Flash
The Gorge - Flash Bristow's Website
Review: Online Shops
I shop online for almost everything! Here is a review of all online shops which I have used. All are either based in, or deliver to, the UK.

These days it is easy to obtain shopping cart software which works and is simple to use. Speed of fulfillment, customer support and condition of goods are the most important factors, so I have rated ease of use of site, and quality of customer support. It's also a legal requirement that you are provided with a receipt at the time, either by email or as a printable web page. All shops used encrypted transactions and appropriate security.

I have also awarded a star rating from 0 to 5. Five starred shops gave perfect service - four starred shops gave very good service but with one small detail wrong. Three starred shops were adequate - avoid anything lower. Unstarred shops completely failed me.

I am often asked to review stores, but those featured here are the ones I have had legitimate cause to visit. If you would like me to review your store, please send a voucher to cover a small purchase and postage, using the contact form.

5 stars: Amazon, Aquatics Online, Battery Force, Blinds2Go, Crocus, Crucial, Curtains2Go, Cyberglow, Edkins Aquatics, Figleaves, Firebox, Fotopic, The Glow Company, The Glow House, HMV UK, Lakeland, Levitron Centre, Maplin, Mobileplace, Nets2Go, Pentup Energy, Petstuff Online, Popcap Games, PWP Direct, RCS, Savile Row Co, Silvercreek Games, Suttons Seeds, Teddington Cheese, Ticket-on-line, Waitrose Wine, Water Features Online
4 stars: Craft Creations, Keen Gardener, Interflora, John Lewis, Online Turf, Repharm, Ryanair, Ticketmaster, Ticketweb, Weldricks Pharmacy
3 stars: Dog Tags, Shoes Direct,
2 stars: Birmingham NEC, BOL.com, Garden Supply Direct, Java Plants Tesco
1 star: JB Silverware, SIA Group, Watford Electronics
Unstarred: Everydayprint, Freepost Inkjet Cartridges, Gadgets.co.uk, Pet Tags Direct, Westons Home Health



ShopBusinessLast Used Ease of useServiceDespatch
Amazon
Books, CDs etc2007 Simple to use and buyWorks well and customer support is goodNext day
Aquatics Online
Aquatic supplies2003 Easy to useWorks well. Customer support proactive and helpfulFew days
Battery Force
Batteries2006 Easy to useNot needed to use customer supportCouple of days
Birmingham NEC
Event tickets2002 Unable to handle promotional offers. Ok for basics.Emails not responded to, phoneline not answered. Very poor.Few days
Blinds 2 Go
Blinds of all sorts2007 Very easy to useCustomer services very helpful, and free samples are availableCouple of days
bol.com
Books, CDs etc2002 I ended up with someone else's shopping cart. Worked second time.Online helper very slow to respond and not really interested in helping!Next day
Craft Creations
Craft accessories2004 Easy to use although cookies must be enabled. No order confirmation by email.Customer support responded by email within 1 working day; phone rings for a long time before answer.2 days. Free catalogues included.
Crocus
Garden plants and equipment2007 Easy to useUsually on time or else well communicated, great quality plants1-2 weeks
Crucial
PC memory2002 Easy to use as long as you know what you want.Works well and customer support never been neededNext day
Curtains2Go
Curtains2002 Easy to use and free samples are availableExcellent, and the free samples encouraged me to buyFew days
Cyberglow
Reflective products2003 Easy to use.Goods arrived with handwritten note and a reflective cyberglow branded clip on tag as well.Next day
Dog Tags
Rectangular dog tags2004 Easy to use.All emails they send are in HTML format. Failed to tell me my original order was declined until I chased - but quick service and great product.Two days
Edkins Aquatics
Aquaria2005 Easy to useContinually excellent, friendly advice via email, with a fast response time.1-2 days
Everydayprint
[No stars]
Business cards, flyers etc2003 Easy to use with online wizard although pricey postage charges are only revealed at the endAfter a 7 day delay I complained and was told my image size was wrong - but I'd emailed to check beforehand! Cards still not here after 12 days when needed. I cancelled the order.They claim 48 hours - but arrived 15 days after order (after I'd cancelled) - damaged and misaddressed too
Figleaves
Lingerie2001 Easy to use, sizing guides onlineHave been sent brochure regularly since orderingNext day
Firebox
Boys' Toys!2007 Fun website, easy to buy what you want and all the info you need on productsCalled cust.serv. because I needed a quick delivery; they were friendly and it came on time! Catalogue and fun Christmas Card received from them in December2-4 days
Fotopic
Prints and photographic gifts2007 Easy to use websiteFriendly customer service; when one delivery didn't come, another was sent without question (most deliveries fine though!)Few days
Garden Supply Direct
Garden plants and equipment2006 Easy to use websiteI chose them due to next day delivery - after a week of chasing they admitted the item wasn't in stock. Postage was refunded however. Phone support number withdrawn from website while I was chasing.8 days
The Glow Company
Glow sticks / glow products2004 Easy to use websiteCustomer services very helpful when I wanted to track my order2 days
The Glow House
Glow sticks / glow products2005 Easy to useVery helpful - made up order with extrasNext day
HMV UK
Music2005 Easy to use websiteEmail told me my order was sent - but it had already come!1 day
Freepost Inkjet Cartridges
[No stars]
Inkjet Cartridges2003 Various websites - all usable but dull, took a while to find correct productSent a faulty cartridge (and the website hadn't stated it was a reconditioned one, only that it was own-branded) and the replacement was wrong type. After 2 months I had another replacement, which also didn't work. Given up hoping for a refund. Customer service slow, brusque mannerA working product never arrived - all were faulty
Gadgets.co.uk
[No stars]
Gadgets2002 Easy to use - placed preorderAfter delay to my pre-order, was told they would not get many of this item and to confirm order (again) by email or it would be cancelledNever arrived
Interflora
Bouquets2002 Easy to use although chocolates etc are annoyingly upsoldEmail customer service promptSame day!
Java Plants
Aquatic plants2003 Easy to use but no email confirmationFirst purchase did not arrive for over three weeks, second purchase came on time. Email support patchy. Quality of goods was excellent however.Few weeks
JB Silverware
Silverware2005 Couldn't see delivery / postage information, so rang up to order insteadWas told it would be courier delivered and paid £5 for P&P, stayed in for delivery on named day only to find it was sent by Royal Mail recorded delivery (first class plus 66p). Courier costs not refunded when I complained, and I missed the delivery.Few days
John Lewis
Department store2007 Easy to use however once told me item was in stock when it was notPolite, but if anything goes wrong you need to chase them1-2 weeks
Keen Gardener
Bird feeders etc2006 Easy to useNo receipt given - otherwise it would be 5 starsUnder 24 hours
Lakeland
Plastics and household items2006 Easy to useNo need to useUp to 5 days with standard delivery
Levitron Centre
Levitrons2004 Easy to useWorks well and customer support extremely helpfulNext day
Maplin
Electronics2005 Item search sometimes confused key and keyboard but okCustomer service not neededNext day
Mobileplace
Mobile phone accessories2005 Easy to useCustomer service not neededNext day
Nets2Go
Net Curtains2006 Easy to useCustomer service not neededFew weeks
Online Turf
Turf and topsoil2006 Easy to order turfMy AM delivery came at 3.45pm, but online chat support and phonecalls kept me informed, and AM premium charge was refundedNext day
Pent Up Energy
Batteries2006 Easy to useNo problemsFew days, but delivery is free
Petstuff Online
Pet supplies2005 Easy to useNo problems2 working days (they quoted 3-5 days)
Pet Tags Direct
[No stars]
Pet ID Tags2004 Easy to use, but available characters not displayed so I asked for an @ which they can't engraveImpossible to get your money back from a cancelled order without paying a fee - they use Natwest FastPay for transactionsSite says 48 hours - but their engraver was on holiday when I ordered
Popcap games
PC games2002 Works well, fulfilled at once over internetWorks well and customer support never been needed[Online]
PWP Direct
Disposable urinal bags2004 Easy to useCustomer support quick and friendlyNext day
RCS
Business cards and printing2006 Easy to useVery good - rang to check quality - and great quality itemsFew days - you can pay 50% extra for fast turnaround
Repharm
Legal highs2002 Easy to useCustomer support never been needed however they spam me regularlyFew days
Ryanair
Flights2001 Requires a lot of information but then fulfilled at once over internetPhone service good[Online]
Savile Row Co
Shirts etc2007 Easy to select the type and size you want (and product quality excellent)Email service goodFew days
Shoes Direct
Shoes2006 Easy to useNot delivered on time, no contact until I chased. Item not in stock despite being able to order it.12 days - though website said 7
SIA group
Auction2002 Had to register to view auctions; multiple notification emails sent out in errorNo delivery charge was mentioned until after I won an item, which eventually doubled its cost.Few days
Silvercreek games
PC games2001 Easy to use, fulfilled at once over internetWorks well and customer support never been needed[Online]
Suttons Seeds
Seeds and plants2006 Easy to useGood and postage is included so easy to see what you're payingTwo days
Teddington Cheese
Cheese2003 Easy to useExcellent, friendly support offering the chance to sample other cheeses tooFew days
Tesco
Groceries2002 Good mechanism to choose delivery time and products but final price not determined until deliveryMost items arrived as requested but some were billed at special offer prices when similar items were not. Inappropriate substitutions (e.g. not vegetarian). Delivery was lateFew days
Ticketmaster
Event tickets2002 Easy to use although tricky to specify seats; disabled bookings must be done by phoneCustomer service good, although advice is usually "check with the venue"Next day
Ticketweb
Event tickets2002 Easy to useMy tickets were sent out 1st class when I'd paid for special delivery; on complaint the postage was promptly refundedNext day
Ticket-on-line
LUL travelcards2002 Easy to useWorks well and customer support never been neededNext day
Waitrose Wine
Wine2005 Easy to useDelivery can take a week but you are notified of this1 Week
Water Features Online
Pond equipment2006 Easy to useDelivery man carried it in for me!2 days
Watford Electronics
Computers, periferals etc2005 Easy to useEmail support lousy; phone support ok if you persist. Took 3 attempts to send me a computer from stock. Second time of using I was sent a PC which needed an engineer visit to finish build. Poor quality.Few weeks
Weldricks Pharmacy
Medical and mobility supplies2003 Easy to use but postage on my item was wrong; had to call and check that it would be billed correctlyEfficient phone supportFew days
Westons Home Health
[No stars]
Medical and mobility supplies2003 Conflicting delivery times listed on Terms pageAwful service; emailing a question gets an autoreply saying it will be 3-4 days before a human answers, except when I asked for a phone number and received a snappy letter saying it is email support only. Original query went unanswered.Gave up trying to order, but website suggests it should take a week

This page last updated: 26 December 2007



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