Wednesday, March 25, 2009 - Truth In Advertising

Or: how to really annoy your customers

The other day I had to replenish some of the usual suspects in my beauty arsenal and was also in the mood for something new (anyone wonders how I became a beauty blogger?). It wasn't a case requiring instant gratification, so no need to deal with the sale assistants at Bloomie's or the mallishness of my local Sephora. is one of my regular online shopping destinations and has been so for many years now. A click on my bookmarks list brought me to the front page, which told me about a great promotional: spend a certain amount and receive a bag with an impressive amount of samples, minis and full size products, many of them were already on my ever-growing list of "must try soon". I'm usually not a big fan of beauty bag events and have skipped all the recent ones from the serious department stores, as they offered ridiculously sub par crap. My policy is to buy what I need when I need it, and never because someone is offering a frosted aqua eye shadow when you spend enough to feed a small village. But I already planned to spend just over the required sum, so it wasn't an issue. And the GWP was really the best I've seen in ages.

Five minutes and a few clicks later and I was ready for checkout. My shopping cart has informed me that the GWP would be sent separately within another week with no added cost. No problem on my part. A couple of more clicks, the order was confirmed and sent. I was satisfied and free to go read some celeb gossip sites.

Today I got an automated email informing me that the second part of my order, the one with the GWP, was cancelled.

It doesn't matter much and I would have made the exact same order regardless. I don't feel entitled to a GWP and it's obvious that cannot be expected to send something they no longer have in stock. But this was not a case of an email promotional that I clicked too late, after it expired. The beauty bag was advertised right there on the front page of the site at the time I placed my order. This warrants at least a decent apology, and is a good lesson of why you should not make a purchase just for a GWP you may or may not receive.


  1. The same thing happened to me at, different promotion but same annoyance. Hmmm, coincidence?

  2. I too have shopped at for years. I receive e-mails at least once a week for a gwp with a $25 or $35 order and in all these years have not once received the gwp as stated in the e-mail. I ignore those e-mails now.

  3. Pretty suspicious if it's happening multiple times- almost like a bait and switch situation, except that the switch is more of a cancellation and it's happening after you buy. I wonder if they are understocking on purpose.

    If I am interested in a GWP, it is usually in-store. I only look for a GWP when I am out getting my usual products anyway- but I won't turn one down if it happens to be available. It's a great way for my poor student self to try new products, and I've found some of my favorites that way.


  4. Elsie and Judith, up until seeing your comments I thought this was an instance of bad customer service/lack of planning and more of a one time fluke. But if this is a pattern, there might be more to it. It's sad, really, I've been a loyal customer for nearly ten years, but I make it a point not to support anyone who shows questionable business practices.

  5. Amanda, this is a very reasonable and wise approach. The GWP should not be the reason one shops.
    And I've also found several holy grails through these samples.


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