As a self-proposed geek and a professional software developer, it is hard for me to admit that I was totally clueless about online shopping for the longest time. Early last year, I got hit by the Hallyu wave and got addicted to all things Korean. KPOP, Korean hairstyle, Korean girls and Earmuffs!
At first, I thought “Can I wear earmuffs? I mean, those are for girls only right?” and then I found this:
I was ready to get my own pair of those cute earmuffs but then I realized that THERE IS NO FREAKIN WINTER IN THE PHILIPPINES! Unfortunately, continental drift wasn’t on our side when it decided to the place Philippines near the freakin equator. So until the next Polar Shift, I’ve agreed to settle on a compromise: Headphones. So the search was on for my KPOP inspired headphones. I am glad to have watched the S.E.O.U.L music video by SNSD and Superjunior where I saw the SuJu guy wearing a very cute headphone:
I am not really a big fan of Super Junior. But I am the biggest SNSD fan in the Philippines (Self-Proposed). So when I saw SNSD wearing Mixstyle headphones, I just have to get one for myself!
So I tirelessly searched for a shop (online or not) that sells Mixstyle headphones in the Philippines. My search was fruitless. There are a lot of people selling Mixstyles on Multiply but a lot of them are fake! I saw a dude selling Mixstyles for only 1,500 PHP but how is that possible when Mixstyles retails for about 4,000 Yen (or about 2,000 PHP) in Japan (these are Japanese headphones, afterall)? My friend, Carlos, even told me that Mixstyles are available at Trinoma for only 500 PHP! Since I don’t really want to use cheap, fake ripoffs, I was glad to know that Mixstyles can be bought online for a reasonable price (around 50 USD). But there was a dilemma, I have never bought anything online! But fortunately, I found out that its so easy to buy stuff online! Read on and be amazed on how easy it is!
(For more of my experience with Yesasia, click here!)
So how do I go about buying stuff online?
First things first, you will need some kind of a bank account that accepts online transaction. From what I know, a Credit Card or a Debit Card will let you accomplish this. There are certain advantages in terms of ease-of-use and security when using Debit Card over Credit Card for online transactions.
Credit card vs Debit Card
You can get a Credit Card that you can use for online shopping at BPI (there are a lot, but this is the only one that I know of). Their entry level Credit Card called the BPI Express Credit Blue MasterCard can be used to register for a Paypal account that you can use for online shopping. However, it is not easy to get a credit card (especially if you’re still a student!). They (the bank) will first need to investigate your “earning capabilities” before giving you a credit card. Also, most credit card have some sort of an annual fee that you need to pay. For the BPI Express Credit Blue MasterCard, the annual fee is 1,550 PHP.
According to Wikipedia, Credit card works like this: “Credit card is a card entitling its holder to buy goods and services based on the holder’s promise to pay for these goods and services. The issuer of the card (the bank) grants a line of credit to the consumer (you) from which the user can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance to the user.” In simple terms, the bank will pay for you in advance, then you will pay them back later. This doesn’t mean that you can buy a plane with your credit card right away. There is a thing called “Credit Limit” that limits your spending potential. Depending on your “earning capabilities”, the bank will decide on your credit limit.
It’s important for you to understand the above concept. In the scenario that your credit card got hack, the hacker can buy anything until he maxes out your credit limit. Scary huh?
So I opted to use a Debit Card. The question is, which bank offers a debit card that you can use online? Lucky for us, Unionbank offers a debit card with Visa Electron! The debit card is called UnionBank EON Cyberaccount card or just Cyber EON. Signing up is easy. Just go to your nearest Unionbank branch and approach the teller then ask for a Cyber EON account. She will give you a form that you need to fill-up (basic information such as your name, address, etc). She will then ask for a photocopy of two valid I.D.s (Driver’s License, TIN, School ID, Company ID, etc) so make sure to bring a photocopy of those with the original ones. Then that’s it!
You’ll need to wait 7 banking days for them to process your application. Unlike a credit card, Cyber EON is like a normal bank account wherein you can withdraw and deposit funds so that means that even student can get a Cyber EON account. However, Cyber EON charges 300 PHP annually but they don’t enforce a maintaining balance. Don’t forget to bring additional 200 PHP that you will deposit into your Cyber-EON account. You need this to verify your Paypal account later on.
Signing up for Paypal
Now that you have a credit/debit card, you can now register for a Paypal account! Although you can already use those cards to shop online, I highly recommend that you get a Paypal account for your own security. It’s free anyways (the 1.95 USD / 200 PHP will be credited back to you after you verify your card) and provides additional benefits such as the Buyer’s Protection Program.
Signing up is easy. Once you get your Cyber-EON card, you need to create an account over at Paypal.com. Once you’ve created an account, you’ll need to “link” or tie-up your Cyber-EON to your Paypal account. After that, you will need to verify that you are the owner of that card. Paypal will charge 1.95 USD to your account, then you will see a charge in your statement from Paypal (you will need to log-in to your Cyber-EON account online to view your account’s statement). This charge will contain a “code” that you will use to verify your account. Don’t worry, Paypal will credit back your 1.95 USD after you’ve verified your card. After you’ve verified your card, you’re ready to shop online!
The most common question about Paypal is how much do they charge for their services? You might be surprised to know that they will not charge the buyer (you) anything. The charge will be shouldered by the seller.
For a more detailed information on how to use your Cyber-EON with Paypal, go to Unionbank’s page.
There are a lot of online shops in the web. You need to be careful when buying from individuals because there is no guarantee that they will “send” you your item. When shopping from E-Bay, always remember to check the seller’s reputation first before buying and even if the reputation is high, that is not even enough guarantee to trust the person (what if the person is selling fake goods?). So I suggest that you do your research first.
Personally, I only buy from reputable online shops (such as Yesasia.com). As far as possible, I try to avoid transacting with individuals; I make sure that I buy from a ” real company” with a “business address” and “business permits”. You know what I mean right? A real “online business shop”. So when something goes wrong, you know that you have someone to go after.
Anyway, the concept of online shopping is mostly the same everywhere:
- You search for the item you want to buy
- You click the “add to my cart” button
- You click the “check-out” button
- You will provide the shipping details (shipping address, shipping method, courier, etc)
- They will give you choices on how to pay: Choose Paypal.
- Login with your Paypal account. Confirm the payment.
Depending on the company or their chosen courier, they may give you a tracking code that will let you track your parcel (package) online.
There are tons of courier and shipping methodology out there. Some company will ship your package directly at your house (door-to-door delivery) and some will ship your package to your local post office (postal service). If the courier ships your package to the post office, the nearest local post office to you will mail you a claim stub that you will use to pick-up your package.
When you “check-out” your order, most often than not, the online shop will give you a choice of what shipping methodology you want. The shipping charge will depend on the online shop (some even ships for free!), so make sure to contact the online shop regarding their shipping policy.
According to Pinoy netizens, the local post office is quite unreliable when it comes to handling parcels. They said that it takes between 3 weeks to 2 months for you to get your package from the post office. So I suggest that you always go for the “express” door-to-door shipping if you don’t want to wait and you don’t want the additional hassle.
Sales Tax and Import Duties
Some online shops imposes Sales Tax. It depends on the country where the company is based so always make sure to check their policy when buying online.
Also, the Philippine government imposes Import Duties/Fees/Taxes on all parcels going in the country. I don’t exactly know how they compute such fees and it isn’t clear what parcels are getting charged. Some Netizens say that their parcels never got charged. Personally, when I ordered my Mixstyle headphones, I was asked to pay 548 PHP for Import Fees (Processing Fee/Stamps/etc) by DHL. Since Yesasia doesn’t declare the value of your purchase, I don’t know how the Tax Man will compute for the taxes. Also, I declared my Parcel as a gift, which in theory, should be enough to bypass the Tax Man, but I still paid 548 PHP. From what I understand, the 548 PHP fee doesn’t even include any form of tax; its just a “processing” fee of some sort.
I apologize if some part of this post is too general. Frankly, I only experienced online shopping once (from Yesasia). Click here for more detailed instruction on how to order from YesAsia! Happy shopping!
If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them. But remember, the most reliable person that can answer your questions are the online shop themselves.