Have you heard of a Japan deputy service? It is actually sort of a middleman to help people around the world purchase items from Japan (or Japanese website) where international shipping is not available. So basically the deputy service will help us bid, buy, and pay for the item and then ship the item to us. I am new to this service and I was considering it becaues I grew desperate to complete my Final Fantasy VIII Transcendent Artist's Collection. I managed to get Rinoa & Siren when I went back home a few weeks ago so I am left with Squall & Bahamut. I have been keeping an eye on one which is available in Yahoo! Japan for months as it is being auctioned with starting bid of 40000+ yen. Too expensive. So I was excited when there was an auction for both Rinoa & Siren and Squall & Bahamut as a set. Rinoa & Siren was damaged but it did not bother me so much as I already have 1 undamaged one at home. What I really wanted was Squall & Bahamut. My consideration was if this set were to be 40000+ yen, then it will be better than the 40000+ yen for Squall & Bahamut alone.
There are many deputy service out there and there is no concensus regarding which is good and which is bad. I tried my luck with a few but I ultimately used Shopping Mall Japan (www.shoppingmalljapan.com). Firstly, in everything, there are always pros and cons. Lets start with the pros first. To be honest, the website looks convincing, it has SMJ Guarantee, terms and policies, etc in good English. Okay, so I thought in case anything happen, I will more or less get my butt covered and communication should not be a problem. Secondly, instead of having to leave a deposit with them, they allow credit authorisation for the bidding. This simpler as I actually do not need to send anything before I win/buy something. Thirdly, it features auto sniper for auctions.
First impression looks good but unless you use something, you won't know how shitty and rotten things can be. This is where the nightmare begins. Firstly, the communication is awful. It takes them 24 hours (or more) to reply to enquiries. I have tried other deputy service whose response is around the clock except for the offline time which they designate. Now if you have experiences doing online auction, 24 hours is a long time. Worse, for every function that I do with the website, I do not actually have any notification. So I don't know whether what I request is accepted or not. And upon asking for clarification, I only got the reply 1 day later. And according to them "No, normally they do not give notification". Wow.. I am speechless.
Secondly, the cost is outrageous. I am not talking about "service fee" which I think is fair. It's their payment policy. They convert everything to US$ and payment has to made in US$, with their own conversion rate! How cunning and dishonest. Their conversion rate is always -5 yen than the current rate. So assuming 1 US$ = 80 yen, they will convert at the rate 1 US$ = 75 yen. Do the maths and that is already about 6.25% more expensive. I think it's a scam to get their income while claiming to have a "low/reasonable service fee".
Thirdly, they are irresponsible for any shipping damage. Yup, this is the worst possible attitude of a deputy service. They claimed that they do not lower value declaration. My first package cost me 18500 yen and in the value declaration, it was declared as 6100 yen only. Is that a big deal? Yes, because if something gets damaged, the insurance will only cover up to the declared value. For my second package, I requested to be declared a certain value because I do not want to take risk that my Squall arrived damage and I got nothing. Squall & Bahamut was declared properly but Rinoa & Siren was declared for 14500 yen even though I requested for US$ 200. You may wonder why such number but I won the auction for 41500 so when the boxes were shipped separately, I wanted to declare them about 50% each and that is how I came with US$200. Rinoa & Siren came okay so I don't care about it being declared lower value but Squall & Bahamut were damaged and this is the reason of my fallout with SMJ.
I immediately took photos of the damage and sent it to them. Rinoa & Siren came with damage as described by seller so I do not think seller is a scammer or something and sell a damaged Squall without documenting it. After all, seller pointed out the crack in Rinoa & Siren very honestly. So why lie about Squall & Bahamut? Another reason for me to think that seller is not lying is that the broken pieces are all there. The broken pieces are very small. If it was damaged from the start, I do not expect that seller still kept the broken pieces and shipped them to me. The broken pieces may look big in the photo but in the actual thing, the 2 gunblade pieces are about 3mm x 1mm in dimension. Ya, THAT tiny! These damages are more glaring than the crack on Siren's hair. If seller pointed out the hair crack, how could she/he miss out these major damages to Squall? I will show the crack on Siren's hair when I post about the statue, then you can see how "minor" that damage was as compared to these.
Thus the damage is likely due to shipping or due to SMJ. SMJ did not send the item using the original packaging from the sender. SMJ actually repacked every package before they send it to me. I don't know how but the possibility of them damaging/mishandling is there. SMJ, however, is being unhelpful and irresponsible. After looking at the photos, the reply was something like "Hmm.. the external packaging was not damaged so I don't think it was damaged due to shipping. I will let Japan Post know about it but I think they won't accept the claim". The moment I heard this, I immediately was like: Fuck you! It totally ruined all the trust I had. Not only they are unapologetic about it, they sound indifferent and unhelpful. EMS is insured for a reason and upon knowing something is damaged, the simplest thing that sender could do is to help with claiming for insurance. Until now, I don't know whether they bother to contact Japan Post or simply cannot be bothered about it.
So I asked them: if it was not damaged due to shipping, then either you damaged it when you repacked it or the seller was lying. SMJ conveniently thinks seller would not be lying (for the same reason as I have) and is not bothered to contact the seller. So what is left? SMJ damaged it right? No, they claimed they could not possibly damage it. So yeah, here we have a fantastic deputy service with the various Guarantee, Terms, and Policies which are mere bullshit. I bought an item which was advertised not damaged but I received it damaged. I don't care who damaged it what I wanted is a compensation be it from the seller, SMJ, or from the post office as they are the possible suspects who handled and could possibly damage the item. If SMJ, as one of the possibly guilty party, is not taking responsibility, the least that they can do is to prove otherwise. Contact the seller or the post office. That is what deputy service is supposed to do because that is what their service is about.
The story does not end here. This is where the story gets more interesting. After always maintaining the stand that they cound not possibly damage it, as a service recovery, they offered me their SMJ Guarantee provided that I returned the item to them for inspection. Lets do some maths. I spent close to US$ 600 for the item+ (lousy) service and another US$ 150 for EMS shipping to me. Assuming I returned the item and the fee is the same as how they sent it to me, I will fork out another US$150. And how much can I get from their stupid Guarantee? Only the item cost of 41500 yen or about US$ 500. So basically, I will be losing US$ 400 for nothing. Come on! Am I an idiot?
I do not know what else they want to inspect when I already sent them the pictures. Clear enough to show all the damages. Do they think I will deliberately damage a limited and out-of-production item simply for fraud? That's really low of them if they think that way.
So I declined their Guarantee offer. And their reply was: okay then we will waive the service fee, I hope that lighten up your burden. US$ 21 for US$ 750 loss?? Hell yea -__- I consider a wasted US$ 750 because if I knew Squall & Bahamut was damaged from the start, I would not even bother bidding for the set. I already have Rinoa & Siren after all.
My last hope is with PayPal.. Crossing my fingers now.. Sigh.. I feel very helpless and hopeless because I am using a middleman. And the middleman is not helpful and may even be the culprit of the damage. Anyway, even if I cannot get any single thing, I cannot do anything about it :( I only hope that when people google Shopping Mall Japan online, they will come across this and think twice before using their service. In summary: poor communication, unfavourable payment rate, and if there is a problem with your items, you can just say bye bye to your money. SMJ is not bothered to help you (not gonna contact the seller, not gonna contact the shipper, but claimed that they could not do the damage while it is possible that they damaged it as they are also one of handler of the goods).To me, SMJ is only interested in getting your money. After they get your money, they will not be bothered with anything else.. Yeah.. talk about after service.. And if someone knows of a better deputy service, please let me know. I'm done with this crap.