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Internet Shopping ... Will it Let You Down?

One of the business people that I admire a great deal is Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand. He is an entrepreneur with style, courage and the ability to develop a global brand that is instantly recognizable.

I live in Canada and my Mom and siblings are in the UK, so this time of year I try to find ways to send something a little different. My Mom and sisters will be gathering for a few days in Scotland so I thought it might be a good idea to send a case of wine for them to enjoy while they are together. So on December 13th I ordered the wine from Virgin Wines (based largely on brand recognition) ... and today December 23rd I get an email to say they won't be delivering it before Christmas, but "rest assured we will have them delivered next week" Not good enough Virgin!

I have blogged before about woes I have had when internet shopping, in that case it was Hamper.com that disappointed. Both of these sites are "award winning" and reputedly good at what they do ... but I am left with a decidedly negative impression based upon my limited experiences with them.

I am left two days before Xmas without options, Virgin's site suggests that they strive to deliver orders within two days, that they deliver 99% of orders with 7 days. Here I am ten days later as a "one-percenter" and my Xmas has been damaged.

If internet shopping is to be successful then the customer needs to have good experiences. I have had some success internet shopping, but for "critical" situations I am fast becoming a non-believer.

I still view Richard Branson as a hero, but he really should be careful with his brand. The kind of damage done by one product line can certainly color the consumer against the whole brand. Merry Xmas Richard, I hope your family get their presents on time!