By Perry Wu
Christifixation–my term for the December hubbub in China–has hit China's consumer world, making December a big month for online purchases on the Mainland. And like Europe and North America, this time of year also adds extra strain to the logistics systems of many Chinese online retailers, like Joyo.com and Dangdang.com.
But two recent transactions with each respective website leaves me with only 50% of my normal Christmas cheer. Joyo.com performed marvelously, while Dangdang failed to deliver.
Amazon.com (AMZN) last year acquired Joyo.com Limited, which operates the Joyo.com website in cooperation with Chinese subsidiaries and affiliates. I can use Amazon.com in China and have my goods sent to Shanghai or Beijing without a problem. Likewise, Joyo.com performs well.
I recently had to buy a DVD, so went to the Joyo.com website, filled in my details, clicked "Submit", and easily completed my transaction. A few days later a courier called me to check when I would be home, and then delivered it within about an hour of the assigned time. In my eyes, this was perfection.
But IDG-backed Dangdang.com has some problems. My frustration with Dangdang hit the wall last week in Shanghai.
Again I had purchased some books online and then waited for word on when they would arrive. I called their special service hotline in Beijing at 010-51236699, and then sent emails to [email protected] Both times I did not receive a response: the phone was an IVR maze with no humans who answer; the emails seemed to be sent to a void. They do have a third way of contact, via QQ instant messenger, but I only use MSN and Yahoo for Chinese chat.
So for a few days I waited at home–those books were important! And waited. And waited. I became manic and refused to go down in my elevator for fear that the delivery man would be coming up in the other elevator shaft.
Dangdang, why can't you give me a call and let me know when the delivery will arrive?
Finally the courier did arrive. The company seems to outsource its deliveries to the smelliest, dirtiest couriers in Shanghai. I'm glad my books came wrapped in a bag.
I understand that in other cities the delivery guys will sometimes call you if you are not home, but there is still the problem of Dangdang's customer service. Where is it? Where did it go? Why was I not contacted about my books? Where are the call centers for Dangdang? Why can't I talk to a human being? Who is running this company?!
If you do searches online, you'll find lots of other angry customers who have purchased goods from Dangdang. It seems the company does not care about its service so much, since it is the biggest elephant on the block. Unfortunately Joyo.com doesn't have such a wide assortment of books as Dangdang. Joyo should seize this opportunity to pump its video and book selection to a better level, and then it will be truly unbeatable. I am sure many Chinese users would depart Dangdang if this happened.
Here's the strange thing: today I am in Beijing and again I am trying to buy books from Dangdang (I love pain). After I submitted my purchase, the screen returns a big "Sorry!" and sends me back to the company's home page. I tried four separate times, and each time received the same response. Maybe my reputation is bad at Dangdang now, and they don't want to do business with me? Again I try phoning and email. I still have not received an email response, and their phone line seems to never have anyone to answer.
Dangdang.com gets hot coals from me this Christmas.
About the author:
Perry Wu is a writer and correspondent for ChinaTechNews.com and can be reached here at the site. Perry Wu does not hold any positions, long or short, on any of the Chinese or American company securities mentioned in this article.