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

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

>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

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.