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Subject: RE: UKNM: Last Minute or How not to run an e-commerce site?
From: Martha Lane Fox
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 17:45:09 GMT

Hi there!
I am Martha, one of the co-founders of lastminute.com and I am extremely
disappointed to hear that someone had an appalling time trying to buy at
lastminute.com. I am very sorry that it was such a nightmare! As the
user rightly said, that is not the way to run an e-commerce site and to
build a trusted brand.

There are no excuses for the kind of experience that this potential
customer had on our site. lastminute.com is trying to delight its
customers and make sure that everybody leaves our site wanting to buy on
the web again and again and again. This is why we guarantee the lowest
prices for our travel products and will refund the difference if people
find it cheaper elsewhere AND give 20 pounds extra just for the hassle.

Our customer service team are also disappointed that a potential
customer had this feedback for them - they endeavour to help everyone
complete their transaction on or offline and were surprised that someone
had been told to keep trying when it was clear that was a problem with
our system not the customer. I would love the chance to compensate this
customer and see if we can help them - at least send them a bottle of

The only explanation I can offer is that earlier this week we added two
new servers to our infrastructure to cope with the unprecedented demand
and they were not configured correctly meaning that we suffered
unacceptable levels of downtime at the beginning of the week. As a
result we had a rush of telephone calls and not enough staff to deal
with them. I can only say sorry that we were not better prepared. We
have grown much more rapidly than we anticipated in the last month and
have to move offices, get new phone networks and more staff (half the
company are working off cardboard boxes at the moment!). This is too
common a cry in our industry and is certainly not the customer's problem
but we are working hard to improve our processes and offer the kind of
customer service that never fails as it clearly did in this instance.

Again I am very sorry that this customer had such a bad time and that
this is their first experience of lastminute.com.

I hope that you will give us the chance to prove that we are a good
e-commerce site and can manage our growth effectively.
Martha Lane Fox

-----Original Message-----
From: Mario Tilney-Bassett [mariotatforesight [dot] co [dot] uk (mailto:mariotatforesight [dot] co [dot] uk)]
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 1999 9:11 PM
To: uk-netmarketingatchinwag [dot] com
Subject: UKNM: Last Minute or How not to run an e-commerce site?


Is there anyone on the list from Last Minute.com?

Just had a terrible first shopping experience on the site trying to book
Easter break.
Slow access, more crashes than I care to remember, once just after I had
entered credit card details (!) - the phone helpline operator told me
times to keep trying the site and actually said they would prefer not to
take phone bookings.

Cut to a few hours later - still no access, and I am told that now the
holiday has all sold out. I received an apology and was told "small
company...can't cope with demand...etc"
This answer did not reassure me, especially after I had entered my
card details in time for a crash.

Outcome: A customer (not a potential customer, but a real, ready to
customer) can't spend the 500 GBP they were perfectly happy to. What's
is that they now have a bad opinion of LM.com

Surely this isn't the way to run an ecommerce site or build a brand with
regular custom? What use is promotion without infrastructure to support

I've happily shopped on the Internet before - most recently at
and Amazon - but if this was my first dalliance with e-commerce, I would
be too keen to rush back into cyberspace.


UKNM is sponsored by Excite UK, visit us at http://www.excite.co.uk.
Email Khalil Ibrahimi khalilatexcitecorp [dot] com (mailto:khalilatexcitecorp [dot] com) to advertise on Excite.
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