Dear Ulta… a tale of electronic orders

English: Sephora Store at Toronto Eaton Centre...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Ulta,

You were my first beauty store love. Seduced by the joys of your convenient location, I was immune to the charms of Sephora. I ignored the minor problems and signs of trouble, but then I moved. Suddenly, we were forced into a long-distance relationship and the problems magnified. I discovered that you were not good at the long-distance thing. You pretended to be, but the reality was undeniable.

I’ll admit it, I was eventually tempted to try Sephora, and what I discovered shocked me to the core. They excelled at long-distance relations. Suddenly, my relationship with an online beauty store was effortless. Recently, I gave you another try, sort of for old times’ sake and sort of because you had some great sales going on.

The problems I experienced with that order are too numerous to mention, but your technical glitches, ordering process and other problems resulted in me losing out of several deals because they had expired by the time you got things straightened out. You were also out of stock on several items by the time you actually processed my order. It all reminded me why I had stopped seeing you.

And then came the shipping.

I’ll admit it, I’ve been spoiled by Sephora. For $5.95, I get 3-day shipping from them. In three business days, I have my order in my hands. In fact, it’s usually in 2 business days, they’re just that fast. I didn’t think anything of it, I clicked the “regular” shipping for $5.95 when I placed the last order with you, assuming it would be similar, since you two are competitors and all…

Three business days later, I realized I hadn’t received a shipping notice from you. “Huh,” I thought, “that’s odd.” So I went online to check, worried this was a repeat of the previous order problems. At that very moment, I got the email. “Your order has shipped.”

What?!? I ordered at 5:40pm Eastern time on Thursday. This was now mid-day on Tuesday. Really? It took all day Friday and Monday (assuming no one works in the warehouse on the weekends?) to pick, prep and pack my order? What?!?

I went back and looked at the “regular” shipping, and at my old orders with you. I suddenly realized that to you, “regular” means “2 to 10 days” and that it usually came closer to 10 days than 2 (yes, I keep records of this stuff). Based on history, I received orders from other companies in Canada faster than I received my orders from you.

What’s even better is that the tracking shows my package didn’t actually leave the building until Wednesday. If I had ordered from Sephora, I would have had my order in my hands faster than my order from you even shipped out of your warehouse. Wow. That speaks volumes for how much you value me as a customer.

Estimated delivery date? Friday – that’s six whole business days, plus two weekend days.

Curious, I started doing some price comparison, expecting to find your prices much lower. Again, I was surprised. The fact is, your prices are virtually identical to Sephora’s. The only big difference is that you carry drug store brands and they don’t. They also carry some of the higher end brands that you don’t.

So, Ulta, I’m sorry to say that this is goodbye. I may be occasionally seduced into a quickie with you when you have amazing sales or great deals I can’t pass up, but I refuse to be invested in someone who isn’t really supporting their end of the relationship. I’ll stick to Sephora, where my money goes just as far, and the service far excels what you offer.