Thunderbolt logo

The wonders of Internet shopping

‘And God said “let there be light” and so the Internet came alive’- some random Internet wizard

The Internet is amazing. Sure, it costs a few hundred quid to get the correct set up (compared to a few thousand 5 years ago) and many might not be computer-literate, but for the amount of time, energy and money it saves in the long run I could kiss it. All those years of writing school projects by hand, drawing up plans and articles on backs of envelopes and waiting for letters from mates via ‘snail mail’ are gone. Now there are programs such as Word, Excel, Notepad, New Adobe PhotoShop and Publisher to handle these tasks, maybe someone could name more and better efficient ones but they seem to do the job for me. Email is now as popular as the text message, with whole Customer Service departments at companies using networked computers instead of phones and people keeping contact across the globe. Calling home from Australia would cost around 50p a minute whereas an email could contain digital pictures, small video clips and as much text as you want for free. The possibilities are almost endless; buying online is much cheaper than high street prices and most sites offer small or no delivery charges.

Here’s a good example; today I went into Darlington for my once-a-month pre-owned gaming hunt. I managed to find Sonic Mega Collection, Mario Party, Waverace and Resident Evil 3 (all for the GameCube) for a measly £15 each, plus a copy of Leon on DVD for £6. Over my shoulder lies the new release stand, on which two titles I have never heard of lay, awaiting to be brought. Chaos Legion, a Devil May Cry esque hack n slash ’em up with pretty graphics grabs my attention. Looking onto the back of the box I see it is indeed made by one of my favourites, Capcom, and the usual goohaffle about how great their new title is. Now consider my options; in my WHSmiths bag is a recent copy of Games TM, a magazine I have grown to respect dearly. Flicking through the pages they haven’t reviewed the two titles yet, and the copy of PSW on the news stand across the hall is wrapped in that user-unfriendly plastic which requires a degree in plastic opening to get the magazine out. On my right is a geeky looking staff member of the shop, GAME, who would obviously brag about how great the games are to achieve a sale. With no other options than to either plump up £55 or leave them, I take the latter option and wander up to HMV to look at the over priced games on offer. Snubbing every £45 title that comes my way I decide to grab a Game Doctor and depart from the following security guard, who either suspects me of shop lifting or loves my trousers. A few pictures of landmarks on the warm sunny day are taken before heading to the bus stop for the long trip home.

On arriving home the games I have brought are laid out neatly on the bed and the computer switched on. Checking the Thunderbolt boards for the latest banter it’s time to bargain hunt (snigger). Now the first port of call is Amazon.co.uk to get a good idea of the sort of price I’m looking at. Chaos Legion weighs in at the usual £29.99 with small delivery charges, whereas to my horror Space Invaders cannot be found. Now we have an idea of price lets check some review scores. Gamerankings.com has a good average (but Thunderbolt is best of course) to follow and it seems as if these two could be quite good. But stopping here would be in fool’s territory as we are only halfway through. Next it’s over to Gamefaqs.com to check the boards for game info and a quick look at how many tens both titles have got already in the reviews section.

On the home straight a quick sprint for Play.com is made, the home of a quick and easy website with free delivery. Now we see the web come alive as Chaos Legion can be snapped up for a paltry £25.99. But here is bargain of the day- typing in Space Invaders brings up the game in it’s full glory for £12.99, and is also in a ‘2 for £20’ promotion (the offer at GAME was any 2 for £30 for the same titles). Now usually these offers are filled with the crap they can’t get rid of, but not in this case. For £20 I picked up a copy of Half Life along with the aforementioned Space Invaders. And that, bargain hunters, is a bargain. Cheap as chips, as Dave Dicko might say. So for the original price of £55 in a well-known highstreet chain store, I can get my items (plus a bonus copy of Half Life) on t’internet for £46. Sure, a saving of £9 I hear you say but consider this; did you have to queue up at the bus stop in the pouring rain with idiots, board a stinking bus and sit there for an hour, march around the town looking for the shop, once you have found the shop look for the thing you want, end up in my situation, walk to the bus stop empty handed, board the stinking bus, sit there for another hour then get home and realise you wasted half the day doing nothing. For the Internet I now own three title instead of two. Add to that no travel expenses and I can now do what I want until they come through the post this is how life should be spent. Or course, this is buying online. How about selling?

‘Let me take you down, because I’m going to…’- John Lennon, Strawberry Fields Forever

Around the year 1995 gaming started to rise to the height it is today. The Playstation was soon to/had already been released (my memory isn’t that good) and I found myself with a hobby that would take over my life in years to come. At £44.99 a game this new hobby wasn’t cheap, and as I was still at school funding this ‘habit’ was a hard which often led to my parents for cash. Paper rounds involved walking round the town for 3 hours on a cold night getting my fingers caught in old people’s letterboxes for a fiver. Instead I turned to my dad for work, as he was self-employed. Being a record dealer the job entailed getting up early on a Saturday morning, loading up the van full of records. Now consider that a box full of 12″ vinyl ways around the same of a sack of spuds, and that there were 10 of them on a cold, Saturday morning. Then there were CD’s to pack away in long, heavy and awkward boxes. 7″‘s were the same, and then there were cassette tapes. We would then depart for Brighton (4 hours drive), Northampton (1 ½), Camden (2), Essex (2 ½) or Oxford (2 ½) (plus Reading when the festival was on) aiming to arrive around 8am. Unloading the van would take about half and hour, then setting up the stall (which cost £40 in advance) would take a fair hour.

Meanwhile I would look around in various halls in the buildings and roam about the streets of London, in and out of game shops. From then to 5pm the day would be spent sitting on boxes, drawing pictures of Elvis ‘The King’ Presley and listening to old reggae tunes (that was the Electric Ballroom in Camden, other places played different music). At 5pm the van would have to be loaded, the wall display taken down and a quick trip to McDonalds before driving home again. In 1995 the average takings for the day would be £500, towards the end of the 90’s we were going to places much further away and making £20, which wouldn’t cover the stall price. The risks of parking fines also dragged on takings, and soon the work dried up. At the same time I left school, which meant I could at last get a job. Getting a part time cleaning job at a girls school (it figures) I was on £100 a week which would at last fund the ‘habit’. Of course, being 16 with £100 in my pocket the lot was spent within five minutes.

But anyways, the point is 6 months later I ended up moving ‘oop north to Yorkshire. Not knowing the area meant I didn’t get a job before joining Thunderbolt (honest) but we had the Internet. With a Solo card in hand I was able to sell large collections of junk (videogames related of course) on Ebay.com, and now fully upgraded with a Switch card the income is peaking at a healthy 2k a month. Read back through the paragraph and see what blood, sweat and toil I had to go through to earn at a record fair. Now I sell on the Internet to people I never see (the public are a strange set of people) and never have to leave the house. From cleaning a girls school for £100 a week to sitting on my big hairy backside selling junk to people for 500% more income only an idiot would refuse to copy my footsteps.

So like I said, the Internet is a wonderful thing. No more embarrassment of walking into a shop and asking for a porno magazine; just look it up on the Internet for free. No more long bank queue’s; look up online. And most importantly, no more shopping trips. Buy online for less hassle and for less money with no travelling. Fantastic.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

Gentle persuasion

You should like us on Facebook.