Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Online Shopping Roundup (My Picks)

In the back-to-school frenzy that is my life, we've been ordering a lot of things for fall.  We have had fabulous experiences with many companies (and none of these has any idea that I'm shilling for them!  No conflicts of interest whatsoever, or any kickbacks): - the upsides are that the stuff comes almost immediately, we build up "rewards dollars" especially with a teacher account, and their selection is fantastic.  The only con is that their stuff always has a weird smell when it arrives.  I picture sweaty underpaid workers filling the boxes. - I think we probably spend our highest portion of internet dollars here, and for good reason:  Their selection and prices are unbeatable on clothes for both adults and children, along with occasional baby gifts and the like.  When I combine email offers, mail coupons, Discovercard "ShopDiscover" and cash back, the deals can approach unbelievable.  Their sartorial style has also become more modern just in time for my parallel style transformation, particularly with their hipper sister-site, "Lands' End Canvas".  And, everything fits on the first try!  Or, if it doesn't, they have a very generous return policy. - this oldie-but-goodie is the go-to place because of their solid construction and unbeatable guarantee.  They've now added free shipping for everyone, and we also have the correlated credit card, so we get free returns and monogramming as well.  Like Lands' End, LLBean has developed a hipper sister-site, "LLBean Signature".  By saving the LLBean coupon dollars from the credit card, and watching for deals, we can also get great prices here. - ok, everyone needs to buy underwear sometimes.  There are about a million options on the internet, but this one has pleased me the most with its selection and customer service.  I had a very bad experience with a competitor (HerRoom) and will not shop there again, when I have Freshpair available to me.  Once I had some pantyhose that got a run on the first wearing, and Freshpair over-nighted me a new complimentary pair when I called them! - I discovered this one recently, but they have the perfect return policy just like my usual standby sites (Landsend and LLBean).  They also have maxi-dresses that are gorgeous and long enough for my somewhat Amazonian frame.  I found them through, which is an acceptable place for basics like T-shirts, but which has a much more limited return policy (along with the other sister-sites on the same page, like Old Navy). - Who doesn't love Zappos?  Their one-year return policy (new condition only, free shipping) is kind of good compared to a lot of internet retailers, though frankly not as great as my usual go-to sites.  But the real reason to love Zappos is that their selection is unbeatable, including really detailed background information on the items.  When I needed boots, I could read the exact shaft measurements, for example, and also search by a zillion different criteria. - I have to stop drooling long enough to write that Amazon has really become the portal to internet shopping for me for everything except clothes, shoes, and school supplies - and sometimes, even for those things.  I was particularly impressed when they stood up for me (refunded my money) when a sub-retailer on their site (Rymatt Wellness) acted completely horribly after an order went wrong.  We can almost always qualify for free shipping, and I'm considering paying for the "Prime" membership as well.  The real loser in this deal is our local Target, because why would I leave my dark isolated cave to go to the store if Amazon will deliver my Kleenex so quickly? - If you go for a sale and find the special deals, this is a great place to get cute, comfortable shoes that don't break the bank.  I will say, though, that their return policy is weak, and they try, but don't succeed, at having helpful customer service.  The representatives are all incredibly sweet, but they don't always know detailed information about their shoes and boots. - I would have been a lot happier with JNY before this week, when I had an issue with a shirt that shrank after washing [according to label instructions].  JNY has really cute stuff, and reasonable prices, and so much career clothes that is washable.  Or should I say, "washable".  However, it seems that their return policy is even more draconian than I thought - and they have not made an exception to their "no washed returns ever" policy for me, even though there is no possible way that a person would know it shrank, without washing!  This conflict is still on-going, so JNY gets a tentative pass as a reasonable place to shop.  I do like their Rewards program, and their blended fabrics hold up well after laundering (the problem was with a 100% cotton knit).

I have wanted for a while to try using a few other sites, like,, and, because I understand that they have great return policies and good searchability as well.  But, as great as Discovercard is :) they can't actually give me more money, so no more new stores for a while!

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