This is my first post in this category on shopping so I will let it set the stage by telling you how I recently bought the same dress twice within a span of about one week and nearly bought it again a third time. Just to be clear on this, it was the exact same dress in the exact same size made and sold by the same name brand retailer. Why would I even think of buying the exact same dress three times you might be wondering? Would I buy two more of the same dress because I thought it would be cute for my daughter, my sister, and I to wear the same dress at the same time like we were bridesmaids in some unknown wedding? Or did I love the dress so much that I was worried it would somehow be ruined by too much wear and I figured it would be wise to buy two more to have in reserve? Or had I suffered from an extreme case of short-term memory loss from which I recovered only to realize that I had been buying the same dress over and over again?
No, none of those scenarios apply in this case. It occurred because, in this retailer’s daily efforts via e-mail to offer me incentives to purchase their clothing, I would realize that I could buy the dress on that particular day for less than I had paid for it in the purchase I had made previously. This is not high-end clothing so I’m not talking about lost opportunities for really big savings but paying less for something is still paying less for it. And for a shopper like me, the thrill of the hunt is as much about getting a bargain as it is about getting the desired prey. But as the week progressed, I got more and more exasperated with (or should I say sucked in by) the advertising and marketing strategies of this retailer and more and more determined to best them at their own game. Let me run through the timeline and circumstances of these purchases so you can determine for yourself if I was justified in my actions or if I should just redirect my priorities.
On a Friday, I saw the dress at this nationwide retailer’s store, located at a nearby mall, selling for $30 (full price), which is not a lot of money clothing wise. In early August, stores like this one are beginning to put their Fall and back-to-school fashion items out on the racks and the dress in question was one of these items. Mind you, it is still summer and I no longer attend school but shopping is a sport that knows no season. While I am loathed to buy clothing at full price because I know there is a large mark-up and that stores will have frequent sales, too many times I have waited until a sale and found an item that I liked was no longer in stock in my size. I rationalized that even at the full price the dress was still a good buy because I could wear it year round depending on how I paired it with shoes and accessories. I also planned to keep a lookout for any sale notices from this store and then see if I could get an adjustment.
I completed my shopping, satisfied with my purchase. Or so I was until the evening of the following day (Saturday) when I viewed an e-mail from this retailer on my smart-phone which included an offer, good for that day only and applicable only to on-line purchases, for 40% off all women’s styles. I mused for a moment or two on this, but I was too busy that evening to give the matter any thoughtful attention, so I consoled myself with how much I liked the dress and begrudgingly made peace with the lost savings opportunity. At 40% off, the dress I had bought just the day before would now be $18. Sunday’s e-mail from this retailer encouraged me to celebrate “National Friend Day” by taking advantage of the “good for that day only” offer of 30% off all women’s styles purchased on-line. Well ‘friend’, that offer was not as good as the day before but the dress would now be $21 and I wasn’t going to let another savings opportunity get passed me. To be totally honest, it was not just that dress alone I had bought on Friday. I had also purchased two tops at full price so the total outlay was $78 plus tax so, at 30% off, I was looking a savings of over $23. (At 40% off, the on-line purchase of the dress and tops would have been under $50, which was the threshold for free shipping, so for me the 30% offer was just as good as the 40% offer.) I got onto my computer and found that all items were in-stock so the on-line purchase was made as well as a mental plan to return the in-store purchased items next time I went to the mall which in all likelihood would be within the next week or so. Both purchases had been made on a credit card so I wasn’t out of pocket moneywise unless I forgot to return the items from the first purchase.
I am again satisfied with my purchase from this retailer until Monday when I saw that day’s e-mail ‘good for that day only’ offer of 35% off on purchases made on-line. Really, on Saturday the offer was 40%, on Sunday it’s for 30%, and then on Monday there’s an offer for 35%. Here too, for a brief moment, I gave some thought as to how I could take advantage of this new offer. I pondered on placing another on-line order (then returning both the in-store purchase and the first on-line purchase) or maybe calling customer service and asking for an adjustment. But in the end I just let the matter go and did nothing. Fine, whatever.
The e-mails on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from this company did not include any in-store or on-line discounts that would apply to the clothing I had bought so I am still good with the last purchase, for which delivery was due to occur in the next few days. It was Friday once again, a little more than one week after first purchase, and up to then I had bought the dress twice as well as the two tops. If I haven’t lost your attention yet, you are might be saying to yourself “a week’s gone by so when did she almost buy the dress a third time?” Well, predictably there was another e-mail “offer of the day” that Friday. In the e-mail I was told, that just one week after I first bought the dress, an in-store purchase of dresses are, for that day only, $12 when bought with store’s credit card (which of course I have). The fine print says this applies to select styles but there was no other information on-line as to which styles it includes. If it applied to the dress that I had already bought twice, in the course of one week the price for which this dress was available to me for purchase had gone from $30 to $18 to $21 to $19.50 and now to $12. In total, with the 30% savings from the on-line purchase on the two tops and $12 for the dress, my original $78 purchase could now have totaled about $46. Fortunately, I would be passing by the store later that day so I made a quick stop to see if the dress was included in the styles priced at $12 for the day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t and was still marked at full-price. I was short on time so it was a quick in and out for me with no additional purchase.
So, that is the story of why I purchased the dress twice and again nearly a third time, within the span of eight days. This is however not the end of the story because as of Thursday, in the week after the first week, I still have not received my on-line purchase. Twelve days have passed since I placed the on-line order and as far as the company and UPS can tell me it has been delivered on the previous Friday but no package was at my door or in my mailbox. I called customer service after getting the notice of delivery and was told that there is often a delay between notice of delivery and actual delivery which I thought was odd. The customer service rep said that they were still within the window of the delivery guarantee and asked that I call in again if I had not received the order by that time. It seems as though I will be calling them again tomorrow as my on-line order has still not arrived. On the plus side for this company, it seems to be easy to reach a customer service rep by phone and the rep I spoke with was very courteous.
I have a lot more to say on the matter so there will be a Part 2 coming out in a few days and a Part 3 that will include photos of the dress and some options I have within my wardrobe to style it.