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My husband decided 6 months ago to bite the bullet and leave his stable job to go into the big wide world on his own, be his own boss in other words. I fully supported his decision knowing that he was good at his job as a ground worker/builder and that he would have no problem getting the work in.
Now he had branched out on his own it meant that he had to do everything himself such as ordering materials, giving quotations and invoicing. This is where I come into the equation. Having spent the past 12 years or so working in finance I decided to put all my knowledge and experience to good use and help Barry with the administrative tasks which I knew he would hate doing. Plus he would never manage with the little time he had left in the evening and there was no point paying someone else to do his books when I could easily manage myself.
To help get our business running smoothly we needed a reliable supplier of office stationery and consumables and I remembered a company that I had used at my old place of work. I wasn’t sure if they had a website so I had a quick browse on the internet and I was pleased to see that yes indeed Viking Direct were accessible on the web so I began to order everything we needed to set up our home office.
You can find the website by logging onto www.viking-direct.co.uk. Please remember to include the hyphen otherwise you will end up on another site, which sells Viking costumes and weaponry for dressing up. The site is quick loading and extremely easy to navigate. with just the right amount of graphics on screen to allow you to see what you are buying.
Your first port of call is the Homepage and here you will find all the current offers on at the time. When you place an order you will get a free gift which is shown on the homepage and this sometimes entails ordering a specific item such as 10 boxes of copier paper, or sometimes you receive a free gift simply for placing an order and at times such as this you are not sent a minimum order price so you could just order 1 pencil and still receive the free gift. I recently took up a fantastic offer, which was place, an order and get a ream of paper for just 9p (a maximum of 10 reams per person). The paper was top quality stuff and normally retailed at £9.99 a ream so I got a good deal, even if the kids end up drawing on it, you’d never be able to buy scrap paper as cheap as that.
You will also find on the homepage the link to contact customer services should you have a query of any kind. You can either call them on a freephone number or by my own preferred method, email. This way you have written confirmation of your query and can relate to that should you need to at any time. In the short time I have been using Viking Direct I am happy to report that I haven’t had to use this facility.
When you decide you want to order you can choose which way you want to do so. There are 2 versions of the website to choose from; Consumer and Business User. As a regular consumer you don’t need to open an account, just simply order your goods, provide payment and delivery address details and your items are sent, no questions asked. As a business user however, the process is slightly different whereas you have to open a business account. For this you need to register with Viking Direct, which is simplicity in itself. Just provide various details such as login name and a password of your choice as well as address and payment details. You have the choice of paying by debit or credit
card, or you can buy your goods on 30-day credit, whereby you will be sent an invoice that will need to be paid the following month. To use this credit facility you will need to fill in a credit application form and send it back to the credit control department. In this form you will have to give either a trade reference or you can send in a couple of utility bills, this is purely for identification purposes so that they can confirm the address is correct and you are who you say you are. Once you have completed this form you can fax it to Viking Direct or send it by post and on receipt they will check the details and your account will be opened. You will receive your new account number and a welcome pack, which includes an extensive catalogue containing every office item you could ever imagine, in the post a few days later. After that you are ready to place an order if you haven’t done so already. Any orders placed prior to you returning the credit form will be processed as soon as your account has been confirmed.
As a business user you will be required to log in to the site on your first visit by entering your name and password, after that the website will remember your details so you don’t need to have to keep entering them every time you visit.
Also on the homepage you will find a list showing all departments including office supplies, furniture, and kitchen and canteen supplies to name but a few. Below each list heading is a another list displaying what items you can order in this category, for example under the Office Supplies heading you will find listed paper, pens and pencils, filing supplies and many more. To start your search for products you can click on the item you required and browse around to find your chosen product or alternatively you can order by product code if you have a catalogue at hand. Alternatively use their quick search facility by typing in a product of your choice. This will shoot up a short list showing relevant categories that match your product description, simply click on the one that you are looking for and that’s as difficult as it gets.
What I usually do is flick through the catalogue and compile a list of what I need and write the codes down before ordering on the Internet. It is probably more time consuming this way, but I have found in the past that my computer can be a bit temperamental and crashes willy nilly, so to avoid this I try to make the task a little less laborious. Ordering by product code is relatively painless, you are taken to a little page where there are a number of blank fields allowing you to add quite a substantial list of items, simply type in the product number and the quantity you desire and go onto the next product. Once you are satisfied you have ordered everything you can either add to list which is quite handy if you only order at certain times of the week and you remember something out of the blue. Add this product to the list and when you are ready to place more to your order, this will show up in your trolley. When you are ready to continue with your order you can go straight to the checkout and confirm your order.
If you make any mistakes at any time, no need to worry as you can make amendments even as far up as the checkout page, for example I got a bit confused once when ordering staples I wanted a box of 1000, but instead of entering 1 as in box I entered 1000 so would have received 1000 boxes. Luckily I was quick to notice my mistake and was able to amend it before sending my order. That’s why it’s vital you double-check your order before sending it off to be processed.
Once confirming your order you will need to go through a couple more painless processes, you will need to choose how you want to pay, again you can choose to pay online via credit card, or if you are an account holder you can choose to have an invoice sent to you with your delivery. Then you will need to confirm where you want your goods sent, they won’t just presume your order is required to arrive at your normal address, which is good if you work for a company with various departments all over the UK.
As soon as your order has been sent, you will receive a confirmation order letting you know that your order is in the motions of being processed, subject to all checks being carried out like checking to see if your account is up to date if you have one. Shortly afterwards you will receive another order saying that it has been processed and is being prepared for delivery.
Delivery is very reliable and what’s more it is free if your order is over £35 (inclusive of vat). For orders below £35 then there is a small charge of £3.50. For people living in the Channel Islands then delivery is only free when you spend over £175, for orders below that then the cost is £11.75. So far I have had no complaints in this area in fact just the other night I placed an order for some packing tape at 6pm thinking it would be too late to be delivered the next day, but lo and behold it arrived by courier the following afternoon. I was well impressed. The only time I have had an item delivered later than the following day is when I ordered an office chair and a message flagged up telling me that there was a slight delay with this item as they were waiting on more coming in stock. They gave me the opportunity to order a substitute product, or I could wait. I decided to wait thinking it could be anything up to 3 weeks before it arrived, but in reality it reached me 4 days later I was happy at this because I was informed beforehand, something a few companies could learn from this. There is an order tracking facility which you can use to check on your items, but I haven't had to use this so can't really comment. The fact I've never had to use it speaks for itself.
At the other end of the spectrum is returns. I’ve not had the misfortune yet to send anything back, well not personally anyway. When I last worked in an office 3 years ago I can recall having to return some paper as the wrong product was sent, but the whole process was quick and somewhat effortless. A courier was sent out the following day to collect the offending items while dropping off the correct order and we were given a credit note to cancel out the wrongly invoiced items as well as a new invoice. Simple as that. If their delivery and order service is anything to go by then I am sure that the returns process is quick and efficient too.
Although I mentioned earlier that I have never used customer services this is a teeny fib, I had to contact them to change our address as we have recently moved. I found the customer advisor to be very friendly, and she didn’t sound like she was reading from a script like other companies I could name. She even threw in a remark like “hope you’re happy in your new home” which I thought was lovely. Simple but nice.
On this website a feature that I use a lot is order history. As I tend to re-order the same products each time I can look up previous orders and click on your chosen order and it will bring up the products you ordered. If the one you desire is on that list you have the option of adding it to your list or trolley. No having to browse the whole site or flick through the catalogue to find it.
The range of products at Viking Direct is pretty extensive, the saying “like a kid in a sweetshop” springs to mind as I browse their huge display. There are prices to suit every budget, cheaper brands are available if you’re a bit of a tightwad like myself and don’t see the need of paying high prices for items that are going to end up in the bin at some stage. Who wants to pay £34.00 for a box of envelopes when you can get them for considerably less. They’re only going to end up in a paper shredder for goodness sake, who cares if they’re made by Basildon Bond?
I have saved a small fortune on ink cartridges for my printer since using this website. I used to use Lexmark cartridges as I thought they were the best, but was recommended Viking Directs own ink cartridges as an alternative, and yes they are just the same, but come with a more attractive price tag.
There are loads more products that you can buy, you can even build your own office as they supply desks, shelving, cupboards, you name it and they are all at great prices. One thing I forgot to mention as well is that, if you order online you automatically receive a discount on each of your product lines. You don’t if you order by phone or fax, so worth remembering if you should ever want to order anything from Viking. It doesn’t matter if you have a home office or a multi-million business, big or small you can order from Viking. The price shown online is exclusive of VAT so bear this in mind when you are placing an order. Your total order value will be calculated right at the end showing VAT.
We recently bought a new telephone from Viking Direct as our other one gave up the ghost and stopped working. I spent a good day trawling various stores looking for a caller ID telephone with in-built ansaphone and the cheapest I found on the high street was £75. Viking Direct were selling the same version for £38.50 so I decided to snap it up there and then. So you can see for yourself that Viking Direct is very competitive, but this doesn’t mean that you are getting bad service, the opposite in fact.
As well as getting value for money, there are other ways you can benefit from using this site. If you collect nectar points you will receive 250 bonus points for registering with Viking Direct as well as receiving points with every order you place. Simply provide your nectar card details and your points will be added to your account. As well as this, Viking have an affiliate programme which allows you to earn money by displaying a link to their website onto your own website. Any members that click on this link will earn you 5% of sales generated through this link. I have yet to join this scheme, but as soon as I do I will let you know how it works for me.
All that is left for me to say is that I will be using this site for a long time to come. My whole shopping experience has been very pleasant, and sad as I am, I always look forward to the balding, plump courier that arrives with gifts aplenty for my ever-expanding office. It’s just as well my husband has the work coming in, as there is so much to choose from. There has to be other perks to being a secretary other than sleeping with the boss. :OP