Tuesday, April 21 2009

Tenso reshipping service, preliminary report

I’ve heard mixed reports about the various companies that act as reshipping agents in Japan, allowing you to order from companies who only ship domestically. Danny Choo recently had a prominent link to Tenso, along with a contest where the prize included shopping and shipping. There were relatively few comments about the service, but they were positive. I haven’t found many other comments about them, either, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

Several times a year, I place large orders with Amazon Japan. They only ship by air, so the order needs to be large to bring the shipping cost down to a less heartbreaking percentage of the price. They won’t ship software or consumer electronics internationally, and the marketplace vendors won’t ship anything overseas, so it’s been a limited-but-useful way to get stuff.

Tenso ships EMS, charging by weight, and in some cases this may end up being higher than Amazon’s air shipping; now that I have a few invoices to compare, I’ll have to figure out when it makes sense to use them for new goods, figuring in the cost of Amazon Prime to get free domestic shipping to their warehouse. For this test, I took advantage of Amazon’s free one-month trial of Prime. [Update: found Amazon’s rate page again; ¥1700-2700 shipping depending on the contents, plus a fixed ¥300 handling per item]

For used goods? No contest. A lot of marketplace dealers charge a nominal ¥1 + handling for used books and CDs that aren’t in high demand, and I found a single dealer who had three items that I wanted, -azb-アマゾン店. Their handling charge added ¥1020, and Tenso charged ¥2350 for shipping and handling, for a grand total of ¥3373. The original retail cost of the three items? ¥4819. Speed? I ordered on the 12th, Tenso received it on the 16th, shipped it on the 17th, and it was waiting for me at the office today, the 21st. It may actually have arrived yesterday; I was out.

Setting up my account with Tenso was easy, except for the credit card. Neither my Visa nor my Mastercard were accepted, despite having used both with Amazon, but my American Express card worked fine. The error page for this was the only place I noticed where their mostly-competent English was replaced by Japanese, and some of Danny Choo’s commenters reported the same difficulty, and ended up using Paypal. They give clear instructions on how to enter your personal address on online stores, and promptly notify you when you need to approve a shipment.

Will I use them again? Definitely for used goods through Amazon, likely for software/games that Amazon won’t ship directly, possibly for other stores if I find something I really want.

Were the three used items worth it? Hell, yeah.

Folk Songs 4 CD and Hand Maid May novels

Those are the HMM novels.