In recent years online shopping became really popular. Especially in Hungary, this form of shopping is really convenient since there are not many options here when it comes to buying clothes or shoes from more diverse brands.
Finding good shoes and my size (that is 41) in Budapest was always a real nightmare. I used to buy a lot in the Vagabond store as that was pretty much the only decent shoe store offering great quality and a bigger variety of sizes. Unfortunately, Vagabond has been shut down recently so I needed to look for winter shoes online. And that’s when my drama began.
I love when the brands give a sort of dilution to their clients saying that you can shop online without leaving the house and you should never worry when ordered items do not fit you, since you have always an option of FREE returns (without leaving your house too).
Let me tell you what happened in January and how online shopping made my life hell. When I was browsing for winter trainers I had also checked some nice leather bags ( a huge gap in Hungary when it comes to good quality bags with nice design).
I went to the ASOS website where I found a leather bag with a cool shape and hit the button ‘order’. When the package arrived delivered by Magyar Posta (Hungarian post office, pay attention to this name) the bag looked quite different than in the photo, and definitely was not comfortable to wear. The bag strap was really short and the zipper was really hard to pull, so unfortunately I needed to return it. In the past, all you had to do was to fill out a return form print it, and hand it over to Magyar Posta. This time when I went to Magyar Posta, the lady working there rejected my parcel right away, saying that I had to call DHL as they are the ones who needed to handle it. I was surprised as ASOS has a deal with Magyar Posta that is supposed to deliver parcels and accept their returns. I called DHL and I was told that I am not the first one calling them and there are a lot of complaints lately but it is Magyar Posta responsibility to accept the package and ship it to the ASOS warehouse. So I went to another point of Magyar Posta this time I was determined to make sure the lady will take my parcel. Of course, there was another problem this time with the code so after 10 min of figuring out how to put it in the system, the lady working there accepted my parcel. I went home happy that I finally managed to return this item, but my happiness did not last long. One week later a postman knocked on my door and he delivered me the same package from ASOS that I returned! It felt like this bag was screaming to stay with me.
I went to Magyar Posta again to the same lady who took my parcel last time and she completely did not understand what was my problem and why I wanted to return the same package again. She sent me to another lady who did a serious investigation, unpleasantly commenting on the whole situation and trying to persuade me that I made a mistake by providing my address, instead of the ASOS one. I nearly lost my shit and I asked her why would she think that I put my address if I wanted to return the parcel? All that was missing was the sticker with the ASOS address that the lady who took my parcel forgot to put on the box, so the parcel came back to me. Suddenly lady nr 2 started to yell at lady nr 1 and finally admitted that I was right. Lady nr 1 needed to handle it once again, but first, she was on the call with her boss discussing my case for 15 min. So all together I spent nearly 30 min in the small Magyar Posta point in the middle of the pandemic when everyone is talking about social distancing, desperately trying to return the package (and as per ASOS promise it supposed to be an easy-peasy thing!).
Finally, lady nr 1 told me that I have to come back the next day when her manager will be there and they will handle it. So I came back the next day (you know guys, normally I don’t work I just lay down on my couch all day and watch Netflix, so obviously I have plenty of time to hang out in the post office). Finally, the manager after doing another small round of investigation got the point that all that was missing was the sticker with ASOS address on the parcel. He carefully added it (almost in a ceremonial way). At least he apologized and said it loudly that it was their fault. CONGRATULATION GUYS!
When I was thinking that nothing can be worst than Magyar Posta I got another surprise. After checking several online shops and platforms, desperately trying to find some winter trainers I decided to order one pair from &Other Stories. On their website, you could also see free delivery and returns, and this time the courier was DPD. It was carefully explained that in case of the returns you can drop the parcel at any DPD point in the city and they will take care of it.
The shoes arrived after a few days and unfortunately, they were too big, so I needed to return them again (please believe me that this is not my hobby to order a bunch of stuff and spend my entire day figuring out how to return them, but finding shoes that actually fit me is a real challenge!). Shoes came in a really big box, around 70 cm, although the shoes themselves had a height of 18 cm, so I have no idea why the box was so huge. The return sticker was not in the package, so after spending some time and trying to find out what is the store help desk number, after 10 min waiting that somebody would actually pick up the phone, finally, I managed to talk to a nice girl who sent me the missing return sticker via e-mail. After printing it and placing it on my package I went to the nearest DPD point which was around 15 min walk from my house (bear in mind that I was carrying a huge box with me) only to get to know that if I wanted to return my package that has been delivered by DPD I need to go to XV district (which is at the end of the world) and leave the package in the main DPD point. In small DPD points in Budapest, you can only pick up your parcel. Just to let you know, I live in the city center and from my place to DPD main office I needed to take 3 buses and carried this huge box along the way. It took me 50 min to reach the destination point, when coming and going back I had to use 6 BKV tickets which is around 5 EUR plus calling the UK helpdesk that was another 5 EUR.
So when &Other Stories says on their website that returns are FREE, well I can already tell you that you would need to spend some money and TIME to return the things that don’t fit you. Unless you will have everything in your package (so you don’t need to spend money calling UK helpdesk) or if you want to have 18 km walk, instead of taking a bus (perhaps you are thinking of losing weight? That could be one of the options). The only positive side of this story was the discovery of a small shoe outlet that was right next to the first DPD point. In this case, maybe it is worth thinking about offline shopping again and whoever is in Budapest or planning to be, can already book my fashion tour.
Just as an update when I tried to return the item online, I did not see on &Other Stories website the possibility of ordering DPD courier to pick up my return via the DPD return portal. I see that this has been updated now or at least it is visible for me and obviously, I would use this option to return my parcel.
In the meantime, I also ordered shoes from ecipo.hu and ABOUT YOU, and in both cases, the courier was GLS. When these two online multi-brand stores wrote on their website that delivery and returns are FREE (without leaving your house) they were not lying. If you order something from both stores GLS courier brings it to your house, and when you want to return an item, all you have to do is to fill out an online form, and GLS courier will come to your house and pick your parcel. There was also one more positive thing that actually surprised me a bit. I ordered my shoes at the end of the year when the sale season started, the package from both e-shops came a bit later than expected. As an apology, both companies sent me 30% and 20% discount coupons that I could use in my next purchase. Although in the case of ecipo.hu there was some limitation using this coupon, ABOUT YOU won my heart. Not only I could use their coupon to purchase already discounted items but they also sent me an email with an apology adding below the logo. It is really clever marketing and such a small thing connects me even more with this brand.
It is quite interesting to see that during the pandemic many fashion brands were crying that their revenue was dropping, but at the same time, they didn’t really pay attention to their subcontractors. If you are in this business you are responsible to monitor your supply chain, especially when a big portion of your revenue is coming from online purchases, it is quite logical that logistic companies are one of your key vendors, and you should really check how they perform.
Hungary is one of the countries where people would love to buy clothes/shoes/accessories online because the fashion scene is extremely small here. The majority of really good brands don’t have physical stores in Budapest (not to mention in other much smaller cities), and I would gladly order more things online if the return process would not be so complicated.
I would strongly suggest to some of the fashion brands to perform a proper audit and perhaps select better logistic companies? Maybe you win me back..
What is your experience with online shopping? Do share your comments!