As many long time Toronto Raptor fans since day 1, I finally got the chance to see them win their 1st NBA Championship. So after the final buzzer went off, I wanted to immediately purchase some NBA Champions merchandise. My regret during the 1992-1993 World Series championship run of the Toronto Blue Jays, I don’t have any memorabilia. Well I shouldn’t say none. I had a large print “Back To Back World Series” book with Joe Carter jumping on the cover. With today’s modernization of e-commerce and mobile payments, it’s never been so easier to get the merchandise you want. However there’s always some kind of issue that falls through the cracks of creating an easy transaction and customer experience.
When it comes to purchasing official memorabilia online, I had only 2 options. Real Sports Apparel and the NBA Store. I opted for NBA Store because of the variety of styles and product available. Where as Real Sports which is run by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), which owns the Raptors. They had a limited selection, however the staple item that was worn by the players (champions hat and tshirt) were available. Except the price was at a premium, so it was immediate sticker shock in the late night. Here’s what I experienced that night.
I decided to go with NBA Store because it was the official site owned by the NBA. Little did I know it was operated by Fanatics, one of the largest e-commerce operators for all of the major North American sport leagues. The immediate disconnect starts by determining your region. You need to realize there’s two completely different URLS, The US NBA Store (store.nba.com) vs NBAStore Canada (nbastore.ca).
With that change came the immediate realization of what the prices were. I’ve been more use to websites that let you change the base currency from USD to CAD on the fly, without leaving the website completely.
Thankfully all the NBA Champions merchandise was visible on the home splash screen immediately. In the back of my head I knew I had to make my purchase immediately because I knew this website was going to be hit hard with traffic.
I knew I was determined to at least purchase 3 items. It would be the NBA Champions baseball cap, a t-shirt of some sorts, and a premium item. Did I want the same NBA Champions t-shirt that EVERYONE was going to get? No. Thankfully they had those 2019 team caricatures t-shirts available. They looked ideal in the preview screen, so I added it to my cart.
Here’s where things got easy, however in the long run probably not the ideal thing to do. Many online stores now utilize this guest account versus creating a dedicated account for the NBA Store. I figured this would be my only time that I would be making a purchase on the website. All that was required was providing my email address for the guest account.
The next day feeling happy about my recent purchases, multiple emails from the NBA Store came changing the original shipment date and delivery. What I thought would be 2 weeks, changed to 2 months. Immediately all 3 items were getting different order statuses. I figured the emails would get me the updates, but it forced you to go to the website to login to see the order status.
I could not remember if I created a password, so the normal thing to do would be to reset password. Many times were attempted I kept refreshing my inbox for the reset link and checking my spam folders. I thought it might have been my browser. Originally I placed my order with my iPhone using Google Chrome browser. When I then tried using Google Chrome on my MacBook, still no reset password. As well I was never prompted with the message for confirmation that an email would be sent to my email account.
Out of ideas I decided to reach out via Twitter and direct message my situation. First of all, they reached out to me by following me, after I openly criticized how my items are on backorder. After they requested I DM them with my order number. Days have pasted and I have yet to receive any notification or reply via Twitter. I then switched to Live Chat support on NBA Store. I made earlier attempts to use the function, but it was either offline/unavailable, or not open at the times given. Eventually I got a hold of someone and explained my situation. It was revealed to me because I created a guest account, there was no password to reset. They said if I create a dedicated account for NBA Store (Canada) with my guest email, that my original order and status would combine into 1 record. That was not the case. As I logged into my new NBA Store account, my orders tab was empty. I immediately tried messaging Live Chat again, but immediately using the service, it decided to go offline. As well I was never given the option to retrieve a transcript of my original live chat option.
I decided to revisit another feature on the account login screen, track order. I entered the credentials required; email address, order number, and zip code. Upon entering the information in the required fields, I received an error message for an invalid email or zip code. I immediately thought the issue could be that when entering the Zip Code field it would only work for the USA, and not the Canada postal code. Upon some searching the FAQ for NBAStore, I found an alternative page to look up my order status, where yes I had to enter a space within my postal code. After clicking OK my order status was retrieved. To my chagrin, my items were all coming at separate times. Another issue was tracking number and carrier services. Only 1 item is ready to be sent out, but the NBA Store failed to tell me what courier service they’re sending my item. It wasn’t until I found out a 3rd party carrier was sending the item of to Canada Post. This created an entire different tracking number.
I’ll be lucky to receive my orders before the start of the next regular season. However I have no idea when I’ll likely use NBA Store again. Makes me question doing online orders via guest accounts if I want the peace of mind that my transaction is in check, and that I get the proper access to customer service.