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Moosejaw, where the simple gets pretty dern complicated

April 23, 2008

The story you are about to read is true. I have changed no names to protect anyone, though the names provided to me are bizarre enough. This is a chronicle of my attempt to purchase a $20 accessory from an Internet vendor. The quest took time out of four days of my life last week and eight follow-up emails back and forth, and in the end, it was unsuccessful.

If you are considering the purchase of an article of outdoor gear and expect this to be fairly routine, take heed: friends don’t let friends shop at

On Tuesday, April 15, I found Moosejaw through The North Face’s website, where it was listed as a vendor for the Roo II lumbar pack. There were other vendors listed at TNF’s site as well. I checked all of them, and only Moosejaw claimed to have the Roo II in Cargo green, my color of choice. I know it isn’t a high-tech or high-fashion color, but I like it because it is subdued, neutral, and not black–and it matches my Audi.

The image of the pack on Moosejaw’s site included a little banner reading, \\\”Ships Today.”/// I ordered the pack. I have ordered nearly everything I own online for almost 12 years. seemed initially to present no peculiar challenges.

As it turned out, Moosejaw was rather effusively communicative. On the order page, I learned about the proprietor’s divorce from his two-timing wife.  Next, I received a full-page confirmation narrative by return email. The sender relayed that my order had been accepted, and that he imagined this must be the greatest moment of my life. My law school acceptance letter was scarcely more exhilarating. The missive went on to detail all the ways I could rack up reward points for future purchases. MJ is insanely optimistic.

I noted one interesting thing in the confirmation email: the notice said that I would receive a shipping confirmation at 9 p.m. EST (Michigan doesn’t do daylight savings time?), and a tracking number. I like tracking numbers, and I haunt the UPS site when I am expecting anything.

At 9:00 p.m. on the West Coast, hours after the promised shipping confirmation should have appeared, none appeared.  Nor did the following day bring a shipping confirmation.  The original order confirmation  contained a link to my order status. According to that information, my order was still “processing.”

Thursday morning I emailed MJ and asked whether my order had shipped. One MOXX responded with a friendly “Hi There!” I loathe Hi There!, but I understand some people find it a friendly alternative to normal business interaction. MOXX said he understood my frustration at seeing the “Ships Today” banner on the order page and finding my order still in processing two days later. He was sorry I had to write them first to find out my order had not gone through. Bother the fact that I had a confirmation saying that my order had been “accepted;” it had not gone through. My credit card, MOXX said, had not gone through. That was a first. I must have dumbed out and mistyped the number. MJ fever was catching.

Next, I called MJ and spoke with one Justin and reordered the pack. Justin assured me that the Roo II, in Cargo green, was in stock and would be shipped that very day. My credit card was fine.  It was becoming a fine Thursday.

One Cletus wrote at some point after I spoke with Justin to say he was happy all was taken care of and that MJ’s goal was “to provide the best customer service in the world.”

Thursday evening brought no shipping confirmation. I clicked the link to my order status page, and there…behold! Another customer’s order history appeared.

Friday morning there was no news on my now three-day-cold order, so I emailed MJ again. This time, one Cinder responded. She assured me that my order had been shipped on Thursday, and everything should be fine. She shared more, as well. I would not begin to presume to paraphrase her prose, so I will quote it here, redacting only the contact email and phone number.

Every single morning at work I eat oatmeal. Every single morning at work someone asks, “What’s that smell?” or “Is someone eating syrup?” Every single morning at work I say, “That’s my oatmeal.” I really mean it … every single morning. Sorry that things always have to be about me

If you continue to have any questions regarding anything, just email us at **** and we’d be happy to help you! Have an incredible day!

Love the Madness.

“Love the Madness” is MJ’s motto; it is the closing before each sender’s ineffable name.

Cinder sent me to the same order status link that still showed the same “processing” status it had displayed all week. At least it no longer showed the other customer’s order history. I was having an incredible day. MJ was not to be believed.

With the goal of salvaging Friday, I called MJ and instructed Justin to cancel my order. He told me my order had not been shipped, he had no idea why, he cancelled the order, and said he would refund the charge to my card. I informed him that vendors are not supposed to charge customers’ credit cards until the order is shipped. This information was entirely new to him.

I followed up with an email to provide a paper trail of the cancellation notice. This would be necessary in case I needed to file a dispute with VISA or a complaint with my state Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Unfortunately, my experience with that office when our phone bill was “slammed” was much like my experience with MJ.

My cancellation was confirmed by email, once from Violet, and once from Sunshine. Violet was very candid. She admitted to being “a tiny bit confused.” She also admitted that my order had never been shipped (evidently she and Cinder don’t share information), and to taking filtered water to work in a glass moonshine jar with a rusty lid because it is cleaner than a plastic bottle.

Sunshine was even spookier. She invited me to use a coupon for discounts on future purchases.






  1. April 23, 2008 8:48 am

    Oatmeal, moonshine jars, all about me, embrace the madness.

    It sounds like an “awesome” experience alright. I think Dante wrote something about this.

  2. Janet permalink
    April 24, 2008 12:10 pm

    Ha,ha! I think they’re smoking their profits.

  3. Taylor permalink
    April 28, 2008 12:22 pm

    I read and appreciate you sharing your recent experience with Moosejaw Mountaineering. However, some things just don’t seem to mesh. Have you never had problems with online purchases in the past twelve years of shopping online? How about those rare occasions you go out and shop in-person? Had you not alluded to having a law degree, I wouldn’t have never understood why you didn’t appreciate Moosejaw’s insane optimism and Moxx trying to be friendly.

    For the past several years, I have diligently relied on Moosejaw for gear, clothing, and support. I shop with Moosejaw for their refreshing, edgy and robust comedic approach to providing quality products and service. And I continue to do so regardless of hiccups either others or myself have when dealing with Moosejaw since I know they will continue to do their best to remedy the issue.

    Loving the madness,

    P.S. Moxx is a lady.

  4. April 28, 2008 1:22 pm

    Actually, Taylor, I haven’t had such a confounding experience trying to buy something, either online or in person, as I had with MJ.

    Your perspective does go to show that MJ has its appeal to some; personally, I’m small on madness.

  5. heidi permalink
    May 1, 2008 6:01 am

    Lauren this made me laugh. Taylor, I have to agree that service like this would completely turn me off of ever buying anything from a company ever again (and I’m not a lawyer, not even in any parallel universe). When I purchase something I want to be treated professionally, like a business client, not a therapist or a boyfriend or a babysitter or a best pally friend. If you wanted a transaction to be all about your CSR you would presumably be ordering something other than a backpack.

  6. August 29, 2008 5:48 pm

    Honestly, I have to tell you this. I found your blog page while I was looking for Moose Jaw Divorce Lawyers. Intriguing this bit of prose, as it is quite the interesting read.

    You see, I live just outside of the actual for serious real city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

    So, being the hideout for Al Capone in the thirties, and the end of the Soo Line Railway, etc, etc, I didn’t find the moonshine bottle part all that wierd, neither the less than common names. I mean, I worked with a girl named Seashell.

    Anyways, I digress. I just find it easier to drive into Moose Jaw, and pay for my stuff in person.

  7. August 29, 2008 6:17 pm


    Hysterical. What fun would it be if Google had a way of knowing what people were actually searching for?

    Thanks for your comment and the insight into the local names. I’ve heard of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. And you’re a credit to your local economy.

  8. March 2, 2009 5:23 pm

    Wow. It’s amazing to me that you would take that much time to chronicle the adventures of on-line shopping. Perhaps, you would be better off shopping at brick-and-mortar establishments.

  9. March 2, 2009 8:00 pm

    Actually, shopping is the pathogen; writing it off is the therapy.

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