BEWARE: Ordering a    Online for In Store Pickup

I recently decided to order some home theater equipment from the online web site of a major department store franchise. They promised that I would be able to pickup my equipment locally in the store. Since I live literally 3 blocks from one of their stores I figured that would be a good deal. Plus they were offering some special deals for online ordering.

The process works like this. You browse their web site. You place the items you want in your shopping cart. You select a local store where the items are in stock. You complete your order. When your order is completed you receive a confirmation email. A little while later you should receive a second email which confirms that your order is ready for pickup. Now you drive to your local store, give them the order number, your credit card, and identification, and pick up the order.

But Beware!

The web site may list an item as in stock, but it may in fact be out of stock. Due to the nature of these large department stores the inventory system is not in real time. Someone in the store may have bought that last item. Someone may have that DVD player in their cart while they shop. Or maybe the systems aren’t in synch real time but are updated nightly.

What then happened to me I received two emails. One told me my HDTV wasn’t in stock and to call a toll-free number to schedule pick up at another store, or to schedule delivery by UPS. The second email told me, the accessories (cables) I ordered were ready at the store. In effect my order had been split up into two different orders.

Instead of being convenient that was even more inconvenient! Why pick up cables at one store and my tv at another? Why not get them all in one place? When I called the toll-free number the girl was useless. She could only check a few stores that her system told her were nearby. When I asked about a store in another town she wasn’t able to help because she didn’t know the zipcode. Even though it was one of the biggest BestBuy’s in the country she wasn’t able to give me more information! I either was going to have to lookup the info on my own and call her back or schedule my TV to be delivered by UPS a week or two later.

How To Order?

That turned out to be a real pain as my order ended up being divided into 3 different orders. I canceled the whole order and simply placed my order through J and R Music World. They do video, computers, etc. too and are rated one of the best retailers online by Consumer Reports. They’re even one of the main vendors uses when you buy electronics hardware, often times the order is going through J&R.

So when ordering at Circuit City, BestBuy, or Walmart online… Remember that in store delivery might not actually be available! Their inventory systems probably are not showing you accurate real time inventory like you get when you order from a reputable online retailer.

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