Just a quick note about replicas before I continue: I don't necessarily condone the buying of replicas, and as you can see here, pretty much everything in the photo above is one, although arguably it isn't breaking any copyright laws since they do not include art pieces or logos. I'm generally not a huge fan of print replicas anyways because there are too many discrepancies with the original and the replica, but for plain, unprinted, pieces, I don't find too many qualms with it.
Okay, that aside, this time I used Pruany as my shopping service because I saw that their shopping service rates are a lot cheaper than any other I have used/seen before. Just a note though, if you are not familiar with how Taobao is set up or are really intimidated by all the kanji everywhere, I recommend using Taobao Spree instead--their employees are much more helpful and willing to answer smaller questions promptly. (EDIT: (June 21, 2015) I would not recommend Taobao Spree either because their communication has not been too great recently. SpreeNow is what I use currently and it's great regardless of whether you are familiar with Taobao or not.)
Pruany is extremely straight forward though, they have a really intelligent website that picks up all the details of the item you want from the URL, from price, name of the item, and the seller's name. You just include in the notes what you want for sizing and colour. I did a group order with quite a few of my friends who cosplay, and one who wanted more fashion items, so our haul was pretty diverse.
Just as an extra note, I won't really be reviewing the stores I purchased from. If someone does show interest in that though, I will be more than happy to do another post later. =)
The entire box was taped all the way around! This is actually a brown cardboard box, but in the end it looked yellow. I've heard some complaints about other Taobao shopping services really skimping on packing material, so I was happy to see that the box was so secure.
In the end, the box was filled with cosplay wigs, lots of shoes, and a couple of dresses.
Each item was individually packed in a thin plastic bag. It was really nice because it kept the shoes from scuffing each other, especially since there were so many, but it also didn't really provide proper protection for some of them that a shoe box would have given.
These are the shoes I purchased! The ones on the far right are actually a pair of shoes I bought for my boyfriend for our anniversary, hence the size difference. I hope to buy him the originals soon once I find a listing for them in his size on eBay... Right now I've had no such luck. D=
These shoes are awesome! They're Simone Rocha knock-offs. I didn't really like Jeffrey Campbell's interpretation of the idea with their "Float" shoes, so I went for ones modeled after the original Simone Rocha design. There is a clear heel, so you always look like you're standing on your tippy-toes. Really a great idea!
My boyfriend's shoes! It's hard to tell in this photo, but the wings on the side are a bit bent out of shape because they were not shipped in a shoebox. I wasn't incredibly miffed because it didn't look too terrible, but I'd probably not recommend this shopping service if you want to buy sneakers for this reason. For the harder pleather-type shoes, the shipping method is really great. From what I heard though, Taobao Spree packages shoes in a similar way.
I also ordered two wigs, which I'm wearing in the two looks below~
Now onto the more technical details of the purchase through Pruany. There were three major issues I ran into when I was working with them.
First off, I didn't really like how I never seemed to have one person helping me. I guess I was more used to Taobao Spree, who had one main person kind of handle everything (Susan). Because of this, I found myself repeating myself a lot and having to give basic information I figured they would have each time I needed some trouble shooting. They have a live chat message application that is only online during China's day hours (so I would have to contact them in the evenings, which really wasn't a problem for me), and they always had to ask for my order number and information each time I talked to them. There was another option where you could send them a message regarding a certain item, for instance, I wanted to ask them if a certain shoe was made to order, or if it would immediately ship. I found that a lot handier, but each time I seemed to have run into different people, so that miffed me a bit.
Secondly, because a lot of Taobao stores don't seem to update their stock, a lot of times I would run into things that were sold out. For that reason, Pruany would have to tell me after the fact that it was sold out and give me a refund for the item. The website was set up so that it didn't really clearly notify you if a refund was given, and I had to individually scroll through the list of items I had ordered until I saw a little world bubble symbol next to one saying I had received a message about the item. Here it would say that it was sold out, so a refund was issued. At one point I ran into trouble with my refund and saw that my money just disappeared into thin air, but that was quickly resolved after giving them my order number.
Lastly, I was incredibly peeved about their shipping. Initially when I paid for shipping, I was really thrilled to see that I had received a tracking number that evening itself, and the items were supposed to be coming my way. I had paid for EMS, which oddly enough was their second cheapest option out of the three they had, and was also the fastest. They had a super slow option that was more expensive than EMS, but I won't complain. It was supposed to take 5-11 days to arrive. At around the 12 day mark, I started to worry that the item was stuck in customs, because the tracking number hadn't updated past the "Origin Post Preparing Shipment" status. I contacted a representative through live chat and they casually said "oh, we have to replace the tracking number, we'll do that now." It seemed like they had never sent out the package then, and I was infuriated! It got here quickly though afterwards, within 5 days, but I was extremely peeved. Then, I see my tracking number update the day it was supposed to deliver saying that "Package Could Not be Delivered as Addressed." I had to call around to all the local Post Offices, and when I finally was able to go to the one it was held at and pick it up, I saw that they had forgotten to write an extra digit I had provided for my street address, and it could have been sent back if I didn't act fast.
Now onto the positive points of this shopping service. The cheapest service I was able to find charged 10% commission, and Pruany's most expensive rate was 8%, with no minimum, which was fantastic! You could technically buy a membership rate to get it down to 7%, and if you become a frequent buyer you can even reduce it down to 6%, which I hope to do in the future.
They accurately ordered all my items, I've had issues with that before with other services not getting the right colours or sizes. The packaging was also fantastic and really kept everything safe. I also really loved the set-up of their website. It made it incredibly easy for me to quickly order everything.
Another issue I had with other shopping services is that when they give you refunds, you have to do it through Paypal, so it takes 2-3 days for you to get your money back. With Pruany, you use Paypal to load credits into the website itself, and the refunds and money transactions are done using their credits. For that reason I was able to immediately use the money refunded to me, which really came in handy. For that alone I am willing to forgive them for the shipping mishap and continue using them, not to mention their reduced rates are always great. I have heard they even do free shipping from time to time, hopefully I run into another sale like that one!
UPDATE: (June 21, 2015) Please read ahead to learn more about why I have decided to change this review!
As you can see from the original date stamp, this review is nearly three years old, and as a result, I have felt the need to update this review since I have decided I will no longer use Pruany.
Since this past Chinese New Year's, Pruany's communication has become really terrible. They used to respond on weekends and were quick to communicate with sellers, but lately, there have been days between responses. As a result, I have missed out on reserving items I had really wanted because they would not respond within the brief window that the reserves were open.
They have also forgotten to pack some of the things I've ordered on multiple occasions, and will not remember to follow through with fixing this problem unless I message them multiple times. Their communication has also become much more cryptic and difficult to understand.
They also take no initiative to contact you if an item you ordered was very different from pictured, so I would only find out once the item was in my hands. I asked them about it later and they would just give me a non-answer, which I found really odd since they used to point out if there were errors with colours or sizing on the part of the store before.
On top of that, they have decided to start charging a fee if your things are in their warehouse for longer than 120 days. For those of you familiar with ordering from Taobao, this is especially ridiculous because a lot of reserve periods can take upwards of 4-5 months. I don't like shipping only a few things at a time, but I would be forced to now to avoid having additional fees be placed on my items. As far as I know, no other Taobao SS has this policy, so I was not happy about this.
Additionally, their EMS shipping has suspiciously become a lot more expensive, even though they still claim they have a 55% discount. They announced many "changes" to their policy in February of 2015, and since then I've been seeing that these changes have been mostly negative and extremely inconvenient.
I also was getting very frustrating because a lot of their employees are not on the same page when it comes to their policies. One employee said it would be okay if I only paid the reservation price (which is 10% of the entire price in a lot of cases) and then pay the rest when the reservation is ready to be shipped out. When I actually tried to do that, I had another employee tell me that that isn't allowed--which really threw me for a loop since I was relying on budgeting that way.
I have since found a better shopping service that is about the same price: SpreeNow. I will do a more extensive review on them later, but their interface and communication is worlds better than Pruany's.
Here are Pruany's updated stats:
Communication: 1/5 -- I am officially tired of constantly having to remind them to do things because none of the employees seem to communicate with each other. Their new hours make it incredibly hard to complete a lot of orders since I don't have time to do a lot of Taobao shopping on weekdays--now they take entire weekends off with total radio silence.
Price: 3/5 -- The actual SS fee is still some of the cheapest around, but their shipping is no longer that affordable and they have since disposed of their commission rate system, so I can't continue to lower my rates like I thought.
Shipping: 2/5 -- I can't believe they forget to include the same item in two packages in a row--nor do they remember to include it without a reminder. I am incredibly disappointed. The packaging itself isn't very different however and is still quite sturdy, which earns them an extra point more than I would have liked to give.
Hope you enjoy the review, please feel free to ask me any questions about individual items or which stores I purchased them from. =)