I’ve been using www.play.com for a number of years, up till about six months ago I can’t say i ever really had a problem with them. In the past six months though, I’ve noticed a marked increase in the number of orders I place with them that are dispatched but never arrive. Forcing me to then have to wait 21 days before they can send out replacements.
Up until a month ago this wouldn’t have really bothered me … hey shit happens right? I mean as long as you know the they’re doing something about it and a replacement is on the way, it’s not the end of the world, right?
Several months ago I pre-ordered Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, a game I’ve been looking forward to playing for several reasons – the fact that I’m part of a global gaming team that is supposed to be competing against other teams is only one of the reason’s I made sure I got my pre-order in pretty early! trusting that Play would send it out on time and I’d be amongst the first to get it installed and my rig set up. I knew something was wrong when the game was finally released at the end of September and not only had I not received it but I’d not received an email telling me it had been dispatched. So I logged onto my Play.com account and went to have a look at my order history to find that the item was marked as “Posted”.
This felt odd … I’d never had play send me something without me being sent a dispatch notification, so I figured I’d call them up to see what was going on and when I was likely to receive it. The customer services representative that I spoke to informed me that I had to wait 21 days before they could send out a replacement, he didn’t offer me any other details at the time, and simply told me the item had been posted and there wasn’t anything they could do until the 21 days had elapsed. I informed him that I had not received a dispatch notification email which didn’t seem to bother him, and in fact he was quite dismissive ( apparently emails do get lost ). I hung up feeling a bit cheesed off. Later that day I spoke to a colleague of mine who is also an avid FPS gamer and he asked me how I was getting on with QuakeWars, when I told him I hadn’t received it he basically filled me in on how he had given up using Play.com long ago because he felt they were dishonest in how they represent what has actually gone wrong when an order goes missing.
This all piqued my interest so several hours later on the same day I called Play.com up again and spoke to a different customer services representative and basically told her that my order hadn’t arrived, I hadn’t received a dispatch notification and the item was marked as POSTED in my account history. She apologised profusely and told me the item was never sent out, she told me she had just checked on the system, and although my account shows it as POSTED it was never dispatched, there was some kind of glitch at the warehouse. To her credit she was very polite and and very apologetic however she was confused as to why I hadn’t been told this earlier in the day when I had spoken to one of her colleagues. She told me the best thing to do was to cancel that order, and place it again, and they would see to it that it was dispatched straight away. So I said ok, and went ahead and did that. I should point out that this was on the 3rd of October.
Anyway’s I re-placed the order and ordered an additional item at the same time, and I figured these items would arrive pretty soon after that. Sadly the postal strike struck, and being the reasonable guy I am … I figured any delay this time was probably a result of the strike. I hadn’t really received any post in about ten days, so I didn’t feel the need to chase Play up.
Anyway this weekend I checked my account and once again noticed that the QuakeWars was marked as Posted, I went and checked my email account and found there wasn’t a dispatch notification for it, but there was one for the other item I had ordered. Mmmm de-ja-vu? at this point I called them up again and asked what was going on, I was immediately informed that for some reason the item had not been sent out. At this point I got a bit irate and asked, as one might, then why is it marked as Posted ( which means I can’t cancel the order ). He said he couldn’t explain that but that he would send an email to the warehouse to have the item sent out immediately. I hung up the phone in disgust, and then interestingly … I was still on the view my account page on Play.com … suddenly the last two items I had ordered changed status from Posted to Missing, It wasn’t fucking missing!!! They had never sent it out! So picked up the phone and called them up again … I was put through to the same guy I had spoken to moments earlier and he said he had changed the status of the item so that the warehouse would send out a replacement but the way the system works is it marks that item and any subsequent orders with the same state … I told him that made no sense whatsoever. He assured me I would get a dispatch notification soon and that the item would be sent out … as it stands I still can’t cancel my order, they have still charged me for the item … and guess what the item is once again marked as Posted … and I have not received a dispatch notification.
What troubles me the most about this whole situation is the total disconnect between their order placing/billing system and their dispatch/fulfillment system, it seems apparent that they bill individuals at the point at which the warehouse is sent the order but they never confirm whether or not the item has actually been sent out. What upsets me the most is after three attempts they still have failed to send out the item I ordered. They’re very quick to bill people, but they don’t check to see if they have actually sent out the items.
The cynic in me suspects that what’s actually happening is that due to the sheer volume of orders they receive, they mark items as in stock, or dispatched within 24 hours, when the reality is the items are not in stock, but customers think that they’ve posted off, when they don’t arrive we call up and are told to wait 21 days and then a replacement will be sent out – when in actual fact the item was never actually sent out until they got it in stock again.
So either Play.com is suffering from a spate of neolithic incompetence, or they’re just plain dishonest, in either case I wont ever use them again!
This morning I tried once again to call their customer support number again …. only to get the message “This service is temporarily unavailable” … No Shit!
I’m going to try to get the order canceled again today and get my money back off them, at which point I’ll place an order with www.amazon.co.uk, and I strongly urge people who have had problems receiving items from Play.com to delve a little deeper and if you find your being treated as I have, switch to a more competent vendor or one that has more integrity – whichever way you prefer to look at it.