I was recently informed of a new online store for baby goods – Calora, which is a South African based business. The brand Calora has become increasingly popular in the baby world, offering advice, forums and Calora branded products. I first saw/heard of them at a baby expo I went to when still pregnant with A1, more than 4 years ago, so I knew it wasn’t a fly by night operation. So when their store was launched, I was really excited, because this meant I could buy my baby goods from the comfort of my office, have it delivered to my office and avoid any unnecessary shopping trauma with a baby who hates shopping.
The shop has 1000s of items from most of the popular brands in their market, from nappies, formulas, toiletries, clothing and apparel. So really, you are spoilt for choice. The entire experience of adding stuff to my shopping cart was most rewarding. I had to stop myself from going overboard, because it’s just so easy to click “Add to Cart”. But I managed, and my total order came to R943.46. That’s a lot of money, in my books! But I didn’t just buy ‘nice-to-haves’. I bought nappies, formula, cereal and food – you know, consumables, stuff that is actually necessary to look after my child. And the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. Considering there is a 4 day delivery period, we had just enough stuff to last us until delivery was supposed to take place. (Bear in mind, it’s 4 BUSINESS days, so technically, we had a 6 day waiting period, because there was a weekend in between.)
I placed my order last week Tuesday, paid for it and emailed a Proof of Payment notice to Calora with my order number as reference. I then excitedly announced on all of my social media platforms how awesome Calora is and what a pleasure the online shopping experience was and urging my friends to go check out their site.
On Thursday, I received an email stating that my order had been successfully processed. Happy Days!! I immediately sent an email back, very friendly, asking since my order has been successfully processed, when can I expect delivery to take place? My reasons for asking was that we were starting to run low on formula, and if delivery would take place on Friday, great, and if only on Monday, that I might need to purchase a small tin of formula just to tide us over. (Remember, I just bought TWO 1.8kg tins of formula from Calora, so I really didn’t actually want to spend more money on something unless I really needed to.)
Bridget, from Calora responded:
We should have your order shipped to you tomorrow, if not, then Monday. If delivery hasn’t happened by tomorrow, then maybe just a small tin to tide you over for the weekend might be suggested. Will update you tomorrow once shipped.
Thank you for your purchase, your business is greatly appreciated!
Have a great day,
Well, obviously, it wasn’t shipped or delivered on Friday, or there would be nothing for me to write about.
Sometime on Monday morning, while browsing Facebook, I almost missed the following update from Calora:
Although 90% of purchases have been shipped on time, due to high volumes and teething problems (we’re still a 2 week old baby), some orders have been delayed. We sincerely apologise and assure all Calora Shoppers that most issues have now been resolved. As a token of our appreciation for your patience, late orders will/have been credited with 50 cash-back points. www.CaloraBaby.co.za
Late Monday afternoon, I gave Bridget a call requesting a status update on my order. She told me that they were waiting for the nappies (of which I ordered TWO packs) and that my order should be shipped that afternoon for delivery either tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday. Tuesday, nothing. On Wednesday, I send Bridget an email again:
Please will you be able to give me an update as to when my order will be delivered?
I spoke to you on the phone on Monday, and was informed you were waiting for the nappies at the warehouse, and that the order should be shipped either yesterday or today. Will I be receiving my order today?
I was lucky, I got a response within the hour:
Unfortunately there has been a delay with the couriers and we are urgently trying to sort out this matter! Your order should be there by tomorrow before 17h00 latest, or else we will have to deliver it personally. We apologize for this inconvenience!
Hopefully this doesn’t affect you negatively, your business is greatly appreciated by us!
Once the issue with the couriers is sorted out, there should be no more delays and very quick deliveries.
Again, my apologies!
Now this really grated my (hypothetical) nuts! I was reading all over on the forums and on Facebook about other people who had already received their orders. On top of this, the only time I received any news on my order was when I contacted them. There were no emails or phone calls or sms’s updating me on the progress, or lack thereof, or the problems they were experiencing. Even a mass-email would have been nice to receive. All my contact details were available to them, as per my order. So I replied to Bridget:
I realise the store is quite new, and you may experience some teething troubles, but having to read on all forms of social media about other customers who have already received their goods, and constant delays with my own order, is actually rather upsetting.
I was happy when placing my order that there would be a 4-day (6 days if you count the weekend) delivery time frame attached to it, and planned as such. However, my order contains consumable goods – Formula and Nappies and Cereal and Food, which makes it rather urgent/necessary that it gets delivered within the stipulated time!
I’m sure that as a company you do not plan to have any issues with delivery etc. but had I known this would be the case, I would’ve taken the R700+ and gone to a regular shop to buy the goods and have it immediately.
What is even more upsetting is that there has been no feedback from you or any Calora staff member with regards to outstanding orders and the issues you are experiencing. Besides an email on Thursday, which I’m assuming is an automated response, saying my order has been processed successfully, and an almost missed announcement on Facebook on Monday, all communication has been initiated from my side. This is not what one expects from a customer service point of view.
I’m not sure if I can trust that delivery will take place tomorrow, because after every query, the answer has always been ‘tomorrow’. Tomorrow never comes though.
I am very disappointed.
I was absolutely livid at this point, but decided to keep my cool and be as civil about this as humanly possible. Bridget responds:
I understand your complaints and we are trying our absolute best to sort these matters out! It is difficult to find reliable suppliers, and having a delay with our couriers is a disaster. Orders are meant to be delivered 24 hours after shipping, and we are discovering that our couriers aren’t sticking to that timeline, which is creating a lot of unnecessary annoyance. We are trying to rectify this problem asap, and are hoping they deliver no later than tomorrow!
Hope you enjoy your day.
This morning at 10:55, I get a phone call from Bridget, quoting my order number saying she sees here I ordered Olli baby food, but the flavours I ordered are Out of Stock at the moment, and can she give me different flavours? Caught off guard, I reply sure, as long as it’s fruit. Great, we’ll have your ordered shipped today, so delivery should be tomorrow or the day after. The conversation ends.
But then it hit me: WAIT, WHAT?!?!? They don’t have Olli for my order, an order which according to Bridget should have been shipped already and technically been delivered by no later than 17:00 TODAY! Why am I only NOW being informed of the missing Olli, when I was only told about the Nappies on MONDAY, and none of the subsequent correspondence stated any such thing?? And again, there she goes with the TOMORROW. The day after is SATURDAY, they don’t deliver on SATURDAYS, so it *might* only be on MONDAY NEXT WEEK!
So I phoned Bridget back. This time much less calmly than before, and told her that this kind of service is unacceptable. Again I stated I realise they are new to this business and there might be hiccups, but EVERY single time *I* phone them, there is always an issue and it will always be delivered tomorrow. “Yes, but we are having some trouble with some suppliers”. And WHY would the Olli be there on Monday, but not today?? Don’t you pack the boxes for each order as they come in? And if there are missing items, you get them, put them in the box and send it off?? So why is the Olli missing? “Oh, someone in warehouse must have taken it out of the box for another order.” At this point, I nearly exploded! But I managed to keep to a respectable level of anger. I told her to send the order. Just send it. Without the Olli. Credit me for the [damn] Olli, just.send.my.order! And refund me for the Olli! But I need my stuff and I need it TODAY! “Okay, where are you based?” They’re in Jhb, I’m in Jhb, and I say so. “You’ll get your stuff today” Are you *sure* I’m getting my stuff today? “I’ll see what I can do.” Okay fine, but please keep me updated on the progress. “Yes I will.”
I am not upset by the Olli. I am upset about Monday no nappies no delivery, Tuesday no delivery, Wednesday no delivery and citing courier company troubles as the cause, Thursday no delivery and phoning to say you don’t have xyz can you give me abc, which means that my order was never sent to the couriers from your warehouse in the first place, so you were blaming someone else for your own mistakes and lying to the customer about it.
This was between the hours of 12:00 and 13:00. It is now 15:23 and I haven’t heard anything back from Bridget or any member of Calora. I get the feeling (as I did whilst on the phone with her) that Bridget is going to treat this/me as a petulant child, letting me whine and moan, yet will do nothing about it.
Needless to say, I will NEVER EVER buy from Calora again! I will use the same media platforms on which I promoted them, to tell everyone about my terrible experience! If you had a good experience from them, I’m happy for you, but I haven’t. And I’m never taking a chance on being disappointed again!
(I work in the FMCG – Fast Moving Consumable Good industry myself, and I don’t feel that I’m being unreasonable with my expectations.)
**I underlined and bold-ed some bits of the email communication for this post, as these are bits that I read to be of importance