Buying items from Japan

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Porcupine
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by Porcupine »

Took a quick look and White Rabbit seems competitive.

Buyee has just now dropped their fees dramatically, so I think they may be the best again, for some orders. Their whole website and fee structure has been revamped. They now claim their service fee is roughly 5% or free, lower than it's ever been. Once again they have multiple hidden fees, but it's not the same ones as before. This seems too good to be true, but if I take their word for it, I might give them another try soon.

You effectively have to waive all insurance, checking, and package consolidation to attain the lowest fee, but that seems to be what they are best for at the moment. EMS shipping became way more expensive in June this year, so going the cheapest route is killing two birds with one stone. In response to the drastic increase in EMS shipping cost, many online Japanese shops and courier services have gone back to offering economy shipping options.

Hopefully the competition from Buyee will finally pressure Japonica Market to figure out how to start accepting direct credit card payments, instead of PayPal, whose additional 3.2% fees are bottlenecking their business.

By the way, as VOTwinstick said, another problem with Buyee is that they only work on Yahoo Japan Auctions and specific online marketplaces. Not only that, but they forbid me to bid on roughly 10% of auctions I look at. Their automated system flags sellers with insufficient volume of feedback (even if it's good) and flags auctions with certain words in it. For example an auction that generically states "Our grading scale for items - A: Mint B: Good D: has some dirt or scratches" gets flagged because the word "dirt" is in it.

The people who work at Japonica Market do a good job of checking your auctions for safety, using real people. So if there is a seller with 30 good feedback and 1 negative feedback, and the negative feedback says "You are stupid!" and was removed, they will bid on it.
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MentholMoose
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose »

In case anyone has not been made unaware, the USD to JPY exchange rate is exceptionally favorable for buying items from Japan. It's literally the best rate in decades.
1 United States Dollar equals 148.45 Japanese Yen
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MentholMoose
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Re: Buying items from Japan

Post by MentholMoose »

Lately I've been using FROM JAPAN. The basic fee for an auction item is a flat ¥300. There are other fees but overall it seems competitive. They changed their payment verification system so I couldn't use a Capital One card anymore, and their customer service suggested switching to PayPal which is a rip off for foreign transactions. I found a card from US Bank with no foreign transaction fees that works with their verification system. Overall I can recommend FROM JAPAN as long as you can find a card with no fees that works with their payment verification.
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Porcupine
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Re: Buying items from Japan

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Looks like I haven't updated my activities here in ages.

From Japan was the best proxy service by far for a number of years, and they mostly replaced Japonica Market for me (they could never replace them completely, as each proxy service has their quirks, and From Japan has never accepted mercari orders). Their 300 yen flat fee also used to apply once per store order, which was wonderful. Unfortunately, From Japan changed to 300 yen per item a couple years ago and also became more strict with hentish materials (even back when From Japan was at its best, they once allowed me to order a hentai anime, then flagged it after receiving it. I then had to pay From Japan's arbitrary and outlandish ransom fee to ship it to another proxy in Japan).

Buyee is the only proxy I know of that still does 300 yen per store order so I started to try them after that, but they also have a ton of problems. There are so many things to complain of. I actually haven't had a single order go completely the way I expected with them.

The virus and shipping situation has made things even more problematic, so now I'm looking to other proxy services once again. I just tried using Neokyo/Zenmarket (they seem to have recently combined) but right now it's pick your poison with proxy services.

All proxy services except From Japan seem to charge an extra 3.5% PayPal fee in addition to their service fees. From Japan can avoid this since they are one of the few proxies that can accept credit card payments directly. Buyee secretly adds 4% fee to your total order when they do the currency conversion, and there is no option to pay in yen. I have a Chase Visa that gives 5% cash back with PayPal sometimes, which is one way to offset that cost.

The yen rate is extremely favorable but the shipping has gotten tremendously more expensive multiple times the last couple years, and Japan taxes have also increased twice. Just a couple days ago, I got notice that some Japanese figure stores that let you order directly are now going to start charging US domestic taxes upon us (this is terrible, but also makes proxy services more attractive until they also start charging US domestic tax. Hopefully they won't, as that would be double taxation).

My Capital One Mastercard without foreign transaction fee still worked with From Japan last month.
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Porcupine
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Re: Buying items from Japan

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There's another relatively new, really good proxy DeJapan. I'm hoping to try them soon. Their commission fees are supposedly zero if you just use them for forwarding (this is amazing considering that unlike most forwarding services, they will also help you to pay, which is critically important). And they really seem to perhaps be free, no hidden currency conversion (Buyee) or shipping fees.

If you want to combine packages, then you will be charged an extremely low 100 yen per order (not per item, so again this is extremely amazing). Solid shipping options, though not as good as From Japan on this. Proxy choice is complicated so DeJapan still might not be ideal for everything: don't know which sites they might not be able to order from, customs flexibility, packing, hentai policy, etc.

I'm not really a hentai (figures and pillows for collection purposes don't count! and I don't even open them) but the Japanese VOOM players are making fun of me now and I've (temporarily?) gotten stuck with the moniker of being hentai during their tournaments, with lots of players declaring they are hentais and showing off their H powers for laughs (they also pointed out that H could stand for Hawaii). Probably Fei-Yen shooting heart beams is another contributing factor. I've been too busy to make a vtuber, but when I do then maybe I can use this title for something constructive.

FromJapan just changed their membership levels. The nice girl icons are gone and now renamed to boring Green/Gold/Platinum with the same minor perks (I'm usually Green or Gold). A new membership level Black is added where you must spent $50000 a year and then they will basically do anything they can for you like search for items. Also your fee is reduced from 300 to 100 yen per item. Essentially just for show unless you are running some kind of business. There are other proxy services that search for items for normal people (and you'd pay for that).
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Porcupine
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Re: Buying items from Japan

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Made my first order with DeJapan. Overall probably good, but a few problems.

Their faq pages are not well written, but DeJapan charges 100 yen per item, and not per order like I'd thought. This is still pretty good. They are most directly comparable to From Japan, since only these two services do not charge a Paypal payment processing fee of roughly 3.5% of everything you pay.

From Japan and many other proxies have improved recently but it's not due to themselves, but rather:

1) Japan in general seems to have redone the way they process payments, so Yahoo Auctions and Mercari no longer charge 200 yen extra per item, to purchase.
2) Mercari now openly allows proxies again, so most proxies are allowing Mercari purchases. (note: DeJapan has a ridiculous extra 500 yen charge per Mercari item, so I would not recommend them to purchase from Mercari).

In my DeJapan order, I combined two CD lots ordered from Yahoo Japan Auctions with 1 order of 6 items from Suruga-ya. I was charged 800 yen total commission, and not a cent more. Shipping was not marked up, and seems to be packaged efficiently by default (I'll find out when it actually gets here). From Japan re-packages everything ideally. Some other proxies like Buyee combine packages foolishly (they just put all your received boxes into another box without any kind of protective materials: your shipping cost bloats up, plus you have to pay combination fees).

From Japan would have charged me 2400 yen commission for this order, so there are some cases where DeJapan can't be beat for now, although any place that charges per order and not per item might beat them.

Note that I did not use DeJapan in the most ideal way here, but I can't blame this against them, since the only thing beating DeJapan here was using DeJapan smarter.

If you are going to order lots of items from one store, it is best not to combine at all with DeJapan, and just forward the package. That way, I think I would have gotten charged nothing instead of 800 yen. However, I would have had to pay shipping on two packages.

If I order from Suruga-ya again, I'll probably use DeJapan and just forward the package without combination. But then I'd have to find something else to combine into my Yahoo Japan Auction orders to make shipping worthwhile (two CD lots were too cheap, ideally I should have combined them with a $100~$400 figure or something, but I wasn't able to find any good auction to win).

Another big problem I had with DeJapan is that they are a small team, and they are quite slow to place a store order. I lost parts of my Suruga-ya order because they were sold out. Don't use DeJapan if you need them to order quick. Unfortunately, I don't know anywhere else to order cheaply from Suruga-ya right now, and Suruga-ya is the place where everything sells out fast and they have daily lightning sales.

DeJapan also won't underdeclare packages in case you are buying things which could have customs fees (I still do not know if anime pillows and blankets get customs, but I am scared because they might, and they are expensive). I don't know about hentais. I bought one R18 item in my recent order, but there was absolutely nothing pervy about it and the item was just misclassified (I guess, if you try to buy anything pervy from Suruga-ya, just don't combine it, and hopefully DeJapan won't open it to check and confiscate what you bought, like From Japan did to me once).
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