So much blathering that it couldn’t be contained in just one blog post! Here’s the second part of my reviews of the stores I bought stuff from during my Thanksgiving Weekend buying binge! Be sure to read the first part, which covers retailers of the more local (to me, natch) variety!
I placed an order with Hobbyfan.com for a bunch of figures late Friday night (technically the morning of Saturday 11/26) and I received the confirmation by e-mail pretty quickly, as was the case for the other two e-tailers below. However, much to my chagrin, I received a notice the evening of Tuesday 11/29 telling me that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Yuki Nagato Disappearance Ver. Nendoroid was out of stock and therefore canceled. TAT
On Thursday 12/1 I got an email saying my order had shipped. Woohoo! New figurehs to look forward to! But then, to my extreme disappointment, another e-mail came on Friday 12/2 refunding me for the Ui Hirasawa K-ON! Nendoroid. Wh-what? They got my hopes up by charging me and telling me the order shipped, then crushed me after the fact? Nuuuuuuu!!
Anyway, I received the package a few days later on Monday 12/5. I like that they included this bit of cardboard on top. Not a whole lot of places do it, and it might seem kind of pointless, but even with some shifting around it’s just enough to add an extra layer of protection from errant box cutters!
They could’ve used a few more packing peanuts, though. :p
I’d bought from Hobbyfan before and one of the complaints I had was that sometimes the price for an item varies depending on which page you see it on. I didn’t notice that issue this time, but my other gripe still stands: their inventory system doesn’t operate in real-time.
I know a lot of these stores don’t have real-time inventory, but not telling you something is out of stock until after the order ships nearly a week later is kind of lame. Someone from ABCToy4Me told me once that Hobbyfan doesn’t always pick up their shipments in a timely fashion… which has led to ABCToy4Me picking up Hobbyfan’s shipments for them! I don’t know how that’s even possible, but I’ll be pretty peeved if I ever find out that ABCToy4Me poached my Nendos! 😡
Next up is Robert’s Anime Corner Store (RACS). I’d never bought from them before, but my cousin has and he had a good experience, so I decided to give them a try. While I’d apparently missed their 15% off coupon on Black Friday, they had a 10% off coupon and always offer free shipping on orders over $49 so I decided to go for it.
I placed my order late Saturday night (okay, okay — the morning of Sunday 11/27). If I’d known I wasn’t going to get Yuki from Hobbyfan, I prolly wouldn’t have ordered Kyon and Haruhi. :< Anyway, the order confirmation came in right away, and I got another e-mail on Monday 11/28 saying my order had already shipped! That’s fast! :O I sent them an e-mail saying so and that I’d mentioned their sale in a post here. Imagine my surprise when I received a reply from Robert himself thanking me! That was some great service, I thought, but I should’ve read that shipping confirmation more closely.
I received the package on Monday 12/5 and noticed the Fragile sticker on it. You don’t see that too often, and now I was even more impressed. However, the box seemed a bit small for all the figures I’d ordered. Hmmmm.
I opened up the box, and ahhhhhhh. Completely filled with packing peanuts! Nice! But looking at the packing list, I realized that one of the figures I’d ordered, Alter’s Houmei from Shining Wind, was no longer available. :< I'll admit that she was a (very expensive) impulse buy that I thought would look nice paired up with my Momohime from Oboro Muramasa by Alter and that I didn’t really need her, but I was pretty bummed nonetheless. While the shipping e-mail did say she’d shipped quantity 0, I wish the notice would’ve come in a separate e-mail. Who reads those shipping e-mails that closely anyway? :p But aside from missing the mark on their fill ratio, RACS managed hit all the other customer service goals they state on their website!
The last package I opened was from Kotobukiya’s US store. They had a 30% off coupon code which was allegedly good on in-stock items, but there were reports that the coupon code did not work on any of the Bishoujo line of figures.
Anyway, I’d ordered Tamaki Kousaka from To Heart 2 and an Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga from Azumanga Daioh right after my order at RACS and I received the confirmation by e-mail immediately. Unfortunately, I received a phone call almost a week later on Friday 12/2 telling me Osaka was out of stock and not expected back in. I tried to verify the new price, but the rep seemed to be pretty clueless. I eventually okayed the one figure for shipment, but after I hung up I realized that the new amount the rep had quoted me didn’t include tax. I e-mailed them about it b/c I didn’t want to spend that much on a figure I didn’t actually need, but they shipped without ever replying.
I received the package on the following Monday 12/5. As you can see here, they did not include enough packing peanuts, but thankfully she didn’t have to go very far to get to me. The packing list/invoice still included Osaka, so I had no idea what the actual cost was for this order (due to shipping charges) until they finally robo-e-mailed a refund notification on Thursday 12/22, nearly 3 weeks after they’d shipped! :< While I do like some of Koto’s figures, their service left little to be desired so I think I’ll be sticking to buying from dealers rather than directly through their on-line store for now.
I found it amusing that even though I placed these orders with e-tailers in different locations (RACS is clear across the country) over a long holiday weekend, they all arrived at my door on the same day. It’s disappointing that each one of these sellers managed to ship incomplete orders, but I’m just glad that I got my Max Factory Mari Makinami, since she’s the one I wanted the most. I was actually waiting for Anime King to run their crazy 30% off sale like they did in 2010 to get her, but they decided not to do it this year. Oh well, their loss is RACS’s gain!
I would have to say that in terms of service, My-D Pins & Collectibles and Robert’s Anime Corner Store were my two favorites! My-D Pins has a helpful, friendly staff and RACS is quick and responsive. Both are class acts!
Toylet.net is also a winner with the option of local pick-up. Additionally, in my experience, they enjoy the advantage of an inventory system that errs on the conservative side rather than crushes your hopes and dreams! (In 2009, an item I wanted was out-of-stock, but they let me order it when I e-mailed them about it — yays!) Next time, though, I’ll be sure to check their eBay auctions for even better deals!
Hobbyfan.com does what it does at decent prices, but canceling items like they did seems to be the norm for them. Crossing your fingers when ordering might help. And Kotobukiya, I don’t know. If you were Alter or even Good Smile, I might put up with that kind of hapless service, but come on… you’re Kotobukiya. You really should be trying harder. :p
EDIT: Received a couple of e-mails from Henry at Hobbyfan on 1/23 and 1/24 after I told them about my review. He apologized for the cancellations and mentioned that some of the items in the sale were directly from their supplier and not based on current stock, since not carrying extra stock is the best way to pass the savings on to their customers. In that case, it’s quite possible that their rate of cancellation is much lower during the rest of the year.
EDIT: Received an e-mail from Bob at RACS on 1/24 thanking me for the review and reminding me that they use environmentally-friendly cornstarch packing peanuts. One more reason to buy from them! However, I would not recommend eating them instead of ramen when trying to save for more figurehs. ^^; Also, from the e-mail it sounded like they manage their inventory manually! :O They worked full shifts over the weekend in order to take things down as they sold out.
Be sure to check back next week, when we’ll go slightly further back into 2011 to relive some memories from PMX!