Advantages Excellent layout, fast and simple ordering, competitively priced
Disadvantages Returns policy needs polishing
First off, apologies for the awful pun on the title. All the good puns had been taken already.Play.com (henceforth just “Play”) is one of the best-established shopping sites now operating in the UK. It sells CDs, DVDs, Audiobooks, Computer games, Mobile ringtones and even boys’ toys (a.k.a. ‘Gadgets’) at extremely competitive prices and with the added bonus of free, generally rapid delivery to all UK addresses. This really is the site that any self-respecting DVD-aholic should have bookmarked and the first to turn to for new releases. The site largely grew out of its DVD sales and expanded into the other markets. Personally speaking I have no experience of buying gadgets, ringtones or audiobooks from the site so this review will focus on the main consumer durables that it sells.
..:: RANGE ::..
The stock range in terms of CDs, games and DVDs is impressive. All major new releases will be stocked and a vast collection of sometimes obscure titles is also held. This is not to say that other sites, notably Amazon.co.uk, will not have a wider range, but unless your tastes are exceptionally leftfield you can be 99.9% sure that what you want will be carried. All items will be very competitively priced indeed, particularly when free delivery is taken into account, though not always the cheapest available. Many items are available more cheaply from CD-Wow.com, for example, but Play’s excellent site layout and customer services are big attractions, and there is almost always a large range of special offers to tempt you. Where else can you buy complete Box Sets of the popular series ‘Friends’ on DVD for just 17.99?
I would query how wise it is for Play to branch into markets such as gadgets since it clearly does not have the range of somewhere like Gadgetshop or indeed the reputation. It might be unwise to try to do too much, which could explain the absence of traditional books. However an attempt to keep up with technology is evident in the stocking of mobile games...:: EASE OF PURCHASE ::..
Once an item is added to your shopping basket – a little problem is the fact that the “Buy” buttons are actually quite small on-screen – it’s easy to review and change your order without even having to visit a distinct screen to do so. This is a neat touch that makes shopping as easy as possible. Even internet shopping virgins cannot go wrong. Ordering is quick and the process takes a matter of seconds even at peak periods...:: SITE LAYOUT AND NAVIGATION ::..
..:: DELIVERY AND RETURNS ::..
Aside from the problem with delivery addresses noted earlier, the usual quoted delivery time is 3 – 5 working days once in stock and by and large this is adhered to. Free delivery can never be argued with and items arrive securely packaged and I’ve never suffered a broken jewel case or cracked disc in orders stretching back over two years. Indeed, until recently I had never had a single delivery problem but two failures in recent weeks have left me wondering whether the site’s growing popularity is starting to catch it out. I have found the returns policy of the site to be one of its weakest aspects, though it has many good qualities too. The first problem I had concerned a box-set DVD which contained 6 discs. The item that arrived was a completely unrelated Playstation 2 game.
..:: OVERALL ::..
Play is a fantastic site in so many respects – price, delivery, range, navigation, ease of use – that awarding any less than maximum marks would be wrong. I just hope that they don’t take on too much and expand too far and let customer service and accuracy pay the price in the future.
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