What brand or retailer has the worst online shopping experience?

MAC has one of the worst websites; it’s clunky, loads slow, and is ornery (the process of removing things from your cart is so painful if you have more than a few items to remove). Ulta’s website is functional but it doesn’t always feel as streamlined or as user-friendly as it could be. Neiman Marcus ships a lot of their online orders from stores, so when I’ve ordered a dozen items, I might actually end up receiving 10 different packages — it’s a lot of waste!

— Christine


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Celesta Avatar

I’ve not had a great experience with the Juvia’s Place website. Their CS is nonexistent and their shipping is atrocious. I had an order sit in preshipment for a full month. I contacted them about it to get a response and they said it had already left the warehouse (it hadn’t), so I asked for a refund, but it took them a couple weeks to respond to that too. It was pretty painful.

Kira Avatar

MAC. So hard to click on items on their menus. The sizing of everything is hard to look on various screens. The search feature and the favorite features don’t work that well either. I’ve actually had a friend come back to me, after I had made various purchase recommendations, and tell me that the MAC website was the worst they’d ever seen. I think I may have even complained to customer service!

Stella Avatar

Sephora’s website is the worst in my opinion. The app is not good either. It is slow and not user friendly. Apart from the shopping experience, i dont understand why swatches and pictures look so bad!

V Avatar

The app either always sucked or really went downhill. I swear it used to make sense to use the app, I think but it hasn’t been good for a long time.

Jess Avatar

MAC’s site is terrible. I just ordered a lipliner from them, only to find it was the wrong shade. I had initially clicked the correct one, but somehow my scroll wheel moved my selection. (?)
I emailed them immediately, but they told me I can’t edit the order.

AJ Avatar

I don’t shop from a lot of online retailers, but I do feel like any time I try to browse Ulta’s website, it’s poorly laid-out and the search function doesn’t seem to work well. I only tend to go to their site if I’m looking for something really specific, it’s not very user-friendly for browsing for funsies.

Nancy T Avatar

While MAC has some of the absolute greatest customer service and actual shipping, the actual website is a hot mess. Very frustrating to try to get what I want into my cart while doing so on my phone.

Ulta for horrendous packing. My goodness, what’s up with their lack of packing to secure items from flying around loose in the box? Speaking of boxes, why must they use a great big box for literally EVERY order, no matter how small?

Macy’s. Good grief! They sent me products in just a flimsy, padded envelope! I’m talking about fragile items, at that. Mind boggling.

kjh Avatar

Hahahahaha! I got one, that’s one, eyeliner in their standard box. I have gotten padded mailers before, but not on that ?Nyx, discounted Liner. A lot of shipping waste for $3 worth of liner, that they probably forgot in the first box… And we wonder about inundation by trash.

Ana Maria Avatar

MAC is so good with packaging and delivery… One time I got my order the next day, I didn’t know what happened. It was an order made in the morning and delivered late at night, but still…

I stopped ordering from Macy’s because they sell old stuff. Almost everytime I checked product batch codes they would come up 2 years old or something. And while I wouldn’t mind with powder, for skincare, liquid cosmetics and things around my eyes I prefer to use products manufactured less than 2 years ago.

Esther Geller Avatar

agreed! I ordered in early March and just started having my orders trickle in now! oddly, the last order I made has shipped first, and the first order I made still hasn’t shipped yet (clearly they are not shipping based on the date the order has been placed (since they were all june preorders but i made them a few weeks in between eachother- theyr’e probably shipping by each shadow SKU that they have on hand).

I haven’t tried the one shadow that came in yet, but even if they are the best eyeshadows on the planet, I probably wont order again- 6 months in just too long to wait and it kinda turned me off (even tho the team seems super nice).

Also I think it’s silly that they couldn’t combine my order of one shadow (made a week later than my 12 shadow order) with my other order. I offered to even let them keep the shipping cost I paid (that way they could stop the waste from an extra cardboard box and keep the $9 in shipping. but they said they could not do that.

janine Avatar

Esther—-they are soooo very nice !!! But need to hire someone to help them with production. I ordered mine the first week in feb and got them a couple bn of weeks ago. They kept saying a date then would push it back a month. They are so beautiful but I’ve only used them twice and had to use glitter glue the 2 Nd time. I spent $100. I was tempted to order more at first but haven’t. If I could forget about it for 6 mos I’d be ok.

They seem really unorganized.

Caterina Avatar

They’s costumer service is very nice. But I agree, I don’t want to wait so long (plus I’m in Europe, so I also have to wait for shipping and custom). They’re product are great, and I would love to have more colour but if I order now I know that I will receive my package at the first weeks of 2021!

Deborah S. Avatar

I agree with MAC. So difficult to navigate. Have to scroll through a lot of shades before you can get it to show you what you want. Backing out is a pain in the butt. I also don’t love the Pat McGrath website. I get a ton of pop ups. Everything is so shiny and it is easy to get distracted and click on the wrong thing. I have been in the act of applying a product to my cart and just as I click, some other ad comes up and it takes me to that area or that website. Really a pain in the butt.
I have a little gripe with Beautylish. When you have looked at a particular product and have clicked on each shade to determine what you want, it forces you to back out through each of the shades you have looked at.
Finally, a lot of websites force you to go to a check out before you can see your cart. I sometimes put things in a cart and then leave and come back later or decide I need to edit and having to go to checkout every time is a pain. How hard is it to put a “view cart” button in?

kjh Avatar

Totally agree about backing out on Beautylish. Have you tried holding your finger on the browser back arrow? On mine, you see the last screens and can get back more easily. Pat’s site is far too animated glitzy, with segues, etc. I kept thinking that people with seizure disorders ought not enter there.

Zian Avatar

The Boots website in the UK is so slow to load; not even pictures, just links and shade selectors. Lookfantastic is hard to navigate and filter. I’m also calling out when websites don’t show swatches, just the product in a bottle or tube. We need to see it on skin.

LK Avatar

Agree MAC’s site is terrible! What I hate about Ulta is all the photoshopped pics and rarely swatches. Sometimes the only thing to help with color choice is just color pixels. It is so hard to gauge what a product will look like.

Arena Avatar

MAC : I quit shopping there because the site made me crazy and I have HG products from other site I prefer. I don’t need to work THAT hard in 2020

Ulta: I have learned to navigate the site, but it is usually glitchy and not easy. Or fun. Every single order has something leaking or broken…that said, the CS (phone) has been so much better this year and everything was replaced.

CVS: once upon a time I purchased makeup there. It is a pain in the bum. Nothing works , the website crashes often and once I literally cried trying to check out. The worst.

Ana Maria Avatar

So I’m not the only one that thinks MAC has the worse browsing and shopping experience. 😆 Searching products and loading pages is a mess, but the most annoying is the check-out experience. And to this day and age one would think they would have better swatches of products online.

Genevieve Avatar

I haven’t really had a bad experience with online retailers as I really don’t purchase from our major ones at all. Sephora and Mecca here in Aus are just too darned expensive.
But I do agree that the MAC one here is hard to navigate and slow to respond.

Shelley Avatar

Saks. Never know when you might get something you ordered. They aren’t always transparent about whether something showing in stock on their website is truly in stock. I had an order once that was just outstanding for months with no communication — not LE or anything, readily available from other retailers. Finally called and canceled when I remembered I hadn’t seen it. Still had it mailed to me (and recharged to me) a few weeks later. Bizarre. I only order from Saks now when I have zero other choices.

Lizzi Avatar

Are we talking about the whole experience, from when we’re browsing the site to where we get, and reach the conclusion, of the purchase experience? Including CS experience with an issue?

If so, Glamlite. They’re are an entirely online store. I made a purchase on March 10th, several shadows in a palette arrived damaged. Normally a cosmetics company handles this two ways. Either they ship a replacement no questions asked (or may refund it), or they have you ship back the damaged item and then send a replacement. They were saying because of COVID they were only offering $5 refunds and you were left with damaged product. This went back and forth, VERY UN-CUSTOMER FRIENDLY AND RUDE, and my bank eventually won a chargeback with them for the value. I saw someone on Twitter was having a similar issue, shared my experience and told them to look into a dispute with their financial institution. I’m 30 years old but my phone is still under my mothers account. Within TWENTY MINUTES my mother was being harassed on her phone demanding that the review and comment be taken down. I have no idea how the connection was made. I never took down the comment. Never experienced this level with any cosmetic brand before. Made LimeCrime look like a charity company. Lol!

Lisa Avatar

Peachy Queen!!! Worst customer service ever!! Order took over a month! They kept saying palette was out of stock, but when I went on their site it wasn’t!

Jen Avatar

Colourpop’s shopping cart is stuck in the early oughts as items in the cart aren’t hotlinked to their information pages. Returning to them means a lot of clicking to navigate back.

Ulta’s shipping is…adventurous. I’m pretty sure I’ve won at shipping bingo there what with the slow delivery, ridiculously oversized boxes, marginally still boxlike boxes, and wrong or missing items. Also if you delete something from your wishlist the page repopulates from the top regardless of how far down that item was so there’s a lot of scrolling unless you delete it from the product page. Still, I do shop here a lot and most orders turn out okay. Just that in comparison to other retailers, chances are if something is going to go sideways it’ll be an Ulta order.

Sephora’s wishlist is frustrating as I can only see a limited number of items before I have to use the sort filters to hopefully see other things on it. If I want to see everything I have to use the app.

And Sally’s wishlist/save for later feature won’t let me delete items if they’ve been discontinued. I’ve had a nail polish on there for two years because I can’t get rid of it but they’ve helpfully highlighted the listing in a large red filled square so it is as annoying as possible when I look at that list.

J Avatar

Charlotte Tilbury – tried to return something I purchased online and it was a disaster. I had to eventually get my back from my credit card company as a claim because they refused to process the return despite reassuring me many times over the phone and email that it would happen. Nope. Never happened.

V Avatar

I don’t want to claim that Haus Labs was the worst but it wasn’t a great first impression when I ordered during their summer anniversary sale. Trying to place my 1st order was unpleasant. The site was
s l o w and kept freezing up or having episodes. It could’ve been due to the sale and my using an iPhone.

No matter what I did (updating cart, reloading page, deleting items from cart then ordering all over again), my cart showed MORE items than I chose clearly indicating buy 1 get 1 of the same free when a “build your own kit” is purchased. Cool but not why I ordered. They ought to fix that because it’s misleading. The order arrived quickly missing all of the items that appeared to be free + 1 product I paid for. I was accidentally sent a lame product that wasn’t in any kit and they weren’t offering it for free with purchases. ?‍♀️ I’d give it away but no one wants it. They sent my missing lip crayon smashed. I think I fixed it. Not a big deal but it’s not makin’ me love Haus. Their CS rep gave me a condescending response. When asked how I felt about their CS I hit the low rating. That rep immediately emailed me telling me she saw my rating then re-explained the same thing in a defensive way. I told her I understood the 1st time and to quit emailing me.

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