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Not perfect - but has me going back for more....
Member Name: azana
Date: 10/06/12, updated on 22/06/12 (440 review reads)
Advantages: great things to buy
Disadvantages: slow delivery generally
When you live in a town with the limited shopping possibilities of the one where I live, are time poor, internet shopping is a real must, especially if like me you like finding things that are a little bit different. When it comes to buying things for my home or treating myself achica, a "members only" site selling mainly homeware is often the place that I end up finding something a little bit special - I've been a member since the end of 2011, and having checked have bought things 7 times from the site in as many months. The site does, I think, have somewhat of a bad reputation - this very site provides mixed views, but in my experience though delivery has often been lengthy I've had some really lovely luxury items from achica and normally with a good saving.
Using the site:
The site works by being accessible only to those who have signed up - signing up is free, and from memory straight forward. I get daily emails, which I could unsubscribe from at any time, telling me which products are on sale. Generally items are grouped together and would tend to be high -end items, at a discount. It's quite varied and sales are normally limited to a couple of days (though the same categories do pop up time and time again), things on offer range from fashion (jewellery, clothes, handbags) to decorative items for your home through to travel offers and items for children.
I find the site fairly easy to navigate through, though you have to be logged on to view savings. The names sold are normally ones I'd recognise - like Orla Kiely, Bodum, Dualit, Kenneth Turner or John Crane, but often there can be designers I haven't heard of. Everything is illustrated with clear photos and items range in price from pennies up to thousands of pounds for an original painting.
My experience of buying:
I've bought varied items from Achica - a quick perusal of my order history reveals an Orla Kiely bag (very good saving), more Orla Kiely (some bedding I'd had my eye on for a while again with a great saving - probably fifty percent), a painting that I love, a Brabantia bread bin that I would never have paid full price for but was happy to snap up at the lowest price I could see it anywhere on the web and the most expensive item I've ever bought a £99 Gallery silver leaf mirror which is stunning I have to say - again on sale at over double that elsewhere. I'm currently awaiting delivery of a light and some pizza plates.
I can't say that buying from Achica is a quick process (though the 10% quidco does track very quickly), and some things have taken literally a couple of months to arrive, whilst others like my bag turned up very quickly within a couple of days. I don't know what Achica's business model is but I assume items may be shipped straight from the manufacturer, hence the varied waits. Everything is delivered by dpd - who are a great delivery company, the only problem I have is that generally an email arrives on the day that delivery is going to happen giving you an hour slot - which is normally very accurate, but not much good when you've left for work at 8 and get an email to say your item is arriving at 10. I've always managed to reschedule and, bar the painting which took forever have found delivery acceptable.
Luckily, so far, I've been delighted with everything I've ordered and so I can't comment on returns or how good Achica are if things go wrong - they do promise to pick up any damaged in transit items and replace. When my painting was taking a long time to arrive I was kept updated and any communication I've had with the company have been fine - but that's only my experience. Postage is a little pricey and can add £7.95 to a purchase, but there are regular free postage promotions for low weight items, and like I explained earlier quidco cashback does offset the cost.
What you can buy is a bit random, but there's normally something to tempt me, and I've had some great finds from the site, sometimes when I've been looking for a hard to find item it's just popped up on achica, there's quite often something to tempt me with parting with my cash. Paying is secure and I've never had any issues with my account or with poor communication about orders. Achica offer an incentive scheme for signing up friends via email or social network - again I can't comment on this as it's not an area of the site I've used.
I think Achica does offer some genuine savings for consumers, and is of interest to anyone who likes designer names or something a bit quirky. The same things do seem to come round and round again but often there are new things and items I wouldn't find on the High Street even if I had the time to browse. I would recommend Achica, despite some of the horror stories I've read elsewhere my experience has been good and I will, I'm sure, continue to order from there. Recommended - it's worth a look.
Update: I've now had reason to use customer service, an item I bought (light shade) wasn't quite right for the hall and being glass hard to arrange to return - achica customer service have been excellent, via email, refunded already and it's being picked up in a one hour slot to my convenience - so thumbs up.
Summary: overall I like it