Go Cold Turkey

By John Moore  |  Posted 2001-01-22 Print this article Print

Deliver frozen, flightless fowl, and you, too, may win the worst-of-the-web contest.

What do George Shaheen and a frozen turkey have in common? Both have managed to generate media attention for Webvan.

Shaheen, CEO of the online seller of groceries, books and other items, put Webvan in the spotlight in 1999 when he joined the company from Andersen Consulting. But a frozen turkey recently got its turn.

Webvan was deemed one of the three worst customer-experience stories of the 2000 holiday season, according to a contest organized by eConvergent, a business solutions provider that specializes in CRM. The pivotal event involved a customer who ordered her familys holiday feast via Webvan and got a frozen turkey instead of the fresh one she had ordered.

Webvan also made some funky food substitutions, such as cilantro instead of parsley and a pineapple instead of garlic. Sm@rt cooks will tell you theres nothing like a little minced pineapple to liven up your holiday sauces.

But back to our story. Sharing the virtual dunking stool with Webvan are BestBuy.com and HarryandDavid.com. BestBuy.com was noted for a situation in which a customer ordered two DVD movies, received one, and subsequently spent four days, five phone calls, and two e-mails to untangle the error. HarryandDavid.com was cited for sending 17 phantom gift baskets with the shipping label covering the senders greetings note. The outraged customer also noted that one gift basket contained rotten apples. (Note to consumer: Try ordering your apples from Webvan next year; youll do no worse than frozen pineapples, or possibly cilantro).

But the contest lauded three companies for providing the best online shopping experiences: SharperImage. com, Art.com and Chicco. com. Those companies actually delivered what the customer ordered.

The annual eConvergent customer-satisfaction competition was based on submissions from consumers who described their holiday online-shopping experiences. A panel of journalists from USA Today, Working Woman and Yahoo! Internet Life (the latter owned by Sm@rt Partner parent Ziff Davis Media) selected the best and worst sites.

Its anybodys guess whether the offending Web merchants will clean up their act next holiday season. In the meantime, consumers can enjoy their leftover frozen turkey—and that delicious pineapple cilantro stuffing.

John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel