Pottery Barn Mystery, Part I

Posted by Lotte on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Filed under: ,


We are currently on the market for rugs. One for our living room and one for the nursery. For inspiration, I’ve been browsing the web, looking for just the right color and pattern. One of my browsing sessions led me to Pottery Barn. At least, that is where it should have led me. To my great surprise, instead of Pottery Barn’s homepage, this is what I got:
“Sorry, due to website restrictions we are unable to display the requested page.” 
That’s all. No information, no phone number or contact e-mail. Puzzled, but not fazed, I continued on to other websites. Then, I tried West Elm. The same mysterious message appeared, this time with a contact phone number. Williams-Sonoma: same story.
By this time, I was truly flabbergasted. What is going on? I live in Europe for Pete’s sake, not North Korea. I know that these companies don’t ship to Europe, but we should at least be able to see what it is we are missing out on, right? Well, wrong apparently. So far for the World Wide Web...
After a short round of googling the restricted website message, I quickly learned that I was not alone. I found more complaints of Europeans who were unable to access these websites, and none of them seemed to know what was going on. 
I am determined to get to the bottom of this. I started with West Elm’s contact number. The phone was answered by a lovely lady who ensured me that this was not West Elm’s policy (turns out West Elm, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma are all the same company; I did not know this); the governments of the countries where the sites are blocked are responsible. My quest for the truth brought me to the Dutch government. No information about blocking websites could be found on their web pages, so I gave them a call. The lady told me she did not have an answer right away, but would inquire with her colleagues and get back to me. She called me back one day later (at least they’re fast) to tell me she had contacted the economic affairs department and they assured her that no such practice exists within the government. Blocking websites only occurs when sites are involved in illegal activities, which these furniture companies obviously aren’t.
So, this is where I am at today. I’ve gained some information, but it has not brought me closer to an answer yet. Next up I will contact my internet provider and Williams-Sonoma’s IT department. I will keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, if anyone has already found the answer, I am dying to know here, so please clue me in!




15 Responses to Pottery Barn Mystery, Part I

  1. Erika Valenzuela

    Hi, the same thing happened to me, I live in the Dominican Republic and our government doesn't block websites, they are blocking non US customers.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi,
    I have had the same thing and I live in South Africa. So frustrating because it worked a couple of months back. They don't ship to S.A but I absolutely love to look at their stuff :(

  3. Anonymous

    Well Erika is totally right our country doesn't block any websites, why the hell is Pottery Barn blocking us? So many people outside US loves the store, I've just found out because I though i could order something online!!

  4. Anonymous

    Well, it is really disappointing to get that message when you are eager to check out whatever it is you are interested in. I guess they will be losing followers in the long run.

  5. Anonymous

    Hi there
    I've been wondering the same thing and after searching on-line for a while I found this message on Pottery Barn's Facebook profile (yes, they too are on FB :o))

    Hi Mascha: The website restrictions occur because we take the security of our customers and credit card information very seriously. Unfortunately not all countries maintain the same standards and legal protections for credit card information. Therefore to protect our customers, in some areas, access to our website is limited.

    It can be found at this link:

    http://www.facebook.com/potterybarn?bnrid=3301566&cm_ven=Email&cm_cat=CouponUS&cm_pla=PBAll&cm_ite=facebook&cm_em=kpierceh@bellsouth.net

    The answer does not make sense to me, because I know the standards and legal protections of customer and credit card information is as high in Denmark, where I'm from as the ones in the US. And I absolutely LOVE looking at their website, so I'm incredible disappointed at this time.

    Hope it helped solve the mystery.

    Hugs from Denmark

  6. BigBearFreddy

    This might be a financial thing? There's no money to be gained from us foreigners, so why spend money on us lurking the website?

  7. Al

    Love Pottery Barn as well same access issues as everyone, but found a post that mentioned this optional site for access to non US market try it out and enjoy however does not look like full selection. ; http://www.potterybarn.me

  8. Anonymous

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for posting this...I've been trying to figure out whats the dealio for the entire year :(
    I too live in South Africa, and just loved, loved, loved looking at Pottery Barn for inspiration.
    Really sucks that they blocking countries...I mean it costs them nothing to allow us access. I should know, I'm in the Online field, I think its just so unnecessary :(
    At least we can still look at Ikea. I hope they dont do the same and hopefully they'll open a few stores here in South Africa.
    Thanks for the link Al :)

  9. Amanda

    FYI - I live in the united states and got the same error message so it doesn't have anything to do with your country. I can't figure it out!

  10. Anonymous

    Hello there.
    I'm Gary.
    I've been reading these comments with interest, as my wife cannot connect to PB here in Holland. So, I tried this download:
    http://expatshield.com/
    It gives your computer a different IP address which makes the website, Pottery Barn think that your computer is in a different country.
    Hey presto! Now have full access to PB and any other restricted website.
    The only thing is, there are lots of pop up advertising. But you can uninstall the download after you have finished browsing. Then re-install whenever you want to check out Pottery Barn again. It's a pretty quick and easy download.
    By the way I have no connection with this download. I use it to watch BBC iplayer which is also restricted to UK only.

  11. Anonymous

    I am glad to hear it wasn't just happening to me. I live in (third world) Africa and actually do shopping via the internet (Eddie Bauer, Nordstrom etc) without any hassles at all! EB ship direct to me via UPS. I pay the US tax, plus the duty when it arrives here so it becomes pricey, but hey it all works!
    I think it is totally silly that PB and W-S websites are blocked to non US IP addresses.
    I was hoping to make some purchases, to be shipped to a friend in the US who will be coming out to visit soon. Guess they won't get my money then..!

  12. Anonymous

    I came across this blog while trying to figure out what the hell that "website restrictions" message was supposed to mean. I'm also in the Netherlands - an American ex-pat, I wanted to show some Pottery Barn images to my boyfriend as examples of how I'd like the house to look :-P. PB apparently does not want us using them for inspiration.

    And, as the last poster said, I might very well have ordered something and had it shipped to my mom's house, for next time she visits or next time I visit her. Now they've lost my business for today, and for when we move back to the states in the future as well!!! There are other, more friendly companies that also sell beautiful things.

  13. Anonymous

    Hi Everybody,
    I live in Turkey and I'm glad that this restriction is for the rest of the world except USA:)... Though I've never shopped via PB site, I've requested some of the items I loved from my relatives and friends who are USA residents. But now, I can not even see what's new in PB. Does it make sense?!

  14. Anonymous

    i live in the Dominican republic, and before that I use to live in haiti.
    5 years ago I could enter in the site from Haiti.

    I would like to thank big bear freddy for posting the link that allows at least look at their catalog.

    best regards to all

  15. Nutmeg girl

    Hi all, thanks for posting your experiences here! Also, glad to know I'm not alone in my frustration about this... Thanks Freddy for the link. I still am determined to contact them and ask them what the deal is, exactly. Any way you look at it, they are losing money by blocking us, as hits garner ad money!

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