By Amanda Morrissey

Now that I have a toddler, I find myself turning more and more to online shopping to purchase gifts or other items that I need for our home. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it can be done from the comfort of my pajamas! When I shop online, I certainly don’t expect the same level of customer service I might receive when I visit a store in person, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t expect any customer service at all. I’ve been burned in the past by sites with high shipping rates, impossible to comprehend return or exchange policies, ridiculous waits for an item to be shipped, and “employees” who don’t seem to care whether they keep my business or not. Needless to say, those are not the sites I come back to again and again.

Two words that will always catch my eye? FREE SHIPPING. If I need to make a large purchase, those words are like music to my ears. offers free shipping on a huge number of purchases over a certain dollar amount, and you can bet that is the first site I check almost every time. Another important factor is whether they ship quickly. I recently ordered a fairly large gift for my daughter’s birthday, using Amazon, and fully expected that it would not arrive in time for her big day because I had waited so long. Not only did I get free shipping, the gift was on my doorstep within 48 hours. And that was just regular old shipping, not expedited in any way! They made me one happy mama, and they have a customer for life.

Another website I use quite often is, and I always mention them as an example of when a great customer service representative can turn an unhappy customer into one who not only comes back, but recommends them to everyone she knows. I ordered a T-shirt, and when I received it, the printing on it was very crooked. It was incredibly obvious, and as the shirt was a special gift, I was not happy. I called the return/exchange number on my packing slip and explained what had happened, asking how I should go about sending the shirt back to exchange it. The customer service rep at CafePress wouldn’t hear of it. She told me not to worry about returning the shirt to them and apologized profusely for the poor quality. She said they would get a new shirt in the mail to me immediately and have it to me the next day, and that is exactly what they did. You can bet I told my friends and family about them, and I have shopped there many times since then and never been disappointed again.

When you shop online, what are your expectations? Do you have sites that you visit over and over, and ones you avoid because of a bad experience? Just because we may not be interacting with someone face to face doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect our needs to be met by a company that truly cares about their customers.

Feature Image by: FreeDigitalPhotos