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OnSite: sportsauthority.com

Earlier this month, I received an e-mail that included a coupon for $10 off a $25 purchase at sportsauthority.com. This coincided with this foot ‘kick’ that I was on.

Like most guys, my feet aren’t the best smelling part of my body, and I was looking to do something about it.

So when I got the coupon, I decided to see what sportsauthority.com had to offer in the foot bath/massager arena. I used the search feature on the sportsauthority.com site and ended up finding the Homedics Foot Salon Ultra Foot Bath with Heat and Infrared Heat for $29.99 ($19.99 with the coupon.)

After adding this to my shopping cart, I proceeded to the checkout. The site required me to register before I went any further, so I did. I was entering my credit card information when I realized that I really didn’t want this massager.

I decided that I wanted to buy sneakers instead. But there was one problem: there was no option to remove the item or to go back in the transaction process once I was prompted for my credit card information.

Having no other choice, I clicked the ‘back’ button on my browser. I knew that this would likely cause problems during my transaction, but I had no other

choice.

The site then directed me to a page with the Sports Authority logo. The page simply read: ‘10.5.1 500 Internal Server Error The server encountered an unexpected condition which prevented it from fulfilling the request.’

At this point, I became annoyed and decided to start over. Navigating the sportsauthority.com website is simple because it is laid out so well. Every sports link you need is the left side of the page along with ‘apparel’ and ‘footwear’ links.

Sneakers are one of those items that most people claim they could never buy online because they absolutely have to try them on before they buy them. I didn’t care. At this point, I was looking for bargains and figured even if I didn’t like the sneakers, they would grow on me.

I found a pair of New Balance sneakers that I really liked for $50 and was ready to make the purchase. Sportsauthority.com had clear images with each pair of sneakers and the site loaded quickly on my 56K connection.

As I clicked on the drop-down menu for sneaker sizes, I became confused. I knew I was a size 9, but the drop down menu had sizes 9D, 9E, and 9EE. The letter designations were obviously for foot width, but I had no idea if I was a ‘D’ or a ‘B.’

There were no links to help me with my question, so I decided to visit the ‘Help Desk.’ I saw that there was an option for live help via real-time chat. I had used this before at another site and figured I could get this whole shoe size issue resolved.

Instead of getting answers, I found out that the live help was not available. Customer service was available over the phone, but I didn’t want to disconnect from my connection to call. Finally, I gave up on the whole sneaker thing.

I decided to take a second look at the massager. It started to look good. For $19.99 plus $4.99 for delivery, the foot massager began to grow on me. I decided to get it.

After completing the order process, I was prompted by Bizrate.com to fill out a survey. I figured I would fill it out so I could inform someone of this shoe size crisis I endured.

After finishing the survey, Bizrate.com gave me the chance to click on a button that would spin a prize wheel, which quickly informed that I had won nothing.

I ordered this foot massager on Nov. 3 and received it on November 8. I had it delivered to work because I’m never able to get packages at home.

This was a good idea in theory, except for the fact that someone at sportsauthority.com thought it would be a good not to wrap the foot massager in anything, but just send it in its original packaging.

I thought I would be getting my foot massager in one of those standard brown boxes. I realized this wasn’t the case when the receptionist called me and told me my foot massager had arrived.

Now, this was a big deal. First, guys don’t buy foot massagers, or at least they don’t let anyone know that they make such purchases. My secret was out. I quickly informed the receptionist that the massager was a present for my mother.

I wasn’t happy about the embarrassment I had to face, but dealt with it. As soon I got home, I filled the massager with water and immersed my feet. I turned on the massager and felt a small vibration at the base of my feet.

This was not what I had in mind. The massages neither massaged my feet nor kept the water warm as it had promised. I got online and revisited the help desk at sportsauthority.com. Luckily, this time the live help was operational.

I logged in and ‘Erica H.’ was quickly available to assist me with my problem. I informed her via live chat that I had just received my foot massager and was not satisfied with the product. She informed me that for products under $25, sportsauthority.com did not accept returns.

I didn’t bother asking if I should return the massager at the store location, since she quickly informed that if I was dissatisfied with a product that I purchased that cost under $25, sportsauthority.com would issue a refund and I could keep the product, or donate it to charity as she suggested.

I told her to process the refund, which appeared on my credit card three business days later. Since I got a crappy foot massager (that may end up turning into a Christmas present) for free, I really can’t complain about sportsauthority.com.

I would definitely buy from them again. They have a great return policy as far as I’m concerned and I probably caught them on an off-day when I was shopping sneakers. I’d recommend sportsauthority.com this holiday season for anyone looking to do some Christmas shopping. The worse thing that could happen is you get a crappy foot massager for free.

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