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Play.com "secure" deliveries - John C. Kirk

Oct. 12th, 2007

01:50 am - Play.com "secure" deliveries

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Over the years, I've ordered a few DVDs from Play.com. They aren't my main supplier of choice (I prefer Amazon and Sendit.com), but they tend to be cheap and reliable.

More recently, my VCR stopped working, so I decided that this would be a good time to replace it with a Media Centre PC, and I ordered the Scaleo EVI2535. Unfortunately, the delivery had a few hiccups.

I ordered the machine on Monday 24th September (at 23:09), and they said that for security reasons it could only be delivered to the billing address, i.e. my home address (which is normally empty during the day) rather than my work address (where there's someone on reception 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). They were also a bit vague about the delivery date, saying that it usually takes 3-5 days. That's fine for a DVD, which can fit through the letterbox in a packet, but it's a bit more tricky for a large box like this, since I couldn't really arrange to take a particular day off work.

The following morning I had an email from Play, asking me to phone them for an additional security check. This was apparently because it's a fairly expensive item, so I had to give them a bit more info (nothing too controversial, but it was an extra hassle). The guy on the phone said that it would take 1-2 days to process that, before the order could be dispatched.

On Thursday morning (00:45), I had another email from Play, saying that the order had been posted, although I wasn't quite clear on whether this counted as Wednesday or Thursday. (According to their website, it was Wednesday.) Looking at their delivery policy, electronic items that cost over £75 require a signature on delivery, so I figured that if I wasn't here at the right time then they'd leave a card and I could go to the depot to collect it.

The following Tuesday (2nd October), I was getting ready to leave for work in the morning when the doorbell went. This was the landlord of the flat above me, who had come to visit his tenants and found a box for me sitting outside the front door, i.e. on the pavement! I'm not sure how long it had been there, but I only see two options:
a) It was delivered that morning, when I was in my flat, and the delivery person didn't even try to contact me.
b) It was delivered the day before, while I was out at work; I was back quite late on Monday evening, so maybe I didn't notice it in the dark? This would then mean that it had been sitting outside all night.

Either way, they clearly weren't following their own policy, and there was an obvious risk of theft. Hypothetically, if someone had walked off with it, Play's policy is that they have to wait for 21 days before they can trace, replace, or refund lost items. Assuming that this clock starts running when the order is posted, I would have had to wait for a further two weeks before they could even start to investigate, and then another week after that for their next delivery attempt.

Since I actually had the item, I phoned them up to comment on their poor delivery methods. It did occur to me that maybe someone else had signed for it and then put it outside (although that seemed unlikely), so I asked the guy on the phone about that. However, apparently they recently switched to a different courier company (he didn't say which one), and this new company don't collect signatures, so there was no way for them to find out what went wrong.

The guy I spoke to did apologise for what happened, but I'm not a satisfied customer. I might go back to Play for a small item (e.g. a DVD), but I strongly recommend that you avoid them for any larger purchases.

I'll save comments on the unit itself (e.g. value for money) for a separate post.

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Comments:

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From:shuripentu
Date:October 12th, 2007 09:07 am (UTC)
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To be fair to Play, it could have just been one particularly pathetic courier out of the entire courier company that Play have just started doing business with and so haven't got much feedback about yet.

You got your parcel in the end; you were understandably unhappy with the delivery; if sufficient complaint mounts up (and it's not just one lazy courier) then Play will probably change courier company.
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From:johnckirk
Date:October 12th, 2007 11:18 am (UTC)
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Yes, you're right that Play.com aren't directly responsible for the courier's actions. However, at a corporate level I disagree with their policies, which have actually led to more faff and a less secure system. In particular, I don't understand why they refused to deliver it to my work address; I think that Amazon have a better policy, where the first delivery on any credit/debit card has to go to your billing address, then later deliveries can go elsewhere.
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From:shuripentu
Date:October 12th, 2007 11:31 am (UTC)
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Now that's very interesting. Presumably then you couldn't buy presents off Play and have them sent directly to the recipient.
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From:totherme
Date:October 12th, 2007 12:14 pm (UTC)
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I'm sure I've had them deliver gifts to folk in the past...

***checks***

Yup - my order history includes gifts sent to various different places in the UK. Those addresses are still listed as "delivery addresses" in case I want to send things there again. I guess the issue johnckirk had was because of the value of the item he ordered.

I've never ordered anything that expensive from either play or amazon - so I can't compare the two for stuff like that.
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From:johnckirk
Date:October 12th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)
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I had a couple of expensive orders from Amazon.co.uk in 2004, which went to my work address, although I suppose they may have changed their policies since then:

* Encyclopaedia Brittanica (£600) - from marketplace reseller.
* Complete DS9 DVD (£340) - directly from Amazon.
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From:sulkyblue
Date:October 12th, 2007 09:11 am (UTC)
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Courier companies drive me completely nuts! Half the time they just completely fail to deliver, the other half they manage to deliver but really shouldn't. We had one turn up yesterday that we'd specifically said not to re-send. It's difficult to complain though given I happened to be there to sign for it and it saved a drive out to Heathrow on Sat morning.

The thing seems a bit scary, what are you going to use it for that a Sky+ box or equivalent couldn't do?
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From:johnckirk
Date:October 12th, 2007 11:26 am (UTC)
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I'll go into a bit more detail about the unit later, but it is basically there to do the same thing as a Sky+ or Tivo device (although I need to keep my Sky digibox as a receiver). In theory I could then use this as my DVD player too (removing an extra box from under the TV), but in practice the new one is just region 2, so I need to keep my old player for R1 discs.

More generally, this new box is running Vista, so from a career point of view it's useful to get extra experience with that.
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From:sulkyblue
Date:October 12th, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)
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lol - 750 quid seems a hell of a lot of money to pay for a sky+ box and a way of trying out Vista.

The region 1 stuff - try out VLC - it can play region 1 dvds I believe.

I look forward to reading the details
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From:karne_k
Date:October 12th, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
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Yeah, VLC seems to ignore the region settings.
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From:totherme
Date:October 12th, 2007 09:13 am (UTC)
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FWIW, I received a large package (a gift that I haven't opened yet - so I don't know what it was and hence what the value was) yesterday in an amazon branded box. Their delivery guys saw fit to leave it outside my front door too.

Earlier in the week, I received a completely different, but similarly sized (and similarly currently unopened) large amazon package delivered by a different delivery company (both identified by their "we called but you weren't in" cards), who left it with one of the neighbours.

I suspect that the quality of service you get at the local end is a local lottery, that's probably really quite difficult to control from a central point operation like play or amazon.

I doubt either of them use one company exclusively - I imagine they probably have several on the go at any one time - each managing different "types" of deliveries, and likely in constant competition with one another - competing on price and convenience with the others. I'd be interested to see how often the courier arrangements change over the course of a year.
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From:johnckirk
Date:October 12th, 2007 11:23 am (UTC)
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Ah yes, that reminds me, a belated happy birthday to you :)

I agree that individual couriers (or companies) will vary in quality, but if Play.com state on their website that they will get a signature on delivery then presumably they can get a similar guarantee from whichever courier firm they deal with? If not, they shouldn't be claiming that as their official policy! In this case, the guy I spoke to didn't just say "it will take a couple of days to request a copy of the signature", he said right away that there wouldn't be one.

Over the last week, I'd guess that the Royal Mail postal strike has caused problems, but my order was delivered before that started.
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From:totherme
Date:October 12th, 2007 12:04 pm (UTC)
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I wonder if the courier's official line might be to request a signature on delivery, but not to store that signature. Not that that's a lot of help, but it sounds like the kind of thing that might happen.
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From:totherme
Date:October 12th, 2007 12:04 pm (UTC)
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...and thanks :)
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