Saturday, July 13, 2013

My shopping experiences with different online stores

Hey girls! I've been thinking about writing a post like this for a while now, mostly because I like to read  about other people's experiences with different e-tailers, so I can learn from it and maybe spare myself some heartache. I'm also working on a post about shops in the Netherlands (some of which will ship internationally) so that'll be up soon too!

I also think that indies and other shops that do their job well and communicate with their customers, should be acknowledged as good brands and get some free extra publicity. On the other hand, brands that fail their customers, sell hack products or never reply to a single freaking email, should also be named.

The shops I have reviewed for you are Different Dimension, Polish Me To Go, Girly Bits, Sweet Heart Polish, Llarowe, Spectraflair4U, Nailz Craze, Bundle Monster, Cheeky Beauty, Born Pretty Store and eBay.

Some interesting info if you want to buy internationally from within the Netherlands:
Mail from the US usually takes exactly 5 working days. I've had the same time frame with mail from Australia, and Norway too but sometimes even faster. Packages from China will usually take 10 days, but I've had stuff arrive after 40 days so there's really no telling.
There's no restrictions on importing nail polish, so YAY!
It's very important to know that when you buy from outside of the EU, any purchase over €22 will be subject to 21% VAT. Customs will hold your package, delaying delivery, and is known to produce a mountain of paperwork, PostNL takes care of that but you will need to pay them €13. This amount is the same every time, unrelated to how much VAT you'll have to pay or how big or small your package is. This makes it a bitch to import because nail polish can rack up quickly, but luckily some shops will write a lower declared value on the customs form.

Wat interessante informatie voor als je uit het buitenland wilt bestellen vanuit Nederland:
Post vanuit de VS doet er meestal precies 5 werkdagen over. Ik heb de ervaring dat post vanuit Australiƫ er evenlang over doet, net als uit Noorwegen hoewel dat soms ook iets sneller kan gaan. Pakjes uit China doen er meestal 10 dagen over, maar ik heb soms ook nog pakjes ontvangen na 40 dagen dus er is eigenlijk geen garantie voor te geven.
Er is geen verbod op het invoeren van nagellak, jeuhhhh!
Het is heel belangrijk om te weten dat, als je dingen besteld van buiten de Europese Unie, elke aankoop boven de €22 belast wordt met 21% belasting. De douane houdt je pakje een tijdje vast waardoor het later aankomt, en staat erom bekend dat ze veel papierwerk voortbrengen. PostNL neemt dit papierwerk voor je over maar daarvoor vragen ze €13 inklaringskosten. Dit bedrag is altijd hetzelfde, ongeacht hoe veel BTW je moet betalen of hoe groot of klein je pakje is. Deze stomme regeltjes maken het lastig om op een prettige manier nagellak uit het buitenland te kopen omdat het bedrag voor meerdere flesjes snel kan oplopen, maar gelukkig zijn sommige winkels bereid om een lagere verklaarde waarde op het douaneformulier te schrijven.

Let's get to the list!

Indie Brands

Different Dimension
International shipping from US
Shipping includes tracking

I've bought 4 bottles from Missi, my love for her brand started with the Light It Up Blue for Autism polish. Different Dimension has some very cool polishes, including holos and even glow in the dark ones. The formula is excellent! I have no complaints whatsoever, I had a very pleasant experience with this brand and you can even get a coupon code for your next purchase!

I didn't have to pay any extra for tracking and it was really cool to see where my package was going! Shipping to the Netherlands takes exactly 5 business days.

I admire Missi for being a mom to an autistic son, she's going strong and caring for her family, and I think she's amazing for holding up her own brand of polish as well. She fully deserves our support and our money LOL

I follow Different Dimension on Facebook and Instagram
You can read my reviews HERE and HERE

Polish Me To Go
Doesn't ship internationally anymore

Excuse me for not linking to this store, but I've had such an awful experience with this one. I placed an order just before she stopped shipping internationally, but there was so much wrong with the polishes. Bent brushes, clumping pigment, slimy polish, gritty formula, just to name a few of the issues. The replacement package she sent me wasn't much better. It cost me a lot of time and effort, and ofcourse a whole lot of stress. I do have to mention that her communication was fast, although somewhat hard to understand sometimes.

The second package had a customs declaration form with an unbelievable high declared value written on it. I have no idea what she was thinking but that got me into trouble too. I guess it bit her in the ass too because she promised before to take on all extra charges and fees and she stuck to that promise, which is kind of cool of her. Still, she should've made sure she had a decent product to send to me and 'I was in the process of reformulating so I couldn't send you one of the improved polishes' is an excuse that infuriates me to the bone.

You can read the whole chilling story HERE

Girly Bits Cosmetics
International shipping from Canada
Shipping to the Netherlands is somewhat higher
Very sweet customer rep

You all know Girly Bits, right? And if you don't, I think it's time you bought some of their polishes. The brand was founded by Pam and I think she's done a heck of a job. This brand knows what we love, the polishes are smooth, jelly-like and they look amazing. Also rarely sold out (at least when I visit), and there's lots of dense glitter, duochrome toppers, holos and other amazing pretties. They also sell franken supplies, which I've never ordered but I would love to try!

My order was placed on Thursday, it was sent out on Monday and it was in my hands on Friday. I'd say that's pretty good time for an international order. It was packaged REALLY snugly in a huge bubble mailer, no way anything could happen to these bottles!

I had the best experience with their customer rep Tara. I had placed an order during a sale, but in the frenzy I just went ahead and checked out when I really wanted to buy more polishes. She was very friendly in her emails, was so cooperative and listened to my questions and problems. No problem adding to my order, and sending me an invoice for the additional costs. THIS is customer service! Very good *thumbs up*

I've also had some contact with Pam herself, she read my review here on the blog and noticed something was off about one of the polishes. She offered to send me a new one at no cost or to supply me with a coupon code for my next purchase. Even though it was an item I got from the Scratch 'n Dent sale, she wanted me to be 100% happy with my purchase. I think this is amazing!

This brand is nothing but friendly, with quality products. I highly recommend buying some of these polishes!

I follow Girly Bits on Facebook and Instagram
You can read my reviews HERE and HERE

Sweet Heart Polish
International shipping from US
New brand

When I placed an order with Sweet Heart Polish, the shop hadn't been open very long and there were some things to work out, like shipping internationally and paying with PayPal. So much to think about when opening an Etsy shop! But Cassandra was really easy to communicate with, she replied quickly and fixed everything I encountered. I got a discount for bloggers if I blogged about the brand and I feel connected to this brand somehow. She was just super friendly and her polishes look great. I had a tiiiny little problem with one of the polishes but she's really open to talking about stuff like that.

She ships in a cardboard box and the polishes are carefully packaged. She uses these pink neon hearts to tape the bubble wrap together, so cute!

The shop is always stocked, I hope the polish hoarders of the world will unite and change that LOL There's a lot of glitter and also some opaque polishes that are really nice. I've seen new colors pop up and I know she's working on some more, so I'm keeping my eye on her.

I follow Sweet Heart Polish on Facebook
You can read my review HERE

International shipping from US
Shipping includes tracking
Lots of different brands

Your one stop spot to shop (say that ten times fast) for the best indie brands. Llarowe has a very high standard of which indie brands they will stock in the shop, so every brand you can buy there has been tested and approved. This means you will get good polish, and if there's something wrong, you can count on them to find a solution.

Personally, I love Llarowe and I wish they were in the Netherlands so I could buy and buy and buy. Polishes will be a tiny little bit more expensive than in the shop of the brand itself but you can fit different brands into one order and still pay for shipping only once. Llarowe is a super busy shop and the best polishes will sell out within minutes during a restock. So you might not be able to get every polish you want in one order, but you'll find a whole lot of awesomeness in one place!

I've found shipping to take some time, my first order shipped within 2 business days but got a little bit lost during its trip trough the US. It took two weeks to arrive but I wasn't worried too much because I had tracking (for which I didn't have to pay any extra). The second order took almost a week to ship out, I guess they were busy. It arrived 6 business days later in a bubble mailer. I will definitely be buying lots more polishes from Llarowe in the future, especially now that they've added even more amazing brands to the shop.

I follow Llarowe on Facebook

Nail art supplies

International shipping from US
Only seller I know to sell Spectraflair

I've bought from Lori twice now, and I don't regret it. The Spectraflair is mixed in clear polish base because of new restrictions that I don't know much about. So it's sold in really cool high bottles of 15ml, no brush, or if 15ml is too much for you, you can buy half a bottle for half the price. She has different grades of Spectraflair, higher grade means bigger particles so the polish will look more coarse. It's really up to you which grade you prefer, but if you have any questions I'm sure Lori won't mind answering them for you!

She ships them in bubble mailers with cute stickers on them, I sent her a message about this (because I like them so much) and she was really sweet in her emails.

I follow Spectraflair4U on Facebook

Nailz Craze
International shipping from Israel
Shipping includes tracking
Stamping plates 'indie style'

Natalie designs and manufactures her own brand of stamping plates, which I think is very cool (I call that 'indie plates'. Her plates are very high quality, the engravings are sharp and the images are larger than most other brands, which makes them very suitable for large nails. This also means that if you have short nails or small nail beds, they will need careful placement. I love that the plates have a theme!

Shipping is about as much as it would cost to send these plates within the Netherlands, so that's amazing! Especially considering the tracking on your shipment. My order was shipping withing 24h and only took three working days to get here!

Please be sure to buy from her Etsy store, she doesn't sell via eBay or Aliexpress. The plates you will find there are fakes. You can recognize her genuine plates by the Nailz Craze logo on the plate! It's important that we support the maker of the original plates, especially since they are high quality and so much thought has gone into creating each image!

I follow Nailz Craze on Facebook and Instagram

Bundle Monster
International shipping from US
Low flat rate shipping of $5,50

For decent stamping plates at low cost, Bundle Monster is a good place to go. I love the different sets and they're not even $1 per plate if you do the math. The images are sharp and large enough to fit most nails. I had one plate in my order that wasn't etched deeply enough, but I emailed them and it was resolved really quickly. I got sent a replacement plate at no additional cost, very good Bundle Monster!

Shipping is a flat rate of $5,50 which is very cool! Sending a pack of plates within the Netherlands would cost about as much due to the weight, so yay! The plastic box that held my plates was a bit damaged during transit, the plastic broke so it wouldn't close anymore, but I really didn't mind because I wasn't going to store them that way anyway.

I follow Bundle Monster on Facebook

Cheeky Beauty
International shipping from China
Free shipping!

Another great source of inexpensive, decent quality stamping plates! Cheeky has different sets that aren't painful for your wallet AT ALL, and they ship internationally for free! It takes a while to get here (between 2 - 3 weeks usually) and each time I got my tracking number a month after I received the package, so that's too bad.

I really like the Cheeky designs, they fit my style and they stamp well. I have a small set of 13 plates and now also a Jumbo plate, those have a theme per plate and I really like that idea.

I follow Cheeky on Facebook

Born Pretty Store
International shipping from China
Free shipping!

I think everybody knows about the Born Pretty Store. They have a huge assortment in nail art supplies, and they also offer polish and other fashion items. You don't have to save up to shop here, their prices are so much lower than any Dutch shop! Their products are really cool and they follow the latest nail art trends, so you'll find new things regularly.

Shipping is free-hee! They sometimes take a while to send out shipping notice but you can be sure that they'll ship it within 24 hours. It takes about 10 days to reach the Netherlands. Also, I can get really annoyed by the eBay style of listing products: just cram as much information into one product title as you can without making it sound like a real sentence, while using words that have nothing to do with the product. This is how their emails and Facebook posts are written too. I can understand English not being your native language, but as a business you should hire a rep who speaks decent English.

Some of the products aren't super high quality, I wouldn't spend my money on their polish for instance but the nail art things are very good for such a low price. I've had the honor of trying out one of their new holo polishes for free, but those really isn't worth what they are selling them for, sorry. I bought rhinestones and studs and phone accessories that have all become a vital part in my stash! You can also get a 10% discount on anything in the store using my code NCW21

I follow Born Pretty Store on Facebook
You can read my review HERE

Lots of different sellers from all over the world
Sellers with free shipping
eBay Buyer Protection

Ah yes, the infamous eBay. I have a love-hate relationship with eBay. There are so many things I want and they are so super inexpensive that you sometimes forget you even bought something, because you barely feel it in your wallet. The best part about eBay is their Buyer Protection, which I've come to love. If you buy something and the product doesn't fulfill decent quality standards (i.e. it's falling apart without touching it), if it's not as described in the listing (i.e. wrong color, shape or size) or if you never received it (got lost in transit), then you can ask for a refund or an exchange. In most cases, you can expect a refund. I've had some sellers that were really easy to issue a refund, even without replying to my message, and I've had sellers that kept stalling so that it took a week for me to get my refund, because they would only reply once a day, at 5AM. I've never had a case escalate (when you ask the people of eBay to look at your case and make a decision).

I've only had one single package lost in the mail, and a few other things that weren't as described or just really crappy. It's a good source for cheap products as long as you keep in mind that you get what you pay for.

The thing I hate about eBay is the auctions. I see something I want, and the price is still ridiculously low, but the auction ends somewhere in the middle of the night and you can bet your ass I won't be staying up to save a few bucks. So I'll just stay away from auctions and take the Buy Now option. Or when I find products I love, but the shipping is SUPER high. It can feel like a job to hunt down the thing you're searching for, and to find it at a decent price.

Your purchases are all neatly listed in your account, with icons for payment, shipping and feedback left or received. They also have an app to keep track of your purchases, auctions, and you can even get a notification when you've been outbid and then place a higher bit on the go.

I don't follow eBay anywhere LOL

Did you enjoy reading this? I really hope it'll be helpful in your polish addiction!!
P.S. I'm doing a review of some shops based in the Netherlands soon too, so keep watching this blog if you're interested!

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