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ThinkGeek's e-commerce snafu

Published on .

TO BE FILED IN THE IRONY CATEGORY: THINKGEEK, A CATALOG AND online retailer that specializes in providing offbeat products and novelties to “geeks” in the technology industry recently owned up to its own technological shortcomings. This reporter received a very cool T-shirt from a friend who ordered from the cataloger. The tee is a play on a line from Rob Reiner's “The Princess Bride,” a popular '80s movie: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” A phone call to ThinkGeek to simply exchange the large shirt for a medium wasn't so simple after all. The customer service rep needed to e-mail a return code to be used on the paper return form. The original tee would then be mailed back to the company along with the code. Once received, ThinkGeek would issue a refund in the full amount by e-mailing a gift certificate code for the same amount. The T-shirt could then be reordered, using the gift code. “Is that the only option?” I asked, floored at the complexity of the transaction for a simple item exchange. The phone rep replied sweetly that she was afraid so “because our e-commerce technology can't handle it.” She said, “It's the only way.” So let me get this straight: ThinkGeek, a company that caters specifically to IT geeks, hasn't figured out basic e-commerce technology? Caveat emptor, I guess. —Carol Krol
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