Wednesday, June 4, 2014 Package Consolidation

Tenso is my choice of forwarding service for shopping from Japan (especially with Tokyo Kawaii Life/Liz Lisa). My items ship from TKL to my Tenso address and then Tenso will ship my items to me. One of Tenso's related services is package consolidation. I don't use it very often because I'm typically very impatient to receive my items and usually only submit one order at a time. However, due to a difference in release times during a recent Liz Lisa sale, I made two orders in less than 24 hours and wanted my items to ship together from Tenso.
The package consolidation process is relatively easy and self-explanatory, but since the opportunity arose, I thought I might as well do a short tutorial.

In order to use the package consolidation service, you need all the packages that you want to be consolidated to have arrived at your address. In my case, I'm consolidating two packages. 
My "my page" shows that there are two packages pending for international shipment.

Package 1
Package 2
Note that both packages have a green "Available for package consolidation" indicator in the top right.

 After you have reviewed your package information and acknowledge that the packages you want consolidated are listed there as Pending, go to the top of the ("List of Pending Items") page and click on the banner to apply for consolidation. They also provide an easy link if you want more information about the service before you move forward.

Check the packages that you would like to be consolidated and then click the button at the bottom to proceed.

You will be shown this "equation" with the sum of your packages (1 + 2) being the new consolidated package (3). They will calculate the estimated usage fee based on the weight of the packages to be consolidated + the correlating service fee + the consolidation fee of 500yen. This fee is only an estimate because they will not know the final weight of the package until they actually consolidate the items and weight them with the packing materials. If you agree, click the orange button to finalize your decision to consolidate your packages.

Similarly to Tenso's "Next Shipping Time" which you use for information about when your package will be shipped when just using the forwarding service, there is a separate "Next Package Consolidation Time" below that which will tell you when your package consolidation request will be processed.

If you go back to your "My Page", there will only be one pending item and the status should read as "Consolidating". You can change any information here as necessary as you would for a regular package.
(Note that this package is listed as "Unavailable for package consolidation" in the top right as you cannot further consolidate orders with these.)

After one business day, I received an email from Tenso letting me know that the package consolidation has been completed.
I went to my My Page and clicked on the International Shipments button to see the details for my consolidated package. The status has changed from "Consolidating" the day before to "Pending (Consolidated)". My actual usage fee for this package is 8180yen (700yen less than the estimate, yay). The rest of the process is the same as for your average package.

 Pay using your method of choice. (For me it's PayPal.)

 Confirm the information before completing the transaction.

 Tenso accepts your payment, and you're done!

 The status of your package should change to "Paid (Processing Shipment)". 
(Then subsequently it will change to "Paid" and your EMS tracking number when it is shipped.)

PRICE - Consolidating your packages is usually cheaper than shipping them separately. In my case I would have paid 2890yen to ship Package 1 and 6380yen to ship Package 2 = 9270yen to ship both separately. With the package consolidation, I am paying 8180yen. Therefore, by consolidating the packages, I saved 1090yen in shipping costs.
1 PACKAGE - All your items will be in one package so all your items will arrive together. You only have to track and worry about one versus 2 or more packages that could be anywhere at any time.

TIME -You have to wait an extra day for the package consolidation (this only makes sense, but if you're impatient or need your items by a certain date, it does slow down the process).
CUSTOMS - Although this is not Tenso's fault, larger orders usually attract the attention of customs officials more than your smaller, individual orders would.  This is not an issue for everyone, but if you know your local customs office is very picky especially with the size of certain packages, you may want to ship separately because the money you're saving by consolidating will probably not exceed what you'd pay in customs fees. The last time I consolidated packages, I saved around $15 but paid $50 in customs fees :|
RESTRICTIONS - Tenso actually has some pretty strict rules about their package consolidation service. You can't add to your package once you apply and you also cannot cancel the consolidation once you start the process. For example, if you find that after you consolidate, for some reason, your total is more than what you would have paid for shipping two separate packages, you cannot cancel the consolidation and have them ship separately. You are committed to consolidating them once you apply for it.

It seems like the "Cons" section is quite long compared to the "Pros", but ultimately, it really comes down to price for me because I want to ship as cheaply as possible (without sacrificing the safety of my items). If you know you don't usually have a problem with customs, that's probably not a huge concern for you (although tbh it should be for me considering the track record I have with them wtf).
In this case, I'm consolidating items from the same webshop, but of course, you can consolidate items and packages from anywhere that are shipped to Tenso.

For more information, check out Tenso's Package Consolidation Service guide and the terms and conditions.


  1. I seldom use Tenso's consolidation service because I am sort of impatient when it comes to waiting for packages. That extra day seems to take forever lol

    But the main reason why sometimes I prefer not to use it is because while consolidating generally means saving on shipping costs, the opposite happen occasionally. One or two times I actually got charged more instead. One time I had to pay an extra 700 yen to consolidate two packages compared to shipping them separately. :/ Nevertheless I still like Tenso compared to other (big) SS companies because it's so easy to use/convenient and that it allows users to ship packages to addresses different than the one listed on PayPal. :)

    1. Yeah luckily the two times I've opted to use it, the *shipping cost* has come out cheaper for me (although in the last instance the customs fee wayyyy overshadowed the savings). Odd that you got charged more though. I guess it really depends what you're consolidating! My huge gripe with it is that you can't cancel, even if it's before the consolidation has been completed, but I guess I understand.

    2. Ah I forgot about the customs fee. I'm sorry that you have to pay so much for customs (and I hear it's worse in the UK, like people got charged big sums for custom fees+VAT). I understand why they are there but knowing it doesn't make it any better. I'm lucky I've never been hit by custom fees; it's maybe because I never buy anything in big bulks or the cost of my purchases did not exceed the limit.

      Yeah the non-cancellation policy is bit of a bother because if your consolidated items cost more than the values of individual packages shipped separately, then you're stuck with it. :(

    3. What's annoying is that it's inconsistent. There's this myth that IF you get charged, it's 10% of your items' worth. For my last consolidated package, there was $200 worth of goods (well under the typically thought of $500 "limit") inside (2 purses and 4 clothing items) and I had to pay $50 in customs fees because my blouse was made of a certain material that supposedly made it more expensive. It's also highly variable on your local customs office. It may or may not be more strict in Hawaii because we're sort of an international port because of the location. What I hate most are the people who brag about never getting hit with these fees and telling others that they shouldn't even pay the thought any mind. It's just really annoying.

    4. That is true. Just because one person's experience is different, doesn't mean you have the right to tell others how to react to it. You don't get hit by customs, that's good for you, but others are not as lucky and you shouldn't rub it in their faces.

      Wow you actually had to pay more because of the material's type/quality?? O_o I always thought that the fees would be the same regardless of the material out of which the clothing is made. Like you said, it may vary across customs office and that Hawaii is an international port. Thanks for this info. I MIGHT be going to Hawaii some time in September and staying there for three months so it's good to get some insight of how the postal office work in case I need to ship out/import stuff.

    5. It depends on how picky the customs officer (or whatever they're called, not sure) who examines your package is. I didn't think my "ladies blouse" was made of a particularly rich material - in fact it's probably polyester wtf. In any case, they can probably pick and choose how they want to charge because they don't really have to justify it to anyone and there isn't a public manual out there that I know which explains to the public how the system works so you can't really check their power. I doubt that the majority of people who are just receiving personal international mail (not including businesses who ship in bulk because I can't speak for them) are getting hit with fees all the time, but I've been hit with it 3 times so far on orders that have less than a $500 value. USPS works here like it does for the rest of the country but the customs office is not necessarily related to that.

  2. Thanks for writing this. I never even had a look at it so I'm reaaaaalllllyyyy curious to try it now... But I kind of want to 'need' to try it. Lol. I guess it's good that it's here to look at if I do.

    1. Lol I guess maybe it's not so much of a tutorial as something of a possibly informative blog entry while I wait for my package to arrive haha.

  3. Oh wow. Customs charges a fee for larger packages??? And $50?! That's ridiculous... I was planning on getting one of the fukubukuro luggages this winter. Did customs charge you for it? (And if so, how much?)

    1. They don't necessarily charge more for larger packages - just that larger packages tend to catch their attention more (and they'll be more apt to searching them, that's my guess or the rumor anyway). I've had to pay three $50-55 customs fees since I started buying internationally in Sept 2012. I briefly wrote about my previous customs fees in one or two of the old fukubukuro posts, but for the two trunks I ordered, I got charged around $50 in fees each despite the listed value of the item being $200-250. Most people, it seems, don't get charged but I'm either particularly unlucky or my customs office is particularly strict/picky.

  4. May I ask you a question about this consolidation? Do they opens the packages you ask to be consolidated and them put the contents on a bigger box or they simple put the two boxes (without opening them) into an even larger box? Thanks!

    1. Tenso typically opens packages anyway so they can correctly fill out the customs declaration and know if you are trying to use their service to ship illegal products or something unfit for air travel (such as flammable items, etc). For the package consolidation, sometimes they take out the items from one and put them into the other. It depends on the packages and what state they are in and what kind of boxes they are shipped in. I don't think I ever had them put 2 boxes straight (as is) into a 3rd larger box.
      Let me know if that doesn't answer your question. I know it's a little convoluted but basically in my experience they will provide a new box if your items don't both fit into one of the existing boxes.