cimone (wonderfinch) wrote in egl,

I've been using Noppin (previously known as Crescent) for nearly four years now, and I've always been very pleased with their service. I figured I would take the time to write a small review of their auction proxy service. I hope this is helpful to someone ^^

Noppin is a shopping service that allows you to buy from Yahoo!Japan auctions and webshops. I have used them for webshop purchases in the past; however, I wouldn't really recommend their webstore shopping service because their fees are quite high (15% and up + 3.5% handling fee unless you're ordering over 25,000 yen worth of merchandise). With that said, I found the quality of the webshop service and ease of use to be equivalent to that of the auction service, so I don't really feel a review is necessary.

Ease of Ordering: 5/5
I originally started using Noppin because I'd had issues with submitting my bids to other services. I found they were often unable to get my bids in on time for auctions that were ending in 24 hours or less. Noppin is different from most of the other services out there in that allows you to bid in real time. On top of that, they have an interface that allows you to search for items in English and then translate the term into Japanese, and it will automatically translate auction names and details (such as the ending time, number of bidders, and autobuy price) into English. Auction info can also be translated into English, though I've noticed it's not very accurate. I speak some Japanese so this service was not a major draw for me, but I imagine it would be very helpful for those who don't speak the language.

In order to bid, you put down deposits in increments of 2,000 yen. You can bid on 6,000 yen worth of merchandise for each 2,000 yen you add. This deposit can be refunded or used to pay for won auctions, but only after all the auctions you're bidding on have closed. They're very prompt about refunding the deposit; however, since they refund it in your local currency rather than yen, you may lose a bit if the exchange rate changes. I find it's usually better to have it applied to won auctions.

I initially bid on 3 auctions on 16 November. All three had ended by the 19th, and Noppin had paid the sellers and determined my payment amount by the 20th. At this time, I asked for my auction deposit to be put towards my items' cost. Noppin did this and sent me an updated invoice on the 21st.

Fees and Costs: 5/5
Noppin charges a 12.5% auction fee and a 3.5% payment handling fee for all auctions. On top of that, you're responsible for paying the bank transfer fee, domestic shipping fee, and any other fee the seller chooses to charge Noppin. Here's what I paid in total for my three items:

Item #1: Blouse and skirt set:
8,240 yen - Cost of item
1,030 yen - Service fee
250 yen - Bank transfer fee
1,000 yen - Domestic Shipping Cost
365 yen - Payment handling fee
Total: 10885 yen

Item #2: Velvet skirt:
4,490 yen - Cost of item
561 yen - Service Fee
250 yen - Bank Transfer Fee
1,500 yen - Domestic Shipping Cost
238 yen - Payment Handling Fee
Total: 7039 yen

Item #3: Short-sleeved Hoodie:
2,800 yen - Cost of item
500 yen - Service Fee
250 yen - Bank Transfer Fee
0 yen - Domestic Shipping Cost (Seller covered it, though this is not common)
125 yen - Payment Handling fee
Total: 3675 yen

Grand total: 21,599
Total fees: 2091 yen

I felt that the fees were quite reasonable, especially considering their convenient interface, high ease of ordering, and great customer service. While they were lower than most individual-run shopping services (which typically charge 15-20%), they were higher than Japonica's 10% fee. The bank transfer fee, domestic shipping charge, and PayPal fee would have been incurred at just about any service, so I'm not taking those into account in my assessment.

I don't really think this section requires a rating, but I felt it was worth mentioning. Noppin will hold items in their warehouse for up to 60 days after they arrive from the seller, free of charge. Since only one of my items had arrived by the time I requested shipping on the 23rd, I decided to only request shipping on the skirt and blouse set. I wanted to ensure it arrived by birthday on the 6th, and I did not want a potential shipping delay from the sellers of the other two items to hold up my order's progress. I find this really handy, though I'm not sure if they would separate different parts of an auction order (e.g. send only the bow from a JSK and headbow set).

Shipping: 5/5
As I said up above, I was eager to have the skirt and blouse by 6 December, so I submitted a shipping request to Noppin on 23 November. They packaged my items and sent me a shipping invoice on the 24th. I paid immediately, and the set went out on the 25th. It arrived on 29 November. The full cost of EMS shipping was 2800 yen, and they threw in insurance for free. They also offer other shipping methods, but they use EMS by default.

As an aside, they did not mark down the value of my package, and according to their page they will not do so under any circumstances. This was not an issue for me, since US customs does not usually charge fees for personal clothing purchases, but it's something to take note of if your country does charge customs fees.

Packaging: 4/5
And now for some photos~ My item arrived extremely securely packaged, and to be honest I had a bit of a hard time getting it open! It was securely packed inside a box:

Inside the box, it was cushioned with newspaper:

And then placed inside its own little bubble-wrapped package:

Once I ripped that open, the skirt and blouse were folded neatly and wrapped individually in plastic (this is just the blouse; I opened the skirt before I thought to take a photo):

And voila~ Both pieces arrive in perfect condition:

Both pieces had kind of a weird, mothbally smell, but as the set was only in their office for a few days I didn't take off points for that- it was probably the seller's fault.

With that said, I did take off a point because they don't offer any choice when it comes to packaging. They used a large box and crammed it full of newspaper, which definitely added to the weight of the set. Both items were light and small, so I wish they would have used a bubble mailer since the cost of international shipping is so high.

Customer Service: 4.7/5
They were always very prompt and friendly in responding to my queries, and I appreciated the detailed breakdowns they gave of the charges. My one gripe is that they don't inform you when your items come to their warehouse, so you kind of have to keep checking. Since you can submit a shipment request before your items arrive, it's not really a huge deal, just a minor annoyance.

Overall Experience: 23.3/25

- Simple interface that allows for (fairly accurate) English searching
- Real-time bidding
- Deposit system makes bidding and refunds simple
- Staff speaks English clearly (though not fluently), and always responds to e-mails and messages within 24 hours
- Items are quickly and securely packaged

- Slightly higher fees than some other services
- You're not always informed when items arrive at their warehouse.
- They're a popular service and their name is known to many Y!J users, which means your bid may be rejected (since many Y!J sellers don't want to sell their items to overseas buyers).
- No choice of packaging method.

Hope that's helpful to someone ^^
Tags: review service: shopping service

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