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Christmas in a Box!
Member Name: sy2kgbr
Advantages: Lots to pick from, discount vouchers available, fast service, no quibble refund policy.
Disadvantages: Can sometimes get a slightly cheaper price elsewhere if you look hard enough.
I suppose the best way to describe Firebox's range of products is to call them all gadgets. I don't know about you, but every time I walked into The Gadget Shop on the high street, my friends and I would coo over the different items but never dream of buying them for anyone. With Firebox, there is a wow factor about many of the products, but the difference is that you can actually picture them being really great presents for people you know. I guess the company must have better buyers!
If you have money to blow, £2,195.95 will get you a Space Invaders Arcade Machine. Recreate a bit of childhood fun in your own home and dent your bank balance all at the same time.
For those of you watching the pennies, items generally start from £4.95 (a bit cheaper in the sale, sometimes). For this price tag you can get yourself a MoPod, which is a funny-looking creature sitting in a dome, that spins and flashes every time a call comes in on your phone. It's a key ring too. Nice stocking filler for someone?
RANGE OF PRODUCTS
A lot of new gadgets appear on all of the big players' websites, but a lot of them appear on Firebox first. Every time I've visited, I've always found something new that's made me think, "Wow, that's a brilliant idea!" Unfortunately, this year a lot of the fun products have been sold out already and new stock isn't due to arrive until next year. Some of these products can be found on competitors' sites, but a lot have just sold out properly everywhere. Firebox has been around for a long time, but it's only this year that I've heard people in the street talking about it, and it's only this year that I've found things I want to buy aren't necessarily available to order.
One of the items I wanted to get, for example, was a special 'dunking mug'. You can drink your tea out of it, and the base has a special slot for you to store your yummy digestive biscuits, rather than leaving them on the office table to get nicked by a passing greedy colleague. Unfortunately, this is now out of stock until January. The pink i-dog is out of stock too, but you can still buy a white i-dog or one of the i-pups for either roughly £30 or £15, depending which version you get. If you haven't heard of the i-pet, it's a special electronic creature that works with your iPod as speakers and also as a cute animal!
£29.95 will get you a 'beerbelly' - which is the funky new modern version of the 90s beer hat. Rather than walk around like a bit of a muppet with cans stuck to your head, the beerbelly is an ingenious way of hiding your drink as an extra layer of fat - it's a fab novelty present for the serious drinker in the family (not to be bought for someone with drinking problems though).
There are lots of funny ideas like this on Firebox, but if you can't make your mind up, you can buy gift vouchers. I personally wouldn't though, since these are only available in the e-voucher format, and they do expire (a year after purchase). Each to his or her own though!
VALUE FOR MONEY
If you see something on Firebox, chances are that the same product is up for grabs on IWantOneOfThose.com, and it's worth comparing prices as sometimes one site will be a couple of quid cheaper. Firebox tends to be reasonably priced - you'll rarely find a bargain up for grabs (unless you're shopping in the sale!) - but it's not exceptional value for money. So so. There are a few tips to make your purchase smarter though.
£5 gift vouchers are a-plenty: you can either send off for a free catalogue and use the voucher code on the back (they normally include a £5 voucher code on their catalogues; if you get a £1 voucher you're really unlucky) or have a hunt around on the internet. MoneySavingExpert.com is a good place to go to hunt around for Firebox codes. There are usually special promolinks on Firebox where you can type in your email address and have a £5 voucher sent to you, and MSE is normally a good place to find out details of these.
£5 will cover standard delivery and give you an extra quid off your purchase, so it's worth tracking down one of these vouchers before ordering. I've also recently started using Quidco.com to get cashback, and this is the equivalent of 10% of what you spend at Firebox. I haven't been using the site long enough to comment if they'll pay out, but there are lots of other cashback sites on the internet, and since Firebox is a big name, it's definitely worth signing up for one of these schemes, if you're not already a member.
EASE OF USE
The thing I like best about Firebox is the "Show Me Everything" feature. You can see every single item for sale on one page - yes, it does take some downloading, but I find it really useful. If I have a person in mind, but not a specific gift idea, I like to open up this page and scroll down until something catches my eye. Not all the other gadget sites have this feature - you have to look at things in a particular category or price bracket. Here you can just see everything.
If too much choice is off-putting, the site is divided up into categories too: gadgets, boys’ toys, tech toys, lifestyle, radio control, audio, edible, retro, games, work:play, party and gifts. Alternatively, you can browse by price bracket (ranging from "Under £10" to "how much?!") or search by keyword. If you're really stuck and don't want to try my method of skimming the everything page, there's a handy gift finder feature on the site. It's currently linked to under the search options as "Christmas gift finder", but it's there all year round (without the "Christmas" part, obviously!) if you get stuck.
You can add items to your basket, take things to checkout and apply your voucher code to calculate the final price, before being forced to input your details. With some sites you have to sign in or register first, and I find this quite annoying sometimes.
I've never had a problem with an order, so can't really comment on this aspect, as I've never had to get in touch to dispute an order. What I will say though, is that everything I've ordered from Firebox has always been dispatched fairly quickly and arrived when I've expected it to.
When placing your order, there are four options. The first is standard delivery, and costs £3.95. For £5.95, you can request express delivery, and for £7.95 you can request an a.m. or p.m. express delivery slot.
The site quotes standard delivery as taking roughly 2 to 4 working days. In my experience, it takes a couple of days for your order to be put together, then after it gets dispatched, it pretty much turns up the next day as it's done by Royal Mail 1st Class. For those of you who can't wait to get your hands on your new gadgets and gizmos, express delivery is only a couple of quid more, and it's done through Citylink. I've never been tempted by either of the two £7.95 options, but then again, I'm normally good and order my gifts for other people in time for the Royal Mail to send them to me by normal post!
It's always quite obvious that you've ordered from Firebox as the packaging matches their bright orange site colour. The boxes tend to be quite sturdy and usually have some free sweeties inside!
If you find yourself stuck trying to think of a present for a friend or family member who seems to have everything already, this site is definitely worth a nosey. There are loads of interesting presents to be found for the young at heart, or actual young children. I've used Firebox countless times without problems, and I would definitely recommend them.
Summary: All the latest gadgets and gizmos for the young at heart, with price tags to meet all budgets.