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~~*~~ Pet Planet ~~*~~
What Pig wants, Pig generally gets. The chocolate Labrador with a very small brain is somewhat spoilt but at least she’s a happy puppy. It’s not like she has her own credit card yet (she’s only 2), so nearly all of her ‘wish-list’ has to be purchased with my money and cos I’m a tight witch, I’ll scour the internet for any bargain going.
I first discovered Pet Planet when Pig was only a twinkle in her daddy’s eye and when I naively believed I would soon have a beautiful and delicate puppy called Doughnut (her name change came about primarily because her nostrils grew before the rest of her and she looked remarkably like a pot-bellied piglet). Like any good mother, I wanted my home to be ready for the arrival and because dog stuff ain’t cheap, I had to buy in bits and bats (and because just purchasing the puppy itself had set me back a whopping 550 quid the life savings were somewhat depleted – dogs are expensive buggers but probably worth it) and Pet Planet kept coming up with the goods.
~~*~~ The Company ~~*~~
Pet Planet has been around since 1999, that’s 10 whole years which actually isn’t that exciting. If you’re at all interested in them and their premises you can find some lovely pictures at petplanet.co.uk/contact_us.asp where you’ll see their Livingston depot (that’s in Scotland (I find it important to know where places are since I recently discovered I’d not moved to Cumbria but had indeed remained in Lancashire and although I was somewhat disappointed in that fact I was more distraught that not one single person had corrected me)). On this page, you’ll also be able to see pictures of Mike, Helen, Lindsay & Yvonne – I like to imagine them packing up my box of poo-bags and dental sticks but they’re probably far too important for that and get their minions to do it for them. On this page they state that although they are a ‘commercial operation’ they also like to inform the public for free on responsible pet ownership – don’t they sound lovely?
~~*~~ The Commercial Side (wonderful shoppingness) ~~*~~
~*~ The Site ~*~
As with all internet shopping, being able to negotiate easily around the site is vital, and although there is a lot of information on display on their homepage, it’s pretty easy to navigate around. The site is a somewhat unattractive bright yellow and red colour for the most part with their logo (a dog and cat’s head emerging from a blue planet – ahh, I see what they did there) appearing in the top left hand corner. Along the top row there are many options which I’ll go through later, but the shopping details are down the left hand column. At the top there is the site search box which I usually use because I know what I want – chiefly because the Pig has written it on her shopping list – generally this search box finds things pretty well, but should you need a helping hand the options down the side are fairly specific, such as Dog Food, Cat Activity Centres, Rabbit Supplies and my favourite; Clearance: 50% off. Once you enter
Pictures of PetPlanet.co.uk
these areas you’ll find more options to choose from and pictures to help.
~*~ Products ~*~
Pet Planet sells most brands/makes – there are a few brands of dog foods that I’ve noticed they don’t sell but generally they’re pretty up to date on new products. Unfortunately they don’t sell live animals - I’m still hoping for a guinea pig one day but it’ll have to wait. If you’ve not witnessed the product with your own eyes (I buy stuff off the internet but I like to see it in the flesh preferably) there are ‘real reviews’ written under each product but it’s probably worth checking out this site first – chances are Pig will have abused it at some point. I’ve never been given damaged or ‘faulty’ goods – everything has been brand new just like from a real shop. Although I may witter on about the dog side of this site, there are tons things for other animals – I wish I had a hamster sometimes as the accessories for them are plain brilliant.
~*~ Prices ~*~
As with all Tinternet shopping, it’s wise to look around first and Pet Planet aren’t always the cheapest (in fact, they’re rarely the cheapest) but if you take into account the fact that there are often promotions on, you get your delivery free if you spend over a certain amount (usually on orders over £29 – sounds like a lot but two bags of food and you’re done – much easier than dragging it back from Pets at Home, or you’ll pay £3.99 on smaller orders), you get ipoints (ooh how exciting – has anybody actually got anything good out of ipoints?) and you sometimes get a free gift which you can put on eBay. There is a price promise which involves fannying around to get either the difference back or double the difference off your next pet planet order – to be honest, there are far too many exemptions and I can’t really be arsed for £2 but I realise times are tight so at least they offer that option if you’re a tight ass.
~*~ Ordering ~*~
It’s pretty simple even if you’ve never performed internet shopping before (where have you been? Even my mother has successfully infiltrated the Tesco’s website although she gets far too excited by it). Simply pick the item you want, let’s say it’s a Pooch Portrait – either click ‘more info’ because you’re intrigued as to what the hell a Pooch Portrait is: whereby you’ll get more info, or ‘Buy Now’ which basically puts it in a basket from where you can pay immediately or continue shopping (generally a bad idea). Once you’ve finished shopping, probably 5 or 6 hours later, just click on ‘My Basket’ and everything is listed accordingly with the option of deleting or increasing the number of each item. At this point they’ll inform you that you may have to wait up to two weeks for a certain product which is annoying as they could tell you that the item is out of stock before you clicked on it in the first place but that’s just me being a whinging bitch. Also on this page, you can state whether you’d accept an ‘alternative’ – personally, I wouldn’t, but that’s because if Pig wants a blue travel water bowl, she’d find a green one completely unacceptable so she’d rather wait til it’s in stock again.
~*~ Delivery ~*~
I’ve never really had a major problem with delivery – once, they sent me a divider for a cage that was the wrong size and another time, they sent me some crap dental paste which the pig merely swallows when I wanted dental chews to rid the fish breath from her, but on both occasions they sent me the right items and didn’t bother with me returning the wrong bits. They do have a 21 day refund policy should your item be damaged in transit, faulty or not as described. They also have a delivery promise: their standard delivery will, in 96% of the time, be delivered within 2 working days, or you can pay more and get it sent to you the next day providing you’ve ordered by 12.00 – obviously I’ve never used this because although the Pig may be an impatient bugger at times, there’s no way I’m paying an extra £3 for the privilege.
~*~ Pet Insurance ~*~
Pet Planet have their very own policies – Planet Direct Pet Insurance who are part of Allianz Insurance (my van’s insured with them: isn’t that exciting?) – I’ve never used it and I wasn’t even aware it existed but in the name of research I decided to see how much Pig was ‘worth’ – £20 a month – that’s a bit cheaper than PetPlan but then again, if they knew what Pig was really like…
~~*~~ The Other Nice Side to Pet Planet ~~*~~
~*~ Breed Profiles ~*~
I knew I wanted a doggy and I was pretty sure I wanted a Pig (Labrador) but I also wanted to check out other breeds I knew just to make sure I was making the right decision. On searching Tinternet, this page came up trumps each time for Breed Profiles. Simply choose whether it’s a dog, cat or small animal you want info on and they cover pretty much everything – I investigated Hungarian Vizslas (nice but not enough fur for me), Griffon Bruxellois (seen some lovely ones in kennels but they’re just too small and not quite a dog) and the gorgeous German Short Haired Pointer (disappointingly, this just brings up a page saying they’ve no info on this breed). There’s also a ‘Select a Breed’ option which goes through a list of tick boxes which culminates in what they believe is the best breed for you – such as ‘How important is it that the dog does not cause allergies?’, ‘Amount of time the dog will be left alone’, and ‘Level of Ease of Training’: I did the test and top of the list was a Shar Pei – from my experience, I wouldn’t touch one with a barge-pole – there was only the Standard Schnauzer on the list that I would consider so it’s a good job I didn’t use that service to pick a pooch. However, if you vaguely know what you want but just want to make sure, then the Breed Profile is pretty good – take wonderful Labradors for example, it splits into little categories such as Cost of Ownership (how much the buggers eat, initial outlay, ave litter size, common ailments) Grooming (coat shedding, coat length) and Characteristics (aggression (yeah, right), tendency to bark, distress caused if left alone, suitability with children): I could go on but I’m beginning to bore myself. In conclusion – use this for gaining extra info on breeds.
~~*~~ Pet Health ~~*~~
This is a great part of the site – common and more random questions about pets are answered. Firstly, there is Ailments: unfortunately, this doesn’t work, ah well, not everything’s perfect, but if it did then there are supposed to be links to things like Hip Dysplasia, Kennel Cough and poison by paracetamol – all very interesting, presumably. Then there’s Common Pests: Fleas, Ticks and Worms feature highly – it doesn’t tell you how or what to use to remove them, it just tells you all about them which is nice. ‘Diet’ tells you all about the different diets available for your pet but it doesn’t try and sell you a particular one, or tell you the best for your pet which I like. Then there’s Training & Exercise which gives you information on clicker training, the importance of exercise and how to keep your hamster fit (I’m not joking). The Grooming section is pretty obvious, then there’s the Pet Care section which is good – it includes Dental Care, First Aid, Making a Disaster Plan for your Pet and Euthanasia (a particularly interesting page that I often show to Pig when she gets on my wick). The ‘Vets Board’ & ‘Behaviour Advice’ are pretty good pages – the latter are just some interesting articles about topics such as Scavenging for food and Territorial Urination, but the Vets board involves actual inquiries from average joes with vets answers which I find quite interesting – things like constant sneezing and home euthanasia (not that I’ve got a dark secret, more like an inquisitive mind…).
~~*~~ Pet Travel ~~*~~
This is quite a good section if you travel a lot with your pet (and it has a bit for finding kennels/catteries too) with info on finding vets abroad, travel tips and pet-friendly places to go or stay. It has important information on the Pet Travel Scheme too – something I’ve never used because I like to get away somewhere hot preferably without the Pig.
~~*~~ Other Stuff ~~*~~
There is a pet forum which I’ve never used, and it’s currently under re-construction so I can’t comment on it. Pet Classifieds, Fun Stuff & Pet Rescue are all being re-constructed too. Pet News features stories about pets from around the world such as the rescued Springer from a 100ft hole and the 3 cats rescued from a burning house (not exactly jaw-dropping stuff but interesting none-the-less).
~~*~~ Overallness ~~*~~
The Pet Planet website is not only a great place to do my little one’s shopping, it’s also a mine of information – I wouldn’t use the latter as the be all and end all of my questioning but it does give you a basis for searching for more information. As for purchasing – I’ve been pretty chuffed with the service they’ve provided and the items are tip-top which keeps Iggle Piggle happy.