I just hung up the phone with Zappo’s, and they simply continue to awe me with their unrivaled customer service. I placed an order yesterday at noon EDT, and their policy is to ship (free) overnight. I didn’t need the shoes for any particular event this weekend, but I’ve got the major uglies these days, and it sometimes helps to buy a new lipstick and some new shoes. Lipstick and shoes tend to fit more reliably these days than, say, belts. Or anything else with a waist for that matter.

But I digress. I went on a spree and ordered a few pair of shoes so I could try them all on and decide on a pair or two to keep. Zappo’s graciously pays for return shipping within 365 days. When I got up this morning, there was a shipping confirmation from them sent at 2:44 a.m. with a UPS tracking number. When I realized the shoes hadn’t been delivered at 5:00 tonight, I checked the UPS site and discovered that the package was last logged in at Stratford, CT just before 7 this morning with a status of “in transit to.” Normally it would be “out for delivery” if Doug Heffernan, weary-eyed and tight-backed, was driving them around town in the big brown truck, eventually getting to my house. (I shouldn’t admit it, but I had so many Fed-Ex deliveries in RI that my driver, Bob, recognized me from afar sunning myself one day at Narragansett Beach, and he continually sent regards to me through my new driver when he relocated to the Carolinas.) So I called UPS, who said that the shoes indeed weren’t coming today, and were not received by them until early this morning.

I decided to give Zappo’s a jingle, just to check in with them and find out if they had any other information. First thing I discovered was that they record a new general answering greeting every single day, featuring two members of the customer service team who introduce themselves and tell you the date. Very cute.

I mentioned to the lady who promptly answered how clever I thought the answering system greeting was. She thanked me profusely for the compliment. I then explained the situation to her, and she apologized and put me on hold to check into it with UPS. She got back to me to tell me that she was trying to get a UPS supervisor on the phone, but she thought my order was out for delivery today. She also told me that at the same time, she was checking to see if any of the shoes I ordered were in stock, so perhaps they could reship the whole order overnight for Saturday delivery. I held for a few more minutes. She got back on and told me that a couple of my shoes were the last pairs, and so the reshipping wouldn’t work. She asked for my patience for a little longer so she could talk to her supervisor. I was busy reading emails at the time, and couldn’t have cared less how much time she took.

When she got back on, she explained that they had given the package to the shipper in time, but UPS didn’t get it into their system in a timely manner, and therefore the package would be delivered on Monday. No problem for me, and truthfully, I wasn’t paying the shipping cost to begin with, so it was not a big deal. What she said next, though – without skipping a beat – blew my mind. “We sincerely apologize for the shipping delay, and for the fact that we can’t reship the order to you for delivery tomorrow. So what I’m going to do is place a credit on your account for $150 that you can use on your next purchase. When you get to the checkout page, just enter the coupon code yadda-yadda-yadda…”

I was speechless. Giving me a hundred-and-fifty bucks for a shipping screw-up you weren’t responsible for and I wasn’t paying for anyway? Wow! I told her it was absolutely not necessary, and she insisted, and before I hung up the phone, DING! – there in my inbox was the Zappo’s email with the coupon code and an apology for any inconvenience they may have caused. It was signed “Sincerely, Customer Loyalty Team.” Can’t think of a better, more apropos name for their customer service department.

And so for my $150, I can do no less than to spread the good word about “The Web’s Most Popular Shoe Store.” Bravo, Zappo’s. Bravissimo.

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