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    TaobaoFocus is a weasel company. Unfair Hidden Charges - Do Not Use.

    TaobaoFocus is a 3rd party agent that lets customers from outside China buy from the Taobao website (part of the Alibaba group). TaobaoFocus's advertised service fee is 10% of the purchase price; it's a reasonable fee although no longer competitive compared with newer agents now offering 5% or no service charges.

    The sting is that TaobaoFocus calculates costs in Chinese yuan (RMB or CNY), but then adds almost 13% in hidden commission on top of the average interbank exchange rate to convert from Chinese yuan to US dollars. What's more, although the TaobaoFocus website and their payment system state that payment will be made in US dollars, their backend payment system is Russian-based and actually takes payment in Russian roubles! This obviously incurs extra bank charges to convert US dollars to their Russian roubles. TaobaoFocus acknowledge that this is a frequent problem, but accept no responsibility for their payment system overcharging customers.

    I've asked for the e-mail address of their CEO to complain, but have been told that this is all my fault. It is my fault that their Ruskie payment system took payment in an entirely unexpected and unauthorised currency and they claim that I could have prevented this by not paying. Duh!

    To sum up, TaobaoFocus's charges are:
    Service charges of 10% of the purchase price with a minimum fee of 35RMB
    16.5RMB per seller Domestic shipping fee to repack the goods ready for export
    8RMB per shipment to fill in the Customs declaration form
    Shipping fees as per their schedule according to the parcel weight
    Around 13% commission on the interbank exchange rate to convert from RMB to USD.
    Overseas payment fees of around 3% charged by your bank to convert USD to RUB.

    TaobaoFocus may also change your chosen method of delivery from China Post Air Mail to EMS. This has the effect of adding £5.50 to the customs clearance fee - £13.50 with Parcelforce as opposed to £8 with Royal Mail and also means that on gift shipments you are no longer exempt from paying 20% VAT on the value of the shipping as well as on the value of the goods.

    Unfortunately Taobao World (similar to eBay's Global Shipping Program) do not ship to the UK at the moment, so are there any honest and fair alternatives?

    5 Comments

    Didn't even know there was any way to buy from Taobao here.

    Sorry can't help but appreciate the insight!

    Hello! Sorry for misunderstanding, but we would like to explain the situation for you. First of all, it is difficult to exchange USD to RMB these days, so we have to use few banks, each bank has it's own exchange rate and it's own fee. In the end, we have exchange rate , mentioned on our site. Recently the situation became not so difficult, so we have updated our exchange rate.
    Next thing, we would like to mention that RBK Money is not our payment system. It is a totally different company, that is independent from us, so we have no influence on them. Your error with changing to Roubles was made on the page of RBK system, so it should be checked with RBK support. Usually they should show payment amount and currency before payment.
    Our usual domestic China delivery fee is 15 rmb per seller, not 16.5 rmb
    Also please note, EMS delivery service usually is more expensive, fast and convenient than Airmail, but in some cases we are able to ship parcels by EMS with the same price as Airmail. In such cases we apply EMS delivery
    Please check our replies to your email

    Original Poster

    TaobaoFocus

    .. it is difficult to exchange USD to RMB these days, so we have to use … .. it is difficult to exchange USD to RMB these days, so we have to use few banks, each bank has it's own exchange rate and it's own fee. In the end, we have exchange rate , mentioned on our site. Recently the situation became not so difficult, so we have updated our exchange rate.



    Why not use AliPay? There are no problems with extortionate exchange rates of 13%! TaobaoFocus's exchange rates seems arbitrary and even the staff don't seem to know what they are!

    TaobaoFocus

    Next thing, we would like to mention that RBK Money is not our payment … Next thing, we would like to mention that RBK Money is not our payment system. It is a totally different company, that is independent from us, so we have no influence on them. Your error with changing to Roubles was made on the page of RBK system, so it should be checked with RBK support. Usually they should show payment amount and currency before payment.



    You utilise a payment system on your site which has known problems, but continue to use them and so continue to overcharge your customers. This is a well recognised problem amongst your staff, but you refuse to tackle the issue. The charges are stated on your website as in US dollars, your staff state US dollars, the payment page says US dollars, so why on earth does your system proceed to take Russian roubles without warning? This is plain dishonest.

    TaobaoFocus

    Our usual domestic China delivery fee is 15 rmb per seller, not 16.5 rmb



    It is 16.5RMB because you add 10% service charge (1.50RMB) to 15RMB. Please check your actual charges.

    TaobaoFocus

    Also please note, EMS delivery service usually is more expensive, fast … Also please note, EMS delivery service usually is more expensive, fast and convenient than Airmail, but in some cases we are able to ship parcels by EMS with the same price as Airmail. In such cases we apply EMS delivery.



    Customers specifically request Air Mail for a reason - changing to EMS without their permission means additional customs fees i.e. £5.50 more to pay for customs clearance and additional VAT amounting to 20% of the shipping fee. Customs examined the package, ignored the declared value and revised the charges upwards.

    Sorry for late reply, we did not seem to receive the notification of your comment.
    We understand your frustration, and at the same time we believe that there is some misunderstanding and lack of information on your side, which leads you to think negative about your whole experience.
    So let us answer your questions and give some more input as for your mentioned issues.

    missleading

    Why not use AliPay? There are no problems with extortionate exchange … Why not use AliPay? There are no problems with extortionate exchange rates of 13%! TaobaoFocus's exchange rates seems arbitrary and even the staff don't seem to know what they are!


    We used Alipay for international payments before, but since last spring Alipay switched its business model and offers Alipay payment only on its own platforms as well as for foreign merchants who sells to Chinese with payments in RMB only. You can check their offer here: global.alipay.com/osp…htm
    We were glad to work with them for over 3 years, since they offered processing service, but it is the case anymore.

    We believe it is linked also for more tight RMB exchange policy, that Alipay stopped this service, previously payments in USD would be converted to RMB automatically, which is much easier, even though exchange rate was not that good, but it was unlimited.

    So now we use only Paypal and foreign credit card processing company, that offers competitive rates, but all currency we need to exchange ourselves. Usually to withdraw money, to exchange it and to get it back to local Alipay for purchasing goods, we would use several banks and services, which are all taking their commissions. That explains higher rate than what you see at the Bank of China website.

    Also as we try to keep the exchange rate as stable as possible, for convenience of our customers and better for our business processes, so sometimes exchange rate is more beneficial to our customers, but we hold on that. Right now, you probably happened to order at the time when exchange rate changed considerably and we did not update it yet at the time. We need few weeks to consider the trend to be able to update the rate. It was updated in November as you can see it at our website.
    missleading

    You utilise a payment system on your site which has known problems, but … You utilise a payment system on your site which has known problems, but continue to use them and so continue to overcharge your customers. This is a well recognized problem amongst your staff, but you refuse to tackle the issue. The charges are stated on your website as in US dollars, your staff state US dollars, the payment page says US dollars, so why on earth does your system proceed to take Russian roubles without warning? This is plain dishonest.


    Technically our support cannot know the details, so it was explained to you in general words, but if you insist on the details and so to decide if it is honest or not, we are glad to provide you with more information:
    Your card being charged in Russian Rubles is neither your issue, nor ours. The problem is that the payment system requires 3D secure verification, but unfortunately not all banks provide it, or not all users activate it. Normally, in such case the payment should not be accepted, but for some reason some banks send authorization approval without verification. The main point is that with 3D secure, you are redirected to your own bank and you see all possible charges your bank may take. And there you confirm it with your bank. At the same time, it also depends on the bank if it charges it in requested currency or in the currency of issuing bank. So for some customers it might be in USD, for some customers it might be in RUB.
    We provide the payment by Paypal, including by credit card via Paypal without registration, so you can control the currency choice before the payment (Paypal registration required and adding card to your account).

    missleading

    It is 16.5RMB because you add 10% service charge (1.50RMB) to 15RMB. … It is 16.5RMB because you add 10% service charge (1.50RMB) to 15RMB. Please check your actual charges.


    If you are talking about 10% commission and 16.5RMB per seller in the same context, it means that we take 10% of 16.5RMB, which is misleading. So we take 10% of total items price and domestic shipping, which is 15RMB per seller.

    missleading

    Customers specifically request Air Mail for a reason - changing to EMS … Customers specifically request Air Mail for a reason - changing to EMS without their permission means additional customs fees i.e. £5.50 more to pay for customs clearance and additional VAT amounting to 20% of the shipping fee. Customs examined the package, ignored the declared value and revised the charges upwards


    There are two things on this point: EMS shipping would be applied for valuable, fragile and some types of items that are not recommended for shipping by airmail, as airmail not as safe and fast as EMS. Both Airmail and EMS are declared in the way to reduce the customs duties, but it all depends on your customs and you cannot exclude that the parcel by Airmail would be inspected in the same way. We know that for particular countries EMS shipping are more under eyes of customs officers, but we did not observe that for UK, and parcels are declared corresponding the rules. But thanks for your feedback, we will add the function, where customers would be specifically "lock" the shipping method, so we do not provide a better alternative for the same price.

    Hope it is more clear for you now and we apologize for your not very pleasant experience.
    We are always thriving to do our best to serve you and all customers the best way possible.
    If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know.
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