Play.com: How you won and lost my heart!

26 07 2010

Play.com: How you won and lost my heart!

A review on my experiences with play.com, the alternatives, value and customer services.

I’ve been raving about play.com for sometime. I’ve raved about them in a magazine I write for Barcelona Connect re: How to Get UK books and TV here in Spain for discount prices. I never seemed to have a problem with them until mid last year. Play.com’s service, delivery times and order statuses just seem to have plummeted.

What sold me on play.com is the great auto responses, the free delievry to Spain which is ideal. Additionally, I can send books, dvd’s, t-shirts etc to friends in the UK for their birthday and save a great deal on the inflated prices of consumer goods here and save on delivery!

I’ve been using play.com since they first started… They used a business model not dissimilar to those book clubs where you buy X many books at 99p and then have to buy the rest at their price. Luckily, play.com were offering at that time great priced books and DVDs.

Now play.com offer band shirts and gadgets. Books here in Spain in English are well overpriced. Amazon don’t exist here, [well they did until they found out how little the average Spaniard reads]. Amazon do take a sizeable chunk on P&P. The question is, should I offer amazon my 5+ years custom from play.com? Is the loss of foreign postage for ad-hoc book buying really worth that much?

I think it might be. Thing is, let’s look at the facts for Amazon.

Amazon again are very hard to contact. Try and find a telephone number. Navigating a CONTACT US button is impossible. It kind of defies everything I’ve learned in 8 years of dedicated ecommerce  website building. Just in-case you want to know Amazon.co.uk customer service number it is 0800 496 1081

At least PLAY.com do offer this and it’s on their front page [but well low down]

I’ve never had a problem with refunds or items that never arrived getting replaced. Replies took 24H but I got one. One has to question the whole offline experience. I’ll tell you why now.

Books started to go missing in the post [for Spain] and are arriving later and later. My most recent purchase from play.com took 21 days to arrive. A family member in the UK  posted something last Monday and got to me today. So what’s going on?

What really miffed me was 2 sets of reordering for a friend’s birthday present. They never arrived, I reordered and one of them never arrived. It took ages to get a reply back from my friend who probably thought I never ordered it anyway. What was I to do? It was well outside the normal times to complain.

I loved play.com. Dudes, you had my heart. For ex-pat UK dudes in Europe, it’s a money saver, I can order in Euros get stuff delivered to Spain, UK, Germany… anywhere.

A book in FNAC vs Play.com‘s price is a far stretch. The question remains how cheeky FNAC are with their European distribution chain [I think it’s massive] and the charges they ask for foreign language goods.  I recommend anyone, check out amazon.co.uk, play.com and abe.com [second hand] resellers. They arrive quicker than from play.com itself. Weird innit!

Still, I think my last order with play.com themselves will be indeed my ultimate one.

I can no longer afford to have friendships ruined by the ‘trust’ aspect of online shopping with them. The last delivery time of 21 days is excessive [that’s from postage not ordering date], which would put the whole experience near 28 days from order to delivery.

The company does refund, it does have a telephone number, it is postage free. There is value in ordering from them. Still, paying a few bucks more from a similar company Amazon might have to be my next option or play, abe, amazon resellers….. sadly.


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