So when you buy something from a website, how do you know the order has been submitted? Because they email you right away, right? Well, what happens when they don’t?

I ordered my Dad something from Cabela’s for his birthday a few weeks ago. It’s a hunting/fishing shop, and I remembered that he always used to get their print catalogues. So I placed the order, being sure to click the “gift” option. When it directed me to the confirmation screen, I saw these words: “This order will ship as a gift. An email Confirmation will not be sent. Pricing will not be shown on the invoice.” Naturally I assumed they were talking about not sending an email confirmation to the recipient, right? Obviously that’s what the invoice part was talking about, and that’s the way Amazon and every other site does it. So I went about my day, and within a couple days started to get worried that I’d never received an email as the sender. Since I purchased as a guest (not bothering to create an account), I didn’t have a way to log in and see my orders. I checked my online banking but the charge hadn’t gone through. Crap. Did something screw up and they’d never gotten the order?

Luckily I’d printed the confirmation page, so I at least had something to contact customer support. Their online chat was at least quick and painless. It turns out that they actually do have a method for guests to check order status. That was unexpected but helpful. I could see that the order was indeed placed and was just waiting on the manufacturer to ship. Here’s how the conversation ended:

CSR: You’re welcome. Is there anything else we can do for you today?
Me: Nope – that was it. I do have a suggestion though that you email people who make gift orders
I found it very odd that I didn’t get any email confirmation or anything like that
given that every other ecommerce site does it!
CSR: Did you happen to mark gift on the order?
Me:I did
I understand not emailing the recipient
but it would be handy as the purchaser to have a record
CSR: That would be the reason for no emails. We do not send them so we do not spoil the supprise.
Me: But… I bought it for someone else?
Do you have a lot of people sharing email addresses who order gifts?
CSR: I do apologize. Most of our gift marked packages are to the same household who both use the same email address.

That’s weird, right? I didn’t realise there were still people who shared the same email address. I guess the Cabela’s demographic is right in the middle of that Venn diagram. But man, it does make it confusing for the rest of us who live in 2015. To me this is a textbook example of bad user experience, in that I expected the site to work like every other e-commerce site on the Internet. If Cabela’s ever want to expand beyond their traditional user base, I think they need to put a little more work into explaining the oddities of their processes.