Best part about the covid19 manufactured crisis?
Liquor stores deliver. Worst part about liquor stores delivering? Needing to use their shoddy websites.

I've been using a particular store (Total Wines) since they're cheaper than the rest and have better selection; it's quite literally a large warehouse made to look like a store.

Their website tries really hard to look professional, too, but it's just not. It took me two days to order, and not just from lack of time -- though from working 14 hour days, that's a factor.

Signing up was difficult. Your username is an email address, but you can't use comments because the server 500s, making the ajax call produce a wonderfully ambiguous error message. It also fades the page out like it's waiting on something, but that fade is on top of the error modal too. Similar error with the password field, though I don't remember how I triggered it.

Signing up also requires agreeing to subscribe to their newsletter. it's technically an opt-in, but not opting-in doesn't allow you to proceed. Same with opting-in to receiving a text notification when your order is ready for pickup -- you also opt-in to reciving SMS spam.

Another issue: After signing up, you start to navigate through the paginated product list. Every page change scrolls you to the exact middle of the next page. Not deliberatly; the UI loads first, and the browser gets as close as it can to your previous position -- which was below that as the pagination is at the bottom -- and then the products populate after. But regardless of why, there is no worse place to start because now you must scroll in both directions to view the products. If it stayed at the very bottom, it would at least mean you only need to scroll upwards to look at everything on the page. Minor, but increasingly irritating.

Also, they have like 198 pages of spirits alone because each size is unique entry. A 50ml, 350ml, 500ml, 750ml, 1000ml, and 1750ml bottle of e.g. Tito's vodka isn't one product, it's six. and they're sorted seemingly randomly. I think it's by available stock, looking back.

If you fancy a product, you can click on it for a detail page. Said detail page lists the various sizes in a dropdown, but they're not sorted correctly either, and changing sizes triggers a page reload, which leads to another problem:

if you navigate to more than a few pages within a 10 or so second window, the site accuses you of using browser automation. No captcha here, just a "click me for five seconds" button. However, it (usually) also triggers the check on every other tab you have open after its next nagivation.

That product page also randomly doesn't work. I haven't narrowed it down, but it will randomly decide to start failing, and won't stop failing for hours. It renders the page just fine, then immediately replaces it with a blank page. When it's failing, the only way to interact with the page is a perfectly-timed [esc], which can (and usually does) break all other page functionality, too. Absolutely great when you need to re-add everything from a stale copy of your signed-out cart living in another tab. More on that later. And don't forget to slow down to bypass the "browser automation" check, too!

Oh, and if you're using container tabs, make sure to open new tabs in the SAME container, as any request from the same IP without the login cookie will usually trigger that "browser automation" response, too.

The site also randomly signs you out, but allows you to continue amassing your cart. You'd think this is a good thing until you choose to sign in again... which empties your cart. It's like they don't want to make a sale at all.

The site also randomly forgets your name, replacing it with "null." My screen currently says "Hello, null". Hello, cruft!

It took me two days to order.
Mostly from lack of time, as i've been pulling 14 hour shifts lately trying to get everything done. but the sheer number of bugs certainly wasted most of what little time i had left. Now I definitely need a drink.

But maybe putting up with all of this is worthwhile because of their loyalty program? Apparently if you spend $500, you can take $5 off your next purchase! Yay! 1%! And your points expire! There are three levels; maybe it gets better. Level zero is for everyone; $0 requirement. There are also levels at $500 and $2500. That last one is seriously 5x more than the first paid level. and what does it earn you? A 'free' magazine subscription, 'free' classes (they're usually like $20-$50 iirc), and a 'free' grab bag (a $2.99 value!) twice per month. All for spending $2500. What a steal. It reminds me of Candy Crush's 3-star system where the first two stars are trivial, and the third is usually a difficult stretch goal. But here it's just thinly-veiled manipulation with no benefit.

I can tell they're employing some "smarketing" people with big ideas (read: stolen mistakes), but it's just such a fail.

The whole thing is a fail.

  • 12
    I investigated further.

    The site uses A/B testing, caught and handled within javascript. Explains why pages sometimes decided to start failing for hours. (I didn't bother to check why the detail pages fail; I stopped caring.)

    The site also apparently uses React, but every action causes a page navigation? What's the point of using React, then?

    Bloody hell.
  • 6
    I just wouldn't use such a crappy website because that makes them think they're doing it right. Ideally, they wouldn't sell anything via such a shitty web store.
  • 8
    I almost forgot:

    There's a heart button next to products. This doesn't mark them as favorites like you might expect; it's a "add to shopping list" button. Except I didn't find the "shopping list" I created anywhere.

    The "most popular products" list curiously includes a $3500 bottle of cognac (boasting 3/5 stars), next to two identical entries for cheap boxes of White Claw.

    The "products you might like based on your cart" contained only entries for wine despite my cart containing absolutely no wine. I never even looked at any wines.

    There's a way to leave a star rating on products, but no way to leave actual reviews. Totally sucks.

    The product detail page doesn't really list details about the product. You would think it would, at a minimum, list the alcohol %/abv/proof. But you would be wrong. I also ran into a few photos that are too blurry to read. High res, but blurry.

    Just. So so so many issues.

    (But yay, I can make drinks again!)
  • 6
    Considering the time (and sanity) you spent fighting their website, buying from another seller would probably have been cheaper, even if it had cost more money.
  • 1
    Direct that feedback to them and it might actually be productive.
  • 2
    @hash-table I would hope most people are using virtual cards when purchasing on shady websites. It's so easy to set them up it'd be silly not to.
  • 1
    Yikes.. You'd start drinking for less with such a crappy website. Cheers!
  • 3
    "manufactured" I am glad I am not the only person who thinks this. I don't know if any of you were around during 9-11, but this whole crisis feels like 9-11 all over again. Overzealous government taking away liberties and removing all due process. Then over time information trickles in and you find out the whole event may have been planned.
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