While "Can Spiegel pull out of the spiral?" (Marketing, Aug. 28) presented many valid reasons why Spiegel might be having problems, this totally frustrated shopper can offer one other: Buying from the Spiegel and Eddie Bauer catalogs is amazingly difficult. Either the product is not in stock, only partially in stock (for example, only the blouse of a two-piece dress), or will seem to be in stock when ordered but then turns out to be out of stock by the time (if one is lucky) that part of the order is sent. I got an outfit from Spiegel this summer--two months after I ordered it. Add to this that I get no response to complaint letters, and one has little incentive to buy from either catalog. I toss them in the trash now, since the aggravation just isn't worth it.
Fortunately, there are other catalog merchandisers with better customer service, so I patronize them.
Christina M. Kampman
Spiegel's problems don't surprise me. I was a long-standing customer until this year. I placed an order through the catalog in November, 1994, and never received the goods. After five months of phone calls, correspondence, and threats of legal action, I got the mess resolved. I finally cut up my charge card and sent it back. Retailers need to realize that price is not always the reason customers go elsewhere.
Your article on Eddie Bauer's problems might have used this sad-but-true story: I tried to place a phone order with my Discover credit card (because it gives a discount). They don't accept Discover. Stated reason: Hadn't gotten the computers changed yet!
Walker H. Thomas
Boulder City, Nev.