Saturday, February 15, 2014

FromJapan (Review)

After joining (it shall be known as MFC from here onwards), I discover another Japanese proxy other than the so-far-so-good Goody-Japan and the shitty Shopping Mall Japan (the reasons why I say shitty can be found here and here. This proxy is FromJapan.

FromJapan is only charging 200 yen per item or auction bid and that is considered the lowest among the other proxies. In addition, if you win more than 1 item from the same seller, there is no proxy charge for the 5th item onwards. However, as FromJapan as multiple accounts to bid for items, there is a chance that the different items are bid using different accounts and you may not get this combined items advantage. It is all random. This is especially good when I want to purchase low value items like anime books. Goody-Japan charges a minimum 600 Yen and that can even be more expensive than the price of the books itself. In a mere 2 months, I bought more than 30 anime books through FromJapan! Haha.. I don't want to calculate the total I spent as it will definitely make me emo.

For domestic shipping, users can choose to pay for cheaper (uninsured) method as well as safer (insured) method. Taking a book as an example, cheaper domestic shipping can cost less than 200 yen while safer method can cost 500-600 yen. So this is another feature that I like.

For international shipping, FromJapan also offers FedEx as a shipping option. FedEx is actually cheaper than EMS for small but heavy items like book as FedEx charges by volume while EMS charges by weight. For my first shipment which weighs about 9 kg, EMS would cost me 9400 yen as opposed to 2994 yen by FedEx. The difference is really mind-blowing. Users can also indicate the amount they want to declare in customs form for every single item!! Cool, isn't it?

FromJapan also provides regular, light, and extra secure packing. Other proxies may use "excessive" packing materials to ensure safety of items but this may not be very desirable if you want to cut shipping costs and you know the items are relatively "damage-resistant" eg. books. Thus light packing is useful. However, any damage will not be insured if this method is chosen. Extra secure packing, as its name suggests, will also incur extra costs. FromJapan uses old/used boxes for shipment. So in the event that they have to use new boxes for shipment of your item, you have to pay 500 yen extra. So far, thankfully, it has not happened to me yet.

The other good things about FromJapan is user's total control over placing and withdrawal of deposits as well as direct control over sniper and real-time bids. In addition, when it comes to paying for the item, I can choose not to use the deposit but to make a separate payment. This is good for my calculation of expenses. Why is that so? Let me illustrate: I can put a 10000 yen deposit and say bid for 5 items. I can make 5 separate payments for the 5 items and thus I know how much exactly each item costs me. I can then refund my deposit in full. In addition, their invoice provides a very good breakdown for every charges incurred. Cool!

FromJapan also rewards users based on the amount of items purchased through them. The reward is 3-10% off for delivery cost via EMS or FedEx for users who have bought items worth 40000-400000 yen respectively. Although I don't think I can hit the 400000 yen spending and I only get a small discount, it is still a nice gesture.

Do you notice the small banner on top of my blog? Yep, FromJapan also allows to invite people to use their services. I can get 300 yen per new user who signs up and uses FromJapan services. Zero so far leh!! Haha..

Customer service wise, they will reply email daily as long as it is sent between 1000-1900 Japan time. I think they close on weekends and public holidays though. Unfortunately, when you have a question regarding an item, they will just read the Japanese item description and "translate" it for you rather than asking the seller. No mention of customer service will be complete if you never have incidence of broken item. That also happened to me and it did ruin my impression of their customer service.

What happened? Due to backlog over Christmas and New Year holidays, it took 2 weeks for my items to be packed since I requested them. Note that before this period, when there was no backlog, they packed items quite fast. So after these 2 weeks, they informed me that one of my items was damaged. That item cost me close to 8000 yen and their email was not exactly very nice or helpful with the following message: "However, we are not able to guarantee that the seller should accept the return of item or refund". What the hell! I chose safer (insured) domestic shipping for a reason and if they are unable to contact the seller, then at least they should contact the domestic shipper! I find it unbelievable that they did not check items upon arrival and notify damages immediately. By the time they emailed me, it was almost 1 month after item arrival so it might be too late to report for any damage and from my point of view, that should be their responsibility, and not mine!

Anyway, after 3 weeks, I finally got my refund so I am happy for that. However, I am still disappointed with the fact that they did not even show me the photo of the damaged item. They also did not inform me whether they returned the item or they claimed an insurance from the shipper! If they had a refund without the need of sending back the item, then that item should me mine after all! I am not being greedy here to want both the items and the refund. The reason why I want to know the details is because the item in question is something rare: Final Fantasy Chrome Koyo Koyo with a small serial number #0070 and I got it for quite "cheap" at 7543 yen. With no details provided, I can always suspect that perhaps their staff want this item and can always pretend to say that the item is damaged while they keep the item!
Another negative point about FromJapan is that they charge another 5% of whatever charges if payment is made via PayPal or Credit Card. This makes things worse for buyers as PayPal or Credit Card already has unfavourable currency exchange rates in the first place.

So in summary, FromJapan's pros:
-Provide users with a lot of options for customisations from the choice of domestic shipping method, packaging of items, international shipping method, and customs declared values
-Full control of placement and withdrawal of deposits as well as both real-time and snipe bids
-Relatively quick response time by the customer service team
-Great search engine function (I did not mention this above but FromJapan's search engine is the first proxy's search engine that can give me meaningful search results)
-200 yen proxy fee and a maximum of 800 yen fee for multiple items bought from the same seller on the same day (provided all items are bid using the same account which unfortunately users have no control of)

Their cons:
-5% additional charges (not only from price of item but also from domestic shipping, international shipping, and bank transfer fee!) for payment paid using PayPal or Credit Card
-Did not check of item condition upon arrival
-Unable to split items which comes as "a package" from the seller
-Unsatisfactory approach for damaged item: sounds unhelpful and no details provided to the buyers about the whole process
-Merely giving translation of item description, rather than asking the seller directly, for any questions asked pertaining to items

Despite the hiccup, I will still use FromJapan for their pros. I personally prefer FromJapan for cheaper items like anime books for their low proxy charge and FedEx as a choice for international shipping. However, for expensive and fragile items, I will stick with Goody-Japan who checks every item upon arrival and is very exceptional with their handling of damaged items.

Again, neither Goody-Japan or FromJapan solicits me for my opinions. Haha.. I hope this can be useful for people who are considering proxy options. I am not sure whether I am lucky or unlucky to always experience damaged items with so many different parties. It is really a rare occurrence and most reviews never mention how different companies handle cases of damaged items. Thus, I hope my posts have been helpful for people to consider the possibility of receiving damaged items and weigh the risks and benefits of proxies appropriately.

Lastly, it is time for shameless advertising. Should you decide to use FromJapan, please do so through the link on this blog so that I can get 300 yen. Lmao..


clowve said...

I just used FromJapan and am still waiting for my items to arrive. I'd like to ask a question regarding the customs declaration; was it on their site or did you have to email them about the value you choose to declare the items?

Do let me know, thank you!

darkrose said...

After your items arrive at their warehouse, you can request/initiate packing. Once FJ sends the charge 2 form, you can choose your shipping method as well as customs value that you wish to declare for every single item. I hope that helps :)

clowve said...

That's awesome, thank you!

Piano said...

Hello, I appreciate all your proxy service reviews on your well-informed blog, thank you so much. I read that you had a fall out with fromjapan? I also decided to use fromjapan after being uhappy with expensive fees from shoppingmalljapan... While fromjapan is cheaper but I am unhappy with their careless shipping policy and "not my problem" attitude. I recently ordered three posters that were sold for a one-month limited time only from a website. Well... one arrived with four small creases, one was utterly ruined, the other one missing. <- basically money poured down the drain. They refused to accept responsibilties or offer damage and loss compensations because they can't figure out if it's been sent out like this to them or damage during transit overseas to me.

What proxy service do you use now? I'm thinking of using tenso next.

darkrose said...

Hello I just saw your comment now. Sorry for the late reply and thanks for the good words.

Looks like you have a similar bad luck as me: unhappy with SMJ and then also had a fallout with fromjapan. For my most recent one, I opened a Paypal case and unfortunately Paypal wanted me to return all the items instead of only the damaged items :( Guess I had to cancel the claim as the other 2 items were quite cheap when I bought them this time. Very sad that I am unable to "punish" them :(

Currently I am back to Goody-Japan ( They just updated their new system and I have yet to write any update on them. So far they are still very good to me so I guess I shall stick with them instead of trying to venture out elsewhere.


Hi, may i ask how long did the items take to arrive at the warehouse? the first item's auction ended on 2nd jan, and it's 11jan today but it's still marked as ' in transit to FJ'

Would appreciate your answer Thank you!

darkrose said...

Hello Trumpet..

The time taken from the seller to FromJapan will depend on the shipper used by seller and where the seller is located.

I will usually check with FromJapan if the item has not reached FromJapan after 2 weeks.

Mr_potatoBed said...

And i thought i was the only one with major problems dealing with fromjapan and their "not my problem" attitude.

had a lost package which didn't arrive. Paid Charge 1 + 2 in full. they refused to refund anything, not even commission- they claim they are not responsible wtf!

frustrating experience dealing with their emails which says the same thing every time. I give up.

Utterly useless when it comes to taking responsibility or taking ownership.

Will try the GoodyJapan site you recommend. thanks for heads up.

darkrose said...

I hope you will have a good experience with Goody Japan but just take note that they don't under-declare things.

If your item is not received, I believe you can get a refund (via Paypal or credit card charge back).

I am done with FromJapan. My last item arrived damaged because of their poor packaging. They refused to refund because I chose "regular packaging". They hide behind their T&C that by choosing "regular packaging", we are agreeing to whatever shit packaging they give. And the worst is even Paypal sided with them.

I am initiating credit card chargeback for this so I can only cross my fingers and pray :(

Kevin said...

i dont understand how declared custom value works. Im from Malaysia and I have no idea how it affects my payment. Help!

darkrose said...

Hi Kevin.

Declared custom value will determine how much tax/customs that you have to pay to your government as your item enters your country.

Taking Singapore as an example, if total value of the package & shipping fee is less than SGD 400, I do not need to pay any tax. When the total value of the package & shipping exceeds SGD 400, I have to pay 7% GST (Goods & Services Tax) to Singapore Customs when I collect my item from Customs office. Different countries have different laws so you need to check the law for Malaysia.

Usually people will declare a lower value so that they don't pay customs/tax.
2 more things that you need to consider regarding declared customs value:
1) For postage insurance, it will only be insured up to the declared value.
Let's say your package is worth 10000 JPY but you declare it as 5000 JPY. If the package goes missing or damaged and you want to claim insurance, you can only get 5000 JPY.

2) Under valueing package is considered illegal.
Let's say your package is something big and heavy and yet you declare it very low (eg 1000 JPY), if you are not lucky, customs may find it 'suspicious', hold it, and ask you for proof that the whole parcel is indeed only worth 1000 JPY. It rarely happens but you have to be aware of such risk.

I hope that helps