FAQ

1) Ordering

a) What is the general order process like?
  • Submit your order to me.
  • I run through the order and inform customer of discrepancies, waiting times, out of stock items, confirm 1st payable amount. After all issues are ironed out, you may make the payment.
  • After receiving your payment, I’ll place the order myself, or engage the help of a proxy/logistics/shipping agent, within 1 working day.
  • I monitor the progress of the order and update you if there are any problems.
  • Items that arrive at the warehouse / consolidation area will be inspected for defects and accuracy. If items do not pass inspection, they will be returned or exchanged. Exchanges may incur about a delay of a week or so. I’ll consult you about the delay if it is significant.
  • When all items are ready for shipping, I will contact you to discuss shipping arrangements.
  • Upon receiving your shipping fees, your package will be shipped out within 3 working days.
b) What items cannot be purchased?
  • Flammable items (including fragrances, alcohol, nail polish, lighter)
  • Precious metals (gold, silver)
  • Cigarettes
  • Fresh food
  • Live animals
  • Plants (includes seeds and flowers)
  • Hazardous products like weapons. Includes props that resemble weapons as well, notably guns and blades.

Some types of products are prohibited by certain shipping methods. Regarding shipping from China, please refer to this page.

c) Do you take orders for pre-order / split-payment listings?

Yes, I do. Bear in mind that the downpayment for 99% of such pre-orders is non-refundable, and they are usually also impossible to dispute.  The seller would require the customer to acknowledge the downpayment so Taobao will release the funds to them. The waiting time can be longer than projected, and delays are the norm for many Lolita clothing stores.

d) Is this a pre-order or is it in stock?

Here are some useful terms that may show up in the item name:

定金 / ding金:Downpayment (usually for a pre-order). Usually the listed price will be significantly lower than the actual price.

预定:Preorder

尾款 / 尾kuan: Remainder payment of a previous pre-order. You can’t purchase it if you did not participate in said preorder.

定做 / 定制: Make to order

现货:In stock

无现货: No available stock (in other words, it must be pre-ordered)

If you’re not sure, just ask me or send your order and I’ll advise you accordingly.

e) Is there a way to know how much stock is available?

See my tips in red.

There are always exceptions to the case! From experience, many sellers will not be sure of exactly how many pieces instock they have, or more accurately, they won’t bother to check. Sometimes, an item is still listed for sale despite being out of stock, and the seller only informs me after the item is paid for. So the indicated quantity on the page may not be the actual quantity available. For made-to-order items, it is even harder to gauge the exact amount of clothing that can be made. Usually, only small businesses and non-professional sellers would keep track of and update the actual stock availability of their items on their Taobao page.

Here’s a tip though. If the page states a large number for the stock availability (e.g. 9999), it usually means the shop has ample quantity of it or plans to restock whenever necessary, but they may not actually carry that much quantity.

Are you seeing the phrase “此宝贝已下架” instead of the format above? That means that the item is unlisted from sale and cannot be purchased.

f) Do you accept group orders?

Yes I accept Group Orders. But I will only handle communications and payments with one person – the GO leader. So it’ll just be like a normal order, but a large one. The GO leader must coordinate all the orders and payments. I will not handle members’ orders and payments separately.

g) How do I choose a reliable Taobao seller?

The best way to find out whether a store is reliable or whether an item is as described or shown in the stock images is to read the customer’s reviews on each product page and on the seller’s rating page. If you can’t read Chinese, there are some other solutions:

Overall Customer Satisfaction Rating

On a shop’s page or item’s page, when you hover your cursor over the seller’s id at the top, this little box will appear:

Those 3 numbers in blue are the ratings that you need to pay attention to. They are all rated out of 5.

The first number at the top is the rating for likeness of product to stock image / item description. This is probably the most important one since one of our greatest worries when shopping online is receiving items that do not look like their stock image. Ideally, a decent rating would be 4.7 and above.

The second rating is for customer service. I suppose this doesn’t concern you as much, since I’m the one dealing with the sellers. However, sellers with higher customer service tend to be more responsible and efficient, and less likely to send wrong items.

The last rating is seller’s speed of posting out items. Shops that sell made-to-order items tend to suffer in this aspect, but usually this rating shouldn’t go below 4.5 unless the seller is not meeting the deadlines they promised. Anything below 4.5 suggests that the seller is inefficient.

In general, if you expect quality, stay clear of anything below 4.7.

Positive, Neutral and Negative Feedback

If you click on the blue words at the bottom right corner of the box, you will be brought to the seller’s feedback page.

This box with the flowers shows the number of positive, neutral and negative feedback that the seller has incurred. The red flower is positive, yellow flower neutral and grey, wilting flower negative. There are four tabs, the default tab (2nd tab) is for feedback in the past month. The very first tab is for feedback in the past week. The 3rd tab is feedback for the past half year. The last tab is feedback for before the past half year and beyond.

I do not trust this feedback rating very much because most buyers are unwilling to leave negative or neutral feedback because they are afraid of getting neutral or negative feedback from the seller in return. There are times when I see a Red flower, but a very negative comment. So it’s really not quite accurate. On the other hand, a decent seller may receive a negative feedback from an unreasonable customer, affecting his/her feedback even though he/she is actually a really good seller.

Of course, if a seller has several yellow and grey wilting flowers, it is a sign to avoid it since most reasonable buyers do not leave neutral or negative feedback for no good reason.

Stock Images

One more way to judge is quality of stock images. Original, beautiful and professional-looking stock images and detail images are indications of a seller’s sincerity and professionalism.

Some Taobao shops use stolen stock images rather than their own pictures, and try to replicate the items in the photo. This results in actual item looking slightly different from the picture. If I’m aware that the shop uses stolen stock images or has bad reviews, I will inform you. But if such information isn’t clear from the shopfront,  then I would not be able to tell you. Please use your good judgment. Basically, you get what you pay for. If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true. Google’s image search function will also inform you if the same stock image is being used elsewhere.

There are always exceptions to every case, so if you are still not sure whether a store is reliable, don’t hesitate to tell me your doubts. I’ll read through the reviews and let you know what they say!

h) Can I add on new purchases later and still ship everything together?

Sure you can.

i) Can you help me search for items / translate product descriptions?

Chinese websites

I can help you to search for specific items, but I will require a detailed description e.g. brand name, book title, style, colour etc.

For general items, I can advise you on some keywords that you can use to do your search.

For product descriptions, I will only translate crucial information such as waiting time and any other information that I feel would be important to your order. If you have specific questions or requirements for the product, please ask me.

Taobao has a function that allows you to search by uploading a photo.

If buying clothes, please refer to the FAQ “j) Regarding clothes, what size should I choose?” to understand sizing.

Japanese websites:

My understanding of Japanese is limited. I might be able to help with titles and pairing keywords (for doujinshi), and identify whether something is in-stock or preorder, fanfiction or manga content, that’s about it.

j) Regarding clothes, what size should I choose?

Standard sizes for Clothing

Standard sizes i.e. S, M, L, XL and One-size only pieces differ for different stores. Even for different items within the same store, the measurements may be different for the same sizes. Never assume that just because you usually wear a certain size back home, the same size from the Taobao store will fit you. Size is just a label on Taobao.

The measurements will usually be stated in the item’s description in cm. Online translations tend to do a decent job with translating them, but if the seller uses images for the size chart, the translator can’t pick it up, so knowing what the relevant terms are will be helpful. Here are some common ones:

身高: Height
肩宽/肩寬: Shoulder width
胸围/胸圍: Bust
腰围/腰圍: Waist
臀围/臀圍: Hips

衣长/衣長: Length of whole outfit / Length of top
裤长/褲長: Length of pants
裙长/裙長: Length of skirt, may sometimes refer to length of a whole dress too
袖长/袖長: Length of sleeve

男: Male size
女: Female size

All sizes are in cm. Measurements stated may not be spot-on due to a variety of reasons. Please expect slight differences of around +/- 2 to 3 cm.

You should thus find out your own measurements in cm in order to choose the most fitting size. There are lots of guides on taking your own measurements which apply internationally, so I won’t go into that. If you really need help, feel free to ask.

Standard sizes for shoes

Shoes on Taobao generally take on Chinese sizes, which are very similar to European size, but usually about 0.5 larger. To get an accurate Chinese size for your feet, you will need to measure the length of your sole.

The upper row indicates the Chinese shoe size while the lower row indicates the corresponding length of sole in mm.

However, if the width of your feet tends to give you issues (e.g. if you have wide feet or bunions), you may wish to provide the width of your feet as well so I can check it out on Taobao’s feet size calculator. They have a very good one here but unfortunately you need to be logged in to see it.

Here’s a simple guide to measuring your foot length and width: http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Your-Shoe-Size
Do work with cm/mm instead of inches.

Most of us have one foot slightly larger than the other. Make sure you provide the size of your larger foot unless you don’t mind it being pinched throughout the day.

Some shoes may run large or small. This information may be available in the seller’s description, or in the customers’ reviews.

k) What measurements should I provide for custom-sized clothes / footwear?

Custom sizes for clothing

If you’re getting your clothing custom-sized, the basic info required by most sellers is as follows:
Height, bust, waist, hips, shoulder width, biological gender.
Provide all measurements in cm.

Sellers may specify the measurements they need, so please follow that as much as possible.

Feel free to use your good judgement and common sense to provide additional information. If the outfit has sleeves, then provide your desired sleeve length. If it’s a top and a skirt, then provide your preferred length of top and length of skirt. If you often find sleeves tight on your arm, you might wish to provide the circumference of your upper arm. And so forth. There is no guarantee that the tailor will use all the measurements that they did not ask for, but if they notice that the clothing may not fit at certain parts, they can inform us.

On the other hand, do not over-complicate measurements. For example, if it’s a simple pair of pants, don’t split it up into parts and provide thigh length, length of calf and whatnot. No tailor will go to that extent to make it so exact to your body unless it’s your personal tailor. Pants length will do. That said, please understand that it is not quite possible to get a 100% exact fit when you have your clothing custom-made online by someone who hasn’t seen you in person. If you’re particular about the fit, you may have to be prepared to have a local tailor adjust your outfit.

For measurement of body parts, do provide your actual body measurements. The tailor will translate this to garment measurements accordingly so you do not have to incorporate a buffer.

Custom sizes for shoes

For boots, you generally need to provide: Biological gender, Chinese shoe size, boot height, circumference of opening in cm. For shoes with no extension beyond the ankle, you’d just need to provide your Chinese shoe size.

 

l) I need my cosplay / Lolita clothes for an event. How far in advance should I place my order?

For preorders, the waiting time will usually be mentioned in the listing. It tends to be really long for first-protocol designs to accommodate delays.

For re-releases that are custom-made to size, you should order at least 2 months in advance:

  • 1-2 weeks for production
  • Up to 1 week for domestic shipping
  • 1 to 2 weeks for express courier shipping (DHL takes 3 days but is really expensive)
  • Additional couple of weeks to adjust / touch up your costume

Understandably it’s not always possible to plan ahead, with new events, new dream dresses and new hit anime popping up suddenly. Please make sure you have back-up plans so you can still enjoy yourself at the event even if you have to make do without your new purchase.

m) Is my personal information safe with you?

Your personal information will only be shared with the relevant parties who are involved in processing your order/shipment. Order-specific information like body measurements will be shared with the seller. Shipping information will be shared with the postal service / courier and the logistics agent handling your parcel. Aside from that, I will not give your information to anyone else.

2) Cancellations / Changes

I chose the wrong option. Can I change it?

You can make changes before I start purchasing your items. After I have placed the order, the decision lies with the seller. it is usually possible at no extra cost if the seller hasn’t already started making it or dispatching it. Otherwise, you will need to be responsible for any extra charges incurred to do the return or changes.

I only want item A and I’m just adding the rest to make the shipping fees worthwhile. If item A is not available, can I cancel the whole order?

Please let me know this when placing the order. I will verify the availability of item A before going ahead with the whole order. And because some sellers will only check their stock after they receive payment, I will only process the rest of the order after item A is secured.

I’ve paid, but now I want to cancel my order. Can I?

Cancellations are generally only allowed if:

  • The item you wish to purchase is out of stock
  • Seller has a cancellation policy
  • Part of a set is out of stock (e.g. you ordered a dress and matching accessory. The dress is out of stock. You may then cancel the whole set)
  • Waiting time is unreasonably extended (subject to seller’s cancellation policies)
  • Seller sent out a wrong or defective item (the first course of action is to get an exchange, but it may also be possible to cancel for legitimate reasons)

If an order is cancelled successfully on your request, my handling fees are non-refundable. (You will not be charged handling fees if your purchase is out of stock)

3) Pre-Shipping

Can you take photos of my purchases when they arrive at the consolidation location and show them to me?

Sorry, but unless you have legitimate concerns that the seller would send out the wrong item or something that is not what you want (in which case you probably shouldn’t order from the seller), this service is not available.

Do you do quality checks?

Yes, please take note of the following:

Quantity: If the seller sends out less than what you ordered, the seller will be asked to send out the missing quantities free of charge. For bulk purchases concerning small items (e.g. buttons), it will not be possible to count everything and achieve a 100% accuracy.

Colour: The general color of the items will be checked (e.g. blue vs yellow), but not so much the shade of the colour (e.g. turquoise vs cerulean). The lighting when the photo was taken and the difference in calibration of colours on monitors can lead to slight difference in colours between actual item and photo onscreen.

Size: If the item comes with a sizing label, it is possible to check the order against it. If there’s no label, it will not be possible to check it. This applies to custom-sized clothing too.

Design/Style: Where there are multiple designs available, checks will be conducted to ensure the seller sent out the correct design. Marginal differences in design may be missed.

Obvious defects: Huge stains, scratches, holes/tears, dents and other obvious damages are usually spotted. However, quality issues like low-quality fabric, tiny holes, uneven prints and other non-obvious defects may not be spotted.

For items in sealed packaging, checks will be conducted based on what is visible through the packaging or what is printed on the packaging. The product will not be extracted for further inspection.

Inspections will not be conducted for the following:

  • Authenticity of branded/designer/official goods
  • Functionality
  • Complicated items consisting of multiple parts and accessories: Cue cosplay costumes, props, self-assembled models… we do check the general appearance, but there’s the possibility of missing or wrong parts that we may not catch on, especially if the parts are small/numerous, or if the seller’s description is vague.
  • Gifts/Freebies, unless it’s a bonus item that you had to pay more for.

Only purchase from reputable shops with good feedback. It will reduce the likelihood of problems with your purchase.

How long do I wait to receive my purchases after making payment?

For instock items, your purchase will usually reach the warehouse within a week. Shipping duration to you depends on your choice of shipping method.

If there’s a problem with the received product (e.g. seller sent the wrong item), product exchange may incur another week of delay.

For preorders, made-to-order items and during holiday season, the waiting time will vary. I’ll let you know. Cosplay costumes can easily incur a waiting time of 1-2 months, while for Lolita clothing, it could be around 3-6 months.

I don’t want to ship my purchases now. Do you offer item storage?

Yes, for Taobao / China, non-perishable items can be stored for free for up to 1 month (30 days) from the time your purchase arrives at the warehouse. After that, each item will be subject to a 0.10 SGD storage charge per item per day. The maximum storage time is 2 months (60 days), after which, your purchases may be disposed of if shipping arrangements are not made.

For my Japanese shopping service, the free storage period is 2 months. A daily fee of 1 SGD per item per day is required upon exceeding this free storage period.

For Taiwan shopping service, there’s no charge for storage, and there isn’t a specific deadline for storage period, but the consolidation location is a residential house, not a warehouse. The faster you can have your items shipped, the better.

I need to receive my items by _____ date. Can you make it happen?

No, I can’t. I don’t own the postal services or the shops, so it’s not up to me to promise you a date that you’ll receive your items. For made-to-order products, bear in mind that production time frame estimations given by sellers are generally just estimations. They are subject to delays. Even the most reputable of sellers overshoot promised deadlines for various reasons. This isn’t something within my control. I can only ensure that they eventually get your item shipped out or try to ask them to cancel your order and give a refund.

4) Shipping

Can I insure my package?

This is only possible for purchases from Taobao.
With exception to some items like preorder items and custom orders, you can insure your whole package by paying 5% extra on top of the cost of your items + shipping fee. Should the package be lost / damaged in process of shipping and there is sufficient evidence for it, full compensation will be made regardless of the value indicated on the package.

Please note that insuring of items is only possible if the items are purchased direct through my logistics/shipping agent’s account. This applies to most items except the following:

  • Pre-order items with multiple payment stages
  • Items where seller requests advance non-refundable payment
  • Items that are selling out very fast.
  • Custom-designed items

I use my personal account for the above, so they do not qualify for insurance. If you buy insurance, you can insure for shipping costs i.e. you get refunded shipping costs if anything happens to the parcel, as well as other items in the same parcel that are purchased direct through the agent.

Can I request for packaging material to be removed to reduce the weight of the package?
  • By default, packaging materials used for domestic shipping will be removed.
  • Shoe boxes can be removed on request. Please ask when placing your order. On a side note, they don’t really contribute much weight. The ones that take up space are boots boxes. Boots will be folded if you ask to remove the box.
  • Original product packaging will not be removed.
  • Packers reserve the right to make the decision not to remove the packaging material if it is believed that may cause damage to the product during shipping.
Can I ship some of my purchases separately? / Can I ship out some of my purchases first?

Yes you can.

How are items packed to ensure safety of my purchases?

Here is a typical package my shipping agent ships out. Usually, a large sheet of bubble wrap will be used to wrap the contents. Items that don’t come with individual packaging will be covered in a clear bag if necessary.

Many doujinshi retailers have an option to provide a box for domestic shipping at an added cost. I will recommend choosing this option, and this box will not be removed for overseas shipment. Likewise for accessories, if the seller mails it out in a box, this box will serve as a protective box during shipping.

If you wish to reinforce packaging for any other fragile materials that may get damaged during shipping, please ask me when making shipping arrangements. It is usually free of charge.

I want to avoid expensive customs fees. Can you mark down the value of my package?

Sure, please tell me what value the package should be marked as. For packages from China (Taobao), all packages are marked as non-commercial packages with an approximate value of 10 USD, unless otherwise requested.

But please note that in event that your package is lost or damaged, you will only be entitled to a maximum compensation of the value on the package.

For my Japanese shopping service, packages will come with a list of your purchases and their prices. For Taiwan and Taobao shopping services, invoices are not included. If you need an invoice, please ask.

5) After Sales

Customs got my package and is asking for the invoice.

Do email me and I’ll get it prepared for you. Prices of items can be marked down according to your request.

I haven’t received my parcel / Tracking status is abnormal

For all delivery-related issues, contact your local post office / courier to make inquiries using your tracking number as soon as you can. If your parcel is supposedly signed for, do also check with anyone who might have access to your apartment or lives nearby to see if they signed for your parcel while you were away.

Do not wait for the post office to contact you! I have had returned packages from customers because the postmen don’t leave a notice for failed deliveries and the package was returned after the claim period. Please check the tracking status of your package regularly until you receive it!

I’m not satisfied with my purchases. Will you compensate me?

I am not a seller and none of the sellers you choose are my suppliers. I purchase items on your behalf, consolidate them and ship them to your address according to your instructions.

As such, please understand that my responsibilities and actions are limited compared to an actual seller because the product or service you purchase is not provided by myself. I do not have control over, nor am I able to guarantee the quality, accuracy, legality, user-friendliness or safety of your purchase.

My parcel is damaged / has some items missing. How do I file a claim?

Evidence is needed for all claims.

Before you open your parcel:

  • Inspect the box first for signs that it has been opened up or damaged.
  • Take clear pictures of the sealed openings on the box (that’s usually the top, and bottom of the parcel). Photograph the damages if any.

Inspect contents:

  • Open your package gently. If you’re using a pen knife, do not push it in too deep as you may cut into the contents.
  • Snap another top view picture of the layout of the contents in the box
  • Check all items as soon as you can.If items are damaged, photograph the damage. If a part of a set / item is missing, photograph the parts that you did receive. If there is a sticker label with numbers on it, that is usually the identification label used by the warehouse to identify items, photograph it as well. Do not dispose the product packaging until the case is closed.
  • Send all your photos to me with explanations about the problem and I’ll get it looked into as soon as possible.
  • If there are problems with your parcel, contact me within 2 weeks from the projected deadline that you are supposed to receive your parcel. Otherwise, I assume that you have safely received your parcel with no problems, and that concludes the end of our transaction.

If the exterior of the package is damaged, and the contents are damaged or missing as a result, I can file a complaint / compensation to the courier company or post office.

If contents are missing, but the parcel is intact, the missing item will be sent out if found, or you will get a refund.

Word of caution: it is generally very difficult to claim for damages and missing parcels from the postal service.

I would like to assure that all packages are carefully packed, with generous usage of boxes and bubble-wrap where necessary. Many different people/companies are involved in the shipping process and it is difficult to pinpoint the blame. Sometimes the item is already damaged during domestic shipping and it is missed during the inspection. Even if the claim is successful, if the value of the parcel has been marked down, the compensation amount is very little.

I will do my best to protect your interests, but if I fail to secure a claim for you, please understand that I have tried my best.

For packages shipped from China, you can insure your whole package for a small fee. Please refer to the question “Can I insure my package” under section 4. If you have had shipping problems before or your country’s postal service is not very good, this is strongly recommended.

There’s a quality problem with my purchase. Can I get a refund / exchange?

Please take clear photos of the problem areas and email them to me.

I will try my best to help you get some form of compensation, but I can’t guarantee it. Once a transaction on Taobao ends (it closes automatically about 15 days after the seller posts out the item if no complaint is lodged), and usually it ends before the recipient receives the package due to the long duration of overseas shipping, the seller has no obligation to entertain complaints and refunds, and the outcome really boils down to the seller’s ethics. Unfortunately, they usually aren’t willing to send out a replacement with free international shipping because it’s too costly.

Here are examples of problem cases I encountered and their somewhat successful outcomes

  • Platform shoes fell apart completely, the seller gave a full refund
  • Dress had a streak across the print of her skirt. The seller exchanged the dress, was willing to pay for the spoiled dress to be airmailed to China, but the buyer had to pay for shipping back.
  • Received a wrong wig (both wigs were the same colour but in different styles), and was offered a 50% discount on the correct wig to be sent out.

Less desirable outcomes:

  • Received a dress with small holes. The seller ignored my complaint.
  • Received a costume that was way shorter than requested length. Seller offered to fix it for free but was unwilling to pay for shipping there and back.
  • Received two cardigans that were labelled XL but turned out to be really XS. The seller ignored my message.
Why is the weight on the package label different from what you quoted me?

When items are inventoried, they are weighed individually and their weights are input into the system. When the customer requests for the shipping fee quote, the weights of these items are added up, and then multiplied by 110% to include the weight of packaging materials. It is assumed that weight of the packaging materials is 10% that of the weight of the items. This is usually quite an accurate estimation because for heavier packages, more and sturdier packaging material is required for packaging.

Usually the difference in the estimated weight and weight measured by the post office / courier company is not significant to warrant a different shipping fee value. If it is, you would be informed and given a refund for the difference.