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Posted on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 10:31 a.m.

My foray into Cyber Monday is a failure, thanks to American Girl

By Paula Gardner

Nearly 100 million people are shopping on the Internet today for "Cyber Monday," the online equivalent to Black Friday and what could be the biggest single day for online sales this year.

But I'm not one of them.

I tried. But - and here's a warning to other moms thinking a few American Girl bargains could be nice under the Christmas tree - that company's Web site wasn't capable of taking my order.

Or anyone else's, it appears, at least after a certain point this morning.

My shopping style doesn't often work for online deals: I like to browse, I'm not always confident that what I see online is what I want, I hate shipping charges - even though I know that they could equal costs of gas and time to drive to a store - and I like to touch what I'm buying, partially to make sure that the quality is really what it seems. I also think it's important to buy locally when I can.

But I felt very "cyber" this morning when I succumbed to a deal e-mail from American Girl.

We've had some American Girl debate in our home for a few months. My daughter is 11, nearing the age when dolls will seem quaint. But she's also loved the entire American Girl phenomenon, and both of us aren't quite ready to let her doll years pass.

So the e-mail caught my attention: "Mini Mystery" books for $2, a snowboard set, Kit's kitchen stove, the $5 doll hoodie, the $13 Nintendo DS game - all sounded great.

I scrolled to the end of the deals, then decided that I'd bite on some of these.

And that's when the morning took a turn.

Nintendo game: Already sold out.

$5 hoodie. Went into the cart, but then unavailable for checkout.

The stove or snowboard set? Should I get the bib overalls (on sale) or the coat, snowpants and hat set (much cuter)? Is it really worth getting the books if they're pushing my shipping costs higher?

In the end, it didn't matter.

Early on, I got page warnings that the server couldn't process my request.

And by the time I was comfortable with my order, it wouldn't go through. And now, three hours later, I can't even get to my "checkout" page.

I find that kind of ironic, given all of the Cyber Monday hype about how easy, convenient and inexpensive online shopping should be today.

According to the National Retail Federation, “Americans appreciate the convenience of shopping online, which doesn’t require standing in line, circling for a parking spot, or even changing out of your pajamas,” said Scott Silverman, Executive Director of “Online retailers have been working overtime to make sure their Cyber Monday promotions are enticing, so shoppers can expect incredible bargains on popular holiday items, percentages off entire websites, and a lot of free shipping.”

According to the survey, 91.5 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers - or 88.2 million Americans - will shop from home on Cyber Monday while 13.5 percent, or 13 million people, will shop from work.

I'm among the people who tried to shop from home. And now I'm trying to get my order filled while at work (note to my boss: part of it is for accuracy). Apparently my best option is the old-fashioned kind. American Girl is telling me to phone their toll-free number.

But now I'm also among the Cyber Monday failures. Not sure how many of us are out there right now, but that's the report I'm going to want to see when today is over - how many online retailers couldn't even fill their orders.


Angela Smith

Tue, Dec 1, 2009 : 7:59 a.m.

I had the same problem there and with the Build A Bear Workshop website!! I will be watching to see if/how they try to win back their wannabe customers with simillar offers this week. Locally American Girl is hard to find (unless there is an impromptu shopping trip to Chicago), but its the killer prices that lured us in!