Retail Therapy

Last Christmas, I ordered a bunch of gifts from one catalog. It all started because my mother had pointed out one item from the catalog as something she wanted. She's tough to shop for, so I figured I had to buy the thing she picked out. They had some sort of free-shipping-over-some-amount-deal so I picked out a few other things for my mother and for other family members. I called early, definitely before Thanksgiving, and did quite a bit of my Christmas shopping in that one phone call. After every item, the woman taking my order would say, "And... we have that in stock." I got off the phone so proud that I had made a major dent in my Christmas shopping and it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet!

Early December came. And went. Nothing. I called and I was told, "Everything should be shipped already!" Mid-December came, and still nothing. We were getting down to the wire. I called and asked, "What's up with my order?" "Oh, we fell a little behind on shipping... but I checked the status and everything already went out. You should get it any day now."

Finally, it was December 22nd and I didn't receive my items. I called again, figuring I'd probably have to cancel my order. Again, the woman said, "Everything is already shipped! It should be there in time for Christmas."

"Yeah, but you've been saying that for weeks. And I'm leaving town for Christmas. I need everything sooner than Christmas so I can take it with me."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you. It's already left our warehouse."

I decided that I had to go out to a real store and buy gifts the old-fashioned way. And, when I got home after Christmas, I'd just have to return everything I ordered from this catalog.

I ended up running around the crowded stores, cranky that I was stuck in long lines with last minute shoppers, throwing anything I could find into my cart, when I had purposely tried to avoid that situation by shopping early. And my mother wasn't getting that stupid thing she pointed out in the catalog.

So, when I came home after Christmas with my family, I expected to find a big box of the Christmas gifts I had ordered. I figured I'd have to pay to ship everything back. Or, maybe I should hold onto it for next year or birthdays? Then I'd really be ahead on Christmas shopping.

What did I end up doing? Neither! Because, the only thing I received from this catalog was a little postcard listing every single item I had ordered as "backordered" until January or February. The people who kept insisting that everything had already shipped were obviously lying or misinformed.

I was furious. I had all of these ideas in my head about writing a letter to the company or something, but... you know... I got busy and never did anything about it. I did call and cancel every item. They offered me a discount or free shipping off my next order, but, I wasn't even in the mood to make a big stink. I just wanted my money refunded and for it to be over.

Since then, I still get their catalogs about once a month. I get a ton of junk mail, and I seriously spend at least a half-hour every week sorting through my mail and shredding junk mail. It's annoying, and I've tried taking my name off of some of the big lists, but the truth is that I order from catalogs a lot (and subscribe to a lot of magazines), and once your name is out there, it's hard to make it stop.

Anyway, I get catalogs from this particular crappy company about once a month. And every month when I receive their catalog, I think back to last Christmas and feel just a little angry. Angry that they have the audacity to keep sending me catalogs after the crap they pulled last year. (I know, I know, it's not as if someone is personally addressing these catalogs to me, it's just a name on a mailing list, but still, it bugs me.)

A couple of nights ago, I had an annoying commute home in the rain. I was tired, I was cold, I was wet, I was cranky. I got home, checked my mail, and what should I find? That's right, one of these catalogs. As I walked in the door, I picked up the phone and called the phone number on the catalog. I waited on hold while I took off my shoes, my coat.

I was stewing the entire time I was on hold. How dare they play Christmas carols as their hold music, when they obviously don't care if the completely ruin someone's holiday?

Finally, some poor young man somewhere answered and I was ready for him. I just let him have it. I know, again, not his fault. But, guess what, that's some of the crap you have to take when you work in customer service. Believe me, I take all sorts of crap for things that aren't my fault.

After a few minutes, and many many promises that I would never ever receive another piece of mail from their crappy company, the poor young man tried to make his exit from the conversation.

"Well, thank you very much for your call, Miss Justice, and have a nice night."
"Yes, Miss Justice, I've removed you from our mailing lists."
"Ok, so, I've removed you from the mailing list. You have a good night."
"That's right, you won't get our catalogs anymore. Now, if there's nothing else I can do for you tonight... you have a good night."

Fine. Finally I let him off the hook.


And, with that, it was over.

And I felt SO much better! Seriously, it was better than a massage, better than yoga. And it has the added benefit of reducing my junk mail. And reducing my monthly stress when I get their catalogs. And probably reducing a lot of strain on my postman. And reducing the amount of pointless bitching directed at the boyfriend.

Yes, it's a good thing all around. And that's why, I've decided that I'm going to start unsubscribing myself to one piece of junk mail every crappy night. Matter of fact, I'm going to keep a pile right by my phone for when I need a little relief.

Aaah... I feel better just thinking about it.


  1. Hilarious! What a fantastic story. I can't imagine I'll read a holiday story this year that resonates as much as this one does with me. Thank you, Blonde. Best wishes with your continued telephone "therapy" sessions.

  2. I had a similar experience recently and I finally shot a nasty email to the "customer service" representative who had been "helping" me.

    And I haven't gotten any junk mail from then since.

  3. OK, you HAVE to tell me what catalog it was! I'm dying to know.

  4. Like APL asked, which catalog company was it?

  5. I actually had the customer service experience from hell that I meant to blog about and never did, involving Budget Rent-a-Truck and a $500 charge that I'll be paying off for the rest of my life. But it was so unsatisfactory (see, $500 charge) and it upset me so much that I just figured it brought me really bad karma - no joke, the subsequent week was totally awful - that I don't think I'll ever fight with anyone on the phone again. Nope, next time, I'm resorting to person-to-person shin-kicking and hair-pulling. Because the phone calls were just bad for my karma.

  6. Ok, I didn't want to make this post just a denouncement of one company, but since everyone wants to know who it was...

    The company is called Lillian Vernon. My mother wanted some specific blankets from the catalog. (They were a particular color, and you could have them embroidered with a name, so that she and my father wouldn't fight over the blankets.) So, then I ordered a bunch of other things - and didn't get any of them.

    (But I did find a nice blanket for my mother when I did my Christmas Eve shopping. But, certainly not embroidered or anything.)

  7. I get that catalog, even though I've never ordered from them. And now, I never will.

  8. By the way, this link advocates a boycott of Lillian Vernon (and a lot of other companies) for their use of foreign labor.

  9. what a great idea! I've gotten some great therapy screaming at poor AOL and AT&T reps.

    Thanks also for posting the name of the company - every so often I look through the catalog and think I want something but now I know I don't want anything from LV!