Work has taken me lots of places but I still fear buying online in my home country. Why? Well, there’s so many reasons, I can’t begin to explain them all. But to cover it all up, it all comes down to “trust”. The online shopping industry hasn’t managed to take trusted roots in Pakistan after so many years in business. People are afraid to order things online because the merchants aren’t providing them any baseline to trust on. I’ve had similar experience buying online, some bitter others excellent. So far, I’ve shopped online with the following online stores in Pakistan, and given under is a brief of my shopping experiences with them. I’ll be updating this post with more shopping outlets in the future:
iAmExtreme – www.iamextreme.net
IAmExtreme is a computer hardware store that operates online most of the time but recently, they’ve incorporated retail outlets in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. I’ve had some really good business working with the store and there are several things that assured the store was legit and doing good business. One of these is a thriving online community with overclockers, enthusiasts and casual computer users sharing their experiences. The owner of the site is Yasir Nawaz, he’s well-known among the community for his interest in computer hardware, which brings the bar up. He’s mostly active and responds personally to complaints lodged by customers. Not only that, he takes initiatives to gather information/feedback and implement it. The product ordering system requires transferring money to the store’s account and the product is shipped afterwards. Returns and warranty claims are handled just like that.
The store has extended warranty plans and instant replacement plans for many international brands including Xigmatek, Antec and G.Skill etc. It was once that I bought a Graphics unit from iAmExtreme and it turned out faulty. I tried to make do with the unit but to no avail. Several helpful community members tried to get it to run as well but eventually I had to ask IMX for a return. To my relief, Yasir offered me an instant replacement with any other card in the store. I went in the store, picked a replacement and that was it. The new card turned out great but the “Warranty/Return” experience has been one of the best I’ve had in my life.
Overall, I’d give IAmExtreme a good rating in how it manages an online store. Testimonials about the store’s service and reliability are equally spread across various online communities like PakGamers and WiredPakistan etc.
Beliscity – www.beliscity.com
Beliscity is old, and pretty much every search result in google for product listing in Pakistan will bring them up. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a great experience ordering from them. I’ve called them time and again to ask about products but their customer support seems non-existent. No one responds to calls or emails and that is where everything eventually messes up. Placing an order also didn’t get me attention and I eventually had to cancel what I placed. They seem to update their store quite often and their prices seem fair as well. Searches for the store do not show any good remarks as well. May be, they’re keeping it up for the sake of running a business in a minimal state but that doesn’t work.
My experience hasn’t been good at all with Beliscity. I’m sure others may have had a better one. I’m all ears.
Homeshopping.pk – www.homeshopping.pk
Update 1: Seems like open journalism has some uses to it, HSN just fixed their SSL certificate. More power to the consumer.
Oh boy, where do I start. I have a confession, one of the reasons to write this post was my recent experience with HomeShopping.pk. A friend suggested that he’s gone through the store and the prices they mention are unlike any other online store. I have been a frequent visitor of their site already but the site wasn’t welcoming and never forced me enough to place an order. The layout itself seems low-grade compared to the kind of business they claim to be doing. Other online stores have gone to great lengths in order to get a greater audience. iAmExtreme mentioned above is a prime example of that. Let’s roll down to my buying experience with homeshopping also known as HSN.
I wanted to buy a Samsung Galaxy SIII and did my research on the available retail outlets. A friend recommended me to look at HSN and I did. The price seemed reasonable and they were offering Cash on Delivery and they mentioned the place where I live in the COD list. I was sold. I placed an order for the said mobile device. I got an email telling me that they had received the order and they will process it soon. Later on, I got another email that they will confirm the order as it’s Cash on Delivery. I received a call the day after and I agreed that I did place the said order. Two days later, I got a confirmation email that the device is on its way and how they’ll process the order.
Later that day, I got a call from a guy in Islamabad claiming that he’s received the mobile phone and I’ll need to visit him to get my order and pay in cash. I’ve been through some jittery moments in my life and have come not to trust in person cash transactions. I asked the guy, if there’s an office where I can visit to do the transaction, to which he responded that there is no office. He’s the sole person responsible for delivering orders in Islamabad for HSN. This raised the first alarm and I made a defensive question, HSN claimed they will deliver COD to my residence? He counter claimed that they don’t deliver and I have to get it from him in person. The next question was obvious, how do I claim warranty? Who do I run after, if the device fails for every reason? He said, you’ll need to claim and send it back to Karachi for warranty /repair claim.
I’m sorry but I want my buying experience to be hassle free, the lesser fuss the better. I do not have the time to run after anyone claiming warranty and that too over remote communication. I proceeded to cancel the order and sent an email to the admin at HSN. A few minutes later, the order was cancelled and I received the email for the cancellation of the order. I felt relieved and I was happy with the process. But things had to get weird and they turned astray the next day.
I got a call from the same guy the next day that he’s waiting to deliver the order and when he can meet me. I told him that I’ve already contacted their admin and the order has been cancelled, he needs to reconcile with HQ and update his status. After the call was finished and I thought the thing was finally over, I received yet another call from HSN after 2 days. And this time, enter the CEO of Homeshopping.pk, Mr. Shayan Tahir. The guy literally called me personally to ask why I cancelled the order, if I had confirmed it in the first place.
The conversation went well and I told him why I cancelled the order and what’s wrong with the ordering process at HSN. However, it turned bad after a 45 minute discussion as he disagreed to understand why I cancelled an order and that his COD method is “Perfect“. It has no shortcomings and that he doesn’t agree with the idea of “The Customer being Always Right“. I gave him a few tips and how I think he could improve this experience coupled with the fact that HSN’s SSL certificate expired two months ago. He paid no attention to what I said and cut the call later.
I tried calling him back to no avail and that was that. I got an email saying the order was “Declined“, although it was already “Cancelled” by me a few days ago. It was like someone felt real good with his ego after calling it “Declined“. I proceeded to shut down my account with HSN afterwards and wrote a farewell email to Shayan telling him to reconsider his strategy and that:
“If he was so concerned about I cancelling a confirmed order, why did “He” confirm the cancellation in the first place without asking any questions?“. I received no response.
I wouldn’t call HSN bad. It’s a good business but using “Comic Sans” on the website and arguing with your customers that you’re “Perfect” is not the best way to run a business.