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.