Online shopping is my poison of choice. I love the convenience of buying and paying for goods with a few clicks. I can usually control my spending when it comes to brick and mortar shops since just the idea of going to the mall tires me out. But not so much with online shops.
Here are a few of my favorite online shops and one nightmare of a shop that I'd like to warn everybody about.
Feed Love Create is a Dumaguete-based online store that champions hyper-local products (as in Dumaguete made) and slow paced, mindful living. The other half of the Feed Love Create duo is a former schoolmate, a lawyer who left Manila after 16 years to go back to her roots in Dumaguete and established a consultancy service guided by her mantra of: Law made simple. Yep. Golda has life peg written all over her.
I've purchased a chocolateria from Feed Love Create and it's now my weekend ritual to fix a cup of hot chocolate to go with my pandesal or suman. The extra labor makes it extra special. And really, my amateur attempts at making hot chocolate still taste 10x better than the powdered, overly-sugared variants.
Hue Love Prints carries custom note cards and weekly list pads of varying, gorgeous designs. But what I really love are the custom pouches.
The choices of designs seem to go on forever and at Php120 per pouch, they're the perfect Christmas gifts for your seven million friends. To top it all off, they won't look like generic gifts because they're personalized! You get mucho savings but still appear thoughtful. San ka pa?
Crate.ph is a weekly subscription service for a box of fruit, vegetable or a mix of fruits and vegetables. I picked the all-fruit, solo crate and it's so convenient to not have to worry about buying fruits anymore for the week. There's also a feeling of excitement when we open the crate to see what the week's fruit selection will be. So far my favorite has been the crate with rambutan and I'm crossing my fingers that mangosteen will be part of the selection for the upcoming crates.
The subscription cost depends on the size: solo= Php299/week; family= Php899/week and feast= Php1,199/week. Delivery is currently available only in Metro Manila and is done every Tuesday. My family of 3 + 1 yaya usually finishes a solo crate in 3-4 days, since we like to snack on a handful of fruit throughout the day. I have a feeling that the family crate, which is good for 4 people, will be too much for us though and we might end up wasting food.
4) Alice Blue
Our entire household loves Alice Blue candles, specially the vanilla variant, but Alice Blue's online sales system needs a lot of improvement. Ok, I'm being kind here, because really, Alice Blue's online sales system needs to do a major overhaul. I've ordered from Alice Blue's online store twice already and it screwed up both sales, giving it a 100% failure rate.
The first time I ordered, I received an automated acknowledgment email. Five days later, I still hadn't received my item so I sent an email to inquire. Someone from Alice Blue replied by asking me to send proof of payment. Eh? Didn't you already acknowledge payment of my order?
But I played along and sent a screencap of their own acknowledgment email.
A few days later, still no candles and they were already pointing to the courier as the source of the delay. By then, I wrote a strongly worded email to Vencer, Alice Blue's owner/manager, and got an apology and a promise that he'll be on top of the situation and would have my candles delivered ASAP.
The next day, there was still some courier mishap so an Alice Blue representative PERSONALLY delivered my candles to my condo with a freebie candle snuffer and a handwritten note from Vencer. I was floored with the sincerity of their apology so all was forgiven and we were friends again.
Fastforward to a few weeks ago when I sent in another order for Alice Blue candles. This time, instead of an automated response, I got an email acknowledging my order. But almost like deja-vu, I still hadn't received my order 5 days later so I sent an email. No one answered my email. Fed up with the lousy service, I sent a complaint through Paypal to cancel my order.
For a quick backgrounder on Paypal's dispute resolution process, Paypal basically acts as a mediator between the buyer and seller. Someone will file a complaint, then the complaint will be forwarded to the other party. Both parties will be given the opportunity to work things out between them and if that still fails, then the matter is escalated to Paypal who will then decide whether to refund the payment sent. It's pretty standard practice.
So anyway, I sent Alice Blue an email informing them that I have lodged a complaint against them with Paypal. And it was only then that I received word that my orders were out of stock. Salamat ha!
A few hours later, Alice Blue sent another email saying that the items I ordered were now available and if I still wanted them I would have to resend my payment.
By this time, I was already seething so I sent an email to Vencer and sent the same email and screencaps as PM to Alice Blue's Facebook page. I saw that someone read my PM on Facebook but I did not receive a reply either through email or through Facebook.
A few days after that, Paypal notified me that Alice Blue had respondend to them and indicated delivery of my items, so Paypal wanted confirmation if I did receive my items. In fairness, I did receive my candles, but they were placed in flimsy boxes without any protective wrapping whatsoever so they arrived banged up with lots of dings all over. And to top it all off, the vanilla candle did not have as strong a scent as the past vanilla candles I've ordered (this is my fourth vanilla candle from Alice Blue, so I know what I'm talking about).
The moral of this story is to avoid Alice Blue online sales and to just stick with their mall kiosks in the future. I don't think I'll be bringing my business to Alice Blue ever again though. Para naman akong gaga if I will still patronize ALice Blue after the treatment I got.
Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.
*Additional image from Expat Living HK