Flash-Back LJ Post Import: Review: From Japan + FedEx + Putumayo & Amazon Japan [Mostly Positive]

From Japan (http://www.fromjapan.co.jp) is a shopping service I recently heard about and it’s pretty cheap compared to most of the others I’ve used, so I thought I’d give it a try. It mostly went well, but there was a really odd bit about Import Forms, which people in the US may be interested in, even if they don’t use this service. Also included are reviews for 4 putumayo items.

I ordered a few items from Putumayo’s Clearance Sale (http://www.putumayo-home.com/sale/index.html):

ジュエリーリボン別珍ワンピ – 黒/白 (OP) – 6,820 Yen + 5% paypal fee (341 yen)
ファーティペット付カットソー – 黒/白 (cutsew) – 3,620 Yen + 5% paypal fee (181 yen)
トランプストール付ロンT – 黒/赤 (cutsew) – 3,620 Yen + 5% paypal fee (181 yen)
オータムガーデン スカラップスカート – 黒/紺 (skirt) – 5,670 Yen + 5% paypal fee (283 yen)
+168 yen Bank transfer fee
+Free ShippingAnd a GLB Volume 3 from Amazon Japan Marketplace:
1 Yen + 250 yen Domestic Delivery Charge + 260 Bank Transfer fee
Overseas shipping: 3,856 yen
Insurance: 100 yen

Paypal fee on shipping: (5%) 230 yen (This includes the paypal fee for the Bank and Domestic Delivery fees above)

Total Item Cost: 19,731
Total Shipping & Insurance: 4,206
Total Fees: 1,644 Yen

:note: I earned points with them when I made orders, and 1 point can be redeemed for 1 yen. I spent my 16 points that I earned, so I saved 16 yen.. somewhere. So it might be off by 16 yen. XD

As far as I understand it, Bank Transfer Fee is when they send money to the shop, and Paypal fee is the paypal transfer fee + their commission. There is no paypal fee on items purchased with points.

From Japan has an ordering system where you pick if it is an auction or shop, enter your url, comments, item name, bid, quantity and photos (so they can be sure they get the right color/item, I’m thinking) It’s pretty nice, actually. If looks for images on the page, or you can upload your own.

I copy-pasted the item names/colors from the Putumayo website, and the information for the whole listing I wanted from Amazon, and got exactly what I ordered.

All communication was automatic; I never spoke with a real person.

Once I entered my request, I got an email with a quote for each item. Items were quoted separately, but billed as a group, so they could be paid for all at once. They do request that you make a note in the comments if you want more than one thing from the same web shop. (presumably so they order it all at once).

After you pay for the initial item cost (through a shopping cart system on their site, which is slightly confusing in that it’s peppered with the paypal pay button… but they are just using it as the paypal logo. I kept clicking on them too early in the process and of course they did nothing. XD) you get a confirmation saying it was received, and they ask you to go pick out shipping. You can check a box next to items you want shipped together and set up the shipping type here ahead of time. You then get a message as soon as they place the order, which reminds you again to set up shipping if you haven’t yet.

Your profile has an area with the list of items you bought, their photo, name, link, and status at all times (and the status will indicate when you need to do something, and link you to it).

Once they get your items, the status updates, and you get an email saying the items came in.

Next you get an invoice for Charge 2, which is the shipping to the US, and then a confirmation after you pay that.

Finally, you get an email saying the items have shipped with the tracking info. From the moment I placed my order, until the moment it shipped to the US was under 6 days (and this includes items shipping to them).

Now, here is where it started getting weird. They didn’t declare it all properly for customs. I got a call from a lady with FedEx saying they left out the material contents of the OP, and if the cutsews were “woven” or “knit”. Here is our first snag; some of the items are gone from the site because they sold out. On the upside, I found the OP on the Kerashop site, which hadn’t removed it yet. I suspect that they left it off of the label because they went to fill it out right before they sent it and the information was gone off of the web. I sent that on to the lady at Fedex, but couldn’t answer her cutsew question, so she said she would ask the shopping service. I also couldn’t supply the address of the manufacturer which apparently was also required. I gave her the address of all of Putumayo’s shops… but that wasn’t good enough. She said she would contact the shopping service, and she had asked me because of the time difference.

Lastly, she asked for my social security number …and laughed at me when I said I didn’t have it memorized. x_x I considered informing her that it was rude to laugh and pointing out that I have a learning disability that makes it hard for me to memorize random strings of numbers, but I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t want to piss her off. So I let her just think I was stupid, bleh .__.’

…and I also needed a signed CBP Form 5106 (http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/toolbox/forms/) She said that ALL textile/clothing orders that come through customs that are over $250.00 USD require this form, no matter what. I’ve never been asked for it before, even with the IW LPs I’ve bought that have been over $1,000. So I have no idea why I suddenly needed it (or conversely, why I’ve never been asked for it before).

In the mean time, my package had changed tracking status to say that is was delayed in customs. Once the paperwork was submitted, it started moving again… I only lost a day, so it wasn’t too bad. Probably would have been less than that if I had gotten the form in right away; I couldn’t scan it until after her office hours were long over.

Once the package got here, my brother signed for it because I was at work, and then I got it later that evening. It was all packed in a Putumayo box, which had clearly been opened prior to being mailed to the US, and resealed. So it looked like they opened it, inspected it, put the book in and sent it on. All the clothing items were in individual plastic bags, and the book was bubble wrapped. There was brown paper on the top to fill the extra space, and a shipping invoice on top of that. The box was in remarkably good shape, everything inside was fine (thought a little wrinkled.)

From the day I ordered, to the day I opened my box, it was 11 days.

Communication: 5/5 (it’s pretty awesome, for an automated system)
Clarity of item status: 5/5 (they beat any other service I’ve used out of the water)
Ease of use: 4.5/5
Shipping: 3/5 (they needed to fill out the customs form right)
Cost: 5/5 (closest thing I’ve found to free)

So, the down sides:
You have to deposit money with a credit card (5% fee) or bank transfer first to use them for auctions, and even then, they only do Yahoo! Japan. ::edit:: apparently, they will do mbok too, but it’s not automated.
They did not fill in all required customs info.

Over all, I would recommend them as a store shopping service, though, perhaps not for things that are going to sell out really fast unless you make a note of the item condition in your order form. For the price I paid, I’m happy. I’m ordering some other lolita mooks from amazon market place with them at the moment, actually.

Now, on to the Putumayo items. I’m relatively happy with the cutsews. They are cute and well, a cutesew is a cutsew. I will say that on the one cutsew with the fur collar (http://www.putumayo-home.com/ap-cut/t245.html), the velvet ribbon the collar ties with is a little cheap, and the fake fur is a bit crushed, but meh, I wasn’t really expecting much.

The Autumn Garden Scalloped Skirt (http://lolibrary.org/node/10657) is short, and not very full (and that was something you can see from the photos) The color blue is very different from the photos (it’s a faded dark slate color, not the vivid blue of the photos).

The Jewelry Ribbon Velveteen OP, however, is a disappointment.
Lolibrary: http://lolibrary.org/node/10280
I got the black x white because it was all they had left. The back ties are white, and a cheap satin sort of material that looks (and feels) terrible. The material is a sort of velveteen that is very, very short, and sort of stiff. The skirt can barely accommodate a little bodyline panier, and is short on me (I’m 5’3″). It looks a bit maid-costume-y. The print is screen-toned on and seems a little clumpy. I guess there is a reason it was on clearance.

Jewelry Ribbon Velveteen OP – 2/5
Autumn Garden Scalloped SK – 4.5/5
Autumn Garden Cutsew – 4.5/5
Alice Cutsew 5/5