[This is going to be a quite lengthy post so please bear with me. If you're rather impatient, just scroll all the way down for the pictures. :)]
Two months ago you bet I would never have heard of Taobao.com, which is sort of the Chinese version of Ebay where independent sellers market their goods. There are loads of interesting items you can find on the store, but unless you
a) can read Chinese characters (you can, of course, use Google Translate to get by),
b) have Chinese bank account,
c) have relatives/friends living in China (to help you with the shipping),
there’s no way you can obtain the items on Taobao. Fortunately, there are now a lot of shopping services/agencies for Taobao available all over the net, but the challenge is to find one that is reliable and worth the money and time. It isn’t easy to look for one, because the only way to know the quality of the shopping service agency is by experiencing it yourself, or through reviews.
And that’s what I did. I had to read through countless reviews on each one of the agencies until I came across Yoybuy. Yoybuy had mixed reviews from various people; some say it’s good and others say it’s crap. So even with reviews you can’t really tell the quality of the service.
Anyway I decided to just go with my decision to use Yoybuy. And here’s the review of it:
The website has a nice, clean interface and is easy enough to navigate around; the menu links can be found at the top of the page, on the left sidebar and also at the footer. The agents/sales representatives do speak English, and while their grasp of the language is not superb, but it is still better than some of the Taobao agents I’ve seen so that is a big plus, because one of the things I look for when searching for a shopping service agent is the level of English. I am no grammar Nazi but the representatives should at least be able to understand and converse in decent English. Plus you do want the reps to be able to understand you in case there is a need to file complaints.
What I also like about Yoybuy is it provides a tutorial on how to use the service (searching for items, placing orders, making payments, etc) and this, in my opinion, is a very useful guide for any first-time buyers. You can view the tutorial here: http://www.yoybuy.com/en/help.html?cateid=136
Even before you decide to use the service, you can try asking the reps through their live chat. The thing about their live chat is, the parcel department is always ‘offline’ (I’ve yet to see the status set to ‘online’) but you have the option to send them an offline message and you can be assured that it will be replied.
Ok, on to the shopping process.
- First of all, you will need to register with the website first before you can use the service because since all your order activities/messages will be stored in your account it makes tracking purposes easier.
- Next you’ll need to know already the link to the Taobao store you intend to purchase from. If you don’t, well, try Googling it or perhaps you could try looking for it on the Yoybuy website.
- Once you have the link, paste it into the input box/space provided on Yoybuy website and it will take you to the item’s page, this time the page is already translated into English.
- Place your order, i.e. click ‘Add to cart’ button and the item will be placed in your shopping cart. Once you get to this stage, you will need to upload money to your account. You can upload money using credit cards (JCB, Visa and Mastercard), bank wire transfer, WebMoney, and Western Union. I hear they used to allow you to upload money from Paypal but apparently that option is no longer available (that sucks, I know).
- Once you have the moolah in your account, go back to your shopping cart and click ‘Pay’. Ok, this bit is . With Yoybuy, you will need to make two payments. The first payment is for the item + domestic shipping fee. The second one is for international shipping fee + service fee(minimum 5.6USD).
For the next steps, please refer to this page: http://www.yoybuy.com/en/help.html?cateid=143. It’ll explain to you the rest of the shopping process.
The following is the timeline starting from when I placed my orders until when I received my package:
March 8 (Friday, evening) – I placed an order for item #1.
March 9 (Saturday, morning) – A representative from Yoybuy approached me to confirm my order (size, colour, etc) and then proceeded to make the purchase on my behalf.
— — Yoybuy is closed on Sundays — —
March 11 (Monday) | I placed a second order (item #2).
March 12 (Tuesday) | Item #1 arrived at Yoybuy warehouse. My rep processed my second order.
I received an email asking me if I want this to be shipped – I decided to wait for the second order to come in and then have them all shipped together.
March 13 (Wednesday) | Item #2 arrived at Yoybuy warehouse. I submitted delivery via DHL for both items.
I normally use standard shipping whenever I shop online. However, Yoybuy now has discounted DHL shipping service so I decided to try it out1.
March 14 (Thursday) | My package was processed by DHL.
March 16 (Saturday) | The package arrived safely into my hands. :)
So all in all, it takes about a week (minus the Sunday) for the items to arrive. That is fast considering things usually take to reach Brunei.
Now, on to the items.
I had wanted a pink sweater2, but instead what I get is this dull (dirty) pink sweater. The material quality is good enough, though. I ordered a size M and it fits me nicely (just a little baggy) but I feel I should have asked for a size S instead.
I’m not overly disappointed about the sweater though because earlier the rep actually informed that the colour of the sweater won’t be 100% similar from the one depicted on the Taobao store and asked me if I want to carry on with the purchase to which I said yes, as long as the colour doesn’t deviate too much.
So, how much did I pay for all these?
Sweater – 16.10USD (0.326kg)
Socks – 2.83USD + 1.95USD (domestic shipping) (0.079kg)
Total items cost = 18.93USD
Packaging material weight – 0.405kg
Estimated parcel weight – 0.45kg
International shipping fee = 21.22USD (since I chose DHL)
Service fee = 5.69USD
Total cost = 18.93 + 21.22 + 5.69 = 45.84USD
: I am pretty satisfied with Yoybuy. It’s proven to be legit and reliable and personally I feel it’s worth my time and money. Will I use Yoybuy again in the future? As long as they keep up the good service, I think I will.
Disclaimer: I am not paid or sponsored by Yoybuy (or anyone else) to write this review. The review is based solely on my opinions and experience with the shopping service.