Saturday, December 16, 2006

HMV website goes rubbish

The service offered by the HMV online store has gone seriously downhill. This was one of the first online shopping sites I ever used, and until recently have always found them to be excellent. Good stock, efficient searching, reasonable prices and quick accurate delivery. But my last two orders with them have been far from satisfactory.

In the first of these two, I ordered about 8 CDs. They were all listed on their website as “Normally despatched in 3-5 days”. As I had selected a budget (free) shipping option I took this to mean that the CDs were in stock but would be sent out less quickly than express shipping. However, three of these CDs were assigned the status “On Special Order With Our Suppliers”. That didn’t sound like something that is going to be sent in a few days. The other 5 were sent within a few days, but one of them was a completely incorrect CD. For the “Special Order” discs, I waited 2 weeks before giving up and cancelling the remaining order. During this time I received one vague eMail about their supplier ordering process in general, but with nothing specific about my CDs or how long they were expected to take.

The second order consisted of 3 items. Again, all items were listed on the site as “Normally despatched in 3-5 days”. And what a surprise, all three items went into the status “On Special Order With Our Suppliers”. A week later, nothing had progressed, apart from the same waffly eMail about their internal ordering system. After 9 days I was about to give up again, when the status of one of the CDs changed to “Complete, will be despatched in accordance with selected shipping option”. What their definition of “complete” is, I have no idea. I don't think it’s complete until I have the CD. It hasn’t even been shipped, so in what sense is it complete? The other two items are still on “Special Order” with no information whatsoever about how much longer it will take.

So I’ve had enough of HMV now. I think I will wait for my complete CD to be really completed, then cancel everything else, and never go back to the website again. It’s a shame because they used to be so good. Maybe there’s just too much competition now and they can’t keep up.

It’s not having to wait for deliveries, that’s perfectly understandable, if you know before you order. But their published delivery times are ridiculously optimistic, maybe even wilfully misleading. In fact they clearly have no idea at all about how long things will take. Obviously they keep very little stock at all, and just order everything as and when the customer does. This is great for cutting their warehouse costs, but unfortunately damages their reputation as a reliable place to buy things. I buy a LOT of music, and as from now, sadly, none of that will be going to HMV. For their sake I hope their cost savings cover their lost business.