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MLB Store Doesn’t Get It: Costs My Wife $6, Me One Cap and Delays World Series

By Phil Charron on October 29, 2008

A while ago, my loving wife heard me mutter, “All I want is an old-school Phillies cap, from the late 70’s, where the P had a baseball in it.”  She went on the prowl and found one on the MLB shopping site, ordering one to arrive just in time for game 3 of the World Series. It was quite a surprise, but there was one hitch – they shipped a size small. So we both jumped on line and ordered a replacement for overnight delivery hoping I could cover my head for at least games 4 or 5. Of course, shipping was late and the Phils had to battle the Rays in the rain. Although they were winning most of the game, the Rays tied the score right before the rain delay – most likely because I wasn’t wearing my new old-school cap.

The new cap arrived yesterday, but when I opened it – it was not what we thought we had ordered. When my wife called to complain and ask for the overnight shipping money to be returned, customer service told her, “No Ma’am, that’s what you ordered. If you want to return it, you’ll be refunded the cost of the hat minus $6 for the return shipping. I’m sorry I can’t credit you the return fee.” There are four reasons why this is so wrong:

If the only size you have left is Small, still give me a size selector to grab my attention and highlight that there is only one size

Note the absence of a size selector pull-down menu

ISSUE #1: POOR DESIGN OF SIZE SELECTOR

The MLB store ran out of all sizes except small. So, rather than give you a size pull down that only says “Small” they replace the size selector with straight text that says “Small.” My wife didn’t see that for the first order and thought the hat was adjustable. We’re willing to accept that mistake.

"You may also like" can be misleading when the image is similar to what you ordered

Visually similar "You May Also Like" items cause confusion

ISSUE #2: POOR DESIGN OF SHOPPING CART

The second time we ordered, we noticed that the cap was size small, but in the margin on the right was an image of the cap. The screen grab above shows a different cap, but the cap that landed in there before was very similar to the cap I wanted. THAT cap had a size selector – so we just thought you chose sizes in your shopping cart. Sure it’s odd, but this is MLB, their key strength isn’t designing shopping carts. When we selected the size and saw two similar caps in our shopping cart, we simply deleted the small size.

ISSUE #3: CUSTOMER SERVICE HAS NO AUTHORITY

Once we figured out what caused the mistake, we didn’t want a free cap, we just didn’t want to pay a $6 return fee again for their poor site design. The customer service rep insisted it was our fault, not because he’s a jerk, but because he has no authority to please the customer. Just a note to all the online merchants out there: things will happen. You want loyal customers. If you fear giving authority to customer service reps, you may be in the wrong business. Don’t hogtie all of your CSRs because one of them may be dumb enough to steal from you. There are better ways to prevent employee theft than keeping them from doing their jobs.

ISSUE #4: GAME 5 WAS DELAYED FOR TWO DAYS BECAUSE OF RAIN

This wouldn’t have happened if I had my Phillies cap on.