The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
When I first heard about Play.com, I had my doubts. I mean, who would name an online site 'Play.com'? and why were people talking about it? It's hardly the kind of site you would associate with DVDs, games and CDs, so what's it all about? The bottom line is that you can't judge a book by its cover, so why judge a site by its name?
I decided to take a look for myself!
About Play.com & Pricing *****************************************
Play.com first started out in 1998, although i've only been a member of the site (and noticed it), for about 2 years.
When you come to think where on earth you can browse on the Internet to find the item you are looking for at a cheap price, Play.com should be top of your list.
They sell DVDs, games, CDs, gadgets, audiobooks and even ring tones!
If you were to do a price comparison search on the Web for the product you want, more often than not, you will find the cheapest price to be Play.com. As an avid PS2 gamer, I often look for the cheapest prices I can find for PS2 games that have just been released. I need not go to the highstreet, because I know that I will be ripped off and I need not visit any other site on the Internet other than Play.com. The latest games usually cost £39.99 in the highstreet, but Play.com usually have them available at £29.99, so price wise you can't go wrong!
After online site 'CDWow' were forced to put surcharges on the prices of their CDs (see my Music Industry vs Internet op), Play.com now offer one of the best places to shop for music. Typical albums are roughly £8.99 and they are always doing a 3 for £20 offer on hundreds of excellent CDs (and not just the crap stuff!).
Most DVDs are cheaper to buy on Play.com than anywhere else. New titles such as 'Down With Love' and 'Wrong Turn' are £11.99 and 'Tomb Raider 2 - The Cradle of Life' and 'American Pie - The Wedding' are only £13.99. There are lots more at even cheaper prices, so you never know what bargain you might find.
Play.com accept Delta, MasterCard, Solo, Switch and Visa, which makes it even more easier for you to purchase items over the Web.
What's more is that P&P is completely free in the UK!
Site layout, design & features ******************************************
I have to admit that Play.com is one of the most simplist, yet effective sites that make it easy to find exactly what you're looking for.
The search facility is divided up into a list of drop down options to choose from before entering a search critera (which is positioned on the left-hand-side). As an example, DVDs can be searched by Actor, Title or even Language or Director. Also in this list are a similar CD search option and a list of consoles such as PS2, GBA and XBOX.
As an example, if you choose 'DVD Title' and enter 'Terminator 3', you are presented with the findings within a few seconds (as the site is extremely fast). From this result, The Terminator 3 DVD is found and displayed in the centre of the page with a whole host of information about this product. Some sites simply display a picture of the DVD, its region and the price, but Play.com go that little bit further. They display information relating to the following:
* DVD special features - Comprising of all the special features that are available on the DVD as if you were reading the back of it.
* Its RRP - Which gives you an indication of the price you would pay on the highstreet and how much you would save.
* A review of the DVD - This tells you a bit about the film if you didn't happen to know a lot about it.
* Related Items - A list of related DVDs, such as Terminator 1 & 2 in this case and how many discs they contain.
* Technical details - A complete list of all the actors in the film, the director, year it was made, its certificate, screen size, duration, subtitles and languages. What more could you want to know!
* DVDs by same director - If you wanted to purchase another DVD by the same actor, you wouldn't even need to do another search, its all here for you.
* Other DVDs featuring the main actor - In this case you can find a complete list of Arnold Schwarzenegger films here.
* Other DVDs featuring other actors - A continued list of DVDs featuring some of the lesser known actors in Terminator 3.
On top of this search facilty, you have an aditional option listed towards the bottom left of your current page which can help you pin-point the items you are looking for. If you were looking at CDs for example, you will see that there are several links that can take you to all the 'Dance', 'R&B', 'Soundtrack' and 'Hip-Hop' sections of this product. Games on the other hand, will display the genre of the games you may be looking for, like 'Role-Playing' or 'Shoot-em-up'.
The design of the site in my view is quite appealing. They don't use excessive colours (just look at Argos.com or simplygames.com to see what I mean) and everything is clear and concise. White and orange in this case seem to go well with each other.
Each section of the site, whether it be DVDs, games, CDs or whatever, have their own 'Top Sellers', 'Coming Soon', 'Top 100' and 'New releases' sections to keep you up to date with what people are buying, what is available in the next month or two, what the most popular products are, based on sales and what has just hit the shops.
What anoys me most about some online sites is that once you add items to your shopping cart, you have to click away from the page you are currently viewing, in order to see what items you are going to purchase and what the total cost is. Play.com do this differently and more effectively by displaying your shopping cart items underneath the search facility option on the left-hand-side of every page.
So as you can see, Play.com go a long way to bring you everything you need at the lowest possible price.
There are many more sections of the site to explore, such as entries to competitions and related seasonal products (like valentines gifts). To name them all would be a huge task!
Member account & order tracking *****************************************************
As this is such a big feature of the site, I feel it is neccessary to devote an entire section to this and explain what is available to you.
Before you make a purchase, you would probably be happy to know that all products are listed as either 'In-stock', 'out of stock' or 'pre-order', so you know exactly when you can expect to have your items delivered.
Accessing your member area requires you to register with Play.com to make it easier to purchase future products and manage your orders.
In this section you can expect to find the following:
* Outstanding orders - A list of orders that have not yet been despatched. These could be items you have only just purchased, items that are on pre-order, or items that are currently out-of-stock.
* Order history - Here you can find everything you have ever ordered off the site, no matter how many years ago, which shows the price you paid and when it was despatched.
* Account details - In this section you can change your card details, card holder address, delivery address and whether you wish to subscribe to the Play.com newsletter, which would keep you posted by e-mail on the latest offers.
* Mobile details - If you were wondering how you were going to be sent your ring tone if you ordered one from Play.com, well this is how it is done. You enter your mobile phone details here, which means you never have to keep entering a mobile number.
* Change Password - This section allows you to change your login password, which requires you to enter your existing one in order to proceed.
* Change e-mail - Here you can change the e-mail address that you use to login with and where your order information and newsletter is sent.
Customer service ********************************
Well no online site review is complete without the customer service break down as this is one of the sections that prove whether a site is good or bad.
I've not had any product that i've had to return yet, so I can't give you any information about how well they deal with such requests, but rest assured that I will keep you posted!
I can say however, that they respond quickly to e-mails and delivery is always on time and arrives within 2-3 days as described. 'Pre-orders' or 'out of stock' items don't seem to kick up a fuss either. I have both pre-ordered items and had to wait for out of stock itmes to be delivered without the problem of them not being delivered when they come on sale or re-stocked.
All your orders are made securely (visit the 'Secure site' section of the website to find out more information) and an e-mail is posted to firstly let you know what you have ordered and secondly, to let you know when it has been despatched.
Final thought ********************************
I've now been shopping on Play.com for 2 years and I can safely say i've never had a problem with them.
Play.com have a very good reputation, which is one of the reasons why they have become so successful and continue to offer the best possible price.
I'm sure that you will check them out if you don't already know about them after reading this review and i'm sure you won't be dissapointed.
I usually use amazon, but i will definately give these a look now, thanks....WS
redhillier 05.10.2005 17:41
Splendid review, especially the comparison of all the annoying little quirks that other shopping sites have compared to play.com. Scary to think of the amount of my wages that have disappeared into play.com's coffers over the years, mind you.