I know that tons of Singaporeans love to use Ezbuy to shop on Taobao, despite the fact that you usually have to pay an extra 8% agent fee, plus shipping can be more expensive.
On the surface, paying this premium seems pretty reasonable, since Ezbuy lets you shop and ship Taobao stuff entirely in English. This is a definite value-add for those who don’t read or speak Chinese… and a shameful crutch for those of us who are supposed to understand Chinese but can’t.
But… could your lack of Chinese proficiency actually be causing you to pay more than necessary?
Recently I came across a Reddit post where someone pointed out that Taobao items are way more expensive on Ezbuy, even before factoring agent fee and shipping. Gasp.
A little more digging online quickly revealed two major complaints about Ezbuy pricing, which I’ll summarise and attempt to verify in this article.
[This article was first published on April 30, 2019. We have updated it on 7 May 2019 with Ezbuy’s feedback.]
Complaint #1: Taobao product prices are higher on Ezbuy
This is the original Reddit post that got me thinking:
That reminded me of some weird price discrepancies that I came across while doing price research on the Taobao physical store at Plaza Singapura. At the time, I just assumed the strange prices must have been due to me being a n00b.
But there’s lots of corroboration on Reddit regarding Ezbuy’s pricing on Taobao items:
Apparently, Ezbuy’s crappy exchange rate is already a known thing on HardwareZone, as blogger Pewpewpew summarised in his article on the whole Taobao furniture shopping experience:
To verify if there’s really a price discrepancy between Taobao and Ezbuy, I decided to look for a couple of random items on Taobao and compare the Ezbuy counterpart.
First I looked for this “lazylife” bean bag set, which costs 979RMB (about $197.79) for the full set.
I found the item on Ezbuy by searching for “lazylife”, but it’s a whopping $303.38.
But when I enter the Taobao URL, I get an identical product listing at only $217.56, which is much closer to the original.
To check if this is also the case for small items, I tried searching for this Pusheen cat mug (45RMB on Taobao, about $9.11).
Well, guess what? It costs $11.77 on Ezbuy – that’s about 30% more.
Again, when I enter the Taobao URL into Ezbuy, the price is magically reduced to $9.
I decided to repeat the experiment, just in case the previous two were flukes. I chose a Ghost the direwolf from the Funko Pop Game of Thrones keychain collection (48RMB on Taobao, about $9.69).
Conclusion: Taobao stuff is more expensive on Ezbuy, but…
Here’s a summary table of my findings.
|Item||Price on Taobao||Price on Ezbuy (via search)||Price on Ezbuy (paste URL)|
|Lazylife bean bag||979RMB = $197.79||$303.38||$217.56|
|Pusheen mug||45RMB = $9.11||$11.77||$9|
|Game of Thrones toy||48RMB = $9.69||$13.44||$9.78|
The results are in: Taobao prices can be more expensive by 30% to 50% on Ezbuy.
As demonstrated, pasting the Taobao URL into Ezbuy is a workaround that will give you much better prices – but you need to be savvy enough to shop on Taobao first. Kinda defeats the whole point of Ezbuy in the first place, right? If you can shop on Taobao, then you might as well make your purchase there.
To be fair, the platform Ezbuy probably isn’t responsible for the inflated prices – the sellers themselves are.
Fair enough, but I don’t care about the intricacies of my online shopping back-end. All I want is a good deal. Personally, I go to Ezbuy with the intent of shopping for Taobao stuff specifically, so I think it’s natural to know how much more I will possibly pay.
Complaint #2: Ezbuy shipping is more expensive
Next, I also stumbled upon this complaint that Ezbuy also “miscalculates” the weight of your parcels…
OK lah, it’s not unreasonable for clothes (plus packaging) to weigh more than 1kg, but I started to see more complaints about mysterious parcel weight gains on HardwareZone’s Ezbuy thread:
I also found similar comments about Ezbuy on PissedConsumer.com. This user claims that Ezbuy overstated the weight of his/her cycling glasses:
But seriously, the following example just takes the cake.
OMG! We don’t know how true these comments are. But if they are indeed so… 100kg per chair leh. I cannot take it.
… And that’s when my heart sank, because I realised…
Crap, I also kena before!
This is a small bathroom sink + stand I got recently. Look at the “chargeable weight”.
At the point of purchase, I had no clue how much ceramic sinks weigh, so I kind of just took Ezbuy at face value.
But I personally assembled and carried the entire sink set to the bathroom and can absolutely tell you it was nowhere near 103.19kg, okay?! More like 20kg, tops. I’m not that strong.
All right, so maybe it’s 100kg by volumetric weight?
I ran the numbers based on the product measurements: 43cm x 35cm x 84cm. (It came flat-packed and unassembled, so the parcel was definitely smaller, but what the hell, I give chance lah.) Nope, that works out to 25.28kg.
Even if I buffer in an extra 10cm per dimension, it’s still only 44.84kg by volumetric weight. So I really don’t understand how it could’ve been 103.19kg.
Although I had Ezbuy Prime for free shipping, the weight exceeded Ezbuy’s limits for regular collection and so I had to pay $17.25 for home delivery. Which, it turns out, I absolutely did not need.
Conclusion: It’s probably not on purpose
Ezbuy got back to me with a screenshot from their system showing that their system reflects the weight of my bathroom sink as 19.3kg (sounds about right).
After checking their back-end system, Ezbuy gave me a partial refund of $10 + an apology on behalf of the seller (whom Ezbuy said measured the weight incorrectly). So I guess they weren’t, you know, actually trying to charge me more for shipping.
Moral of the story? Don’t be goondu like me.
Dispute any strange-sounding parcel weight as early as possible; failing that, take photos of your parcel on a weighing scale and request a refund afterwards.
Granted, Ezbuy is not the only platform that faces this problem. These screw-ups happen even with Taobao’s own logistics, as this Redditor reports.
Should you buy from Ezbuy?
Look, I know Ezbuy needs to make money and all. I imagine it’s extremely tough for them to make money now that shopping direct on Taobao is becoming a lot more mainstream in Singapore.
Also, they’re hardly the only business to quietly use a bad exchange rate. (*Cough* bank remittance *cough*.)
But what really leaves a bad taste in my mouth is that Ezbuy charges an 8% agent fee on top of everything. If you’re paying a separate agent fee, it would be fair to assume that you will be getting competitive prices on the original product or on shipping, right?
If you still like that you can find Taobao listings in English on Ezbuy, more power to you. Just take note of the 8% agent fee, varying prices and shipping cost. Like on most ecommerce platforms, exercise due diligence when you shop.
I’ll just end off with a screenshot from the OP that started it all:
Update (6 May): Here’s what Ezbuy had to say
So, Ezbuy reached out to us with a lengthy email. It seems that they, too, have complaints of their own:
(Hey, just to be clear, I have absolutely no problem with anyone using Ezbuy. I use Ezbuy myself! I do think it’s important to know if you’re paying a premium, though.)
They then walk us through their business model:
Yup, like I pointed out right at the start, Ezbuy really provides a valuable service, especially for jiak kentang people like me who don’t want to chit-chat with Mainland Chinese Taobao sellers.
Then Ezbuy goes on to say it’s unfair to compare them with Taobao, because they’re an entirely independent marketplace:
Stay tuned for the Lazada vs Taobao comparison piece, guys.
Over to you – what’s your experience like with Ezbuy? Share it with us in the comments.