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Guide To Buying Stuff On-line: Bhiner
Lets just start by saying I was doubting If I should put this up since it looks so much like advertisement. But seeing how its actually going to help people get some awesome Toku merch. I thought, why the hell not!?!. If its an unwelcome article in the eyes of the staff of Reviewtopia I won't mind deleting it. Any way here's the blog copied directly from my blog as always:
How I came to this site:
I was looking for unique stuff to blog about. The first thing I thought about was Armour Hero which had allot of toys that where cheap to grab up. But sadly all the Chinese sites where inaccessible to us foreigners. And then a few months passed with me looking for new on-line shops to my list. When suddenly this site popped up! It had its issues (still has most of them but they are still improving it) And works as a middle-man for not only 1 big site called Taobao (Chinese Ebay) but also is open to URL's of other Chinese sites. And on the second damn page I found what I was looking for! thanks Bhiner!
Starting With The Warnings Already:
I asked a few questions (some dumb in hindsight) which the staff of the site replied to in messy English (which is understandable since y'know China) and from what I got I initially thought it would be easy to order stuff. Nope, No such luck! This is actually an advanced on-line site much like Mandarake but for the Chinese. Sure the stuff seemed cheap at first but certain factors are in the way before you can actually get the the total price. And by the end if you did it wrong like me you'll be on the expensive side for sure. But lets leave that for later shall we? :)
How To Search Stuff:
One of the many things that will keep people from buying stuff via the middle man service of Bhiner is the fact that since TaoBao is in Chinese. The search option also needd to apply Chinese calligraphy. This is something that is pretty much impossible to change unless the search options on Taobao can be changed. Which can't. However some English searches work some time, but the finds are limited. A good search tag is Bandai but its really long with lots of choices.So its better to go for Chinese instead. But for us Tokusatsu and even Anime fans it might be easier to actually find stuff. For instance the way I did is finding the Wikipedia of a series, like say Gokaiger, and head for the left of the page to change the language. Most of the times the Chinese language is the lowest on the list (中文) Then you copy the Chinese title of the series (Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: 海賊戰隊豪快者 ) and paste it in the search option of the site. You'll probably won't even find half a page on this search. That is because like all the rest of us the Chinese like to shorten the title of the search item because its easier to make tags. And because we foreigners have problems understanding Chinese its hard to fix it. Luckily I solved this by taking the last symbol of the title, delete it, and press enter. Keep doing this till you find that there are several pages. And on the right of the site you'll find a tab that you can easily understand. If you choose Price: High To Low you find ALLOT of expensive things But we don't want that. Heck if you want that stop reading this and go to Ebay instead. :P. So instead be wise and use the Price: Low To High tab instead. Which brings us to our next section.
The Importance Of Knock-Offs!
As you know China is brimming with knock-offs. With Toys most of them are piles of plastic shit but there are some real pieces of gold shit amongst them! Sure they might not hold up to the official versions but they are cheaper most of the time and its a chance to get something that you could not pay for before. There's lots of Super Sentai knock-offs out there. Like my KO Great Icarus. And several other KO stuff I still need to pay for as we speak. And like on Ebay there are also some dumb-asses with beautifully rare toys who sell them for basically nothing. But there's also a down side to the knock-offs. Because they might blur your view if you try to get official stuff and are searching for cheaper prices. (they did with me). You should always do some extra Google/Yahoo image research with the Chinese title just to know what the official packaging stuff is. If it is something Chinese and is not Show-accurate don't go buying it. Go for a little bit more expensive and Show- accurate. More info on this on the official site: http://bit.ly/vXFdxh.
Next Time On Kai Jia Yong Shi: Wataru joins Xin Nan for a totally heterosexual bath! Wait what? Wrong show?
Putting It In The Cart:
I know the title is redundant. Because I know most of you already made accounts on other shop sites and know how to buy stuff there. But here's also where ALLOT of things can go wrong. For instance, the stock numbers for the Item is always wrong even if it says 1. I used to think its because of all those small companies that are thriving in the North of China with HUGE inventories. But HELL NO. This problem is traced back to Taobao which is never trust worthy with stocks. The only accurate numbers are 1 and 0! And sometimes there are batches which seem cheap but are actually multiple choice sales that has several items each with their own price. Look out for these because there where some gruesome prices hiding for me. So lets move on. You added the item to your cart and confirmed it. The staff members will now ask the Chinese seller if it is in stock. 3 things can happen 1, Bhiner Remarks: [Cannot Contact Seller] Just press on till one day Bhiner does contact it 2 Bhiner Remarks: [Item is out of stock]. To bad for you. Try to use the calligraphy title to find another seller of the same item. 3 The Item is in stock and you can buy. But a fair warning. When I first tried to buy the Mars Hero Belt it turned out that it was out of stock and the money I paid for it was refunded. You still loose some money. Which brings me to the next section.
The Importance Of Combining Items.
This should always be a part of Bhiner. I'll personally find you and slap you on the head if you buy just 1 thing at once!! First off is the fact that if you combine several items of the same seller the inland shipping will be the same. Which does help, ALLOT!. Secondly if you select and pay for a batch of Items the Bhiner added costs (they have to earn somehow) will be lower. Also it felt so much better getting a large haul instead of just 1 thing. Also this will effect the eventual price of the shipping costs which makes them eventually land on your doorstep. Which brings me to the next section again.
Costs, Costs, Costs! Damn its so much! If only I Thought This Through!:
So as I said the extra costs is not that much but if you not combine shipping it will end up eating your wallet and give it back to you from the other end. And thus I'll explain. The inland shipping costs is currently $3.28 or rather €2.38 for me. To keep it this low check the section above again. With the adding of the funds to the Bhiner funds also comes a Paypal tax depending on how much you are planing to throw on there. Of you want to avoid this you can also send the money to Bhiner's e-mail, though I still don't know how this works and rather prefer doing it the funding way. Also Bhiner needs to keep existing so they ask a part of the money too. Which is somewhere around $8 or €4 for me. The eventual and final shipping costs is pretty much the main problem here. This is where most of the money goes to in the end. Since every company asks for a price around ¥200 for the first 500 grams (which is around $30-€20 If I remember correctly) and adds ¥40-¥68 for each additional 500 grams added to the weight. ($6+ or €4+) Again depending on the company. Which is why its important to add stuff. Because if one item is over 500 grams you'll pay the same for that item's shipping as you would for lets say and DX Sentai mecha shipping costs. And that is ALLOT IMO. Don't fall for it!
Insuring it Gets To Your Home Safely:
Lots of tape but still not good
This is important because the 2 of the 3 items I ordered where fucked up beyond belief! It was like on its way through India the box was used to play elephant soccer with! Sure it could be the in-land's shipping fault but I am pretty sure the fault lies with Airmail China which I choose because it was the cheapest (it recently raised its prices! Those jackasses!!). To be fair if you got enough money and want the stuff to arrive safely and in time go with a shipping company you know and trust. EMS is still the best but its so damn expensive.
Bugs And Things That Will Probably Will Be Fixed Sooner Or Later:
There is nothing here to be really annoyed about but some things might be better said here. First off the translation isn't a full 100%. The staff of the site is working hard on better translations but you are on your own with descriptions on the Items. They can't translate that for some reason. There is a button for that though. And because the translation fails some times, to get a better idea what it is saying you can do this easily. Copy the calligraphy automatically which forms the description, and paste it on Google Translate or Yahoo Babelfish. The translation is rough too but it kinda gives you a better idea of what is being said. Next is a bug that I've seen twice now. The title doesn't translate either. And if you find batches that are being sold one-by-one you'll stumble across the problem of WTF do I need to choose to get something. Well what you need to do is choose the option *View on Taobao* right under the seller info. Copy and paste the address in the search option again and it should now translate it. Giving you a rough guess as to what it is you plan to buy. The one of the two real bugs I seem to have found is the 0 page bug which is when you forward to a page and end up with Bhiner saying that there are no items even though you know there's more. This is easily fixed by going back and clicking forward till the bug gives up and shows the items on the next page. Another such bug is the 0 Item page bug which look like the picture I put up earlier. This is easily fixed by not clicking directly on the item but opening the item page in another tab and keep doing so till the item does show up.
And To Finish Up:
I liked blogging about this. I believe this was necessary to get Toku Otaku to get started on the site. I don't think its necessary to blog about any other buy site but guess I'll try to make a series of it. Happy hauling! :)