A prominent online retailer is serving its customers Christmas turkey with no guarantee of pre-Christmas delivery on any order.
Intersaver.co.uk, an online buyer co-operative, has a notice on its website warning customers that "due to seasonal volume and transport disruptions we are unable to guarantee pre-Christmas delivery on any order placed after 10 December".
The notice makes a mockery of the company?s Christmas gift section. Nick Jones, an analyst at Jupiter Communications, said it is the first e-Christmas horror story he has heard of. "The 10th is very early for no delivery guarantees to be made," he said.
An Intersaver customer told vnunet.com that he has received a full refund from the company because of the poor service.
Intersaver managing director John Thornhill said in a letter to the dissatisfied customer: "Under the circumstances we presume that this is not acceptable to you, and it is therefore our intention to cancel your order and arrange a full refund."
Thornhill acknowledged the "undoubted inconvenience that this situation will cause", and offered a £25 discount on the customer's next purchase.
Tanya Arturi, Intersaver's marketing manager, said she was "disappointed" about not being able to offer delivery guarantees to customers, admitting that the Christmas period is a "critical time for us".
However, she said honesty is the best policy. "It is better to let people know, so that they have an opportunity to buy their presents where they know they can get them."
Arturi blamed factors outside Intersaver's control for the decision. "At the end of the day certain things are out of our hands. We have to rely on deliveries that are under a lot of pressure around Christmas time."
Jones said the biggest problem Intersaver faces is its lack of muscle over suppliers. "Seasonal volume is another way of saying supply. Intersaver is up against big electrical retailers such as Dixons and Comet. Traditional retailers have more muscle to flex over suppliers," he said.
The secret of future success for online retailers is "focusing on their supply chain", he added. "They should scour the world for products that are suitable for the UK market. If they get key buyers they can beat down prices and ensure supply."
Christmas deadlines are fast approaching for other online retailers. To guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve, Amazon needs orders by 19 December, WHSmith by 20 December, Streetsonline by 21 December and BOL by 21 December.
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