online shoppingI shop online a LOT. I don’t buy a lot of unnecessary things but I do buy everything I need without stepping foot in a physical store. In fact, the trips I take to physical stores usually just involve returning something I bought online. I try to limit these trips as much as possible and that’s where stellar customer service comes in.

Over the years, through trial and error, I’ve learned which online stores really value their customers and do everything possible to keep them happy, and which stores just don’t care. Those that fall in the latter category usually can’t be bothered to resolve any issues once they make a sale, or make resolving an issue a very unpleasant and difficult experience.

Here are (in my opinion) the best online shopping sites as well as those that belong in the Penalty Box.

Hall of Fame: Online Retailers with Best Customer Service I buy things from Amazon on an almost daily basis. I have Subscribe & Save subscriptions for everything from toiler paper to granola bars. I’ve been a Prime member for as long as Prime has been around. I do all of that because Amazon has never failed me when it comes to customer service. They make returns extremely easy and in many cases free. Whenever anything arrives damaged (which doesn’t happen often), they make it right. For example, I ordered a doll bed for my niece for Christmas. It was only a few days before Christmas Day and when I tried to assemble the bed, I discovered that some of the wood planks were cracked. I spoke to an Amazon rep through online chat.

He promptly overnighted another bed and told me not to worry about sending the broken one back. I was happy, and my niece was thrilled when Christmas Day came around. That is why I’m a loyal customer. I started using Wayfair fairly recently. I discovered how great their customer service was when I ordered a dresser that had one drawer that hung slightly off kilter. I contacted Wayfair and notified them of the issue. Within a few days, I had a whole new dresser delivered to my home. And since they didn’t want to trouble me with taking apart the first dresser, I wasn’t asked to send anything back. That is how you show customers how much you value them. They may have lost money on the one dresser but I am now using Wayfair on a regular basis as we go through a major home remodel. after my recent cancer diagnosis, I cleaned out my skincare and makeup drawers and switched to all natural, small batch products with simple ingredient lists. Annmarie Gianni is my go-to for skincare because of their fabulous products and their hands-on, friendly customer service. When I was still learning about natural products and trying to figure out what was what, they were quick to answer my e-mails and suggest a regimen specific to my skin concerns. At one point, I ordered their eye cream–the skin around my eyes is pretty sensitive and the cream did not work for me. Instead of saying, “sorry, we don’t take returns of opened items” like most skincare companies do, they asked me to pass on the eye cream to a friend who might like it and offered me either a refund or another product. I chose a serum that turned out to be a perfect match for my skin. What a great way to treat a customer!

Penalty Box: Online Retailers with Worst Customer Service I shopped at Overstock once and that was enough. Why give my hard earned money to a company that doesn’t respect me as a customer? I made a small purchase – a DVD – and later decided to return it. I was fine with paying return shipping since the decision to return it was mine. I even bought delivery confirmation and tracking showed that the package was delivered to Overstock. Despite that, they claimed to have never gotten my return and refused a refund. I checked in with them a few times and finally gave up, figuring the small refund was not worth my time or the ensuing stress. Overtock chose to deny me my $15 refund and lost a customer that makes all her purchases online every year. I will never shop there again and tell everyone I know about my experience. Nordstrom stores have fabulous customer service and a generous (in my mind, too generous) return policy but my experience with their online ordering process has been nothing but terrible. At one point, I placed an order for about 20 items that were on sale. Several weeks passed with my order not shipping. After all the wait, I started getting e-mails saying certain items were no longer available and my order could not be filled in its entirety. Why wait weeks to tell me something is not available?! Or why allow me to place an order for those items in the first place? It seems like Nordstrom uses inventory from their physical stores to fulfill online orders and depends on people (maybe salespeople?) to pull items from the floor. So it felt like my order just hung out there for weeks and by that time no inventory was available. Whatever the case was, I never got the things I ordered and never got a satisfactory answer from their customer service. Do not, I repeat, do not, order from and chose the “pick up in store” option. I’ve tried this option with several stores near my home and every time was a disaster. I was sent from one department to another and no one seemed to have any idea what do with my request to pick up the stuff I ALREADY PAID for. Finally, when I got to the right desk, I had to wait over an hour for someone to retrieve my order…despite the fact that I was the ONLY person there asking to pick up an order. Lesson learned. Never again.

Who are your favorite online retailers? Least favorite?