J.Crew Apologizes For Bad Website, But That's All They Do

A dozen readers (and probably a couple of PR flacks) must have forwarded us J.Crew’s email today, in which the CEO and president of the company extend a mutual apology for the non-workingness of their “enhanced” website and call center. Oddly, the email simply asks customers to “bear with us” but doesn’t offer any discount or sale. Well, maybe they figured driving more traffic to a broken site would only make things worse.

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  1. JustThatGuy3 says:

    One of the problems appears to be a site-wide failure of the “Shift” key.

  2. SahuaritaSam says:

    Why would PR flacks send you the J.Crew e-mail? Unless they are working for the company, I don’t understand that motive.

    I do think J. Crew should have offered discounts, but that’s me.

  3. ibored says:

    they take proper grammar VeRy SeRiOuSlY

  4. ideagirl says:

    @JustThatGuy3: Thanks for that, funniest thing I have read all day!

  5. Imaginary_Friend says:

    I’m baffled. How hard can it be to update a site that just sells one style of shirt and pants in four different colors?

  6. femaleconsumerist says:

    My biggest problem with this email was not the lack of a discount, but rather the fact that they do not specify what the problems were, exactly, and whether we had been receiving the email because we were effected by the problems. I purchased some clothing from the J. Crew website recently, and after reading this email, I immediately went to my Bank of America online statement to make sure I hadn’t been overcharged.

  7. jeffgentry says:

    Personally, I think it’s great that they acknowledge that they’ve had some general issues. It’s the risk of bad PR that prevents more companies from acknowledging their problems, which also acknowledges that they are listening to their customers. I think an apology and an acknowledgment that “We are listening” goes a long way even without a discount (which, for all any of us know, was offered to specific customers with specific problems). Frankly, a 20% off you next purchase could just have easily have been criticized as blatant marketing in the face of an issue, which is what I would have thought.

  8. iwparker says:

    Regarding the use of all lowercase, that’s a psychological marketing technique. For a younger target demographic, it has been found that all lowercase attracts their interest and comes across as trustworthy. I can’t say it does anything for me other than make for a nice style on the stationary. The pedant in me shudders, however.

  9. GilesCragus says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    I work for J. Crew’s IT department. I know the situation looks really bad
    from a consumer standpoint but I can assure you that there’s a lot going on
    in the background. They’re trying to find ways to pull in people to the
    main offices or get the calls to go to the stores, but the website is beyond
    my knowledge or control.

    I don’t buy J. Crew clothes nor am I exceptionally loyal to the company, but
    since I’m involved in the back end of things, I wanted to say that, as a
    long-term Consumerist reader and user of EECB tactics, we really are doing a
    lot on the back-end to help things out. Trust me – from the back end, J.
    Crew is not an enemy of Consumerist readers. IMHO, people can buy whatever
    they like and I wouldn’t mind either way.

    This is not known to Mickey (the CEO) or my bosses, so please don’t spread
    around this E-mail address. I don’t reply to it often anyway.

    Peace,
    Anonymous of J. Crew

  10. sahhhm says:

    I had similar sentiments when I read the email this morning. There are a pair of jeans that I was going to purchase, even if the discount was simply free shipping. Alas, no free shipping. No 10-25% off. No jeans! Hopefully the power of the consumerist will help!

  11. sansraisins says:

    I haven’t been able to shop on their website for weeks. I want tanks, goddammit. I’ve tried various browsers, different days and times, but it’s so buggy, crashing crashes browsers, taking 1000 years to move between “select size”, now “select color”, now “add to cart”, that it’s impossible. And navigation is messed up. Then all of a sudden there’s 86 x tank in your cart. Seems like a pretty major long-running screw up. I emailed them a few weeks ago and got a “very sorry” response containing weasly words like “We are aware of the few
    problems”. Made me angry. Today’s CEO email made me feel better, but definitely not like trying to shop again.

  12. debegray says:

    I was scratching my head when I received this email. Okay, so they don’t have to offer a discount, but why send the email unless you have some kind of idea when the problem will be fixed? This is the kind of email you send when maybe a week has gone by, not a few weeks.

    I’m guessing that they have some new database software. That’s the only thing I can think of that would screw up both the site and the call center.

  13. Roy Hobbs says:

    Why extend discounts when all you will do is make people pissed off because they can’t use the website? Acknowledge the problems, get them fixed, and then attempt to re-ingratiate yourself with your customers.

    Sometimes it appears that you people have little idea of how a business actually runs. Demanding a discount because the website doesn’t work? They are already eating huge losses because their store isn’t running.

  14. krunk4ever says:

    @Roy Hobbs: I agree. I’m not sure why people think every apology needs to come with some sort of compensation. What happened to the times when a sincere apology is enough, or was that just all talk. What you really cared was the compensation and who the **** cares about the apology.

    To me, J Crew did a brave thing by admitting there’s a problem on their end and they notified their customers about it and that they’re working hard on fixing that issue.

  15. primo.avanti says:

    i got one of these emails today…its nice that theyre aknowledging the problems with their website and ordering and customer service–i had to ask a question about a return and their response took 3-4 bus. days…i know thats not too long but i was getting a response the same day or next bus. day usually…–their website would list some products as ‘price=null’ and size and color drop downs producing ‘select color/size’ as the only option–but i would expect some sort of compensation. not to feel entitled but if you’re going to come out and say ‘yeah, we f*cked up’, you should go all the way and say ‘…and oh, by the way, let us make it up to you. Here’s a coupon for %/$ off your next order. just my opinion of jcrew since they were one of my favorite places to order online from until all the ‘improvements’ started…

  16. arkitect75 says:

    @debegray: I felt the smae way. I thought there was a one-time 60% off coupon of something in there.

  17. morganlh85 says:

    Someone I know ordered her wedding dress from there, and it never arrived, because there weren’t actually any left. She got the runaround for weeks, but they finally admitted that there weren’t any dresses left and refunded her money, including a cash refund for a gift card she used, and another $100 gift card.

    So I guess they are going to handle the issues individually for those who take the time to complain instead of having a site-wide discount. Either that or they are just waiting until the site actually works to issue the discounts.

  18. Brent says:

    I also received the email, and my greatest disappointment was that J. Crew didn’t say what exactly they’re going to do to stop the problems. I mean, it’s basically “We know we have problems, bear with us, click the links below to buy more product”. Tell me what happened and tell me wtf you’re going to do to improve the situation! If this were a dating relationship, I’d be out the door fast.

  19. jessicat says:

    While J Crew is already taking huge hits by not being able to offer service, they’ll probably have something in place to offer discounts on a case by case basis once they’re up and running again. Most places will give free shipping or 10% off if you call in and say you had trouble with the site. IMO though, admitting that they have issues and apologizing is enough. From personal experience, most places don’t even do that much.

  20. Discounts are offered all to frequently. I am far more impressed by companies that decrease the selling price TO ALL customers.

  21. 00447447 says:

    I got this email today and couldn’t figure out why. I haven’t even bought anything from their website before.
    “Dear Consumer, we’re sorry for the possibility that you way have experienced if, for some reason, you happened to use our website; regardless of the fact that you are clearly not a customer of our e-commerce business. We will do our best to ensure that you continue to not be inconvenienced by issues that you are totally unaffected by.”

  22. Mariajl says:

    Why should people get to a discount just because they can’t spend money on a website for a week or so?
    It is not like you need a new shirt via the internet on an urgent basis.
    And they didn’t charge people’s cards causing a lot of hassle for their customer.
    People feel too entitled these days.
    They apologized and are working on the problem. That is more than many companies these days.

  23. Morticia says:

    I agree with Mariajl, Arkitect & debegray. Pick your battles, this shouldn’t be one of them.

  24. tweemo says:

    They have sales all the time if you just sign up for the mailing list.

  25. bonzombiekitty says:

    @krunk4ever: I agree. I think too many people feel entitled to compensation of some sort for even the slightest inconvenience. Having a poorly/non functioning website, in my mind, is not something that a user deserves compensation for.

    I see people demand compensation for nothing all the time. Way back when I was a cashier, I once had a person demand I give her an item for free because I had accidentally scanned it twice (and immediately noticed it and voided out the second scan, the whole second second and void took less than 5 seconds). Apparently the 5 seconds it took me to make and then fix the mistake was such a huge inconvenience that I should have given her the item for free.

    At this site, I think people are mostly reasonable with their requests. But in this case, why do people feel entitled to compensation? A simple “Hey, the site is all sorts of messed up, it’s not what we expected it to be, we’re working on fixing it” is sufficient.

  26. Eigtball says:

    I don’t think they need to offer any compensation. If a display in the store is close due to no power, you get a discount? Nah, I think OK, fix it then let us know. You don’t NEED anything they sell, you just want it.

  27. generalassembly says:

    @debegray: That is exactly what they did — new database software across the board. Comes at a terrible time with the launch of the their fall lines.

  28. rixatrix says:

    I think their apology was graceful and succinct, and no discount was necessary. As someone above told us about her bride friend, J. Crew is taking care of its customers individually as best they can while their system is screwed up. Personally, I’ve always been blown away by the quality of their customer service and attention to detail. It’s a shame we’ve come to expect that, when a few consumers are put out by a computer error or human mistake, that everyone should profit. (But not the company – because, by golly, mistakes have no place in business, even when you own up to them!)

  29. MissPeacock says:

    @sansraisins: Couldn’t you have just ordered your stuff on the phone? I’ve ordered via phone a few times, and the people on the other end are so helpful.

    I also got the email and sent it in to the Consumerist. I thought it was a nice gesture, and as others have pointed out, a discount is not required. Most people who got the email probably didn’t even know about it and weren’t affected by it in any way. And if you were, like I said above, you can always use the phone. (Unless there was an issue with that as well?)

  30. Brent says:

    There actually was an issue with the phones. When I called during the first days of the ‘upgrade,’ I was told that no one was available because of problems associated with the upgrade. Later when I could reach someone by phone I was told that operators couldn’t view customer records because of the upgrade. They were apologetic, sympathetic and seemed frustrated themselves. When I called Customer Service recently I only received a recorded message saying that the numbers was not a working J. Crew phone number.

    I totally understand that there were glitches. Mistakes were made. But the magnitude of the problem cries out for some statement from J. Crew explaining what happened.

  31. RandomHookup says:

    The other day, the local Pizzeria Uno sent an invitation out to their email list for a party…that happened back in December. They apologized right away and then followed up with a $5 gift certificate. The only drawback…the cert can’t be used on “liquor only” purchases.

    But at least they offered that…I expected some cheesy $5 off of $15 coupon.

  32. MissPeacock says:

    @Brent: Wow. Thanks for the clarification. Didn’t know the phones were also affected.

  33. Carso says:

    A website failure for a retailer costs the company a prodigious amount of sales (and dollars) per second, trust me. They want this fixed as soon as is humanly possible and I’m sure there are some IT people at their server center that won’t be going home until the site is operational.

    I am not sure I understand the mentality that the “honest” mistake of having an inaccessible website merits a “sale” for those customers affected. At what point did we decide that a sincere apology was insufficient? And who decided that?

  34. picardia says:

    IMHO, a sale or a coupon wouldn’t be something J. Crew is obligated to do b/c they’ve screwed up. However, it would be smart business. Why? Not everybody visits the Consumerist; a decent number of people who get that e-mail from J. Crew won’t even pay much attention to it except to think, “That website is screwed up again?” The next time they need tanks, they’re going to go by gap.com or Lands End or something else — remembering only that it is impossible to get stuff at J. Crew — and the loss of business for them could be considerable and longstanding.

    Whereas people pay attention to sale e-mails. Money off? They’re there! Maybe they will announce such a thing when the website finally is fixed; driving a bunch of people back to the site to discover that yes, it works fine now.

  35. ElizabethD says:

    I was one of the customers who got caught in the J Crew meltdown. They had a huge online sale a few weeks ago. I ordered 4 pairs of different flipflops, two for me and two for teen daughter.

    Eventually we received a shipment of three pairs of flipflops. Nowhere on the packing slip did JCrew indicate the missing pair was backordered or out of stock. I was charged for all four pair.

    I called the 800 number and ended up on the phone for a half-hour with a very polite but totally flustered J Crew CS rep. She couldn’t find out where those flipflops were. She credited my Amex for the missing pair and said she’d e-mail me when she figured out where the shoes were.

    Two days later she e-mailed me and admitted no one knew what had happened. My main concern, I told her, wasn’t so much that we weren’t getting the one pair of flipflops; it was that JCrew had charged me for all four but never explained why I only got three.

    Glad to know they’ve pledged to clean up their online-orders act.

  36. rodeo40 says:

    How can you say your site is updated and still use Flash?

  37. KaylaLurco says:

    What’s missing from the ‘apology’ and other media coverage is how screwed up
    the shipping is. It isn’t as simple as website functionality not being
    available. I called in a couple of orders and I was lucky I received them. I
    was immediately charged for the entire order. Then only $40 was posted on my
    account and I recvd a UPS tracking number for 1 pair of pants. The pants
    arrived, but the tracking number was incorrect. I called about my other
    items and it took 30 minutes to find 2 more tracking numbers. The cs rep
    couldn’t tell me what was in the packages and I didn’t press her to find out
    why not. I immediately went to ups.com and discovered that 1 tracking number
    was valid and the other didn’t exist. I ended up receiving the rest of my
    items the very next day all in one shipment. So who knows what the ‘valid’
    tracking number was for. Prior to that I ordered a dress for around $80 and
    received a $300 dress. I sent it back and it took a month to get a return
    credit for it. My problems have been small and I’m lucky that my orders
    pretty much went through. I feel for people who have been charged for items
    that haven’t been received and can’t find out where their items are or even
    if they’re on their way. The cs reps just don’t know and there doesn’t even
    seem to be any corporate jargon they were told to say. They just put people
    on hold and pretend they can solve the inquiries when they probably can’t.

  38. sansraisins says:

    @MissPeacock: I could have called, I could have walked to one of their stores. But I don’t like talking to people and I only shop online. Also, part of the problem was reviewing the merchandise. I throw away the catalogs. I’m really just complaining because I can. Not having new tanks is not the end of my world.

  39. ELC says:

    @JustThatGuy3: Awesome. I think it is so stupid when these marketing people use improper grammar, spelling, etc as some kind of “style.” How dumb – but great comment!

  40. mmejanvier says:

    The italics let you know that they care.

    Really.

  41. junip says:

    The funny thing about this apology is that they sent an email giving out a discount when they were in the midst of upgrading the web site and it was taking like 5-10 minutes just to load a page and multiple attempts to add something to the cart. That was definitely more irritating than what I’ve seen lately – where lots of items are listed without showing any size or color availability or just saying “$Null” on the page where it should say a price.

    A subject line like “With our apologies” definitely implies that there is more than just an apology in the email. Still, I only buy things marked down to $20 or less, so I’ll keep buying their stuff, pain or no pain.

  42. DevinWellwood says:

    I’ll remain a loyal JCrew customer because I love their clothes and also
    because I was fortunate enough to get some very excellent service from
    their staff, who helped me sort out some challenges with a couple of
    late summer orders. I even received attention from Mr. Drexler himself.

    This has reaffirmed my faith in the brand and I look forward to when the
    site is fully functional.

  43. melmac says:

    I received that email about two weeks after my most recent order was canceled. The email to me seemed a little generic and insincere. Honestly, I probably won’t shop at jcrew.com anymore. Between my order being canceled and the fact that the colors online do not remotely match the colors of the actual garment, I’m done.