Online shopping, good, bad, and ugly

Online shopping experience – NAPA, doing it all wrong

I’ve been working with cars

and other vehicles as a hobby or business since the early ‘60’s and a few years

ago when went up, I found it was a terrific way to get parts.

One big advantage was that I

could find parts for rare vehicles (such as my old Maserati Bi-Turbo) just by

entering the actual Bosh or other manufacturer part number.

Last week I tried them again and everything that was right about is now broken.

I wonder why companies do

this. Is it incompetence? Or is it a deliberate way to drive customers to the

stores (which are little better, the last three visits to the local NAPA store

turned up nothing useful, and the one before that only had half the wheel

bolt/studs I wanted).

Am I exaggerating? You decide.

I ordered a pump for a 1987

Jeep – lots of them are still on the road, even though ours is just used on the


Needing to actually use Jeep,

I selected the rebuilt water pump which was listed as in stock and shipping in

one day.

That was Sunday, by the next

Sunday the NAPAonline site was still marking my order “picking parts” which,

allowing even for incredible incompetence among human workers at the warehouse

translated to me as “out of stock.”

No emails about this problem, no nothing.

So I checked the Web site.

In five minutes I not only

located the part I needed, the site confirmed that the local Advance Auto store

in Punxsutawney, PA, had it in stock.

Not being all that trusting, I phoned to confirm, but it was TRUE.

I then returned to to cancel the order.

This message was on my order

page: “Contact NAPA Support

to cancel this order.”

Fine, but they didn’t publish the e-mail address there, OR have a link embedded in that message.”

Totally bogus Web design!

I found Customer Support buried in various low-contrast colors at the bottom of the page and tried that.

I found an e-mail address and sent a cancellation message on Sunday, but also knew enough to phone them in person on Monday.

The contact screen (

says to e-mail OR phone from 8:00 a.m.

to 5:00 p.m.

Fine, at 8:05 I

called and the online message says to call after 9


OK, so I call back at 9:05.

After about 60 seconds of nonsense message, the recording says they are probably busy and I should e-mail instead, then hangs up.

Now I PREFER e-mail, but this national company doesn’t seem

to answer e-mail on Sundays, even though their stores are open, but the really

important sign of bad e-commerce design is that the Web site didn’t bother

warning me that no one would answer the phone number it TOLD ME to call!

So, what did do wrong?

>Their online inventory obviously wasn’t accurate.

>They didn’t bother informing me that there was a major delay.

>They didn’t make it easy to cancel the order.

>They told me to phone, but the phone told me to e-mail.

>Customer service didn't operate Sunday (even though their stores are open.)

For now I won’t be doing any further business with NAPAonline.

With the holidays coming up I will post other exceptionally good or bad shopping sites I run across.

And, lest you think I am overly picky, I’ve not only been

involved in computer-based inventory management for more than 40 years, I have

a very successful online business which has never screwed up inventory, and always

contacts customers if there are any delays caused by weather or such.

I now how this works, NAPA

used to know how it worked – they have just failed to maintain a good

e-commerce site which used to work fine.


I have been to many sites with bad designs, but none compare to your experience. Many sites get it right and make it easy, only to update it a year or so later and everything is more difficult. Bad planning -- yes. In your case, that is totally ridiculous. I would put a ban on all future orders with Napa, not just the online store. However, 1 action point to take, if they will not cancel the order by phone, nor email, you can walk into the nearest Napa store and speak to the manager. That should get things done. However, I would leave that as a last choice since it was an online transaction.


Ugly I will never shopping on Amazon!!! Mark From San Francisco


I agree with you but know that it is not limited to NAPA. Seems like business doesn't understand... or care that the online experience needs to be similar to the in person experience. We remember the "slings and arrows" regardless of where we perceived them. It sounds to me as if NAPA had a really good customer that they have now lost. And the only good thing for you is that they will have to spend a whole lot of money to get you or someone like you to come back. As we head into the Christmas season, many folks will be going online to manage their gifting. My family lives 2000 miles from me. Online shopping is my best approach to gifting. I think that the online experience is an important discussion at this time of year. I am interested in what elements you think are important for an online merchant. I personally think that easy movement and a clean website are key issues. I want to find information easily and feel that the merchant will keep my information private so I want to be able to read a privacy statement. I don't want to pay a hyper inflated price for shipping either.


[Post deleted by Admin] Message was edited by: The Trivia Geek


The reason? I have never had bad luck with orders. 2x there was a short delay ( a couple of days), but usually items arrive before the expected date. Also, I have never had to return an item yet either, nor needed to contact their support over any issues. Everything has worked just fine.


Nice reply. Very mature and professional. This website is for IT professionals. If you're going to behave like a 16-year-old, I suggest you find somewhere else to do it. You're not going to find any support for this kind of behavior here.


Thanks TechExec for pointing that out!! The kid needs to go to myspace or something else for that kinda behaviour!

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