Easy to use, good communication, expensive shipping
Jun 13, 2005
I am always looking for ways to reduce the cost of stocking and maintaining my saltwater aquarium. Sometimes local fish stores have good deals or sales, but typically on-line store prices will be lower with their larger customer base and lower overhead. Drs. Foster and Smith is no exception. I recently decided to purchase a refractometer for measuring the salinity of my SW tank and the cheapest I could find locally was $79. The good doctors offered one for sale at $42.99 that several local reefers had been using for months with very good satisfaction. So I journeyed over to their website:
This is a very extensive website with sections for dogs, cats, fish, pharmacy, birds, reptiles, small pets, ponds, wild birds and articles. Despite the large size of the site, it is easy to navigate. I went up to the search box and typed in refractometer and I was quickly presented many choices.
The ordering process:
I found the one I wanted and, typed in 1 for quantity and clicked on the add to cart button. Easy. I then decided to get some reef safe epoxy, I typed it in the search, found the one I wanted, typed 1 in for quantity and added it to the cart.
Since I was a first time customer I was then presented the screens necessary to become a customer. This was a very straight forward process and was completed in less than 5 minutes.
I put in my credit card info, completed the order and got a confirmation page that my order had been received. I also received a confirmation email a few minutes later saying my order had been placed.
Shipping and packaging:
I chose regular shipping which was stated as 5-7 business days. I ordered on a Sunday night, June 5th, and received the package the following Monday, so 6 business days from the time of the order. I was notified when my order shipped by email, but it wasn't shipped until June 9th.
It was a little odd they waited that long to ship my order, as it was two common items, but it did get here in the advertised window of delivery.
The package was protected very well and arrived in excellent condition. The cardboard box was full of styrofoam peanuts to protect the epoxy and refractometer and taped well.
My only complaints about shipping was that I could not choose the shipping company for regular shipping and the shipping charge was 8.99. I've ordered similarly priced items from other on-line stores and their shipping is usually 5.95 or 6.95. These are pretty minor complaints.
Every aquarium on-line site I've ordered from in the past has included a small extra or a coupon for my next order. It is usually nothing great, but it is kind of cool. The good doctors decided not to follow this trend.
They did include one of their aquarium catalogs and three advertisements for stamps, a sleep number bed and coffee? Weird huh?
I flipped quickly through their catalog and was sad to discover that they carry and RECOMMEND the Aquarium Systems SeaClone Protein Skimmer SCPS-100
. With the good doctors trying to project a professional image, you would think they would avoid recommending lousy products.
On a positive note, they included a great invoice and a return sticker already printed, which hints that they are very good about returns. I can't verify that, but it looks good on the surface, rather than the company hiding their return information deep on their website or behind a long telephone menu.
The disappointing extras and the high cost of shipping subtract one star of rating from this otherwise excellent online store. If they have something at the lowest price I can find, I'll be very happy to order from them again.
I have heard rumors that the Liveaquaria.com section of their website sometimes has delivery and packaging problems with live fish, but I have never seen this personally. Please consider this review as only a commentary on their dry goods and equipment sections.
My Other Aquarium Related Reviews:
Salifert pH test kit
Salifert KH/Alkalinity Test Kit
Salifert Calcium Test Kit
Salifert Magnesium Test Kit
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals FasTesT pH Test Kit
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals FasTesT Ammonia-Nitrogen Test Kit
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals FasTesT Nitrite-Nitrogen Test Kit
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals FasTesT Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and pH Test Kit also called the Multi-Master Test Kit now.
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals FasTesT Nitrate-Nitrogen Test Kit
Aquarium Systems SeaTesT Hydrometer
Hagen AquaClear Power Head 201
Rena Air Aquarium Air Pumps
CPR Aquatic Cyclone Bak-Pak 2R
Aquarium Systems SeaClone Protein Skimmer SCPS-100
Aquarium Supply Stores:
Marine Depot Aquarium Supplies
All-Glass Standard Size Aquariums
All-Glass Large Size Aquariums
My Aquarium Advice:
The top 10 things you NEED to start a saltwater aquarium
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