(jinsei wa gojuusai kara hajimaru)

Amazon.co.jp sucks – CDJapan Rocks !!!

Posted by redracer on March 14, 2007

(steps on soapbox) 

I have unfortunately been forced to sever my long standing relationship with Amazon Japan, where I used to get most of my J-pop CD’s & DVD’s, train DVD’s and other Japanese movies. This is thanks to …

  1. their poor insights into what customers actually want
  2. the ways they go about making changes to their systems without telling anyone
  3. the hidden ways that their systems work that they never tell anyone about
  4. they refuse to answer questions that will implicate problems with their systems

I have had lengthy email conversations with their Customer Service staff recently, and I will admit that they do reply promptly, and except for one case, their English is at an acceptable level. However they do tend to use a lot of ‘form letter’ replies, without addressing the issue exactly that was asked about in the first place. And they always say variations of  “I will be sure to pass your message on to the appropriate department in our company for consideration. Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve the selection and service we provide.” and “We want you to have a pleasant, successful experience with our web site each time you visit. ”

Recently they introduced a Loyalty Points facility (on the 1st of February, but they didn’t tell anyone, did they?). However pre-orders that were to be shipped after that date did not qualify if the order was placed before Feb 1. They would not address this, so all you have to do was cancel the first order, and order the item again – isn’t that stupid !!! However some items they sell at a pre-order discount, and if the release date was past, you then had to pay the full price, even though you had already placed the previous order before the release date, and were just re-ordering the same item again. The system is too complicated to look after, with different items allocated a different percentage of points, and some items not getting any points at all. Then they have a facility where you can allocate Gift points or Reward Coupons to an order. However once that order is placed, you cannot alter it or combine other items with that order – none of these conditions is specified anywhere on their web pages.

Their Customer Account page has various ways of looking at your orders, including ‘open and recently shipped orders’ & ‘orders placed in the last 6 months’. I queried how recently ‘recently’ was, as orders that I had placed in the last week or so did not appear under the first category. their explanation was “if your order was placed different month from date of shipment, the system recognize the order as past then categorized into “orders placed in the last 6 months”, even though the order have been shipped recently.” Is that confusing or what ? (and not documented on their web page).

In the past, they offered two kinds of shipping – ‘International Economy’, and ‘International Express’. The Economy options was sent via the normal post, usually using Japan’s SAL method. The International option was sen via DHL, the international freight forwarder. I would never use the International option as it was far too expensive, and I didn’t need my items to arrive that quickly. However around 50% of the time, Amazon would just change the shipping option from Economy to International without telling me, and suddenly I would get a call from DHL asking me what they wanted me to do about my parcel. DHL would not deliver my parcel, because I do not like to use a street address for security reasons, and instead have a PO Box. But they will not deliver to a PO Box (why can’t they just go to the nominated Post Office and leave the parcel there ?), so each time I have to make arrangements to have the parcel delivered somewhere else (which causes delays) or go and pick it up form their depot myself (a 1 hour round trip !!!). Several times they have taken the parcel to the wrong place, or delivered it somewhere else without even asking me first. It seems that nearly every time DHL has been involved with a delivery, there is some kind of stuff-up. I have asked Amazon many time to not do this, and that they cannot use DHL if the customer’s address is a PO Box, and I get the same form reply as above, but nothing changes. 

And now for the icing on this rotten cake – once again Amazon made changes to their system, a really major one this time, and didn’t tell anyone first. On the 7th March, they decided to drop the Economy shipping option, and have only one kind of shipping – Express !!!! Their reasoning was “our cutomer had many trouble when they order at Amazon.co.jp with economy shipping.  We thought our cutomers are not happy and sometime they are unavailable to get the items at all.  To deliver your items safely to you as soon as possible, we have decided to offer only International Express shipping which has tracking ID on every shipment. ” – as you can see, not one of their better English responses. Well I have used the Economy option for years without any problems, and they didn’t ask me if I wanted this facility taken away from me !!! I refuse the pay the exorbitant rates for International shipping – if you buy 1 CD, the postage is more than the item itself.

Every time I complain about something, I always get the reply “I’m really sorry about the entire situation.” & “Thank you for shopping at Amazon.co.jp. We hope to see you again soon.” Well in this case, it is now a big NO THANKS !!! My experience with Amazon Japan has NOT been pleasant and successful as they would suggest.

Another company that I have been using for many years is CD Japan. This is the English division of a company called ‘Neowing’, and unlike Amazon, their web site is ALL in English, and the details they give about the items on their pages is a lot more comprehensive and useful. They have preview sound samples available for many of the CD’s, so you can listen before you buy. They also have a point program, and whilst the % is less than Amazon’s, it is on EVERY item you buy. One of their best features is a great facility whereby you can order items and just add them to a previous order, rather than having to place a completely new order, and then combine it with the previous order like Amazon make you do (and which sometimes doesn’t work). And with Amazon, sometimes if you tried to do this with orders that were all in stock, before you had a chance to try and do the combining thing, the order had already been processed and was ready for shipping and unable to be altered. So you always had to add an item that was a pre-order into the order, and then cancel it later – what a hassle and waste of time !!!CD Japan’s customer service is always helpful as well, and they have an email notification service that lets you know about the new releases information in the category you have specified. The only thing that Amazon had over them previously was that they do not offer discounts, particularly on new or pre-release items, whereas Amazon would often discount new release CD’s and DVD’s at 15% & even 25% off retail price. However I am not willing to put up with all the hassles that Amazon has caused me recently, just to get a discount.So in the last couple of days, I cancelled all my exisiting orders with Amazon, and transferred them over to CD Japan, and unless there is something I really need that it not available anywhere else, I will never be using Amazon Japan again !!! Another thing that really annoyed me was that Amazon Japan sold an obnoxious race-hate magazine GAIJIN HANZAI in Japan that targeted foreigners as causing all the problems with crime in Japan. When members of the international community, lead by American born but naturalised Japanese citizen and social activist Arudou Debito, complained about this, particularly as it was being sold openly in convenience stores, all retailers EXCEPT for Amazon were very quick to recall the offending magazines and get it off their shelves. You can read all about the whole sorry story here.

(steps off soapbox) 

P.S. make sure you read the Comments section as well, where the responses from both companies mentioned are documented ❗

Also make sure you see my follow-up post about more problems with Amazon 🙂


24 Responses to “Amazon.co.jp sucks – CDJapan Rocks !!!”

  1. mc evans said

    I always purchase at CDJapan, and they service are very good and the best price, I always use SAL shipping and the package cme in good and safe condition. CDjapan is the best online store!

  2. lunasspecto said

    Anybody know of a good alternative to amazon.co.jp for Japanese books (not manga)? There’s a particular 100-page book I’d really like to have, but $36 for shipping to the US (what they were about to charge me) seems a bit much.

  3. redracer said

    Kiena, if the difference was only $10, your saving from Amazon would be eaten up by Amazon’s insistence on posting via EMS or International Courier !!!

  4. Keina said

    okay so that was great, but i had to order off of Amazon.jp =\ becuase they didnt have Ikkitousen Great Guardians vol.1 First press with the box which im expecting to get from amazon jp i also got vol.4 which ALSO im expecting to get the box. Cdjapan has a great Promo extra but all outta stock =\ and its $10 more at Cdjapan. I woulda orderd from Hmv.Jp but i watned the boxes with the dvds really badly especially Vol.1’s box. I mean Cdjapan is great for anime but idk that was my 1st order from Amazon.JP i will try it 3-5 more ttimes for some anime and cds. I need to get my Bokuretsu Tenshi season2 limited edition vol.1 and 2 instock and cheeper then Cdjapan so lets see how thats gunna be when i have money to get that lol

  5. OMG thank you for the info!

    i have been using amazon all this while. i usually send the item to a friend of mine in japan, before asking him to send it to me via ems. the reason is that i usually buy used products or products from other sellers (where it can only be shipped within japan). the good thing is if you are lucky enough you can get a brand new item for less the price than amazon, and surprisingly it was listed in amazon itself.

    one good example is Onyanko Club Final Stage DVD box set was priced plus-minus 19,900yen brand new from amazon, just a few clicks at the same page, you will find seller list’s and one offer brand new at 8,800yen. so yeah it was a bargain.

    as for brand new item to be shipped internationally, amazon’s offer is quite high. and thanks to you, i will consider using cdjapan after this!

  6. redracer said

    Yes, they changed to FedEx quite a while back now, which I also complained about !!! DHL’s depot (where I had to collect the goods from) wasn’t too far out of my way, but FedEx is, and weren’t as accomodating to hold things for collection as DHL was :-(((

  7. Maverynthia said

    It’s good to see that I am not the only one angry at Amazon.jp for the shipping. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any alternative for people who want to buy books as other places don’t seem to have the “lesser” books and only seem to stock the popular manga. 😦
    I’m still going to write to them and tell them that their shipping sucks, maybe if enough people do it they’ll change their ways.
    Also, rumor has it that they switched to FedEx. I don’t know how much you paid for shipping at the time, but for books now it;s $30 even for the smallest item. 😦

  8. rollchan said

    ohh, nice. I’ve placed an order @CDJapan, and nw, by tomorrow, I’m going to pickup my goodies @ our local Postal Office EMS. Ver fast shipment and traceable.

    Thanks for this topic. 🙂

  9. Redracer said

    Yes, I have corresponded many times with ‘Toshi Makiya’, and the service is always excellent 🙂

  10. bobo said

    Just wanted to add, my email was from ‘Toshi Makiya’ as well 🙂 The guy rocks!

  11. bobo said

    I always use Playasia and Yesasia and have never had any problems, although I recently sent in an email to CDJapan about a particular CD I wanted to track down, and received such a helpful reply (the staff who replied – in fantastic English I might add- said they wouldn’t be able to order it themselves, but suggested I could look at Amazon and even gave me a link to the CD) that I am seriously considering ordering from them in the future.

    The only time I ever ordered from HMV Japan (rather than Amazon JP because of their HUGELY ridiculous shipping costs) I had a problem with the order, and when the CD arrived, due to the nature of the packaging, the plastic album cover was cracked. I suppose I could have emailed them to ask for a replacement but it was too much hassle. Thankfully the album booklet was fine.

  12. redracer said

    Yes, I don’t like YesAsia also for a number of reasons ….

  13. Andres said

    Hey guys. I readed your documentary and it was pretty good!. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    However, I really want to warn you about yesasia, but i don’t know if it is for everything. A friend of mine ordered a first press cd including a poster, but the surprise was that the poster was not included in the cd, and was sold apart, as a totally different item.

    Take car u guys, bye.

  14. redracer said

    Timsun, Yesasia’s prices are inflated, even though they claim you get free postage (everyone know you NEVER get anything for free!!), and why should I have to pay in US dollars for a Japanese product ?

    I have not used HMV – how does it work?

    I have had excellent customer service from CDJapan, and that is more than I can say for any other on-line retailer that I have dealt with. And i don’t think their shipping rates are ridiculous – they charge exactly what Japan Post says for the size of the parcel …

  15. TIMSUN said

    Pssh, CD Japan, are you kidding? You live in Sydney too, which means you’re getting the exact same ridiculous shipping prices I’m getting.

    Economy shipping with CD Japan is around the same as Express from HMV, if not more expensive, not to mention HMV has constant sales and bargains.

    Unless you’re a psycho for ensuring you get first press, or obsessive-compulsive to an extent where you don’t want your free postcard creased, I don’t see why you’d pick CD Japan over HMV or even YesAsia.

  16. Jeff said

    I know this is a little old now but just another vote of confidence in CD Japan…

    Though, in Amazon’s defense, part of what I like about CD Japan actually supports Amazon’s shipping explanation.

    I ordered a PUFFY CD from CD Japan once, using standard shipping (I’d never had a problem with it either), and it never came. So it does happen. Nobody has to sign for the package and it’s not tracked, so stuff does get lost. To CD Japan’s credit, though, they sent me another CD free of charge. I’ve been using them pretty much exclusively since then, unless they don’t have something I want, in which case I buy from YesAsia. Never Amazon, though.

    In fact, one reason why I’m here is this site came up in a Google search I was doing looking for info on YesAsia’s tracking #’s – they don’t seem to work anywhere. So they’re kinda weird too.

    But I understand Amazon not wanting to deal with the hassle of economy shipping. CD Japan probably lost $15 on my order… but they’ve hopefully since made that up in future orders.

  17. […] Top 5 Posts Kumi Koda newsBeni Arashiro – new album ‘GEM’Amazon.co.jp sucks – CDJapan Rocks !!!2006 J-Pop awardsMika Nakashima – new album […]

  18. Frox said

    Haha yea 🙂

    Ah oki cool, I added you to my list also.

  19. redracer said

    Thanks again Frox – good deal with your Dad’s credit card – I bet you can persuade him to hold off on the replayments longer that the CC company would 🙂

    BTW – I will add your page to my Blog roll.

  20. Frox said

    True 🙂
    Though another reason for me to buy at CDJapan is that I added my dads credit card :p
    So I actually just keep on adding stuff and have the time to pay my dad later on. (Lol I should stop with that…)

    (btw. nice blog you’re having, just discovered)

  21. redracer said

    Thanks for your comment Frox ! I have used YesAsia as well, but I think they cost more in the long run. Even though you can get free shipping, you never get ANYTHING for free really – the price of the items are higher to make up for it. And they charge in $US don’t they, which means you have to pay conversion rate fees 😦

    However you can get Japanese movies from them as the HongKong or Taiwan version with English subtitles/dialog, which sometimes takes ages to come out in Japan (if at all).

  22. Frox said

    Hehe pretty obvious… 🙂
    I’ve only placed my orders with YesAsia and CDJapan.

    And since I’ve collected a pretty amount of points at CDJapan and haven’t had any problems with them I’ll stick with those people. 🙂

  23. redracer said

    And this is what CDJapan had to say in response …

    Hi again Doug,

    Thank you so much.
    All of us read it, and it provided us with extremely valuable insights and information.
    We also enjoyed reading it, and we are very happy that you are satisfied with shopping at CDJapan. That means so much to us.
    It was definitely one of the best moments we’ve had so far this year, or more accurately, within the last few years!
    Personally, I am also proud that I’m finding myself in a position where I feel that we’ve been done something good.
    Of course, my personal definition of “good” is when something you do makes someone happy, and it’s definitely not anything about doing better than the competitions.
    I want you to know that you did a very nice thing, because you made us very happy.
    Even then, we still need to make tons of improvements, including the issue with costs, which is obviously important for customers.
    Also, some apects of your shopping experience at Amazon Japan that you were unhappy with are types of issues that reminded us of what we need to be careful about.
    Once again, thank you so much.

    Very respectfully yours,
    Toshi Makiya
    “end quote”

    and regarding Amazon’s response, they said …

    “Yes! I agree completely!
    It’s so stupid, to a point where it’s so funny, and I laughed so hard!”

    So gentle reader … which company would YOU rather deal with ❓

  24. redracer said

    Amazon have obviously seen what is going on and they say …

    “Thank you for contacting us at Amazon.co.jp.

    I have looked into your account and found that your orders have
    been cancelled. Therefore, the orders will never be shipped nor

    Thank you for dealing with Amazon.co.jp for a long time.”

    My God !!!! duh 🙄

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