So, as ridiculous as it is, the periods of the summer and winter sales in France are state-regulated. So this year, the winter sale started on Wednesday January 7, and will end on February 11 (end date may vary per region). No shop is allowed to do pre-sales, not even for regular customers.
My regular pants and jeans were getting awfully tight, but I could restrain myself to wait until the 7th, so I would not have to pay full prize for maternity clothes. I had already checked out some websites and knew pretty much what I wanted. It's great that I found some online, because being in the mall or city-center on the first day of the Sale is real mayhem. The first year we were here I inadvertently was at the Gap on that very day and had to wait in line for 30 minutes to pay for one pair of jeans... (and vowed I would never go to the mall on the first sale-day again).
So shopping online seemed like a great idea. No lines, just a few clicks. Found some nice clothes (and pants/jeans that were long enough!) Free shipping, free returns. Vertbaudet promised delivery within 48 hours, Esprit in 3-7 days. So I waited... and checked my inbox and the shops websites every day (yeah, I admit, I love tracking packages!). The Esprit website had no way to login to see what the status of the order was (which I don't like much), while Vertbaudet's kept saying 'colis en préparation', even six days later! Of course both had already debited my credit card the day I placed the order...
After three days I got an email from Esprit saying they were sorry but needed more time than usual in getting my order to me (yeah right, they couldn't have anticipated for the winter sale, which date has been fixed at least 6 months in advance?!). Another three days later, I received an email that my order had been shipped and they gave me a tracking number, yay! However, the tracking number gave no result on the day I received the email, nor the next day, or the day after. WTF? So I sent them an email. Got a response a day later: the day I got the shipment email was the day the package left the distribution center in Germany. French tracking info would not be available until 48 hours later. OK, fair enough, but it would have been handy if they would have mentioned that in the email (or do they assume that people in France only check their email once a week or something?). Finally, 80 hours after the email was sent, the tracking number was recognized at the Coliposte website, but I was disappointed by the lack of information (oh yeah, and I could enter my email address so I would receive tracking info in my inbox. Which I did. Never received a thing.) The package arrived two days later (so 10 days after the order). Three of the five items were fine. I'm sending back the other two. First planned only to send back one shirt (had forgotten that the French M is a Dutch S, so it was OK right now, but had no room for a growing baby bump), but then saw that one pair of pants I'd ordered and which were a bit too long (amazing!) were now even more on sale, so returned them today (oh yeah, and almost fainted again while waiting in line at the post office...) and ordered a new (shorter) pair for the cheaper price. Wonder how long it takes until they credit my account for the returned items and before the new shipment arrives.
Oh yeah, and the Vertbaudet order... last Wednesday (so a week after ordering), the site still said 'colis en préparation'. I had sent them an email as well, got some lame excuse. But then also on Wednesday I got an email that I could pick it up at my 'relais colis' (this is an other delivery option I discovered, where it is sent to a store of your choice (as long as it's in the 'relais colis' network of course, near you where you can pick it up. Quite handy, as long as the packages are not too big or heavy. Home delivery is also possible, but for an additional fee).
And the funny thing is - if I'd have them, I would wear suspenders with my new maternity jeans! They're still too big, even with the adjustments set to the smallest size! But a lot more comfy than my regular jeans tough, now my belly just needs to grow more.