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If you have used CD Wow! in the past then you will already know about the Web’s cheapest supplier of digital music, but you might not know about its recent facelift. Likewise, if you haven't been in the last couple of weeks, you might not know that they have started to sell DVDs (albeit a very limited range). If you haven’t heard of the site at all, then boy are you in for a treat!
CD Wow! are, in their words, “an international supplier of CDs”. Because they operate out of Hong Kong and send out all discs under separate cover, they neatly exploit a tax loophole and can afford to supply all single CDs at a maximum £8.99. The twenty-four unspecified region DVD titles available as an experiment are priced at £14.99. Yes, you read those right. No, they don’t charge a fortune for shipping. In fact, they charge absolutely nothing for sending a CD or DVD 6,000 miles. Unlike most other e-tailers, the price you see is the price you pay.
Point your browser at http://www.cd-wow.co.uk (or .com) and you will now be greeted with a fast-loading, well-laid out front page featuring the Top 20 biggest sellers of the moment, a selection of upcoming releases, a splash on the “Album of the Week” and a clearly labelled, efficient search facility heading up the site menu. To make the most of warehouse space, CD Wow! only carry recent releases and best-sellers. So if it’s Madonna you’re after, you’ll have a choice of five including the last couple of studio albums and the “Immaculate Collection”. But if you’re looking for something by Marillion, all you’ll find here at present will be their latest offering, “Anoraknophobia”. If necessary, the site will move it to the Bargain Basement to shift the remainder of the stock where they’ll knock another two quid off the price to join the other virtual underground transients in having a £6.99 tag. This area of the site is well worth browsing round; you might find that album you always meant to buy or thought about getting but balked at paying fifteen quid for. I’ve recently bought The Verve’s “Urban Hymns” and Depeche Mode’s “The Singles: 81-85” here for example. Information on the albums is sometimes a bit limited, but as you generally know what you want before you arrive it’s not generally a problem. You always have a track listing and that’s the only real essential.
Once you’ve filled your virtual basket, you’ll find a good range of payment options; all usual cards are there plus the Paybox, Safedoor, Splash Plastic and Smartcreds schemes. Delivery takes about three working days usually, but I have known a full week pass before hearing the letterbox rattle. And there’s another plus point - because each CD arrives in its own box, there’s no danger of your postie having to write out a card and take your enthusiastically large order back to the depot for collection. You can even track your order’s progress on the site.
CD Wow! are also blessed with a customer service department staffed by people rather than machines. On one occasion, a CD case arrived looking a little worse for wear, but a quick e-mail drew a response in real words (i.e. not a form) with the promise of a fresh case – which was of course duly delivered. When I complimented the company on retaining what Chris Locke calls “voice”, I even received a chuffed thank-you reply – which confirmed my deduction. CD Wow! is a site that truly deserves the normally gratuitous exclamation mark.