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  • Jan Flynn

Can You Believe These Amazing Deals?

No, you can’t. Learn from my mistake

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

I should have known better

When a deal is too good to be true, there’s always a catch. You’d think that with my wisdom and experience I’d be too savvy to fall for the siren song of those online clothes retailers’ ads that pop up when I’m researching or reading the news.

But my love of clothes far outstrips my budget, so when beguiling photos of outfits — each costing less than a couple of decent cocktails — divert my attention from worthier pursuits, I’m an easy fish to hook.

Especially right now, when my son’s destination wedding is coming up. Sure, I want to write the Great American Novel, but I need fabulous resort wear, STAT. And I don’t have a lot of spare change at the moment to fund my new look.

Of course, the evil algorithmic elves that patrol the Interwebs are aware of this. Hence the barrage of shiny, cheap, couture enticements that succeeded, far too easily, in wearing down my resistance.

I try to be a concious consumer

I research household products and eschew harmful chemicals, scents, and unneccessary packaging. I buy local whenever it’s feasible, and choose organic produce, sustainably farmed coffee and chocolate, and free-range, humanely raised eggs and meat. The extra cost is a wise investment in the long run and makes me feel that I’m at least doing something to soften my impact on the Earth and its denizens.

As for clothing, my favorite kind of shopping is in consignment stores. When I’ve got the time to devote to thrifting, I love finding bargains on barely-or-never worn fashions that another woman has deleted from her closet. It’s a win-win, in my view, and again reduces my planetary footprint.

Finding a perfect-fitting pair of $100 Lululemon yoga pants, in great condition, for $8 — now, that’s a thrill.

Alas, I’m weak

Like I said, with a major event coming up, I feel extra impetus to look as good as I can manage — yet I’m still reluctant to venture into a mall in these not-really-over-Covid-days. The sharpshooters of online marketing found, in me, a sitting duck.

The company that reeled me in was Noracora. You may have heard of it, or you may have seen their dazzling ads in your feed if you’ve ever bought clothing online. Because I hadn’t been able to find what I was looking for either in consignment shops or on Amazon (which has considerable blights on its ethical record but at least has a reliable refund and return policy), I finally caved and headed down the Noracora rabbit hole.

The dress was so reasonable (a euphemism for suspiciously cheap) and it looked so good in the photos, and the reviews were all positive. Also there were a few other items I couldn’t resist: some black linen pants, a top that would go so well with other stuff I have. A quick check on Sitejabber revealed nothing too sketchy about Noracora, so I placed an order.

And that’s the last time I trust Sitejabber.

First, my shipment went astray

I got the standard order confirmation and an assurance when my stuff shipped out. Then, crickets. A couple of weeks after I should have received my package, I investigated — only to find that Noracora had shipped to my previous address.

Thus began my first experience of Noracora’s customer service, which consists entirely of “live chat” — there is no phone number available no matter how much you dig. The company’s mailing address is in the UK, which I’d found reassuring, but as I delved further I found out it’s actually located in Hong Kong.

This is when things began to get complicated. I will spare you the details, but my first live chat resulted in the representative blaming me for putting in the wrong address and telling me it was up to me to contact the post office and have the shipment redirected.

I did that. It was a PITA, of course. And the post office said, as Noracora must certainly be aware, that it is unable to readdress packages. It had returned the unclaimed package to the sender.

Back I went to Live Chat

Of course, I ended up with a different Chatter, so had to explain the whole situation again, with the addition of the intelligence from USPS. “So the package has been returned to you,” I typed, “and I am requesting a refund.”

Silence ensued for several minutes before the dancing bubbles presaged the return of my Chatter, who informed me in idiosyncratic English that the package had not returned to Noracora itself but to “a shipping facility” and there was now no way to track it.

Chatter and I went back and forth on this, but the upshot was that the very best the company could do was to offer me a 35% refund. Take it or leave it.

I took it, chalking up the rest to tuition

Never again, I assured myself. Some ten days later, the wee refund showed up in my credit card account, and I assumed the matter was closed, the expensive lesson learned.

But late last week, I received another alert from Noracora: a shipment was on its way! This confounded me as I had certainly not ordered anything else from the company.

I checked on the alleged order, and was plunged into a retail tangle. There was my original order, only now with two additional items that had mysteriously appeared — one of which I had, according to Noracora, received, and one that was now included in the items for which I’d been partially refunded.

AND they were sending me a dress I’d never ordered.

Descending into the next circle of Hell

I initiated another Live Chat. It was just as clear and satisfying as the first one. This time I discovered the elusive button that allowed me to request a transcript if the chat is officially concluded. If you wish to join me on my recent journey to the retail underworld, the transcript follows:

. . . Cerelia10:34:00 am  – For the pants, it could not be delivered successfully due to address issue. The white top has been offered 35% refund before.In this case, we can offer 50% refund for the pants and another 15% refund for the white top to you what do you think?      Jan M Flynn10:35:51 am It’s infuriating that I have to pay half for pants I never ordered or received. I understand this isn’t your personal fault, but it’s dishonest business practices. Is there anything else you can do?      . . . Cerelia10:37:42 am this is the only offer I can give now. You have a chance to get full refund of the blue dress, we’ll contact shipping courier to stop the shipment      Jan M Flynn10:38:11 am Then please initiate the refund, and stop shipment of the blue dress.      Cerelia10:38:55 am no problem.We will offer 50% refund for the pants and another 15% refund for the white top to you in 1 week I will send you a confirmation email in 12 hours      Jan M Flynn10:39:27 am Okay.Can you also make a note so that Noracora does NOT ship me anything else? I will not be ordering anything from them going forward      Cerelia10:42:32 am Okay, we will      Jan M Flynn10:42:42 am Thank you.We are concluding the chat now, correct?      Cerelia10:44:20 am correct      Jan M Flynn10:44:48 am Okay, signing off    Duration: 1h 3m 14s

Another hour of my life I won’t get back

I blame myself. But I also blame the perfidious practices of Noracora. Fellow shoppers, be not led astray by their flashy ads; do not do as I have done.

Consider yourself warned.

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