by Cristina

Lululemon Continues to Oversell Inventory Online

October 31, 2011

For the third week in a row lululemon has had major inventory to purchaser disparity on there online store.  The problem first ocurred with the Gratitude Wraps and then the Cuddle Up Jackets and now the Don’t Hurry Be Happy Pullover. I’m not sure why this has continued to happen after the Gratitude Wrap debacle where peoples paypal funds for multiple attempted orders where held for 30 days (reduced if you chased down lululemon who was able to override the hold to 5 days– but you have to call them first and ask them to do this). Customers can usually deal with minor mistakes in shipping or ordering, particularly when the issues are recognized and dealt with immediately, but when the problem continues to occur and the issue of overselling inventory online and holding funds indefinitely becomes a trend then your customers loose respect for your ability to handle ecommerce and they feel like you are not taking seriously the problem with taking your customers money as an interest free loan.

I have serious hesitation now with using the ecommerce site after I had my own issues with ordering this past upload. When the Don’t Hurry Be Happy Pullover was uploaded on Thursday I was up early and placed my order at 6:30am while there was plenty of inventory available. I paid by Gift Card which is usually the fastest method online since they can immediately debit the card. My order went to ‘processing’ and several hours later the pullovers had sold out. By early friday, many of the people that placed later orders while the stock started to dwindle where receiving shipping notices while the rest of us who placed orders when there was plenty of inventory where waiting to here one way or another what was going on with our orders. Living in Vancouver near Lululemon headquarters, my orders are usually processed and shipped within the same day, by next morning at the latest. On Friday afternoon I decided to call GEC to see what was up with my order since the item had sold out. I was told it was still processing and would likely be filled, they were just busy and again ‘really overwhelmed with the amount of orders that went thru on Thursday‘. If I didn’t get a shipping notice by Friday evening I should call them back.  Saturday I left a post on the lululemon facebook page since I didn’t have the time or the patients to wait for another 15 minutes on hold with the GEC, the response was that I should call GEC. Unfortunatly the educator that took my call was not able to see my order past what I was able to see and so he could not cancel my order and refund the money and he could not see if the order would be filled eventually. He promised that a GEC specialist educator with more ability to look at my order would call me the next morning but that call never came. Sunday afternoon I had to leave several posts on the main Lululemon facebook page before I had GEC call me back, promptly, after a more terse post. I had waited on hold for 20 minutes with them before the call timed out and so I was getting increasingly frustrated that my money was being held without a product allotted to my order and I just wanted my order cancelled and my money returned to me. When the educator called me back my order was able to be successfully cancelled but my gift card was not refunded until an hour later when I posted again on the facebook page that although my order was cancelled I still did not have my money back. The worst part of this entire fiasco was that I had to constantly chase down, and hound and be annoying in order to get a refund for my money. Not all customers will be as proactive in getting a resolution when they are discouraged after first attempting to get a resolution and are on hold for 20 minutes. If instead of an apology they are met with ‘well were really busy and overwhelmed with the volume of orders that occured on Thursday‘ they may be discouraged from pushing back for there refunds. Trust me, I don’t want to be bitchy when calling GEC and I don’t want to take a terse tone when leaving posts on the Lululemon facebook page because the problem is not the educators that are on the front lines and getting a major shit fest thanks to this issue, the problem is in the inventory issues and in how the educators are expected to deal with the resulting unhappy customers by the company. They need to have a better policy on how to cope with dissatisfied customers and offer prompt refunds. Operations management needs to do something to ensure this does not repeatedly happen and if it does there needs to be more available educators to handle call volume. It’s not fair to the customer and it is not fair to the employees having to field these calls. Empower all of your front line employees to be able to resolve customer order issues promptly. Repeatedly waiting on hold for 15-20 minutes and having your call dropped is not good customer service. 

It’s frustrating enough to have oversell issues happen to you as an online shopper and to see them repeatedly happening week after week but to have such hassle in trying to get your money reinstated is unacceptable. For customers that had to attempt several times to place an order using paypal and to have up to 4 order holds on their paypal accounts for up to 30 days is completely unacceptable. Having to repeatedly call, wait on hold, dig out your order information and relay the same information over and over again is time consuming and burdensome to your customers. My goal with this post is not to rant but to show lululemon this issue from the perspective of a dissatisfied customer, because only then will they take this issue seriously and hopefully change the inventory system that is failing them and hopefully they can address the issues with customers quickly and with understanding. 

This is an email response from Barnes and Noble for overselling a product which they followed up with giving the customer a generous discount for a future purchase.

This is the email response from Lululemon. Some of you received a $10 gift card and some of us have not.

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