Here's the Scoop: Dec. 16, 2009

On the wrong track
Like a few other people, I was not totally convinced that it was going to snow anytime soon this winter. I figured maybe a couple of inches in the middle of February. Naturally, there was no need for me to have snow tires put on our vehicles until that time.
At least that’s what I told myself. My procrastination was justified — somewhat. The folks at the garage where I go for service couldn’t get the tires I had researched on the Internet. I said I would order them. But first, I had to find the best price. I spent a lot of time comparison shopping. Weeks, in fact, because I knew it wasn’t going to snow. Finally, I found a respected retailer that I could “count on” to provide a good product at a price that was far less than other locations.
I was done researching. It was time to order. Or not.
Now, I may not be the most tech savvy soul around, but I do know my way around the order forms on Web sites. You find a product, add it to your cart, give away some financial information ripe for identity theft and off you go.
When it came to snow tires, I wanted something safe, yet at a cost where I didn’t feel like I was getting taken for a ride. Once I was convinced I had found the best price for these tires, I set about the simple task of placing the order. Things were going very well. I just needed to “add to cart” and I’d be rolling along. I said, I just needed to add to cart! Really, it’s very simple. I have done it countless times. Except in this case.

Good luck with that
Frustrated beyond belief, I finally called the company’s toll-free number. The woman who answered was very kind (read: she didn’t burst out laughing when I confessed that I simply could not figure out how to place an online order).
“Don’t worry, it’s not you,” she explained. “No one but employees can order some items.”
Oh. Silly me.
Things got worse when the employee found out that even she couldn’t complete the order. She finally attempted to transfer me to the tire ordering department. I was cut off.
I called back and recited item number of the product I would like to order to a different staff member. Confusion was her response. “Is this for a lawn mower or a wheelbarrow?” she questioned.
My annoyance was growing a bit, at this point. “No, a car.” I responded. (I bit my tongue and didn’t ask if she had heard of those). It seemed like she knew what a car was, but I wasn’t getting any tires for mine from her.
“Oh, you can’t order car tires from me,” she responded. I still kept my cool and asked politely if she could transfer me to someone who could do this job.
“Sorry, no one can help with that.” Click.
OK, I was bent out of shape. I needed to cool off a bit. I would try again the next day.
Bright and early I called and got a new employee. A good start. It would be only a matter of time until the tires were on the way. I went through the whole item number thing again. Finally, I was told, “We don’t have it. Anything on our Web site that ends in a price of 97 means it’s discontinued.”
I didn’t want to dispute the company’s coding system and tell him that in restaurant lingo “86ed” means an item is no longer available. I think this company was confused.
But I skipped that part. “Soooooo, why do you keep it on your Web site then?” I asked with a tiny tone of annoyance seeping through.
“I guess it’s so customers who didn’t order their snow tires on time know what they are missing,” he responded with the Sarcasm-eter cranked up to 10.
Point taken. Receiver slammed.
I eventually found the tires for just a few dollars more on another Web site (one that actually took orders!). And the tires were shipped quickly. Just in time for….another rainy winter.