Commercial Sites Which Only Allow USA Customers

This is an old pet peeve of mine. I want to buy something on the Internet for my family in America and yet the web site is either incorrectly coded for foreign transactions or the company will not accept credit cards from outside the US. I’m sure there are good reasons for this but I do not appreciate the exclusion.

Recently I tried to get stuff from both IKEA and Wal-Mart for family members. It sounded like a good idea at the time. It is the Internet and 2008 so why not?

Unfortunately it does not end well. IKEA would only allow the transaction after calling the 1-800 number if I was to fax proof that I lived overseas at the specified address. Wal-Mart didn’t even get that far. They have a policy of excluding all possible foreign addresses (except perhaps for the military forces stationed overseas). I’m not asking for them to send stuff HERE but rather to family in America. The model makes sense but apparently most US-based web sites/companies don’t get it.

In a rare act of customer defiance, I submitted this email to Wal-Mart for further clarification and restatement of why I think this policy is stupid. For your reading pleasure, I have included it here:

Hi Chris,

Can you tell someone that ordering things on the Internet means that customers can come from other countries? It appears that Wal-Mart, like many other US companies, does not realize the potential for allowing transactions originating from the rest of the world.

As a software developer, I realize that this is really not about technology but rather business policies and trust. The essential message is that people with foreign credit cards cannot be trusted and therefore must be excluded from purchasing items.

What is not realized is that families can now span the globe. People often try to use the Internet to purchase gifts to family members that reside in America. Since I have lived in Australia for 10 years, I have seen first hand what it means to try to do this. So many times I have failed to purchase something for my family in America even though my money is completely valid and I have the desire to buy something.

Usually it is because the forms are biased towards American addresses for billing addresses. Sometimes is simply just an oversight. Other times, like this, it is a strict policy which limits who can buy things.

As an American citizen living overseas and also as a past Wal-Mart customer when visiting, I find this annoying. I like Wal-Mart. My Dad likes Wal-Mart. He loves going down to the local SuperCenter to have a look and I believe that he buys most of what he buys there. I just thought it would be nice to give him a gift certificate to allow him to have some fun doing what he already loves.

It would be great if you shared this story. I do believe that Wal-Mart is missing a key use case of the Internet and should find a way to expand their level of trust for customers who live overseas but want to purchase for family in America for gifts.

Thanks,
Jeff Muir

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One thought on “Commercial Sites Which Only Allow USA Customers

  1. This is the email reply for Wal-Mart. At some unidentified time in the future, the ability to order from non-US locations might be added.

    Dear Jeff,

    My name is Loradel. I am with the Walmart.com Customer Service Team.
    Thank you for allowing me to assist you today.

    I am writing in response to your email regarding Walmart.com’s policy of accepting only orders within the United States and major U.S. protectorates. I am deeply sorry but we are unable to process orders for Australia and other countries at this time. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We are currently working on changing this, and hope our online store will be able to serve customers worldwide in the future.

    Further, we thank you for taking the time to send us your suggestions and comments to help improve our Web site. We value your input in continually improving your online shopping experience. Your satisfaction is our number one priority! Please be advised that all suggestions including what you brought up, will be carefully reviewed and considered by the appropriate department so we can try and meet the needs of our customers. Jeff, we appreciate your understanding in this matter.

    Thank you for visiting Walmart.com. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and look forward to your next visit.

    If we may be of further assistance, please email us at help@walmart.com.
    We’re here to serve you 7 days a week!

    Sincerely,

    Loradel
    Customer Service at Walmart.com

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