Saturday, 7 July 2012

Chemist Direct

Or 'chemist indirectly confusing and purposefully making things awkward for potential customers'?

I only ever buy from websites that don't require creating an account with a password. It is nice to be offered the option for that, but all quality sites enable 'guest' purchases, i.e. just like a shop - you buy what you want with minimal fuss. Recently I went to the Chemist Direct site. It offered a quick checkout/guest option, so I spent some time putting together an order of over £60.

When I went to pay the option for a guest account had disappeared. I then spent over an hour in contact with their customer support people trying to work out what had gone wrong. I tested different browsers and sent screenshots; looked at URL formation and so on. In all that time I had to leave my PC on even when I went out, since the order would otherwise have been lost. I had hoped we could resolve it and I could go on with the order.

Now you see it (a guest purchase option when basket is empty)... you don't! It disappeared once products were added to the basket.

Hours later I was emailed (6th July 2012) and told that the IT department had decided: "We are not showing quick checkout option when customer purchase pharmacy, aerosol and flammable products." That was it - no explanation of why this was, why customers weren't warned, what could be done about it. As I pointed out in my reply, none of the products in my order were aerosols or flammable; and everything they sell is a pharmacy product, since they are 'chemist direct'. Even so, all the products were straightforward over-the-counter things I could buy in any chemist without needing to give personal details or create an account. Why were they making things so complex? Why would they remove the quick checkout option? It was as if they liked putting barriers in the way of the customers.

I asked for clarification on these policies but received no further replies. I was rather annoyed at having wasted my time, some of it trying to help the company out, and being left with silly explanations for a confusing decision to make things more awkward for customers. Why would their IT department be allowed to act in that way, leading customers to spend money at their competitors?

Who knows the real answer. On 7th July I wrote to them again to see whether it was possible to get answers and for me to then go ahead with the order. They didn't bother to reply.

Oh well, that's another customer lost to crappy customer service. I recommend UK Health Store instead. No need to create an account, plus excellent customer service.

As to Chemist Direct: 1 crap for forcing people to create an account; 1 crap for wasting my time; and 1 crap for not having the courtesy to reply to communications.

Chemist Direct's current score:

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