Thursday, 21 November 2019

Buying clothes online for the first time

The big advantage of buying online is that you don’t have to worry about setting off the security detectors in department stores. On the other hand, not all retailers who sell clothes have a single, central, warehouse where the items you order can be aggregated and put into one package. Myer, where I bought some things earlier this month, does not and so the items you buy from them using their online interface might come in dribs and drabs. The way they have organised their system, furthermore, means you have to sign for each item, so if you are not home when the Australia Post deliveryman arrives you will have to go to the post office to pick them up. But I’d put up with a lot to avoid using Amazon.

To start at the beginning: in July I bought socks from the branch of the Myer department store in the Sydney central business district. The socks have animals on them – sharks, French bulldogs, and parrots. Here’s a photo of them taken on 9 July, the day I bought them.

When I put on the sharks pair on 4 November, and walked in them on the kitchen floor, I felt that the right-side one had a hole in the heel, so when I got undressed in the evening I threw that pair away in the bin. Then the French bulldog ones went in the bin on the evening of the next day after a quick inspection showed wear on them, too. 

So on Wednesday 6 November I went to the Myer website. I bought a pair of black trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, and a pair of olive-coloured socks with toucans on them. The socks were a brand I hadn’t bought before but the trousers and shirt were brands I usually wear. Delivery from the retailer is free if you spend over $100.

While ironing shirts after the order acknowledgement email arrived I remembered I had ordered an “XL” size shirt. I checked a shirt on the pile of clean laundry and saw that I sometimes wear an “XXL” size for the Gazman brand, so I went to call the store. There is no link to click in the email to let you amend an order so I called the phone number provided on the website. The woman who answered the call said I was too late, and that if the shirt didn’t fit I’d have to return it once the delivery was complete. The shirt I had ordered would come, she said, from the Southland store, in southeastern Melbourne, and my order had already been “released”.

After I finished ironing shirts I put them away in the closet. Following a hunch, I reached into its interior space, drew out an old shirt I hadn’t worn for years, and tried it on. It fit, so I added it to the section on the rack where my everyday shirts hang. I tried on a few more from the back of the rack and they all fit. Then I checked the size marked on the Gazman shirt I had been wearing on the day in question and saw that it was an “XL”, so I realised that I wouldn’t, after all, need to return the Myer shirt once it arrived in the mail. The initial size selection had been the right one. 

Nevertheless the time allowed to change orders seems to me to be too short for convenience. After submitting the order and checking-out on the Myer website, I had received their email acknowledgement at 11.46am and had called them on the phone at around 12.15pm. But within that time window you cannot, it seems, alter an order. There is no link on the website, furthermore, where you can “amend” an order, as there is in the case of Woolworths grocery orders. With Woolies, the acknowledgement email they send you tells you the last minute at which you can amend an order and in my case (I usually get delivery in the morning) it falls late in the afternoon of the day before delivery is due. With Myer you had better make the right choice first-up or else you might have to send something back to them in the post to get the item you need.

In any case I now had nine shirts taken from the back of the closet that still fit me, so I would be able to wear these. In December 2014 I was about the same weight I am now (in August of 2016 I was 10 kilos heavier). With the new Gazman shirt due to come from Myer plus a batik one I had had made at Bangkok Tailors up the road, using Malaysian cloth a friend gave me for my 57th birthday (see photo), I would soon have 11 additional shirts to use.

On the Thursday at 11.10am an email arrived from Myer informing me that my new shirt was “ready to be dispatched from store”. I got another one of these emails at 1.39pm referring to the socks. Both emails had in their subject line, “1 Item(s) In Your Order Are On Their Way.” At 5.37pm another email arrived with, “Your Order Is On Its Way,” in the subject line. This last email was about the trousers. It said, “Your order is ready to be dispatched from store. Australia Post will collect your parcel within the next business day.”

The same Thursday I also happened to look in a drawer in the corner of my bedroom that I don’t open often and saw some underpants that had once been too small. At some point in the previous two years I had put them away in this place and bought others to use instead. The next day I put on one pair and they fit, so I stacked the three old pairs I had found in the drawer I use every day. This was on the Friday, when I also got an email from Australia Post informing me that a delivery from Myer’s Southland store would be made the following Wednesday, the 13th. This delivery would contain the shirt.

The next day, the Saturday, I got an email from Australia Post about something coming from the French Connection. The package was due to arrive at my place on the Wednesday. I guessed the socks were the item referred to in this email.

On the Sunday I received an SMS from Australia Post about the delivery from Myer Southland. The package would come on the Monday (not the Wednesday, as I had earlier been informed by Australia Post). An SMS arrived from Australia Post on the morning of Monday 11 November about the delivery. Replying to it, I advised that someone would be at home to receive it. At 12.37pm the intercom buzzed and I asked the Australia Post deliveryman if I needed to come down. He said I did. I got my keys and phone and went down in the lift. Outside, I signed on his phone (“Just down the bottom,” he said) and went upstairs with a flat package that turned out to contain the shirt. It was darker than I had expected, and very nice, so I put it away in the closet.

I wore it on the Tuesday. At 7.02am that morning an SMS came from Australia Post informing me that there would be a delivery that day from Myer’s Parramatta store. I replied indicating I would be home. The intercom buzzed at 10.42am the same day and an Australia Post guy standing outside asked me to come down. I grabbed my keys and my phone and went to the lobby. He was waiting there next to the mirrored wall and on his electronic device I signed for the packet of socks, which had a sender’s address in Sunshine West, a part of Melbourne. Here are the socks.

Then at 11.31am the intercom buzzed again and an Australia post guy outside asked me to come down. Outside the building he said my name and I signed on his electronic device where he indicated I should sign (“Signature here,” he said). The order was now complete and I had a new pair of black Reserve trousers to use, as well as a pair of olive-green socks (which I would wear the next day) and a lovely blue-and-brown check shirt.

Now, there’s a coda to this activity runsheet … At the end of that week, on Saturday 16 November, I went to iron my clean shirts but steam wouldn’t come from the holes in the appliance’s soleplate, and the spare iron I had in the cupboard under the laundry sink wouldn’t work – in fact the water I put in it from the tap just poured out the bottom through a hole in the container – so I went back to the Myer website to order a new one. To get free shipping I added three pairs of socks (the same brand I had ordered earlier in the month) and paid using my credit card (Myer doesn’t save your payment details in a database, so you have to enter them each time you order on the website). 

I had wanted to order a new bathmat but what they had in the displayed selection (only one item) didn’t appeal. I had just ordered some sheets from a shop named Moss River Outlet in Sydney and so I SMS’d the woman working there, whom I had been in contact with, asking if they sold bathmats. She SMS’d me a photo with three likely options and I paid by calling the store. The lot would be packed in one bundle, she said, and posted. At 2.40pm the next day – the Sunday – an email arrived from transport company TNT telling me that on the following day a 4kg package would be picked up from 80 Queen Street, Woollahra.

An email also came from Myer at 3.17pm. It was about the socks, which the message said would be picked up on the Monday. On Monday afternoon an email about the socks arrived from the company. And at 10.11pm an email arrived from Australia Post about the same items which would, I was told, arrive on Thursday (they would in fact arrive on the Wednesday). 

At 6.56am the next day – the Tuesday – an SMS arrived from Australia Post about a parcel from Myer Bondi that would arrive that day. I replied saying I would be at home to receive the iron. Then at around 10.45am the intercom buzzed and a deliveryman asked me to come downstairs to pick up a package, so I grabbed my keys and phone and got in the lift. Outside the front door I signed on an electronic device using a stylus the man provided and took the box upstairs to unpack it. It contained the sheets and the bathmat, so I put them away in their cupboards. The iron arrived the same way at 11.34am.

On the morning of Wednesday 20 November morning I took out three of the shirts with frayed collars intending to take them to the tailors to get new collars put on them. I had had this idea the previous evening; it just came to me that the tailor could fix the shirts that were getting a bit worn. I thought they would still be serviceable with a bit of maintenance. 

The same morning at 7.32am an SMS arrived from Australia Post saying that a package from French Connection would be delivered this day. I replied saying I would be at home to receive it and at just after 9.05am the intercom buzzed at the instigation of the Australia Post deliveryman. He told me to come down to collect a parcel and in the lobby, when I got there, a woman from another unit was taking receipt of a box he held in his hands. I then signed to acknowledge receipt of my package and went upstairs with the socks (see photo below). One pair has cactus on it, one pair has seagulls, and one pair has reindeer (red; for the festive season).

I took the old shirts to the tailors’ shop a bit later and this time a woman was there as well. She wore a hijab in a fawn colour. The tailor charged me $85 for the three collars and he said I could pick them up the following Wednesday, a week away in time. He asked what colour I wanted and I replied, “Just any white.” He said the collars of cotton shirts are always the first part of the shirt to go.

When I got home I did the rest of the ironing. I had started doing it the day before but the steam had stopped midway through the task and I had called the manufacturer but they said that I would have to send the iron back to see if there was something wrong with it. This seemed like a lot of trouble so I just turned the device off and left it overnight. In the morning it worked fine – maybe I had filled the water reservoir past the limit (which is marked on the side) – and so I did the four shirts remaining and put them away.


marcellous said...

Have you read this?

Matthew da Silva said...

They should do a similar story for Australia: the logistics will be different in Aust, I wager, because of the size of the continent. Thanks for the heads up ..