Customer Service, Marketing 101

How does a Spa website transaction become so very stressful?

UPDATE: Four days after $2,000 was taken out of my account, was able to return the funds, and I was able to get any overdraft protection fees refunded. They offered me a 20% off coupon, but my intention was to just get my money back. I will deal directly with any spa in the future.

Dear Spafinder:

I sent you an email on Friday but wanted to follow up. After unsuccessfully attempting to purchase a $350 gift certificate on Friday due to an error message after each attempt with those encouraging words of “try again” in the message, I contacted your Customer Service department twice. The first time, the female told me to include my middle initial. So I did. The same error “Your card was declined. Please check your number, blah. blah. blah.” After several more attempts, I contact my bank, thinking it was an error on their part. They indicated at that time that there were $2,000 in charges pending on my account from you folks. As you can imagine, I was outraged, not too many people have an extra $2,000 laying around in case an e-commerce company’s process fails so completely and utterly.

Wells Fargo suggested I put in a fraud claim, which I did immediately. This did not, however, prevent the charges from hitting my account and causing an overdraft over the weekend. I know that Wells Fargo will reverse the charges because they understand excellent customer service. It’s Spafinder that I want to address.

When I contacted your call center again, after speaking to my bank, I spoke to a male with a completely nonchalant attitude toward the entire complaint. He said that the money was just being held and would release later that evening, which is clearly not the case. He also said I should try using a different credit card as your “website doesn’t like some credit cards”. Finally, he decided to try and look me up in you system. He could not find me with my email and didn’t bother asking for any other information to do a more thorough search. His response was “I don’t find you or any transactions”.

As someone who works in e-commerce and does everything from web content, customer service, product development, etc., I can tell you, first hand, this is not the way to handle a serious customer complaint. He should have been empowered to research the transactions and correct the problem, on the spot. Your Web folks need to be made aware of this issue ASAP. If your account gets many of these fraud complaints, they’ cancel your account. I could go on and on, but why am I concerned with what your issues are?

I want Spafinder to investigate this blatant error, fix their website and return all my funds, along with a promise to return any overdraft fees that were caused by this horrible event. I have been posting this on my blog Dear Why is it impossible to give you money (an open letter)? and will continue to do so until this is rectified.

Customer Service

Dear Why is it impossible to give you money (an open letter)?


As someone who works in E-commerce, I know how utterly important it is when you have someone with their CC out and making a purchase. It’s crucial that the process is quick and seamless. I thought it was, until I got your error about my CC being declined and please check the number, blah, blah, blah. So I did. I tried again. and again. and again. Finally, I called your 800# for guidance. I was advised by a female it was probably my omission of my middle initial and that would fix it, with a quick good-bye. So I tried again. Same error. I then thought I’d call my bank to see what was what. They looked at my account and saw SIX charges pending on it. Each was $340. Now, that can freak a person out. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have two grand lying around in case of charge errors due to an error in an e-commerce cart.

My bank, Wells Fargo (who is awesome by the way), said they would put in a fraud claim to insure that the charges would not hit my account. That took about 30 minutes to accomplish.

My next step was to call you guys. I wanted to be sure you knew about the error and to prevent you from running those charges through. The male on the other end of the phone took a very nonchalant attitude regarding my money, time, intention to purchase a gift certificate, etc. I explained my concerns. He said those charges would not go through (addendum: As of Saturday, the has a hold on $2,040–pretty painful and not a great way to treat a customer. Why couldn’t the customer service agent fix this?). I then asked the question EVERY e-commerce business wants to hear “how do I purchase a $340 gift certificate from you?” I’ll bet you want to know the answer I got, don’t you? Well, call me surprised when I was told to “just use another card on the website because your site just doesn’t like some credit cards.” Really? Your site has an aversion to a credit card issued from Wells Fargo, or does it have an aversion to just the blue ones, or the ones with a certain security code. Perhaps, it was something else my card did to your website? If so, I am truly sorry.

I write this today because it’s imperative that you know you lost a sale due to something that should work. I went directly to the spa to purchase my $340 gift certificate. They don’t discriminate, and took my blue Wells Fargo card with enthusiasm and gratitude. I would also be greatly concerned that when your customer service agent looked me up in your system, I didn’t exist after SIX trips through your buying process. That means, you have no record of these purchase failures. No record means = no reports = extreme revenue loss.

Best regards,

Gretchen Guard