cost of shipping back those shoes that, despite claiming to be my size, were most definitely made small. How often do you think I am going to take a chance buying clothes from your online store when it is going to cost me $17.90 every time I have to return something that is the wrong size?



Because, seriously, I’m shopping on your online store to AVOID going into the store for the reasons above. Why would you think I would want to make a trip to your store to return an item if I didn’t want to make the trip to buy it in the first place? Amazon isn’t killing it with retail because of sales tax. They are killing it because you don’t really want my business, but they do.