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J. Crew Draws Its Own Blood With Faulty Website

Upgrades to J. Crew's online store have gone seriously phlooey -- bad enough that customers have gotten e-mails from CEO Mickey Drexler apologizing for poor implementation and promising to make the website and call center better soon.

Problems include prices that change between the display page and the shopping cart, UPS tracking numbers that don't work, and paid orders shipped to secure undisclosed locations, never to be seen again. Store employees and phone reps have been soothing customers with prompt refunds, gift cards, and discounts on future purchases.

J Crew window That offer's a little late for the guy who was less upset that they sent him three kid-sized shirts, than that they charged him $9,208.50 shipping. And it's causing a seriously black eye to J. Crew, a company inspires loyalty and raves for its clothes and in-store service -- and that counts on direct sales for 30 percent of its business as same-store comps take a hit.

Credit Suisse retail analyst Paul Lejuez told The Wall Street Transcript that J. Crew is one of the bright lights he sees in retail (the other is lululemon):

I think they operate in an underserved market, or I should say it's not served effectively, which is the young adults/adults market. They just seem to get the product right. They are run by CEO Mickey Drexler, and we'd say he is one of the few rock star merchants in specialty apparel. The way that they run their business is they've managed to put out some of the best fashion on the floor, season in and season out. They do a great job with colors. They do a great job with fit. They are always doing something new and interesting rather than just kind of sitting back and doing the same old thing. I think customers appreciate that, and they want to shop at their stores.
Commenters on The Consumerist were divided on whether the shopper ordered the wrong shirt, but agreed that the website is poorly implemented and that $9,208.50 for shipping is kinda steep.
Here's how shipping for 9k is supposed to go: A gold plated Hummer limo with Jacuzzi pulls up being driven by what looks like a chimp wearing limo driver garb. But he's just for show, the real driver is in a hidden compartment like a parade float. ... It runs on fossil fuels made from cloned dinosaurs and processed truffles. The doors open and a group of dwarf acrobats wearing Elvis costumes ... give you a show and then do the robot while the shirts are handed over by the Swedish bikini team ... Then they hand you 4k in a cash refund for overpayment. If it wasn't like that, I would demand a refund.
Ellipses indicate omitted imaginary details I would get in trouble for repeating. This is a family blog.

Image: J. Crew store window in Los Angeles by _e.t., via Flickr, CC 2.0