Posting an update to the below.
PI contacted me privately to discuss my concerns and, while we disagree about the status of the item (I still contend it was in stock when I ordered, they say it wasn't), they have agreed to improve a couple of their processes based on my feedback.
Because of this, I'm upping the rating a couple of stars on account of them taking my feedback on board, despite not necessarily agreeing with the crux of my complaint.
Had a poor experience, which was redeemed a little at the end of it.
I ordered a phone via the website on a Wednesday before their 1pm cutoff for the day, paying via PayPal. They weren't the cheapest store for the phone, but I went with them because the item showed as in stock, and I understood it would be delivered "up to 5 working days" later (i.e. the following Wednesday at the latest).
I received an email on the Monday (5 days after ordering) saying that they didn't have stock and the phone was on backorder, on track to be delivered (vaguely) "late next week". I replied via email soon after, and as of late the next day (Tuesday) I didn't have a response.
So I found another company who confirmed over email (an hour after contact) that they had stock, and used the contact form on the PI website to cancel and ask for a refund so I could go with the other store and get the phone quicker.
A day later (Wednesday afternoon - when I was initially expecting the phone), I still didn't have a response to either of my attempts to contact them, so I borrowed a phone to call them. This is where they redeemed themselves a little, as it was a really quick and painless 1 minute phone call to get the order cancelled and the refund actioned.
Overall, this experience felt poorly managed. I won't be ordering from here again, and will steer my family and friends clear as well.
My suggestions to PI:
* Be more transparent with your stock - get a live stock counter. I work for an online SaaS company that provides stock counts across multiple locations as (a small) part of our platform, it's not difficult, and helps to give your customers a more informed choice.
* Speed up your contact times - the initial 3 working day wait for contact was bad, but my first email went unresponded to for a couple of days as well. I don't think weekend contact is expected, but at least a 1 working day turnaround on contact shouldn't be an unreasonable ask.