John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk
johnckirk

Play.com "secure" deliveries

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.
Tags: rant, security
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