Good in some ways, bad in others.

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Elixe_Idej's review of Oxendales www.oxendales.com

★★★★☆

“Good in some ways, bad in others.”

Written on: 16/01/2014 by Elixe_Idej (4 reviews written)

Oxendales is a home shopping catalogue marketed at women, which sells clothing. Oxendales is one of many 'fronts' of the same catalogue company (J D Williams) and you can buy other types of items, such as furniture and electronics, from these other catalogues through the Oxendales website using your Oxendales account. Male customers should perhaps look to one of these other 'fronts' to shop with, Jacamo for example, though all items from Jacamo are available on Oxendales and vice-versa. Items can be bought by either using an order form which you send by post, or using their website. I only ever use the website so all of my three years of experiences with Oxendales come from that perspective.
Orders can be placed with a single payment from a credit/debit card or by applying the value of the goods to your credit account (which is how most people will shop). This credit account is created automatically when you create an online account, and a credit limit generated immediately based on your credit rating. As you would expect from a credit account it increases the credit limit as time goes on if payments are made on time. Mine started at £250 and is now at £2500. If your first order is for something expensive like a TV, then you can expect to be asked for a deposit before they will dispatch the order (unless you have a very good credit rating). A statement is created every four weeks (13 each year) with a 'minimum payment' each time. If you pay on time, then your credit limit will be upgraded periodically to longer repayment periods, which are beneficial in the respect that the minimum payment is reduced. I am currently repaying over five years, which is the maximum. My minimum payment appears to increase by £5 for every £100 owed, but as a new customer the minimum payment will be much higher than that.
The minimum payment is calculated based on what you owe and then has interest added on. It is stated that the interest rate is 34.1% APR variable. However, on each statement it appears to be much higher. For example, my current statement has a minimum payment of £50, and £29 of that is interest. This confuses me as that's much more than 34% interest, but then I don't really understand how such things are calculated.
The minimum payment will remain fixed each statement no matter how much you pay off, until you order something else and then it is recalculated to reflect what you now owe. If you buy things regularly then you won't notice this, but if you are like me and only place an order once or twice each year then you will spot this quickly. It's not a problem as such, just a strange quirk.
Payments can be made through Direct Debit, the Post Office, over the phone, on the website, and just about every other way short of cash-by-carrier-pigeon. It should be noted that from 7th Feb 2014, the APR will only be 34.1% for customers who pay by direct debit. Everyone else will have to put up with 37.68% APR.
The website is straight-forward enough to use and I have no complaints about it. There is also a mobile friendly version of the website, which I personally find to be clumsy.
Catalogues are sent to you through the post every so often, and as someone who uses only the website I do wish there was a way to 'opt out' of receiving these catalogues, they are just wasting paper. It would also be nice if there was a 'paperless billing' option available.
The price of items is notably higher than the high street, and if you compare prices then you will feel ripped off, especially when you consider how much interest you will be paying on top of the base price. In my opinion you should only use a catalogue like this if you really cannot afford to buy things on the high street.
Orders are straight-forward with items dispatched are varying times. It could take one day or one week for your order to be sent to you depending on what you buy. Most goods are sent by the courier company Hermes, DVDs and games are sent by Royal Mail 2nd class post, and bulky items like furniture is delivered by NightFreight (and usually arrives at 7am in my experience).
Returns are simple to arrange through the website or by phone, just tick the appropriate reason for return on the receipt and put it in the package before you seal it up again and wait for the courier to pick it up the next day.
I have only ever had problems twice with anything they sent to me (out of hundreds of items). The first was when a DVD boxset was lost in the post. They were slow to deal with this and eventually sent out a letter which I had to write on the back of with a written and signed statement that the boxset had not arrived. It gave me the distinct impression that they did not believe me. For a whole year after that they refused to send me anything that would be sent to me by post, and just cancelled such items from my orders without explanation.
The second problem I had was when I ordered a set of DIY bookshelves. They arrived in two boxes, one for the tall vertical pieces and the other for the shorter horizontal pieces. One of the tall side panels was snapped in half (!), and the shorter pieces were the wrong colour. The replacement arrived two days later and there were no further problems.
So in summary, a decent enough place to shop, but only if you have little alternative. Generally speaking you should have few problems if you decide to shop with Oxendales, but the prices are huge even before the interest is added on. Use with caution and be mindful that everything you buy is more debt for you to pay off.

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