After joining myfigurecollection.net (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)
-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
-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..