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The festive season is upon us once more, and at this time of year choosing an internet site from which to purchase DVDs, CDs and computer and console games, can be a bit of a minefield.
Since discovering play.com some months ago, I no longer spend hours looking through different sites in order to find the best deals, I visit play.com, which can cater for my every need.
The layout of the site is simple and uncluttered. Set against a white background, play.com has category listing tabs at the top of the home page, from which it is a simple process to find the items required.
The home page will always display a DVD title that has an imminent release date, and will have a countdown marker beside the picture, that displays how many more days are left before the release. Also the Hot Pick lists a DVD title or game title, that is recommended by the site.
DVD Section ●●●●●●●●●
The page lists current releases on the site, and also details of titles soon to be released, and those encompassing special offers. Each DVD is pictured, and, by clicking on the picture, a page will open with an amazingly detailed list of the item. The most important thing for me, when buying DVDs or other titles is the availability. Play.com states whether the item is in stock, sold out, if the site is awaiting further supplies, or the date of release of the DVD, if the title is not yet available. The site also lists when to expect delivery of the item, if it is selected for purchase. There is also a brief plot synopsis of the DVD, together with details of the age range it is suitable for, playing time, director, cast, and any special features it may contain. Of course the second most important consideration is the price, and play.com displays the amount to pay including delivery.
Also within the section, a listing will appear of other films made by the same director, as well as other titles with members of the cast from the DVD currently being viewed.
As well as new DVDs, titles can be searched for by using the category listing on the left hand side of the page, such as Action/Adventure, Horror or Children’s titles, alternatively a browse through the Top 100 DVDs will be sure to find a title that appeals.
The music page always has an Editors choice at the top, and at the time of writing this is the Kylie Minogue CD. As with the DVD section, the CDs are listed by new release, coming soon and special offers.
There is also a category listing to the left hand side of the page, or alternatively the search function can be used, whereby CDs can be searched by artist or title. If a certain category is the order of the day, there is also a listing of the latest compilation albums, or CD box sets to choose from.
All CDs are pictured, and by clicking on the picture, a track listing will open, together with the price of the CD and the availability, and expected delivery time. Expect to pay approximately £8.99 or £9.99 for new releases, which compares very favourably with sites such as CD Wow.
Play.com is a cut above the rest, because each time a CD is looked at, the site will also show all other titles by that artist, advantageous, if the consumer is planning on purchasing more than one title by a certain singer. This also applies to DVDs, whereby the consumer can also find other titles featuring the same actor, or other titles directed or produced by the same person.
The site always runs offers on CDs, and at present 2 compilation CDs can be purchased for £20 or three normal titles for £20. At this time of year, the site is a Godsend, and many bargains can be had.
Of course, play.com also has a top 20 listing of CDs and DVDs purchased from the site that week, as well as an extensive listing of items that can be pre-ordered before the release dates, and the imperative bargain bin section, where a variety of CD titles can be purchased for an amazing £5.99.
This is the section of the site that I use more than any other. A massive selection of games are offered, for all the consoles as well as for the computer, hand held devices, and even mobile phones, all at brilliantly competitive prices. The format of the section is much the same as the CD and DVD sections, in that by clicking on the title of the game, a page will open with all the relevant details. The vast majority of games listed will save the consumer money from the recommended retail price, and there are very few titles that are out of stock.
Each game has a small review, accompanied by a synopsis of the special or enhanced features on the release. The site also informs the consumer if the games are for a single player, or multiple gamers, and of course the targeted age range.
Play.com have all the latest game releases, and pride themselves on their fiercely competitive prices, as well as availability of most of the titles.
Of course, no site specialising in computer games would be complete if they did not have a special offer section, and play.com have various offers running. At present, two playstation or playstation 2 titles can be purchased for £20. Of course, the titles are not new releases, but some little gems can be purchased. One of my children had listed two older games on their Christmas list, both of which I was able to purchase within this section. Play also have a section whereby titles can be bought for an amazing £4.99, well worth a visit before you leave the site.
This is another reason why I visit play.com on a regular basis. The ringtones, both in standard and polyphonic form, all cost 99p, which compared with other sites, is phenomenal. One might assume that the listings would be sparse, but this is not the case. As well as seasonal tunes, Play offer tunes from various musical genres, including R&B, Pop, music by decade, as well as tones for the football supporter. The ringtones listing of current chart songs is also impressive, as are the listings from films and TV.
A handy compatibility section is available, whereby the consumer can check that their phone will be able to receive the ringtones on offer, before purchase.
Of course, all tones can be listened to on the site, before the consumer decides to purchase, and this is easily done by clicking on the speaker logo beside each listing.
Backgrounds for mobile phones can also be purchased from this section. They too, cost 99p, and again there is an extensive listing, ranging from football team emblems to cartoon and TV characters.
Forget Boysstuff, Prezzybox or I want one of those. Play has an impressive range of gadgets on the site, at prices far cheaper than any of its competitors. As well as expensive gadgets, such as a speed detector, the site also offers smaller items, ideal for stocking fillers, such as electric shock lighters for the joker in the family, or various novelty items such as bottle openers or corkscrews.
All of the items have a small review, and will also explain if the product is not suitable for those with heart problems, such as the joke exploding items.
In order to purchase from the site, the consumer will need to set up an account. This is a very simple process, and is a matter of inserting name and address details, as well as an email address and a password.
Ordering is also simple and pain free. Simply click on the Buy button, and the items will be transferred to the virtual shopping basket, and all items contained therein will be displayed on the left hand side of the page. From here, it is possible to edit the amount of items ordered, or delete or cancel, even after the order has been submitted. A confirmation email will be sent, normally instantaneously, and also a mail will be received when the items have been posted.
Play accept all major credit and debit cards, and all transactions are carried out via a secure server. Postage and packing is free, as is delivery, and most items will be packed and despatched within twenty four hours, and always by first class mail. I have ordered a huge amount of items from the site and have always received them within three days, even at this time of the year, when other sites fail to deliver so speedily. Play have normally processed any orders I have made on the same day, which includes them being packed and posted, and another item in Play’s favour is that they do not take any money from the consumer’s card until the item has been despatched.
One interesting point to note is that I recently ordered over £400 of items from the site, and I was telephoned within an hour by a very friendly customer service representative, who wanted to check that the credit card was indeed mine, and asked me a few security details to clarify. The small personal touches are what makes Play one of the best sites for DVD and gaming needs, as not only did the person clarify credit card details, but then proceeded to talk me through my order.
The tracking facility on the site is also very clear and easy to follow. By logging into your account, all items recently ordered are displayed in a table, stating the dates of despatch, and the reference number. Other items will be accompanied by a message, either stating that the product has been pre-ordered or if the site is awaiting new stock. It is simple to cancel any items at any time, simply by clicking the red cross that appears next to the listing.
If, for some reason, an order is damaged and needs to be returned, play.com will refund up to £2 in postage, if returned via recorded delivery. I have had to use this service on only one occasion, but this was because I was sent the wrong item, rather than it being faulty. I was given the choice of a refund or a replacement, and I received the replacement item within one week of sending it back. Play.com will also refund money on items, returned unopened, within seven days of receipt.
Play.com changes the content of the site regularly, and at the time of writing a feature on the year 1977 displays a listing of albums released in that year. This is yet another section of the site, that sets the site apart from the likes of Amazon and CD Wow, and I defy anyone to visit and not purchase an item, or at least be tempted.
I would recommend a visit to play.com unreservedly. As well as having an enormous listing of items, the site prides itself on speedy despatch and delivery, and really is a cut above the likes of Amazon, who can be very tardy with their delivery times during busy periods. Play have fiercely competitive prices on most of their items and their customer service representatives are all friendly and courteous, giving that personal touch, that is severely lacking from most of their competitors.