Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tokyo Pirates Shopping Service Review - Liz Lisa fukubukuro

I was trying to find a shopping service to get an estimate for the Liz Lisa x My Melody Collab Carry 2014 fukubukuro, and I remembered that mintkismet recommended two, so I tried both of them.
I'm not going to mention the other one because they didn't even respond to my email, but I was very happy to hear from Tokyo Pirates within 24 hours of my inquiry.
A quick explanation about shopping services. A shopping service allows you purchase items not available to you for whatever reason (in my case because I'm not in Japan) by either going to physical stores or serving as a proxy to order items online. This is different than Tenso's forwarding service which serves as an intermediate address between Japanese web shops and international customers. (Tenso does offer other features, but I primarily use the forwarding service with VENT orders.)
Tokyo Pirates' shopping service is run by Jamie who does this full-time and dedicates a lot of time and effort into it. Please read her terms and conditions because it explains her services better than I can and is very informative and thorough.
I noticed that she charges a 500yen travel fee and 4000yen commission fee for lucky packs so I was immediately interested. This price is not so bad for someone to go to a store and stand in line during the holiday/new year season and buy something to which I usually do not have access. She also charges you for the PayPal fee. I'm not overly fond of this practice, but I completely understand why it has to be done. If she didn't charge the customer the PayPal fee, the money that's going to PayPal would be coming out of her commission, and she wouldn't actually be receiving full payment. She asks for a deposit before purchase (reasonable ofc) but if she is not successful in attaining your product, you receive a full refund except the travel fee (also very reasonable).
Over the past month, I exchanged over 30 emails with Jamie, and she responded within 24 hours every time. My first email to Jamie (Tokyo Pirates) was on 12/1, and she patiently answered my many questions before I finally confirmed my order for the My Melody collab LP on 12/3.
On 12/20, I sent her an email when I saw a blog post from the Liz Lisa official blog about pre-New Year sales, and she let me know that she was planning on going to Shibuya 109 the next day. I love that she was so on top of things. Unfortunately, she was unable to nab one at the time, but asked the shop staff about further sales & when to line up and told me she would try again on 1/2 at Shibuya 109 while cautioning me not to get my hopes up because of the popularity and limited quantity of the item. She also provided me with additional information that I did not previously know about fukubukuro. I had no idea that certain LPs were available for sale before 1/1!
On 12/25, Jamie contacted me to confirm that she was going to Shibuya on 1/2 (the day that the Liz Lisa x My Melody fukubukuro will be sold at Shibuya 109) and asked me about my preferred payment method before sending me a PayPal invoice for the deposit.
As you can see, Jamie kinds kindly spells out what you are paying her for so there is no confusion. I felt comfortable knowing where my money was going and for what purpose. The deposit includes her commission fee, non-refundable travel fee and the PayPal fee so that Jamie actually receives the full amount for those two. She let me know that she would be queuing at Liz Lisa at 07:00am for the store opening at 10:00am, giving her/me the best chance at getting the LL x MM LP. Since I was the first to place an order with Tokyo Pirates for fukubukuro sales, my lucky pack was her first priority and that's where she went first. She also let me know that she would be very busy that day attempting to buy LPs for other customers, and I would probably not be hearing from her about the outcome until the evening of 1/2. 
On 1/1 (this is the date in Hawaii, but in Japan it was 1/2 in the afternoon), I was happy to receive this email from Jamie -
Hooray! I'm one of those people who likes to expect the worst so I won't be so disappointed when a great outcome doesn't happen, but for the 10 or so days between the first sale of the LL x MM fukubukuro until 1/1, I was determined to be a positive thinker and did all the silly things like write "I will get the Liz Lisa x My Melody fukubukuro" at least 10x everyday in a notebook or in the notes on my phone wtf. I know that sounds so stupid, but it can't hurt right? Lol.
Late on 1/2, I received an invoice from Tokyo Pirates via PayPal for the cost of the lucky pack itself and the associated PayPal fee. 
Again, Jamie kindly spelled out why the charge was as such. I believe that in most cases, at this point, this would be the last payment and including the shipping price, but because the trunk is so large and heavy, Jamie let me know that she would have to go to the post office to weigh it and buy a special box. The post office would not be reopened until 1/6-1/7 so she would be holding onto my LP until then and at her earliest convenience, shipping it when the post office allows. She also sent me this picture of the trunk!
Several days later, I sent Jamie an checking-in/inquiry email which prompted her to bill me for an estimated amount so she could ship my package as quickly as possible. I paid the invoice, and Jamie dropped off my trunk at the post office later that day. I chose EMS as my shipping option and was provided a tracking number. I was immediately refunded the excess that I paid for the estimate as it was higher than the actual shipping cost.
I received the package on 1/11 and had to pay $55.67 in customs fees -__-. This is not Jamie's fault but I'm just LAKDJFALKDFJ. Especially because customs isn't usually very careful with the contents.
The LP was packaged nicely and is still in the original plastic
However, it seems like customs did not care to open it carefully where the opening actually was and just tore it open haphazardly instead
 And tore off this tag -__-
The things inside looks really jumbled and not carefully repacked (again, all of this is not Jamie's fault though).

Tokyo Pirates/Jamie, Thank you so much for being an excellent shopping service operating at reasonable prices and going above and beyond to get this LP for me! I'm so happy to have this item in my possession that I was unable to attain otherwise. 

Please see this post if you're interested to see more of the fukubukuro :3

Overall :
  Communication: 5/5 - emails answered within a 24 hours each time.
  Price: 5/5 - 4000yen commission is very reasonable, if not cheap, for fukubukuro buys. If I was able to buy this item from VENT (and it was not a possibility) and had to ship with Tenso, my total would have been only around $45 less than what I paid for Tokyo Pirates, which is exactly what the commission and travel fees total. Tenso's service fee basically made up for the PayPal fees I had to cover. 
  Quality of service: 5/5 - Jamie was extremely patient with me. I felt really comfortable when I decided to confirm my order. I was not the easiest person to deal with throughout this process. She is definitely a professional, and it shows. I heard that many other SSs were unwilling to do New Year fukubukuro purchases, but Tokyo Pirates does!
  Shipping/Packaging: 5/5 - 3 methods of shipping offered. I decided to go with EMS which is why I paid so much but Jamie does not set the prices for shipping - the company does. She was also flexible about how the package was declared for customs, and the packaging was adequate.
  Recommend/Would use again?: Yes. Yes, I would. This particular order was centered around store-bought fukubukuro, but she can buy other items in-store or online as well. I will definitely look to use Tokyo Pirates in the future if there is something I can't personally purchase. 



A few Questions & Answers exchanged between Jamie and I throughout the process -
(I thought these might be informative to some of you. Not all will be direct quotes due to how the emails were written, but the content remains the same. Questions were posed by me, answers were provided by Jamie/Tokyo Pirates)

Q: I don't know if all the Liz Lisa stores will have [the My Melody collab trunk carry LP]. Is this something I need to figure out myself and tell you, or would it be possible for you to call the particular store you would be going to and finding out that way?
A: Liz Lisa usually has the lucky packs at each store and are released on 1st January. However, I will double-check details with them just in case, so that you don't need to worry. If you do happen to hear any information that's fine too and you can let me know. ^^ I will most likely be going to Shibuya 109 for various lucky packs including Liz Lisa. If the Harajuku branch does happen to host theirs on another day, then I will go there as well if necessary.

Q: Am I correct in understanding that if I decide to go forward with this purchase, and you are not able to purchase the LP, I will be refunded all money except 500yen (the travel fee)?
A: Regarding purchase, yes, the only nonrefundable aspect would be the 500 yen travel fee. There is also a 62 yen Paypal fee which comes with it (the commission Paypal takes for transactions), so overall, your nonrefundable part would be 562 yen.

Q: What priority will my order be given?
A: My shopping service is strictly first come, first served. If you are first to reserve a spot for this lucky pack, then you will get first priority on it. Naturally there are no guarantees I will be able to get it. The sales are very, very popular, and Liz Lisa is a popular brand, but rest assured I will do my very best for you regardless of whether you are a first-time customer or a regular. I do genuinely care about getting the things that people want. In addition, I'm commission-based, so naturally I would want to succeed in getting the items. :)

Q: Will I be billed now or can it wait until it is closer to the purchase date?
A: You will not be billed until closer to the release date (e.g. one or two days before). Even then it will only be a deposit that will be charged (4,500 yen). You would only pay full price after the release date if I were to successfully obtain your lucky pack. If I am not able to get the lucky pack then the deposit would be fully refundable excluding the 500 yen travel fee.

Q: Can I have some information about doing a bank transfer?
A: Bank transfers are no problem. It means I may require the payment a little earlier for the deposit just to make sure the payment goes through (it can take a few days). I charge by Paypal simply because that's easiest for most people, and is often cheaper than international bank transfers. I don't know what your bank would charge for the transfer, but if it is cheaper for you than Paypal then that is not a problem for me. You should probably check with your bank first regarding international transfer fees.

Q: What is your cancellation policy?
A: It is possible to cancel. Naturally, I would prefer if you didn't since once you have confirmed a spot I have to turn other customers away, so cancellations can result in a loss of money if I am not able to fill the spot after your cancellation. However, I do also understand that life can get in the way and there are many variables. As such, cancellations are possible.

Q: Can my order be altered slightly at any point? For example, in the form, I listed that I only want the My Melody version, but if 2 weeks from now (or at any time well before the purchase date), I decide I would settle for the blue floral version if the MM one is sold out, can that be changed in my existing order?
A:  If I were unable to get your My Melody suitcase and there were still blue floral suitcases left, I would be able to get one for you if you put it as second priority (and as long as Liz Lisa allows it).

Q: If there is an additional Liz Lisa item that I would like to be bought at Liz Lisa, can that be added (with the additional item price charge)? Or would that be considered a second order, and I'd have to pay a second commission, travel, etc fee?
A:  If you are wanting to order extra items from Liz Lisa (e.g. another lucky pack if the spot is available, a different item from Liz Lisa) then it's only considered a separate SS if I have to go in for a second trip. So, for example, if you decide you would like a sweater from Liz Lisa and I can get it on the same day as the lucky pack then there is no extra charge. However, if you are wanting another lucky pack then it's 1000 yen per extra lucky pack you wish to buy through me on the same order. If you want another lucky pack on a different day/different location then it's considered a separate order. :)   However, whether or not you can add lucky packs to your list depends on what you want, whether the spot is filled and whether I can carry it.


  1. Thanks for all these information, very useful =D Jamie's service seems so great, good to know!

    1. I'm happy to share! I hope Jamie's business does very well so she'll continue doing it and will be a valuable resource to us overseas :)

  2. Im so glad Jamies business is so nicely reviewed. Ive known her for many years and she is amazing/trustworthy person. If was just a bit younger and crazier, I would definitely go for her service :)

    1. She truly is such a great person who runs a fantastic service. I feel very fortunate to have been able to order from her.

  3. This is so informative, Thank you so much for writing this! <3

    1. No problem! It was a pleasure to use Tokyo Pirates and I'm so happy she was able to get the LP for me.

  4. Great article it was such an interesting and informative article.
    forwarding service