J.Crew Apologizes For ‘Too Many’ Mistakes During Launch, Then Redesigns Its Apology

Written by Evan Schuman
August 1st, 2008

J.Crew said Wednesday (July 30) that it had made "too many" mistakes after it launched its new site a month earlier, amid complaints of crashes and frequent slowdowns. Apparently, one of those mistakes included precisely how the retailer said it made too many mistakes, as the company made more than a half-dozen changes to its homepage apology from Wednesday to Thursday.

The original apology, posted early Wednesday morning, said: "We’ve made some mistakes (too many in our mind). We want to say that we’re sorry for any issues you have experienced while shopping J.Crew online or over the phone over the last few weeks—we know we’ve let you down. We are in the midst of making some enhancements to our web site and call center (and, unfortunately, encountered some bumps along the way). Please bear with us as we work through these issues—we know it’s not perfect."

The message dominated the homepage of and was signed by J.Crew President Tracy Gardner and Chairman/CEO Millard Drexler.

By Thursday morning, the apology had sharply shrunk—to less than one-fourth of Wednesday’s size—and it appears that Gardner and/or Drexler had reconsidered being personally tied to the glitches; their names were magically erased.

Wednesday’s apology told customers, "We know we’ve let you down." That knowledge was apparently erased overnight, as Thursday morning had J.Crew knowing no such thing. The chain had apparently decided that, on second thought, it hadn’t let its customers down after all. Maybe the company discovered, through customer complaints, that its customers think less of the chain than it thought? (After almost 20 years of marriage, I have discovered that it’s almost impossible for me to now disappoint my wife. Floor-level expectations can be a wonderful thing.)

A more nitpicky change: On Wednesday, the retailer said: "We want to say that we’re sorry for any issues you have experienced." On Thursday, the J.Crew team thought about it and decided to be more honest, having concluded that they really did not want to say any such thing. Thursday’s version became "We are truly sorry for any issues you have experienced."

The clothing chain also changed a Wednesday comment about the revised site ("We know it’s not perfect") to the somewhat more forgiving "we know we’re not quite perfect."

The original apology was E-mailed directly to customers. It came a month after J.Crew rolled out site changes, which included real-time inventory shopping carts, an online catalog interface that links to products, a zoom feature and better search abilities. Since the debut of those new components, the site has crashed and experienced slowdowns.

J.Crew CIO Steve Dee said the real-time inventory feature took two years to complete. The old version would allow consumers to place an item into their carts and immediately tell them whether it’s available. That hasn’t changed. But the old site continued to show the item as available until the customer tried to pay for it, regardless of whether it was still available. The new version will theoretically show immediately when an item becomes sold out. The only advantage to the customer is that it could save them the minutes it would take to try and check out and purchase an item that is in fact no longer available.

Beyond the apologies, J.Crew customer service personnel have been issuing gift cards to customers who complain, according to a J.Crew customer and a J.Crew customer service representative. That customer said July 31 that he had received two consecutive $25 apology gift cards from J.Crew but had yet to receive the merchandise he had purchased one month earlier.

Guess it’s true, after all. Launch means definitely having to say you’re sorry.


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