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Back in October 2001, whilst trawling through another days useless emails. I stumbled across one that caught my eye ď3 books for £3!Ē it said (Postage & Packaging EXTRA in very small, small print!) Now, I have never been much of a reader and mostly buy books to prop up wonky furniture. But this seemed like a bargain not to be missed. For only a few pounds my furniture would be level for years! So, curiosity aroused, I clicked on the provided link and was presented with the TSP website. Having had trouble with these types of club before, I was very wary of the terms and conditions. But to my amazement, not only could I purchase these items at bargain prices, but also I did not have to buy anything off them againÖ EVER! This is unusual, as most book/video clubs require a certain amount of items to be purchased over a certain period of time ie 3 books a year sort of thing. The introductory offer is just to get you to sign the contract. Well I couldnít fail, could I?
The Website £££££££££££
The website is bland but functional. Clicking on various tabs will lead you to their various products. Not only do they sell books but also Videos, DVDís, Software and Games. I will stick to the book side of things, as this is what I experienced. But itís handy to know what else they sell, should you be daft enough to be tempted!
From the homepage you can log in and see the usual features that relate to you ie Purchases, order status, just general account information really. There is a standard search bar at the top and further down the page on the left hand side are the book categories. Ranging from History and Science to Erotica (ohhhhhhhhh!) There is quite a good selection to chose from, enough to satisfy all but the most picky of booklovers. Should you find an book that you wish to purchase, clicking on that book will take you gently through the process of adding it to your Internet shopping basket and eventually to the ordering stage. At this stage you can enter your credit card details or alternatively wait to billed when you receive your purchase. Once the item is processed, in theory it should be with you within a few days.
The TSP bookclub, by mail £££££££££££££££££££££££££
Upon joining the club, you are sent your first introductory order. If it is satisfactory, you can post your payment for the item(s), along with the billing slip provided (of course, if you have paid by credit card, you do not have to do this!) From here on in, you are sent a small booklet with a choice of books to purchase each month. All the books are sold at a cheaper price than in high street retailers, with up to 50% off in some cases. With this booklet comes a mountain of assorted junk mail offering you all sorts of things such as insurance, free holiday brochures, etc. It also contains the club letter, informing you of your account status and advising you of that months editors choice. Editors what? Each month a book is recommended by the club and is systematically sent out to you. If you do not wish to receive the editorís choice, you MUST return the accompanying letter back to TSP having marked a box stating that you do not want it. Or you WILL be sent it!
My experience of TSP ££££££££££££££££££££
Well, having looked at the site I noticed that they were selling Lord of the Rings in three separate books, for a pound. My own copy was battered beyond recognition so that was my first choice. Next I chose a book on the History of Britain and finally a book on Myths and Legends. The total price came to approximately £6 with postage and packaging, saving me a whopping £100 off the recommended retail price!
The books turned up a couple of weeks later. They were of good quality and although paperbacks, made from thick covers (I should point out at this stage that TSP do not sell hardback books, well not many anyway!) I sent back my payment for them, with the appropriate form, duly marked with Ďplease do not send me your stinky editors choice!í
Each month, I went through the process of crossing the form and sending it back. Things were fine and I sat smugly in my bedroom looking at my bargain books and wondering what else I could prop up with them. At least that was until a few months back!
Now for some reason, completely out of the blue, they sent me an editorís choice book. I didnít want it, I had marked on their form that I didnít want it and yet they sent it anyway. This annoyed me as it meant I had to go through the process of sending it back. Deciding that it was their error, and not mine, I emailed them, requesting that they come and collect their silly book, because under no circumstances would I pay for itís return and let the moths escape from my wallet in the process. To be fair, they did email me back within a couple of days, advising me that White arrow would be coming to collect it as soon as possible. One week later, sure enough White arrow came to collect it. Now this error on their part had irritated me. I was fed up with sending their form back every month anyway, so at the same time that I told them to come and collect it, I also informed them that I wished to cancel my membership. Pretty straightforward right? Wrong! What should turn up the following month, yes thatís right another TSP booklet, assorted junk mail and an invoice for the editorís choice that they had already collected!
So not only was I still a member but they were trying to charge me for a book that I never wanted in the first place and had already given back to them!
Overall thoughts ££££££££££££££££
Well I have to say that the books I obtained from their introductory offer were of good quality and I am very happy with them. Would I go through all the hassle to get them again? Perhaps not! TSP strike me as a company that could be worth using, if only they could get their act together. If you like reading the occasional book, they may be of interest to you but hardened readers will find their range of books a bit limited. You can get some real bargains from them, particularly if you make good use of their introductory offer. But the savings to be made once you have joined are nothing spectacular really. If you are looking for hassle free Internet shopping then avoid them like the plague. But if you can put up with the general incompetence, junk mail and the occasional unwanted book dropping through the letterbox then what are you waiting for!
Here is a little comparison to give you an idea of the prices!
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (paperback):
TSP = £4.99 P & P = £2.69 TOTAL PRICE = £7.18
Blackwells Online = £5.99 P & P Free! TOTAL PRICE = £5.99
Tesco = £3.33 P & P = £2.75 TOTAL PRICE = £6.08
Country Bookshop.co.uk = £4.79 P & P £1.50 TOTAL PRICE = £6.29
Student Bookworld = £4.49 P & P = £2.95 TOTAL PRICE = £7.44
As you can see, TSP is far from the cheapest compared with other online suppliers and if you really want to save money I suggest you take a stroll down to your nearest Tesco store! Of course I did save £100 apparently on their introductory offer, which should also be taken in to consideration!
Yet another of the BCA umberella book companies - and oh what a surprise, another one to be complained about. I have to say I WAS a member of The Softback Preview and this was the one that did not give me any lip and let me leave. BUT I sympathise - it happens to thousands out there!
Laurasusanne99 17.12.2003 19:43
quite good, just a little on the long side, my eyes got bored xx
waitty 21.09.2003 15:40
That should say "Look out .." in the last sentence. Slapped wrist for sloppy typing!