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WHAT THEY DO
Ebuyer is an online distributor of computer equipment and components. This becomes obvious as soon as you have loaded the home page, as you are greeted with images of some of the products they stock. Ebuyer have a US and a UK website. The UK office is in Sheffield.
WHY I CHOSE THEM
I wanted to upgrade my computer so I needed faster parts for it, and I wanted them CHEAP(!) so that's where Ebuyer came in. I think I first found out about the site on a product comparison site like Kelkoo, when I was searching for computer bits through Google, but I also came across some reviews of Ebuyer on Ciao. Main reason for buying from them is that I've found that many of their prices are lower than their competitors.
The site layout is professional looking and I found it easy to navigate. I'm not too keen on the orange and grey colour scheme but I guess it doesn't really matter. Items are sorted into brands and categories. You can find items of a particular brand or in a category by hovering your mouse pointer over the buttons to bring down a drop-down menu. These drop-down menus don't seem to work in Opera but you can still access the menu items by clicking on the buttons, which take you to another page with links to the products/categories that would be found in the drop-down menus. Similarly, you can also access your account area and 'help' pages through similar buttons. I think the site has been designed very well, as they've thought about things like that. If someone had a browser that could not bring down the drop-down menus, then they would not be able to browse products by categories/brands if they could only find the categories via the drop-down boxes.
I've never had any problems with the site. Nor have I had any problems loading the pages. The site is generally quite quick to load but I am on an ADSL broadband connection, so don't know how quickly the pages would load on a 56K dialup connection. Slower, but probably not ridiculously slow, so long as you're not downloading files at the same time.
You access your account by entering your username, email address and password. I thought that having to enter my email address as well as the usual username and password was unusual, but I guess it's for security. It's more typing than I'd like to do to sign into an account though.
The price they seem to emphasize is the size WITHOUT VAT. Many places do this and it's rather annoying. So keep your eyes peeled.
The Ebuyer site seems to filled with all sorts of features. You can find particular items by entering the 'QuickFind' code. This is like an item number. That's only if you've noted down the code and wish to go back to the item. Quite a good feature for those who have only just found the site and have not had time to register yet.
Another nifty feature on the site is their 'Catalog' system. This is basically a 'wishlist'. You add items that you are interested in, or buy regularly, into your Catalog and then you can find the items more easily, as they show up inside your account with a 'buy' button for you add them to your shopping cart. You can add up to 50 items. I've found this feature quite useful. A shame the prices listed in the 'Catalog' exclude VAT though, as I would prefer to see the price inclusive of VAT. The Catalog also tells you when the prices of items have changed, so for example, if a price has been lowered, a green down arrow appears in the Catalog. If however, the price went up, then you see an up arrow in red. I've seen an item's price reduced (RIGHT AFTER I bought it), then raised a bit. That's Ebuyer adjusting their prices.
The site also seems to allow you to cancel, edit orders, etc. but I have not been able to as the options are usually greyed out for me. This may be because my orders were ready to be shipped already. They also prefer that you request RMA numbers through their 'RETURNS ONLINE' system. There's also a few more features for people with Business accounts.
Something I really like about the Ebuyer site is that it allows buyers to submit reviews of products, much like Amazon. I like this feature because someone else may have bought an item you're interested in and you'd be able to read opinions on the products to find out whether they really are worth handing over your (hard-earned) cash. Products are also given a star rating from the previous buyers.
The search features works very well but if you're browsing products, you can filter by manufacture, prices and sort by ascending or descending order by price, rating, name, etc. Very handy, and often expected from large online stores who have a wide range of products.
Overall, I find the site very easy to use. It's updated regularly, I've not had any problems with it, it has pretty much all the features that you would expect from an online store, and so I like it.
To purchase items, you simply add items to your virtual 'Basket', as you do on most other sites offering items for sale. If you're a first time buyer, you will need to register to create an account with them. You're given a choice of either Express Registration or Wizard Registration, which is a nice change from the usual. Express is to see everything on one page whereas the Wizard method divides everything up. You click on next from one page to the next to the end.
When registering, you can choose from a Home or a Business account. Naturally, I chose the Home account, as I'm not making business purchases. Something quite handy is that I do not have to enter the full address. I simply need the house number and the postal code and the automatic address finder will find the address matching the postal code. Great for those who don't like typing too much!
When checking out and entering payment details, you will notice that the "http" in the address bar has become "https". This indicates that the site is secure and that the information submitted is encrypted and thus, secure.
You can store your card details with them but you can choose for them not to keep the details. It's your call. When you've successfully submitted an order, you will receive an order confirmation email. The time you receive this will take a bit longer on your first order as they need to do more verification checks. When they despatch items, you will also be notified by email when your item has been sent. I've found that items arrive the next day once they have been posted.
PRODUCTS AND PRICES
I think that they have a very good selection of products. Even more than places like PC World. Prices are also quite good. I can find items at Ebuyer that I can't find cheaper anywhere else. The products they stock come from various manufacturers as well as supplying some of their own products. I've found things costing £10 to £20 less than other online shops. Compared to shop prices, which are nearly always overpriced, you can expect items to be up to 30% less than shop prices depending on the items.
An example of the price difference compared to other places:
A 3.2Ghz CPU with 1MB Cache Prescott core (Prices inclusive of VAT)
PC world Component Shop (PC World) - £197.21 (exc. £5.50 postage **)
Ebuyer - £181.71 (exc. £4.99 postage **)
** lowest delivery rate for the item
They may have lots of stock of some products they stock but I've found that a lot of products they list on the site are actually not in stock so delivery takes a bit longer. They only order those from their suppliers when they have orders for them and this usually means these items would take longer to be delivered. They always specify how long for you to expect delivery for these products though. I guess I don't mind this so long as they can ship the items within the time they specify.
Delivery prices are a bit higher than other places but it varies depending on how much you spend. The shipping band they use is quite strange. The more you spend, the more it costs until you get to a certain band. It then gets cheaper.
They have a 'Shipping Charges Table' which gives the info clearly. Delivery costs range from £1.99 but jumps up to £5.49 if your order exceeds 0.5Kg. Spend over £30, £125, £350, £750, £1500 and delivery costs can vary.
Items are sent via Initial City Link (people seem to dislike them) or DHL. The DHL service costs more but you could expect your order in one or two days of the order (assuming the item is in stock), whereas the standard delivery rate could take five to seven days. Items using the standard delivery service arrive next working day from when you receive the despatch email though. I think that this is pretty good and I am quite happy with it, although this varies depending on the availability of items and where they are sent from. Some items are shipped directly from the Ebuyer warehouse, whereas others are shipped from third party suppliers. Some items can say 7 days in the availability bit of the product pages but you can sometimes expect them sooner.
Orders can be tracked quite easily within your account. Overall, very good since deliveries haven't taken long to arrive.
TIP: If an item is free delivery, then order it in a separate order to non-free delivery items or it might just add to the delivery for the other items.
You can return products that are faulty or if you no longer require them, or for other reasons. Some returns may be subject to a restocking fee. I bought a graphics card from them but changed my mind and decided to get a cheaper one instead, so I requested an RMA number. My RMA request was accepted within 24 hours and I was notified via email with instructions. Details are always found in your account in the form of eNotes.
All you do is submit an RMA request through your account and then wait for a RMA number. You will receive an email telling you that your RMA has been approved (if it has been approved, that is) and where to find the RMA number. The RMA number and return address can then be found in your account. You can then return the product. The RMA number expires after 60 days so you need to return your item within that period, or you will need to re-request for the RMA. I found the process quite easy and straightforward. They say the RMA process takes around 10 days.
Not sure when my item arrived because the stupid Royal Mail site wouldn't tell me where my package was despite paying for Recorded Delivery, but once Ebuyer receive and check your RMA item, they email you. I received 4 emails from Ebuyer when they acknowledged receipt of my return. One saying my item has been received and the other 3 told me the details about the refund. Each one is an eNote notification to tell me that an eNote has been added to my account.
I've also had 2 items that stopped working within the warrany period. I submitted the RMA requests as you would, and posted the products back when authorized. I also received replacements from eBuyer.
Overall, quite easy to return products.
I've read that Ebuyer customer service is poor on Ciao, however, I took the risk because of their prices, and have had my fingers crossed for nothing to go wrong. Everything went smoothly with my first order so I can't complain but I wanted to test out their customer service for the purpose of this review so I decided to ask about one of the products they stock.
I asked whether one of their USB pen drives (a memory stick thingy), comes with a driver CD and extension cable. I received a response within 24 hours, so far so good. Their 'preferred' means of communication was through their eNotes system (This system allows you to post a question up in the form of an 'eNote', in your account and an Ebuyer employee will reply to your question. It's a ticket system) so that was how I contacted them. I received an email saying that I had a new eNote. In the note, their response to my question was:
"Unfortunately, Ebuyer staff are not allowed to offer product recommendations…"
<Quote taken from Ebuyer response in eNotes system>
That was pretty useless. They sent me a standard reply. I did not want them to 'recommend' a product. I wanted them to tell me whether the item came with something. The eNote also told me to read the specifications on the product page but there was no mention of the things I asked, which was the reason I had that question in the first place.
What I dislike most about Ebuyer is this customer service. I wasn't able to find an address or a telephone number to phone up. Their preferred contact method is their eNotes system. I found that ordering; receiving and returning items all went smoothly though so that's good.
I think they have an excellent selection and prices are the best I've seen (for many of their items anyway). Even though customer service is pretty useless sometimes, I think it's still worth shopping there if you don't mind risking the poor customer service to make a saving. They accepted my return hassle free and their online RMA system made it a doddle since I didn't have to phone them up to do it.
I personally think it's still worth shopping there. Not highly recommended but I do recommend them. Just make sure you read there terms and conditions and read up about the charges so you know what you're getting yourself into.