Review: Online Pet Stores Part 1

Like other multiple-pet households, I’m always on the look out for the best deals on food, toys, and other dog/cat supplies.  As with anything these days, online shopping is an option- but is it the best option? The answer is not always yes. Once you factor in shipping, delivery times, and the quality of an unknown product, is it really worth it? I’ve taken my chances on a few places with some great success as well as utter failure.

I have recently fallen in love with the online store Pet Food Direct.  With two cats, food costs add up pretty quickly and the food they like, Weruva, isn’t as inexpensive as some of the other brands out there. I started comparing prices and noticed that I could get a great deal by stocking up and ordering online.  The food is already discounted and they always have coupons and additional discounts which, more often than not, cover the shipping costs (this is key; more on that later).  They also have an “auto-ship” option which saves you 15% on those items and sends you the next shipment automatically. While this is utterly convenient, you could be saving more by employing a little strategy.  I quickly found out that if you Google “pet food direct coupons” you can find an assortment of coupons that usually save you more than 15%.  Also, every 3 months you go without ordering more products, they will send you a special code for 18% off. Therefore, if you purchase just over 3 months worth of food, you’ll always get a coupon around the time you need to re-stock. The service with these guys is great too! I think the warehouse nearest to NH is in Pennsylvania which means the shipment gets here in 2 days. Add a day for processing time and 3 days from your initial order, you will be sitting amongst stacks & stacks of cat food trying to figure out where you are going to store it all. In addition to wet & dry foods, Pet Food Direct also sells toys, bedding, flea & tick medicines, and other pet goodies. Do a little comparison shopping before you automatically try these guys- they’re not ALWAYS the best deal around.

Charlie loves Zuke’s Cranberry Dental Bones.  A package of 6 medium bones from most freestanding & online stores is between $16 and $19 per bag. I first found them at Better Homes & Gardens (BHG.com) for around  $11 per bag. The deal was so great that I had to stock up. However, supplies ran low so re-stocking was necessary. Unfortunately, BHG was no longer selling the treats. I combed the internet and found  DoggieFood.com. It had good customer reviews for service and price so I took my chances. Low and behold, Zuke’s bones for $10.99 per  package. They also had a coupon on their site to save 10% so I took advantage of that as well. I ordered on a Monday night (afterhours) and the shipment arrived on Friday morning. This was a little slower than I thought it would be since the warehouse is in Rhode Island and I got a little nervous because the tracking number they gave me kept returning no results but in the end, the package arrived without incident. I’ll wait a
few extra days for a good deal. As of this post I’ve only ordered from DoggieFood.com once but it is one of the sites I will always check before I place an order somewhere else.

I was really excited when I found this collapsible pet feeder. It was just what I needed when traveling with Charlie! As usual, I searched the internet for the best deal and found it with Wonder Pet Supplies. While it is only an eBay store, it received an overwhelming number of positive reviews so I decided to go for it. Bad move. I ordered the turquoise feeder since it was about $15 less through them so with shipping it was still several dollars cheaper than anywhere else
around. I placed the order on August 4th but didn’t even receive confirmation of it until the 6th. I also received an email notifying me that the package had shipped on the 6th. Then on August 11th, I received another email stating that the item was actually on back order and would be available in 2-3 weeks.  Luckily, I wasn’t traveling for 4 weeks so I agreed to wait until the product was back in stock. I waited patiently and on August 20th, I received another email saying that the item was in and had been shipped. Finally on August 30th I actually received the feeder. And it was pink. Clearly this is unacceptable. So I wrote to them requesting an exchange.  No reply.  I tried again.  And again.  And again.  FINALLY 10 days later I received a reply telling me to ship the item back at my own expense. More waiting. More emailing asking where the hell my feeder was. No response. It eventually arrived on September 29th. Not only was the service extremely slow, the product wrong, and the correspondence nearly non-existent, but I had to pay for my own shipping for their error! I just learned the hard way that saving a few bucks isn’t always the best idea.  Now I only buy from verified sellers with a customer service number and an actual e-commerce site.

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve come up with to make online ordering a winning deal:

  1. Only buy from verified and trustworthy retailers.
  2. Before you check out, search for online coupon codes that could save you some extra money.
  3. Quickly calculate the cost per item with the shipping included. Once shipping is factored in, the items could potentially be more expensive than the neighborhood pet store.
  4. Take advantage of the Free Shipping specials or, at the very least, make sure your coupons cover most or all of the shipping.

These tips should help you navigate through the massive amount of online pet stores and save you a little money when spoiling your pets. Stay tuned for part 2 of my online store review where I’ll get into PetCareRx.com, PetSmart.com, and Petco.com

Happy Shopping!

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