Buying Transformers on Taobao

Discussion in 'Transformers 3rd Party Discussion' started by botfan, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    I recently made a purchase from taobao that has yet to ship from the seller. What kinds of experiences have people on this site had shopping with Taobao? Any advice for a noob?

    I considered going with taobaoring, but the fees and shipping were much higher than just setting up an account on taobao and using alipay. My order is supposed to be shipped to a warehouse, where it will then be shipped domestically via usps. I am just not sure how many scammers there are on taobao and what are normal wait times for sellers to ship.
     
  2. DoubleClouder

    DoubleClouder Prototype / Testshot collector

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    I've had really mixed results. I've always gotten my money back but it's a pain.
     
  3. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    When did you know to ask for your money back and how many scammers did you come across? 50/50, 30/70?
     
  4. kukuburd

    kukuburd Well-Known Member

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    I've been buying transformers off taobao for about half a year, and so far it's been pretty smooth. When I first started I used a agent like taobaoring, but the fees and the communication delays was getting too much, plus I had to request for refunds a couple of times due to either items being out of stock or sellers being unresponsive (though that might have been a problem with the agent, their response time wasn't great to begin with).

    Since I switched to buying directly off taobao myself, I haven't had any issues. Tips to choosing the right seller:

    1.) Look at their follower count. The higher, the better. its the value shown as 关注. Anything lower than 1k, approach with caution. Sellers I frequent like Choice Toy have 43k (4.3万), which is huge. Most reliable shops range anywhere between 1-10k.

    2.) Look at their customer ratings. You should see 3 numbers which represent item description accuracy, customer service satisfaction and delivery service satisfaction. Of course, the higher the better. Avoid sellers with ratings that appear in green, which is usually a 4.5(out of 5) or lower.

    3.) Of lesser importance are the awards and badges they accumulate from taobao. A gold medal means they have performed well over the last month and the little blue diamonds and crowns represent overall customer satisfaction. I'm not sure how these are awarded exactly, but generally the gold medals are awarded to shops that have been monitored by taobao and meant to help advertise smaller/new shops that have performed well over the past month. The blue diamonds and crowns....all I know is gold crowns > blue crowns > diamonds. The more the better. I generally don't rely on these too much tho cos I can't fathom how they are handed out.

    4.) Look for shops that are shown as Tmall, you'll see a black cat icon. These means that the seller has a physical shop presence, which of course means they're safer. But I've seen Tmall sellers with pretty bad ratings and their prices are usually higher, plus some sellers like Choice Toy do have a physical shop front but they don't advertise themselves as under the Tmall 'brand'. It's good to know, but not really crucial when it comes to buying toys off taobao.

    5.) for shipping within China, it has been nothing short of stellar. Every delivery is tracked with real time updates and so far I've had zero issues with delivery. Can't speak for USPS tho once the package has left China. The official taobao reshipment warehouses are situated in Guangzhou, so picking sellers that ship from the same province could mean that sometimes your stuff can arrive at the warehouse within a day, maybe 2. I've had stuff shipped from as far as Beijing arrive at the warehouse in under 3 days. Generally speaking the norm should be between 2-5days, barring delays due to holidays in China (mainly golden week and cny)

    5.) If you can converse in mandarin, it helps a lot to chat with the seller directly before placing an order. The taobao app has a built in chat function. Sometimes a listing may be out of stock and the seller forgets to update it. Generally things to ask are: stock availability (现货), how long would it take for them to dispatch the order after payment, and I would sometimes ask if they can waive the shipping cost if I'm buying multiple items from the same seller and they don't offer free shipping on their listing. You can bargain as well tho i've only succeeded once with choice toy. If the seller is unresponsive, avoid.

    6.) Read the customer reviews for individual items. Of course, the more, the better. Some reviews have pictures, I find that it helps to look through them as well. Reviews that only say 好评 means a customer that bought the item hasn't bothered to post a review, so it defaults to a simple 'good' review. I generally try not to rely on that, but if the item is from a reputable seller in the first place you should be safe.

    7.) Be wary of items listed at suspiciously low prices. Listings with only one or two stock photos and no further descriptions. Listings with zero user reviews.

    8.) Some sellers list second hand items, which is rare cos taobao has another platform specifically for the second hand market called 闲鱼 and they routinely scour listings to label all preowned items on the main taobao platform. Clicking on second hand listings inside the app would bring you to a page prompting u to install the 闲鱼 app to continue. On a PC, it would just redirect you to the 闲鱼 website, it's pretty obvious. Still, some listings may slip through the the cracks and remain on taobao itself. Look for keywords like 全新(new),未开封(sealed, unopened).

    That's about all I can think of for now. Cheers
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
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  5. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    Awesome, thanks! I'll use these points for my next purchase. I ordered stomp from a seller at what seemed like the standard going price on the site. I don't speak mandarin, so I can't communicate through the app, and there doesn't seem to be any way to send an email to the seller. The order was placed last Wednesday, so I might be jumping the gun, and I've used the "remind seller to ship" option several times. It's possible I just haven't given it enough time. I've also wanted to use the "Honey Bee" communication from Taobao, since it seems to support english, but I think I'm outside of their business hours and will need to try again Monday.
     
  6. barrelks

    barrelks Captain Funtastic

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    Choice Toy is the shop I have dealt with for a majority of my purchases. Not sure how I stumbled across them, but I think (could be wrong) they may have a storefront in Shanghai that my buddy who is working over there happened upon and shot me some pictures of (at least they looked very similar to the shots on their Taobao page). Though I have had my buddy buy from them and ship/carry it over when he visits, they have been great, and have great prices on a lot of things. I think I paid less than $130 total for the Ace and Elite seeker sets combined.
     
  7. kukuburd

    kukuburd Well-Known Member

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    There's a recent wave of preorders up on taobao for the reissue of ft stomp, with most sellers giving and ETA of June '17. Just be careful, you might have paid for a preorder instead. The honey bee option as far as I know is an AI assistant that helps with general queries, I'm not sure if you can reach an actual taobao support person via that...I've never really used it. Your best bet would be to use Google translate and try to ask the seller directly when he can ship the goods...

    Yea I think it's the same. They do advertise their Shanghai shop on their taobao profile page, and many product shots are taken in their store too. Prices are great and their service is outstanding. I've dropped them messages via the taobao app past midnight a few times and gotten near-immediate replies.
     
  8. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    So I finally got my red Soar XT in hand.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The package was shipped out on 3/19 and delivered on 4/6. I never got any tracking info, but that's the total shipping time to finally get it to me.

    Total paid - $130!!!!!!

    Yeah, I think I'm going to be buying all my FT stuff on taobao from now on. As far as a tutorial, there's a couple of things people need to know going it.

    1) Get chrome and translate all the pages into english. This does not always work well and some pages have frames that won't translate at all. In those cases, highlight the text and copy it to clipboard, then paste it into google translate in another tab.

    2) You'll need to set up a Taobao profile. Again, some options here might be tough to translate, like entering your mailing address. Drop down boxes are the worst and will require you to look at the source code to pick out the option for US in mandarin.

    3) I set up an alipay account for my first payment. This is done during checkout and is pretty painless and straightforward.

    4) When you decide to buy, find a gold rated seller or at least one that has been on the site for a long time. I had two failed buying attempts before my success above and both ended in me getting a refund. This was pretty easy to do also.

    5) Your item will be shipped to a warehouse in China before being shipped domestically. You won't know the full shipping cost until it arrives at the warehouse, but I was happily surprised by how cheap it was, $20.

    6) In some sales, you may want to communicate with the seller. This is done using a messenger app that you need to install called aliwangwang. No one speaks english, so again, google translate will be your friend here. You can arrange to have the seller ship to you in the US, but I preferred to do the warehouse route and get it into USPS's hands quickly, since they handle the overseas shipping. UPS is also an option.

    7) Finally, don't worry about the countdown clock asking you to confirm delivery. It will automatically confirm it after some time, even if your item is still en route. I still haven't played with getting a refund once that clock hits 0, but I'm pretty sure you can still do that.

    Anyway, good luck to anyone willing to give this a go. The savings make the trouble worth it. I got a freaking X dibot for $130 shipped! I'm just sad they don't have severX listed anymore. However, they do have grinder for $100 and stomp for $100. If the shipping is only $20, I could have those figures in hand for $120 each! Unfortunately, I got grinder from bababobo for $158 shipped. I'm shocked I'm actually saying that.
     
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  9. ChromeMagnus

    ChromeMagnus Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting this! Congrats.
    A few questions...
    On #4 what caused the failed buying attempts? Did you end up getting scammed? Was it because the seller wasn't around for a long time? What would you say is a long enough time to be considered trustworthy?
    You mention that going the warehouse route gets it to USPS faster. Would the shipping charge be less if you arrange to have it shipped directly to you?
    Is the aliwangwang messenger app for your mobile phone or desktop pc?
    You mentioned your order shipped on 3/19/17. When did you actually place the order?
    Do you have the name of the seller you used and are there any others you feel are also trustworthy?
    So doing the translations pretty much eliminated the need of using an agent?
    Maybe at some point we could look into starting a China Taobao Seller Check thread. What do you think?:) 
     
  10. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    On #4 what caused the failed buying attempts? Did you end up getting scammed? Was it because the seller wasn't around for a long time?
    I haven't had a typical ebay "scamming" experience on taobao. I'm not sure you can. They take a deposit from every seller and if they close their account, the money is there to give you a refund, but that didn't happen to me.

    The first seller I bought from was sloppy. He had an item listed that was no longer in stock, FT-07. I waited a few days and didn't see any updates on shipping, so I messaged him and through a lot of choppy mandarin was able to determine that he didn't have it in stock, but would gladly agree to refund my money. So that was painless.

    The second experience was a bit of me learning taobao and a bit of the seller being a jerk. On the site, they allow you to put down money for a preorder for around $5. I did that for grinder, but then the seller listed a shipping code, without shipping the figure. This started the "confirm receipt" countdown clock, which panicked me, since I knew they didn't actually send the item. I tried to message the seller about how this works on Taobao and explained that I'm new and don't speak mandarin, other than through google translate. I got a limited amount of responses, basically informing me it would ship at the end of the month, but nothing else. I got frustrated and asked for my preorder money back and in 4 days the seller agreed.


    What would you say is a long enough time to be considered trustworthy?

    I can't say for certain. Taobao has a rating system for their "gold" sellers. Those sellers are supposed to be the best ones. The seller I bought from didn't have a gold icon on their name, but was in business for 11 years and sold 7 figures before mine. They list a sales history on posting for the site, so you can see how many figures have sold so far. This was my best seller experience, since they messaged me right away to see if I had questions and even tried to speak a bit of english with me. The seller was "art tour baby", or 艺游宝贝.


    You mention that going the warehouse route gets it to USPS faster. Would the shipping charge be less if you arrange to have it shipped directly to you?

    Honestly, I don't know. I haven't been bold enough to arrange anything with the seller directly. Warehouse shipping is good enough for me, since it is pretty cheap already.


    Is the aliwangwang messenger app for your mobile phone or desktop pc?

    I'm using a macbook and installed it on that.


    You mentioned your order shipped on 3/19/17. When did you actually place the order?

    Order was placed on 3/18.

    Do you have the name of the seller you used and are there any others you feel are also trustworthy?

    See above.


    So doing the translations pretty much eliminated the need of using an agent?

    Correct. I went through the pain myself to save some money.


    Maybe at some point we could look into starting a China Taobao Seller Check thread. What do you think?:) 


    Lol, that would be good. I'm happy to share the experience to save some other people some money. The odd thing I noticed is the savings for other lines is not as great. MT stuff is priced pretty close to what it sells for here. FT seems to be the biggest benefit. TT stuff is cheaper from Japan, so no point in buying it on a Chinese website. I normally use NY or amiami for TT products.

    I'd like to do a few more purchases before starting a thread. I just snagged a FT-06x I saw pop up for about $133. We'll see if the seller actually ships it and how it arrives.
     
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  11. ChromeMagnus

    ChromeMagnus Well-Known Member

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    Was the warehouse option all included as part of the checkout process?
    Does google translate also translate the yaun currenct into english or does chrome translate it right on the taobao web page?
    Sounds like taobao gives the best deals on FT items based on your experience. Did you notice any favorable savings for Badcube, KFC/XTB, KO companies like Yes Model etc?
     
  12. DinoSnarl

    DinoSnarl Obese chocoholic

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    Thanks @botfan for the Taobao info. Stomp is a great figure - hopefully now I can pick up a second copy.
     
  13. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    Was the warehouse option all included as part of the checkout process?

    Yes, you select which shipping service you want once the seller sends it locally to the warehouse. There were 3 options, all similarly priced. USPS, UPS, and a third I can't quite remember. I'll have to check.

    Does google translate also translate the yaun currenct into english or does chrome translate it right on the taobao web page?

    Normally the US price is shown on the taobao page. I'm not sure if this is a translate feature, but I don't need to do conversions in my head when I browse figures, though I do have a rough idea what's a good price and what isn't for a figure in yaun. The prices do vary heavily, with some stuff ridiculously overpriced, kind of like the sellers on amazon.

    Sounds like taobao gives the best deals on FT items based on your experience. Did you notice any favorable savings for Badcube, KFC/XTB, KO companies like Yes Model etc?

    I honestly didn't check anything other than MMC, MT, TT, and FT. FT was by far the best. I saw jaguar from MMC there for about $40. If I could get that with a big purchase and have the shipping from the warehouse be almost free for the figure, it might be worth it. I don't have the warehouse shipping totally figured out, other than knowing they'll hold several items for you then start charging you a storage fee after some time. You can combine shipments that way and I assume make them cheaper, but I haven't tried yet.
     
  14. edgecrusher

    edgecrusher Retro Active TFW2005 Supporter

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    FYI: There are pre-orders available for the reissue if you don't want to mess with all that. For example Fans Toys FT-07 STOMP (Reissue)


    edit: Since these posts all got moved to a new thread this post seems somewhat out of place now, so I'll just add that this knowledge sharing is valuable and thank you for helping walk through how to do this. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through but the reward in pricing seems like it could be worth it. Hopefully someone will come up with a more direct method of facilitating this sort of transaction in the future without all the translating and hoops. :) 
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  15. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    Well, good news is my SeverX just shipped to the warehouse. If I can get that thing for around $150, I'm going to be on a real high. I might try to add jaguar to my shipment and see what happens to the shipping cost.

    If anyone wants to dip their feet in the water, start by going to taobao.com using google chrome. If your page doesn't translate right away, right click on the page and select "translate to english". Then, try searching for some FT stuff. A good price for Grinder is a little under 800 yuan, don't click anything higher or any prices ridiculously lower.

    I have a thread I started in the toy discussion asking about buying from Taobao and a few members there gave some advice. It might be worth searching up before you plunk down cash for skyfire and omega. The discounts for those two will help...A LOT.
     
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  16. Devastator21

    Devastator21 Offical KFC/XTB Apologist

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    how much for phoenix and omega
     
  17. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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  18. ChromeMagnus

    ChromeMagnus Well-Known Member

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    Was your recent final delivery made by USPS?
    You mentioned you didn't get any tracking number with your order. Is that the norm with taobao or is there a tracking option with a fee? I think I'd go nuts if I didn't have a tracking number.
    Can you post a link to your thread about buying from taobao?
     
  19. botfan

    botfan Enter- Hospitality Botfan

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    Was your recent final delivery made by USPS?

    Honestly, I'm not sure. It was the option I selected for the after-warehouse courier. I assume so, but I wasn't checking their site with one of their tracking IDs.

    You mentioned you didn't get any tracking number with your order. Is that the norm with taobao or is there a tracking option with a fee? I think I'd go nuts if I didn't have a tracking number.

    I don't remember what I said, but I should clarify. I didn't get an expected delivery date, but tracking was provided to give me updates on where my package was. Here's the history from the Taobao website.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Can you post a link to your thread about buying from taobao?

    Buying Transformers on Taobao

    I guess at this point we should move all conversation about this over there, since this has been an epic topic derail and the mods have been super patient. It might also be worth moving that thread into the 3P discussion forums, since 3P buying is the most relevant on taobao.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
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  20. ChromeMagnus

    ChromeMagnus Well-Known Member

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    I'm guessing the waybill numbers are the tracking numbers right? One number assigned for China and then a different number for the destination country. I just want to make sure I can use that tracking number on the postal carrier's website and set up email alerts to myself regarding tracking updates.
     

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