Cautionary Sale

I never attend the sales. Never.

Well… all that fighting and squabbling over a £5.99 skirt in Topshop is not in the least ladylike.

But surely a virtual sale would present a more civilised affair? Especially one arranged by invitation only.

Such were my hopes on waking this morning before even the larks and sunrise. I was about to take my maiden voyage into this brave new world of sales and the butterflies dancing in my tummy foretold of something monumental. The suitor to take my cherry? The much-billed ‘everything must go for £1’ extravaganza being held to celebrate the Outnet’s first birthday.

Taking a sip of much-too-hot coffee and blinking at the brightness of my Macbook, I vowed to follow a simple plan. Not for me an Oscar de la Renta dress with a price tag to match the yearly rent of my apartment. That would feel an act of robbery. Instead, the sleepy voice in my head reasoned: ‘Head straight for the J Brand Gigi’s you’ve seen and loved. If none are left, pick up something small and less sought-after like a pair of sunglasses – close Macbook, return to bed.’

It’s an often quoted maxim that even the best laid plans can go to ruin and this was most certainly applicable today.

For me.  And for this bloody sale. 

The volume of traffic was extraordinary – even at such an ungodly time – and it was necessary to wait for two hours before the cruel mistress that is the Outnet server finally, finally deemed my custom worthy and granted access to the website.  During those lonely hours, only frustration, a message to remind that ‘The Outnet is popular today’, and the desire to throw my laptop from the nearest window kept my company.

Though the wait had been torturous, it was on entering the website that true purgatory commenced. It died with every click. And not in a dignified manner. This thing spluttered, and wailed, and gasped in much the same way a Shakespearean actor would the closing scenes of Romeo and Juliet. Items mischievously marked as still being available were sold out. This would be a frustrating twist in any story, but it seems all the more unkind when it follows a ten minute wait for the page to load.

Mercifully, the Outnet were on hand to dispense soothing words of consolation and encouragement on Twitter. These wanted nothing for sensitivity and it was, indeed, comforting to read how a virtual sale betters those in the real world because ‘at least there are no elbows.’ Quite, I thought to myself, but a sharp elbow to the rib in Topshop seems kinder than three hours of disappointment and frustration.

And so, after many squandered hours and only a basket to mock with its emptiness, I admitted defeat. I turned off my laptop. I unsubscribed from the Outnet. I learned a valuable lesson.

Was the experience worthwhile?

For me and the countless others on Twitter and Facebook expressing dismay, I suspect not.  One wittily likened it to receiving an invite to a party, being collected by a chauffeur-driven limousine, and then being punched in the face on arrival. It seemed an apt description.

And the Outnet? 

All publicity is good publicity, or so they say.

|The Outnet|
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8 Comments

Filed under Style Souk

8 responses to “Cautionary Sale

  1. I’m with you. I came to my computer around 10 o’clock, clicked on the link in the email and OMG! all those errors and timeouts. So frustrating I agree. Then after 1 hour trying to get into the sale I finally made it for 3 minutes. Nothing that was left really appealed to me, eventually put an Anna Sui top into the basket and was kicked again. Gave up.

    They could’ve been better prepared and I think disclosing the start time would’ve been better, too. They also should’ve let in customers in waves by the order they RSVP’d to the sale. But well, we also shouldn’t complain about such a sale… it was deemed to be ridiculously overcrowded.

  2. I know, it was very frustrating. I kept getting the same page over and over again , stating that they were very popular. I guess A LOT of people were trying the same thing. I was this close to giving up but clicked one last time on the link I had gotten through email from theoutnet.com and FINALLY (heaven!) it opened! I spotted some amazing silk trousers by Phi which retailed at about 1013 euros and I can happily say I paid 11 euros in total for them. This leaves me as a happy customer. But all in all I have to say, it really was like a lottery. Some were lucky, others … not so much. I set my alarm at 07:30 so I was lucky enough to get the email in time, but still… The response must have been too much for the site to handle! Better luck next time!

  3. Oh and I read your entire blog and LOVE it. It seems we talk about similar subjects.
    Congratulations on your proposal btw 😉 xxx Greetings from Comme Coco

  4. Oops. Good post on a “shitey” experience!
    On the bright side well done for not launching your mac through the said window. Mine would of been launched costing not only a new machine but a hefty bill from a glazier too!
    Chin up, it’ll be boxing day soon…….

  5. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to email and share your experiences of the ‘sale’ debacle yesterday.

    It is clear that a great many of you were disappointed despite being awake when the invitation arrived and sleepily checking your email every two seconds!

    Interestingly, the Outnet have issued an explanation on their Facebook page but it seems to lack any logic.

    They admit to knowing the number of people invited – as a consequence of how intensely the event was publicised! – but were surprised by the speed with which customers placed their orders.

    Perhaps they thought we’d all gotten up at 5am only to come and window shop…?

  6. Lee

    I followed the same strategy as you – go for something small and hopefully less sought after – and, like you and millions of others, I failed.
    It was indeed a marketing debacle and I am sure the IT department is working overtime right now to see how they better cope with what should have been pretty predictable traffic.
    You know, if they really are offering free shipping to people who RSVPd, i might be happy with that. It might not be a buck a purchase, but if they knocked off US tax too, it would be a whole lot more tempting. I loathe putting something in my cart for $60 and then watching the shipping and tax bump it close to $100.
    Nice post, Best L

  7. Great post and I had similar experiences. I did get through at some point but the one item I wanted was sold out and I couldn’t be bothered trying to click through to get an item I only marginally liked even if it was just a pound. Ironically I attended a ‘real life’ sample sale the same day a few hours later and that experience was so much better. I’ll probably do a comparison post on that at some point.

    I did hear though that the US version of the sale went much more smoothly (i.e. no server overload). I guess they learned from their mistakes, but it’s a shame the Euro customers had to deal with the site crashes.

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