The Elephant in the Room

I had something completely different in mind to post today, but something happened that made me change my mind.  I’m going to address something that annoys the heck out of me.  And I suspect it annoys a lot of you too.  What is it?

American Girl’s Website

I’ve never seen such an epic fail when it comes to website maintenance in my life.  My issues started several years ago when I tried to sign up for e-mail notifications.  I got nothing.  I tried again using the same e-mail address.  Nothing again.  So I used a different e-mail address and I finally got somewhere.

Then there was the day I went into one of their big sales.  Traffic was heavy but I was actually able to get in.  You can imagine my frustration AND surprise when I clicked on an item I wanted to look at, only to be taken to a completely unrelated item not in the sale!

More recently I had issues with their rewards program.  Evil Twin and I had gone together to place a rather large order, but when it came time for me to get the points I was due, I was shorted.  I e-mailed to complain, was told it would be fixed.  It was, but a few days later, the correction was reversed!  I was furious, and I sent them another nasty e-mail.  So nasty in fact, I got an actual phone call from them, apologizing profusely.  I finally got my points straightened out and got the rewards certificate I had coming, but it should never have reached that point of ridiculousness in the first place.

I think what concerned me more than anything was the fact that when I said something to the person I was talking to about issues with their website beyond this, she acted like she knew what I was talking about and that she was aware of the problems and that they were being worked on.  So why aren’t they fixed?

This morning they had some price reductions on a few things I wanted to get.  Only one problem–no “add to bag” buttons on ANYTHING on their website!  How the heck does that happen?  So I called to order and even that turned into a hassle because of the fact that they had two e-mail addresses for me due to the original glitch I encountered way back when.  Good grief.  I finally got my order placed, but I’ll be honest, this whole experience has left a very bad impression on me.

It probably doesn’t help matters any that I know that I am not alone in my frustration.  Several weeks ago I got an e-mail from someone who said she knew of several people who thought perhaps their credit card information had been stolen via American Girl.  I’ve had my suspicions myself about that, I had not one, but two credit card numbers stolen last year and AG was the common denominator.  Apparently LOTS AND LOTS of people are having problems with their rewards not being properly credited to their accounts and have had to call multiple times as well to get it fixed.  This shouldn’t be happening.  And then there is the whole issue with outages and not being able to get in during times of heavy traffic.  That should NEVER, EVER be happening.  If it is and it happens as frequently as it does with their site, then something needs to be done about it.  It’s that simple.

I shop a lot online, and have for years.  I can say in all honesty, I’ve never encountered a retail commerce website with as many issues as the AG website.  I shop regularly at Lands End, Amazon, Walmart and numerous other places that would run circles around AG with their sheer number of products, customers and sales.  And not once have I ever encountered a problem with any of these sites.

AG has had a huge reduction in sales over the past few years.  They keep trying to figure out how to fix that.  There are several issues that could be the culprit, and I suspect it’s actually several things.  But it sure doesn’t help matters any when your website continually has issues.  Instead of spending all this money on trying to come out with the next best thing every time the wind blows, perhaps it’s time to invest some of that money in your core infrastructure.  Instead of having a half-baked website that is not only full of glitches, but not exactly user friendly, maybe it’s time to spend some money on a real IT department.

I only bring this up because I know that it’s not just my problem.  I’ve read comments on other blogs where people have vented their frustration with the same or similar problems with the AG website.  We are not alone.  Keep in mind, I’ve only mentioned a few of the issues I’ve had, these aren’t all of them.  I suspect if we all got together with our complaints, we could write a book.  (insert head shake here)

There, I said it.  Talk amongst yourselves…


20 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room

  1. I agree. I recently had a credit card number stolen. I think the problem is they continually change the site. I say just update it. I shop online, too. The issue should be fixed instead of continually changing the site. I haven’t ordered since the Wellie Wisher release. I’m not sure I feel safe since they’re having safety issues. I do prefer their product over many other sites. I don’t want to have to worry about my card number being stolen, then waiting for a new card to be delivered.

    • They definitely need to concentrate more on securing things and making sure they are working right before they do any further updates to it beyond adding new products. I’ve quit using our regular card there and only use ones that aren’t going to be inconvenient while we wait for a replacement, but I hear you on that one. I wish there was someplace close that sold AG gift cards, I’d do that instead.

      • Flo, last year Costco sold AG gift cards at I think 70 or 80 dollars for 100 dollars of gift cards at Christmas time! It was quite a deal! I think that it was the 2nd year that they did it, so you might check it out if you or someone you know has a Costco membership. Sharon

      • We unfortunately don’t have a Costco close by, its an hour away. 😦 Very few people around here even have memberships because it’s just not worth it to have to drive that far. I wish they would build one closer. Too bad Sam’s Club doesn’t have them!

  2. Working in government IT, I can say that the struggle on the tech side is real but come on, don’t run your systems if you can’t pay the IT guys because it’s not about what you can/can’t do, it’s about what you pay to have done.

    “But wait, let me mark up that really cute pink plastic thing a little more and let you wonder where your money is going.” – Mattel (not a real quote but funny, yes?)

  3. You are absolutely right, it is a nightmare!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every time they “update” I think maybe they will have hired the right people to do it right. No luck so far!!!!!!!!!

    • Same here, I’ve about given up by now. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult, except maybe the people on the top don’t want to pay a decent salary to someone. Might cost them more in the end though if something ever goes to litigation.

  4. I’ve had several orders I placed not show up in my online account, but my credit card was charged after a few days and my order arrived, without any email confirmation of the order, at least once leading to me placing a second order or backordered item orders cloning (how I briefly ended up with 3 inkpots from an order for one inkpot..and charged for all 3 inkpots…I was able to resell the other 2 but it was a major pain in the butt)

    • Holy cow, that’s a major malfunction!!! I know part of the issue I had with my rewards points was because of ordering 2 of the same item. Crazy part is it was just the one item, but I had another thing I ordered 2 of and it was fine. This kind of stuff is exactly what I’m talking about.

  5. This is scary stuff. Especially w/ the new releases coming out and people wanting to order things. Another beef I have are the dang catalogs! 1) Even when I order stuff, they don’t send me the regular release of catalogs. I always have to “request” one. And they claim I’m still on the list. 2) the way they handle the Christmas catalog. Everyone should get the same catalog period. Why do some people get the bigger ones w/ more pages and others don’t? And who makes the decisions as to who gets what? It’s so irritating!

    • Yes, and what about the coupons too??? There is no rhyme nor reason to how they hand out either. I was surprised to learn that some people were getting discount coupons with catalogs. I’ve only ever gotten 2 and they were via e-mail, but I know some people have gotten several, and that those coupon catalogs can be “piggy backed” to increase your discount! Sometimes I think they just throw everything into a giant fishbowl and it’s luck of the draw. How fair is that? It’s just like the Jill’s Steals and Deals sales where most of the people buying the stuff had no intention on keeping any of it, they just wanted it cheap so they could flip it all on Ebay. I have my fingers crossed that we’ve seen the last of that fiasco.

    • With you on the catalogs! It’s very frustrating. It’s worse than IKEA’s catalogs showing up three different days to houses right next to each other (mine, Mom’s and my daughter’s) but at least they show up!

  6. Last night I logged in to buy a few sale items and my rewards total was 27. When I got to check out there was a button to create a rewards account so I checked that I was already included and my points showed 25. Not sure how I lost two points.

    No add to cart button showed on the sale page until I brought up the quick view.

    The old website was much nore user friendly. Perhaps it was not mobile friendly.

    • Wow, that’s crazy. They need to get this fixed. Apparently the problem I experienced yesterday wasn’t properly fixed.

  7. I rarely buy anything from the AG website. On top of their technical problems I truly think they are pricing themselves out of existence. I also feel a little sad at how HIGHLY commercial AG has become compared to the original Pleasant Company idea which was to get girls reading about history. Ah well.

    • I agree, their pricing is getting out of hand. It’s also creating a snob mentality with some buyers who seem to think they are better than everyone else. I for one buy very little at full price, most of what I get (but not all) is when it’s on sale. And yes, it used to be the little engine that could as a company, but once Mattel got a hold of it, it was turned into a diesel locomotive that is rapidly derailing!

    • I agree on pricing! If it was quality materials with historical significance and made in the US or country of origin then I’d shell out but plastic is plastic is plastic. I feel like they killed Barbie and now they’re killing AG. What happened to learning through play? It’s all very greed centered now.

      • Unfortunately there are still too many people who buy some of this crap, and suck up to the company, so now those of us who don’t agree with it are stuck. Just waiting for the time when people start turning their backs on their company and going to the competition. Plastic IS plastic IS plastic…

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