While A1 Books offers an extensive array of merchandise, there is nothing particularly spectacular about the site. What’s worse is the company’s lack of website features and poor customer service makes A1 Books drop from an acceptable place to buy your books down to a place you’d likely want to avoid. When there are so many other competitors in the online bookstore market, it just seems pointless to shop at a simply mediocre store with such disappointing customer service.
The product selection is the store’s strongest feature, as they allow users to buy used books, textbooks and new titles as well as a variety of other merchandise. You can also sell items on the site, but if you want to sell or buy any rare or autographed titles, you’d better take your business elsewhere as the store does not provide for these options.
The website is somewhat bland, but what’s worse is the lack of features provided for the shoppers and the relative slow speed of the site. The basic search is extremely basic and there is no advanced search feature at all. Browsing only allows shoppers to drill down by category and then sub-category before leaving them with a massive list of all titles that fit that description.
The actual book pages are also disappointing, as there are no wishlist options, no professional opinions and no customer reviews. To make matters worse, the descriptions vary from quotes on the book cover to abstracts about the author --it seems they have only copied text from the back of the book. All you can really do from the product page is read a vaguely related description of the book, opt to sell your book on the site or choose which of the available seller copies you’d like to buy.
On the bright side, the store does have a number of sales and highlights them on the home page.
A1Books has average shipping options. The price varies by seller and there are no overnight options. You can track your items and the shipping prices are at least made clear before check out. It is somewhat disappointing though that there are no gift options.
While the site fails to offer gift cards, which seems a basic service to provide customers, their payment options are varied enough to be suitable. The secure site accepts all major credit cards, offers coupon codes and they also work with both PayPal and Google Checkout.
The site has an extensive list of FAQs, but their only other support option is through their help desk. While this would ordinarily be an acceptable solution, you can only log in if you have your order number and zip code on hand. This means if you have any unanswered questions before you place an order, or if you lose your order number, you cannot get support from the company. This is an absolutely unacceptable support solution for any online retailer, and this alone should cause anyone to be wary of doing business with the company.
The returns policy is also lackluster. Of 12 online bookstores reviewed, this is one of only two that charges a restocking fee for returned items. While their fee is only 10%, it still seems silly to make a customer pay for shipping both ways and then ask them for 10% of their purchase price only to put the item back into a warehouse. The 30 day return window is at least a lengthy enough amount of time for customers to choose whether to return or keep their titles, but with the restocking fee, it seems most people would rather just keep the item, even if they are unhappy with it.
A1 Books needs to do a lot of work in their customer service and returns sections before they can even begin worrying about the problems with their website. Between all of these downfalls, their few strengths are simply too unimpressive to make the site remotely competitive with the other shops in this sector. If you are considering buying any books or related merchandise online, do yourself a favor and shop somewhere else.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™