Caught your attention? Good. Did CafePress literally steal money from me? Perhaps not. But the story shows how they didn't give me the money they owed me, either.
Back in December 2010, I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in the same year (yes, 2010 was just all kinds of wonderful). At the time, my attitude toward was understandably "F*ck Cancer." I decided to make a t-shirt on CafePress.com, and planned to split the (albiet minimal) proceeds between my medical bills and a charity.
Unfortunately, I've never seen a penny of the profits. Due to the poor user experience (UX), I managed to create a t-shirt (yay!), but since I didn't create it where their back end web widgets wanted me to, I don't get commission on any of the sales (boo!).
Here's my user experience with their site:
CafePress Case Study: When Bad UX Takes Money from Customers
In a nutshell: I created the shirt via CafePress.com' "Design Your Own" shirt link. Within 24 hours, the page had 137 Likes on Facebook and friends retweeted it to over 75k users on Twitter. Friends began buying it and telling me they loved it. But when I logged in to CafePress.com, it showed no sales or commissions in my account.
I reached out to CafePress Customer Service and asked why I wasn’t receiving commissions, when I knew sales had been made. Their response:
Since I hadn't created it in their "Store" option, I wasn't entitled to anything. I then asked if someone could tell me how many shirts had been sold:
Really, guys? Because I'm pretty sure there's someone in a Finance Department who keeps track of the bottom line -- the money has to be accounted for somewhere.
Frustrated, I reached out to CafePress on Twitter. A nice woman named Allison tried to help me (really, she did. We had multiple emails with her trying to make the situation right.), but she must've been given the runaround because she ended up telling me the same thing: there's no way to track it.
The lesson here? CafePress, your user interface isn't clear. I can only imagine how many other folks this has happened to.
So what’s next? Contacting CafePress and trying one last time. Want to help? You can email them or call them (877.809.1659) to ask them to fix their website user experience (UX).
Bottom line: thank you to all of you who bought t-shirts to support me. Remember Allison? She did set up a free CafePress store for me; I'll be creating more in the CafePress Store and sharing that link shortly!