Mar 21, 2001 (Updated Jul 25, 2001)
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Merlite has good selection, prices; terrible service. I wouldn't use it again.
First of all, what I write here does not apply to all jewelry sites, but only to Merlite Jewelry --www.merlite.com. (I know this isn't a perfect fit with the topic, but since we can't add new products, this is the best fit I could find.)
Merlite sells "fashion jewelry" and when I happened upon their site, I was pretty excited. While I am not that interested in pieces with fake gems, I did like the selection of simple necklaces, earrings and rings.
Site: Merlite's web site has all of the functionality that you would expect from an online merchant, but doesn't have a fancy design. There are pictures off all of the jewelry and in some cases several close ups of different parts. I suspect that they are primarily a catalog business and see the web site as a secondary resource. I have nothing against a web site that looks a little like an afterthought as long as it is functional and relatively easy to navigate. While it could be a little more robust in those areas, the site is acceptable.
Selection: There are probably 100 - 200 each of rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The styles vary widely from sterling silver to marcasite to 14 karat gold with cubic zirconia. Some pieces are simple while others are a little overblown (in my opinion).
Service: This is where Merlite is a complete failure. I ordered several items on December 11, 2000. The web site said that there was still time for items to arrive by Christmas so I ordered several Christmas gifts and one January birthday gift. During the order process I ended up with a blank screen at one point so I emailed their service address to ask if the order had gone through. I got a very terse one sentence reply indicating that it had gone through. Not the best customer service, but I could live with it and knew that my message was received.
The items did not arrive by Christmas. In fact, as of mid-March 2001, I still do not have the items even though my credit card has been charged. I emailed their customer service address near the end of January and again a week later asking about my missing items. I have gotten no response. I realize that it is perfectly possible that they did send the shipment and the USPS lost it. But at the very least I would expect a reply to my messages saying so and suggesting a course of action. For a truly good customer experience I would expect them to replace the shipment (it wasn't that large).
Apparently their customers are as much of an "afterthought" with Merlite as their web site is.
Update: On June 16, I used Planet Feedback to send a complaint to Merlite about my order. The next day I got a confirmation that my order was shipped (again). They even refunded me for an item that is no longer available. I got the items about a week later. I am very pleased with the solution, but still wish they had paid attention to my original emails.