Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Buying things online in China is not the same as in North America.
Back home you can order something, pay for it online and then a few days later, it arrives at your doorstep.
But here, websites either do not have the technical ability or are not allowed to do monetary transactions online. As a result goods are paid for on delivery in cash, or you have to go in person to finish the transaction, especially when it's via credit card.
I've had to do this many times with plane tickets, where once you reserve them, they must be paid for the same day so that the ticket can be issued; a next day transaction may not guarantee the same price, as the travel websites are at the mercy of the airlines who determine the prices.
The same goes for concert tickets. Yesterday I called about getting tickets for some upcoming concerts, including Lang Lang on December 7 at the National Center for the Performing Arts, better known as the Egg.
It took a long time for the girl who answered my call to locate the tickets on the computer and that I wanted seats on the left hand side of the auditorium so I could see the piano keyboard. Once this was finally done, I asked her to hold them for me so I could pick them up on the weekend, but she said that was not possible; I would have to pay for them right away or go to the ticket centre myself.
She could not explain why and at that point my frustrations were boiling over and there was nothing either one of us could do to resolve the issue. So this morning I schlepped to the ticket office, which was close to me and already at 9:15am there were many customers at the counter.
After I managed to enlist someone to help me, she didn't speak English and called out for someone else from the call centre to help her. After a few translated interactions, I managed to get the tickets I wanted and paid for them. However the girl who spoke no English seemed to have no sense of serving people, preferring to hide behind the counter. Who hired her?
But anyway, does buying stuff online have to be this complicated? The Internet is supposed to make things easier. But instead China insists on making things more difficult for everyone when it comes to monetary transactions. I can understand concerns about using a stolen credit card, but these cases are few and far between.

One of the most profitable websites in China is called Taobao which is an online shopping site, where people can buy from virtual stores. This is so advanced in terms of integrating all kinds of real stores online, and yet the old fashioned method of cash on delivery or COD still drags everything down. This is called progress?

1 comment:

ks said...

i dont do shopping on line. period.