I’m a fan of Amazon. But their global shipping rates and custom charges often raise the cost too much. I usually buy only when I have friends or relatives visiting the US or when the overall cost makes sense, i.e. items that are not available or very expensive locally.
So I was glad about Lazada who supposedly aims to be the Amazon of Southeast Asia. Their prices are actually pretty high than what you can find locally. But coupled with promotions, vouchers, and free shipping, they do have a value proposition that can be seriously considered on a case-to-case basis. Last May 24, I ordered a Kindle Paperwhite. It $139 straight from Amazon but would be more expensive once shipping and customs are factored in.
On June 9, the package arrived. It was quite slow as shipping goes but the site did mention 10-15 days. I was more surprised when the courier tried to collect payment for customs charges. It turned out that the item was shipped from Hong Kong and not locally. But there is no indication whatsoever on the site about this. Or maybe there is but it’s buried somewhere, believe me I tried looking. So I called up Lazada customer service and disputed the charges. They were helpful and promised to have the item redelivered without the charges immediately.
But two days later, there was still no package in sight. I called a few times but I ended up explaining myself all over again and would end up getting nothing new. I got the feeling that it’s back to square one every time I call. They always talk about the “backoffice” but there’s not further information. After several such calls, I frustratedly cancelled the order. If Lazada is to be the Amazon of Southeast Asia, it definitely needs to improve on the communication and/or data access between customer service and fulfillment.
UPDATE 6/18/2014: My package arrived even though I had already cancelled it (see what I said about communication?). Since it’s extra effort for me to ship it back as a return and since they didn’t charge me extra anymore, I decided to accept it.