Welcome to the new AstroBoot! Although we are now completly independent of the company that started AstroBoot the FAQs are much the same - as are our answers.
Here we’ll try to answer a few of your frequently asked questions and offer a few tips about getting the best out of the AstroBoot.
Q: What happed to the free shipping option?
A: We just can't afford to do that anymore. For a number of commercial reasons we have chosen to move our business to Europe and as a result our shipping costs are higher. Rather than increase the price of our merchandise overall we have elected to go with a minimum shipping cost strategy that allows us to recover a high percentage of our shipping expenditure without reducing the basic cometitivness of our offer. So although the mimimum shipping cost is now £4.50 you can actually get nine small items posted to you for that price - this will actually allow us to lower the price of a great many smaller items as we no longer need to price items with any built-in postage element (long standing customers will recall the a great many small items were priced at £1.75 for this reason). Each postage/shipping band allows a a number of same band or lower band items to be included without additional cost. This allows us to concentrate our efforts on keeping the cost of the listed items down and passing on of shipping expences in a still subsidised but fair and predictable way. Responsibe shipping costs money - there is no way to avioid this cost and it either has to be loaded into the basic price so that 'free' shipping can be offered or it is laid out as an additional cost were everyone can see it and act accordingly. We have chosen this latter strategy in the interests of clarity and the commericial imperitive of keeping our listings at the lowest price.
Q: Do I need a PayPal account to buy from AstroBoot?
A: No, you don’t need to have an account to pay via PayPal using your debit or credit card. Just click the PayPal button and select the option ‘pay with a credit or debit card’ which appears below the login box. Please note we are unable to accept card payments over the phone, or payments via cheque or Postal order.
Q: Why doesn’t the new stuff you’ve added appear at the top of the page anymore? And, while we're about it, why don’t you clear out the old stuff that we’ve been seeing since AB started?
A: Well, actually, some new stuff will continue to appear at the top of the first page – just not all of it. We noticed from our stats that many visitors to AstroBoot spent just seconds scanning the new listings and then either buying or leaving. By encouraging you to scan more of our wares in the hunt for a bargain, we hope you’ll find even more and even bigger bargains – everybody wins. As to the ‘old stuff’, frankly from our viewpoint, it’s the best stuff we’ve got! On some of the older products we have had well over 200 orders of a single item so far, making them far and away our most cost-effective listings. Of course, one-off listings are great and they make AstroBoot a lot of fun for the customer and it's good business for us too. But see it from our point of view: we’re selling the stuff often for less than we paid for it, and putting any energy into selling something at a loss just makes the loss even bigger. So please don’t begrudge us the older listings for volume items, because they are basically the key to AstroBoot's success.
Q: I placed an order for three items but only received two of them – why was this?
A: Basically the item had sold before you paid for it. The stock availability can change very rapidly. To avoid disappointment, always refresh the page immediately before ordering – this will allow you to see if the item is still in stock. Please note: the stock levels update automatically and respond immediatly to completed sales. However, the figure for stock availability is not changed merely by placing items in the shopping cart. Items in the shopping cart are not 'yours' until paid for in full and other shoppers can still buy the items right up until your payment goes through.
Q: I’ve noticed items disappearing as they are purchased but then reappearing sometime later. And this happens on items that previously had an in-stock value of 1 – what’s going on?
A: Many special items really are one-offs – when they sell, chances are you won’t see them again (or at least not until we get another one). But we often have quantities of items and we are simply choosing to let them go one at a time. We do this to make sure that our regular customers get to enjoy the best deals (it's plain good business to make as many people as possible happy!). When we first started the AstroBoot, we had a couple of instances of folk buying all we had of an item so that they could sell it on. Nothing wrong with that of course, but for a variety of reasons we would rather not sell these items in volume, and limiting availability and giving everyone a fair crack is the best way of achieving this and keeping everyone happy.
Q: How much of this stuff have you got and where does it all come from?
A: The short answer to the first part is - a lot! We calculate that we currently hold around 20 to 25,000 AstroBoot items (it’s not that easy to put accurate numbers on it, since most of the items are no longer part of our stock record). Our retail operations generate the largest portion of AstroBoot stock (we’ve had some of it in stock for many years – but it’s still good). We draw some of the items from our service centre, and we also have special relations with companies like Astro Engineering and others to draw on. And of course, while we are working our way through the existing stuff we'll be accumulating more! So don’t worry, there’s plenty of astro-loot to look forward to!
Q: Why is the picture quality in the AstroBoot relatively poor?
A: It's a matter of economics. The photography and logging of the pictures is done very rapidly using a video system, and the images are automatically pre-processed for display. This system allows us to list very low-value, low-volume goods and retrieve them again for despatch in a way that fits in with our despatch procedures and cost base. So basically, if we spend more time on the AstroBoot we won't be able to afford to do it! However, we've already taken some of your critisism on board and are using a larger picture format for larger items (so we can show the whole item - or at least more of it). And we will look at ways to improve picture quality without slowing the system down as soon as we can.
Q: I've noticed that the pictures displaying larger items don't have the 30mm tick marks to the left and top - how can I get a sense of scale?
A: That's right, we are useing three picture standards - one for small items and two with a wider field of view for larger items. In the wide field images you should be able to see a small black rectangle at the botton edge of the picture to the left of centre on some and to the right on others. This block is 50mm long. Other more recent images have a clear lable indicating scale.
Q: I purchased an item and I wasn't happy with the condition. Why don't you describe the item in more detail?
A: Well, we think we do describe the items in enough detail for you to make a buying descision. Don't forget: we'll always take the item back if you don't like it. But it's a bit like the picture issue above - in this case, the more time and effort we spend, the dearer the item becomes (or at least, the less we make out of it). Our labour costs for a member of staff who actually knows what fits what and can describe it properly are significant - we simply can't afford to spend too long on each listing if we are to sell it at the lowest possible price. If you are very fussy about the condition of your equipment, can we respectfully suggest that you avoid the tempation to buy items we are describing as 'scruffy' or 'dirty'. Perhaps it's a matter of interpretation - but when we list something as 'dirty' or 'scruffy' we don't just mean it has one or two specks of dust on it!
Q: Are you prepared to take offers on any of the items?
A: No, we regret we're unable to consider e-mail or telephone offers on any of our items. But keep your eye on the item because if it does not sell over a period of time the price will go down!
Q: Can I place an AstroBoot order over the phone?
A: No. It goes without saying that we are pleased that you wish to order an item from us and we don't wish to turn your business away - but the AstroBoot system was designed specifically for online orders only. It's too time consuming for our saff to correctly identify the items you wish to purchase and they are unable to tell you anything about the item beyond what you can already see on screen. However if you have a technical query you can always e-mail us.
Q: Is there an ideal time to be sure of snagging a bargain on the AstroBoot?
A: We’re always pleased to see you visiting our website anytime, and there is no particular time or day that is uniquely favourable to see AstroBoot bargains. However, you might like to consider the following: at the moment we update the AstroBoot daily, with existing items being re-stocked at any time. New items are typically switched on in a sequence late at night when the system is quiet. So if you are a bit of a night-owl (and we think it’s fair to assume you probably are, skies permitting), take a look after midnight or (if you’ve got better things to do with your nights) first thing in the morning. That’s for weekdays; at the weekend, late Sunday is a good time to check on the AstroBoot.