After recent service I have felt the need to write this open letter about the band's merch stores to all Foo fans and Band Management. Maybe someone that can do something will see it, probably nothing will happen. But at least fans will get some info that may help them.
And for perspective I state them as someone that bought enough merchandise from the store in 2015 to get sent one of the 50 Saint Cecilia keys; my total spend over many store iterations would easily be over 20K.
I'm not going to get into specific events as that is pointless. What I'm going to state here are specific FACTUAL things that the stores do, and the way they run when certain things happen. These aspects I highlight range from (in my opinion) pretty bad to outright atrocious.
When you purchase an item from the UK/EU store, VAT (Value Added Tax) is included in the advertised total. IF your order is shipping to a UK/EU address then that VAT will be payable to HM Revenue & Customs. If you DO NOT live in the UK/EU and are requesting shipping elsewhere in the world, then the goods are exempt from VAT as per law here:
"If the place of supply of your service is not in the EU you don’t have to charge EU VAT but you should include the sale in box 6 on your VAT Return."
All reputable online EU retailers immediately discount their final cart prices by the included VAT amount (20% on the UK/EU store).
The UK/EU store DOES NOT discount the non payable VAT. Instead it continues to charge the same VAT inclusive price to non EU shipping addresses, plus postage. Then it appears to quietly slip the 20% VAT into its pocket (because it does not have to pay it to HM Revenue & Customs it just becomes straight profit). I doubt this windfall is even ever shared with the Band, they probably dont even know all these fans are being royally (ha funny) fleeced.
So if you shop on the UK Store from outside of the EU, always remember that you are giving 20% of your total order price away to Live Nation Charity INC- arguably illegally.
When you place an order for multiple items and it is accepted because all the stock was available, here is what can happen. (all factual actual cases of what has happened to me).
1) Items are actually later NOT available. This happens on a semi regular basis now (never used to). This indicates a very poor ability to truly manage stock levels.
2) Orders may take a very very long time to fulfill, even when all stock items originally advertised "will be available from" date have well and truly passed for all items in your order. This indicates either poor stock logistics, poor order management, or both.
3) When an item is NOT available from your order, your order will always be adjusted WITHOUT any notice to you as to what you would like to do (i.e. substitute another item, cancel the whole order etc). In today's online retail world this should be considered sub standard customer service, bordering on bad.
4) When your order is adjusted and items are removed you may get; an out of stock item notification and a refund notification, just an out of stock item notification, or just a refund notification. This indicates no real process control is in place and significantly reduces understanding and trust that what is being done is even going to happen either.
5) When pressed hard over such changes with no notice, the store MAY send you a stock email reply that contains a list of rote comments that have nothing to do with your query. This indicates a desperate team of people trying to say something to fob off a high volume of queries they can't or don't want to personally answer.
6) When pressed hard over such changes with no notice, the store MAY advise you that full order cancellation IS possible. But IF you are told this, you are only told this AFTER you ask, never BEFORE they take action. This just confirms the terrible process, where contact and the offer of cancellation should be made as soon as a stock issue is identified.
7) When advice is given by yourself in response to the possibility of a full cancellation, the store may not actually wait for your reply after making the offer, but instead may in fact just go ahead and complete fulfillment of the remainder of your order before even reading your response. This indicates the fulfillment team and the customer services team do not communicate with each other at all, or do so very badly.
8) When you have asked a question or action about your partial order and then find your request is never actioned, but rather the remainder of an order was instead actually processed (as in 7), your earlier response may still be replied to with an offer to cancel your order, even after the remainder of the order has been fulfilled and shipped!
. This indicates utter confusion, or perhaps simply no attempt to even look at your order information before sending out a reply.
And finally - the worst...
9) When an item or items are removed from your order (with no contact), a refund WILL be processed for the ITEM value ONLY (in EVERY case). This is despite the fact that when you originally added items to your cart, every additional item added affected the shipping total (upwards). NO ATTEMPT is made to refund the equal portion of shipping that you have also already paid for, relevant to the removed items.
10) When pushed hard over not refunding prepaid shipping, the store may:
A) Agree to refund you some of the prepaid shipping
B) Send you a stock email asking if you want to cancel your order
C) Just go ahead and cancel your entire order so you get back all your shipping and all of everything paid and get no items at all. AND ignore all correspondence and offer no reply to further attempts to get any answers.
10C happened to me 2 weeks ago. Utterly Pissed Off is the only nice way to describe how it left me feeling.
No merchandise site can ever hope to do real volume sales like this and be perfect. But this is a long long way from not perfect.
The service issues I would class as pretty shitty to straight bad.
The two financial issues (one in each store), given by definition they are screwing over the band's most dedicated fans, well they have to be classed as outfight fucking scandalous.
I actually order enough I know from the changing order numbers over time the volume of orders that go through each store. I could run even the US one 10x better myself with just 5 people. And nobody would be ripped off.
So there you go - rant over.