So I get an invoice from Shopping Mall Japan and I see that it’s for a promotional pamphlet for a video game that I purchased for 400 yen off of Yahoo Japan Auctions. Then I see the total is $84.35. For a 400 yen item. SMJ uses a conservative exchange rate of 79 yen to a dollar, so 400 yen equals $5.06, and the other fees add up to about $14. And yet I’m getting charged $84.35. What the hell?
(Edit: Never mind, the total listed on my user page displays the correct total. I’m still waiting for an explanation from SMJ as to why the two values are so disparate [or why they are different at all]. I think I’m going to be checking my invoice totals by hand from now on rather than automatically going to Paypal to pay my bills.)
(October 2012 edit: People occasionally find this post while googling for “Shopping Mall Japan.” In fairness, aside from this issue [which was quickly rectified], I haven’t had any problems with SMJ and I’d recommend them if you are looking for a reliable proxy service. They may also have since implemented an automated billing system that might prevent this sort of human error from occurring.)
Holy shit, that would be a scary invoice; even my worst miscalculation can’t compare. I won a crappy Shin Koihime Musou pillow with SouSou on it for 1000 yen (back when the rate was a little more favorable) and I was floored when the invoice was 40ish. But $85 for a $5 item would be crazy.
That said, I’m not a fan of the conservative rate; Paypal does it too, and I know that just like EMS shipping for everything (okay, that’s a bit quicker) it’s slowly chipping away at my funds. I just hope the rate improves a bit within the next month, as I have about 45000 in preorders waiting to drop with SMJ. I’d say that was the biggest peeve with my D-Stage order; the rate was definitely better two months before everything rolled in, and they had already paid for the order. They should have given me what the rate was at the time, versus what it declined to a few months after, but I guess it can’t really be helped. I just hope it works in reverse.
They sent me an e-mail saying that they made an error and attributed it to overconsumption of turkey, heh. It’s an understandable mistake and it’s minor in the long run, but it’s still disconcerting because I usually just automatically go to Paypal to pay off the charge. I used to take for granted that they do their due diligence when requesting money, but now I can’t assume that that’s true.
Yeah, the -4 thing is sorta crappy; I don’t recall ever seeing the exchange rate fluctuate that much within a span of a week or so. Overall, I’m still happy with their service, but I’m glad that their error was so obvious that it was easy for me to notice.
Jesus Christ! That would have made my jaw drop to the floor. What the fuck!? I used rinkya I think it was; or some other deputy bidding service and I had to pay around 300-400 USD for a bunch of paper (tear sheets of my favourite anime characters from magazines). I bought a couple of stuff from different sellers and all that added up. I was spewing when I had to pay the total but I did it, so I had to pay for it. I wish there was an easier way to predict how much everything is going to total up to because you know when deep inside you know damn well what youre paying is not worth it, but you still want/need it?
Well, im looking around for another deputy bidding service but im not looking forward to that sinking feeling when I get that invoice. I wish the sellers on Yahoo japan auctions would just ship international and skip this overpriced middleman shit. Not that those guys are overcharging, its just the shipping to and from the place and not to mention the wait time is just not worth it at all. $300 USD for little pieces of paper, wow I am a certified stupid shopaholic.
Have you heard of Noppin? Do you know if its okay? Or is shopping mall japan better? How did your transaction go with these guys?
I haven’t ever used Noppin; I haven’t ever heard of them, actually. I typically use four proxy services: Shopping Mall Japan for less expensive stuff off of Yahoo JP Auctions (my bid limit is under 20k yen), Yokatta for more expensive stuff or for anything that needs to be preordered, Tokyo Hunter for Japan-only figures, and Ash Japanese Doujin Resale for bulk doujinshi purchases around Comiket time. I’ve been pretty happy with all of these services. Apart from the hiccup described here, I haven’t had any problems with SMJ, though some of their fees (such as the wire fee) are a bit curious.
To get an high end estimate for SMJ, I typically take the yen price of my purchase, drop the two zeros, and multiply by 1.6. Sometimes it’s lower than that, but it’s very rarely ever higher than that, unless it needs to ship directly from Japan and it’s really heavy. Looking at my current two invoices that I’ve been billed for, it actually seems pretty accurate. 13900 yen for 225 and 18000 for 282.90; the first was about $2 over my estimate, but the second was $5 under. I think I’ve found that cheaper items in the 10000 yen range are most likely to go over that estimate, but as items get more expensive it gets lower (and the really cheap items can be at a fairly high multiplier – a 300 yen doujinshi with a $5 commission is obviously going to be over 2.0.)
I just checked my email for a few more instances of this, and it seems to hold pretty true. Let’s take a look:
8400 for $139, but included a $10 special order fee (129/84 = 1.53)
14900 for $228.35 (1.53)
20000 for $302.75 (1.51)
42500 for for $631 (1.48)
Unfortunately, I tried to prove my point by finding an invoice closer to 10000, and the only invoice I found at exactly 10000 was over a year ago… with a beautiful yen rate of 89; multiplier came out to 1.4 almost exactly. Whereas now I usually get a rate of 73-75, since they do current rate -5.
The numbers are certainly fairly depressing, but if you factor other things in, they really aren’t as bad as they could be. No matter what service you use, you’re automatically going to start at a 1.2 multiplier before commission or anything else is factored in; just because at best they’ll charge you the market rate of 80 yen for every usd; SMJ weighs in at about 1.25 to start. Then it gets a bit tricky to gauge things when considering other deputies; I assume they’re all going to charge you for shipping within Japan, which from auctions I’ve seen is generally 0-1000 yen depending on what it is (not considering anything really heavy.) My shipping charges for SMJ are generally 500-2200 yen (may include multiple items from one seller) but that’s to get it to the US, where I can then take advantage of cheaper shipping to me. Then I guess the wire fee is another couple of bucks topped onto the order – don’t know if other services charge that. Though it’s important to note that while the wire fee is charged in USD, the shipping fee isn’t so I have to assume you’ll be charged the 1.25 rate (or whatever it is) on top of it.
That’s when your real commission really begins, and they have their rates listed on the site. It’s certainly a lot of work to calculate how much an item will be exactly, but there usually won’t be too many surprises if a rough guess works and you don’t go ordering a set of 50 books in one order…
As far as SMJ goes, service has never been a problem with them. They generally answer email questions pretty quickly, and give you 14 days to pay from the time they bill you. Once I request a shipment from the US warehouse, I usually get it in 2-3 days.
I’ve forgot to add that I’ve only seen a single Japanese seller on YJA who was willing to ship overseas; he’d even post it in all of his auctions, but included that you need to have at least a basic understanding of Japanese for things to go smoothly. I’m tempted to contact him one day, since I seem to buy from him fairly frequently, but I doubt he’d appreciate the mess Google makes of what I want to say.
Shashin, is there a way for me to contact you? I’d like to ask you a few questions about Japanese sellers on YJA
Oh, in return, I’ll help you with the translations to the best of my abilities. I took Japanese language for a while so I can do some basic translations that’ll probably be a bit better than Google.
oh my1 i was so scared!!! because i sent my $10 for my register
but well if you are fine with their service until now i will trust in they