Avecko #2: How much I spent, what I did wrong, and what I've learned

This is Part II of my Avecko series.  Part I was my ecstatic unboxing, and I'm very happy with the items I did receive, but now I'm going to break things down a bit and explain why I had such a stressful experience with my first Avecko order.

Again, this was my very first experience with Avecko, and definitely my first experience with a buying service of any kind.  I learned a lot, and Part III of this series will be an Avecko tutorial and some spreadsheets.

What I bought, and how much it (ultimately) cost:

I placed my (final) order on 5/7/2015, and they had the invoice for me on 5/8/2015.  It did not ship until 5/21/2015 and I received it 6/1/2015, which makes 25 days from start to finish.  I spent $84 on products and $34 on ePOST shipping.

Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream

This was the whole reason for the haul.  Cat (Snow White & the Pear) launched a massive buy of this cream when she posted her review.  (Korea Depart and Avecko even started selling it!)  I snagged it for $13.99 (after KRW->USD conversion) from We Make Price (link may or may not be broken).  Breaking down shipping, it cost $3.75 to ship to me.

Scinic Honey All In One Ampoule & Scinic Snail All In One Ampoule

The Shara Shara Honey Bomb was buzzing all over Reddit, followed closely by its knockoff from Scinic, the Honey All In One Ampoule.  It's available on 11st, but my friend found it on We Make Price (sold out now, I think) for cheaper, along with the Snail AIO (which I did not even know existed).  They were sold for 10,900  (Honey) and 12,900  (Snail), for a total of $25.82 for both.  These were the most expensive to ship, at $11 for both. (They're 250 ml of product each - humongous for skincare products!)

Goodal Super Seed Oil Plus Balancing Emulsion

I bought this straight from Goodal's site on a 50% off sale for $13.56.  I really wanted to try out the Waterest line after Tracy's (Fanserviced-B) review of its Water Oil and Essence, but the price was similar to other sites, where I could get free shipping, so it wasn't worth it to use Avecko for them.  It only cost $3.23 to ship.

From Left to Right:  Orchid (Lifting), Cherry Blossom (Revitalizing), Night Flower (Nutrition), Prunella (Pore Care), Baby Perennis (Radiance), Lily (Whitening), Watery-Blue Flower (Calming), Daffodil (Moisture)

Goodal Sheet Masks (10pcs)

I got these from Memebox Korea's super tempting site.  Seriously, they have so much more stuff than the US site, and everything is so cheap.  It's not fair.  They were 1,000 ₩ each, and I wanted one of each to try, but it was either 8 sheet masks for 8,000 ₩ and 2,500 ₩ shipping, or 10 for 10,000 ₩.  Obvious choice is obvious.  This actually cost the most to ship, at $5.82.

Secret Key Starting Treatment Essential Masks (10pcs)

Galactomyces!  These are sold in sets of 20 on Gmarket for 9,900 ₩, and I split it with my friend.  At $5.22 to ship, it is really not cost effective to get sheet masks through Avecko. (More on that later.)

Secret Key Snail Repairing Mask Packs (10pcs)

These were also sold on Gmarket, but I found them on Memebox for 250 ₩ each, which is a way better deal.  Except you need to spend 20,000 ₩ on these masks to get free shipping, so I ended up having to pay 2,500 ₩ shipping, which made them just barely cheaper than getting through Gmarket.  To top it off, you know how Avecko charges a 10% fee?  That 10% fee also apparently applies to shipping, which is utter crap, but something you definitely need to know before ordering.  Shipping for these tiny, tiny masks was $4.55.

Where I went wrong...

Something I didn't realize while shopping on the Memebox Korea site was the free shipping.  I assumed you order everything from their site, so if a product says order 10,000 ₩ to get free shipping, and another says order 15,000 ₩ to get free shipping, if you got a total of 15,000 ₩ of products, that means free shipping...right?  Apparently, not the case.  Each page has their own free shipping limits for that specific product.  So going back to my example, to get free shipping, you would have to order 10,000 ₩ worth from the first page AND 15,000 ₩ worth from the second page.  Otherwise, each product group slaps you with 2,500 ₩ in shipping fees.  Add in Avecko's 10%, and your savings start dwindling down to nothing.  Less than nothing, even, after shipping.  But we'll talk about that later.  I actually put in my first order on 5/5/2015, using their product request form, and they were very quick to put up a product page so I could pay.

That's a drool-worthy page, let me tell you.  So much pretty.
The first problem were the 5 pesky 2,500 ₩ charges for shipping.  From one site (Memebox).  The second problem was the price - it was way lower than I expected.  Too low, in fact.  They thought I just wanted one of each.  It took several tries actually, before we could agree on the quantity of sheet masks and creams desired.  Sometimes, I would receive their email and respond immediately, and others I didn't see until morning.  Either times, it would be at least a day before I would hear back, which made the whole ordering process slow to a crawl (a snaily, snaily crawl).  For reference, here's an example of quantity issues:

1. Product Name (Required): 조선시대 상위층도 반함 조선 미녀크림- Product Page URL (Required): http://www.wemakeprice.com/deal/adeal/492197/?source=dealsearch&search_keyword=%ED%81%AC%EB%9D%BC%ED%81%B4%ED%8C%A9%ED%86%A0%EB%A6%AC&no=1- Product Option Detail (Required): 01_조선미녀크림 50ml | 118개 남음- Product Price (KRW) (Required): 12,900 (x 2) = 25,800
 This is for the Beauty of Joseon cream.  The first line is the name of the product in Hangul, copied directly from the WeMakePrice website, per Tracy's tutorial.  The second line is the URL, nothing crazy there.  The third line is copied straight from the site once you've selected the product, and the last line is the price.  So I listed it as 12,900 (x 2) = 25,800, which I thought would be pretty obvious, but I guess they weren't paying super close attention.  It's not a big deal, obviously, but it does eat up some time, which actually caused me to miss out on some really good deals (which were probably for the best....).  I found a promotion on WeMakePrice where you could get all the Etude House sheet masks for 490 ₩ each, and Tony Moly masks on Memebox for 495 ₩, but by the time Avecko got back to me with quantity corrections, they were all gone.

I found a really nice 1+1 deal on Memebox for Tony Moly Shiny Foot Peeling Masks, so I snagged 2 (or 4, really).  Also on Memebox were these Malie sheet masks that were dirt cheap (170 ₩ each!), but you needed to buy 15,000 ₩ worth to get free shipping.  You have to keep in mind, 15,000 ₩ worth is 89 sheet masks.  So I figured....YOLO.

Yeah....that YOLO moment actually cost me.  After all my products made it to their warehouse (5/16/2015), they emailed me to pay shipping...  $72 for ePOST, $88 for EMS.  The total of the entire group order was $132, including the shipping fees.  Umm...

I emailed Avecko in a panic.  The 16th was a Saturday, so I sent them a flurry of emails over the weekend, bargaining and begging.  Could they split up the package into separate, cheaper ones?  How much could it cost to ship $0.17 sheet masks?!  Avecko is trying to scam on shipping?!  Monday came, still no answer.  I wanted to cry and rage at the thought of my package being held hostage in some magnificent skincare warehouse.  Finally, 5/19/2015, Hena emailed me.  Previously, I had been working with Ray, whose English, I fear, isn't as good as Hena's, or he's at least not as patient/attentive.  She was willing to return the foot masks and Malie masks to try to reduce shipping prices.  Except it is going to cost $4.94 each to return them, totalling $9.88.  This confused me, because they were both going back to Memebox.  Is Memebox Korea different from the Memebox US, where it's a bunch of different vendors instead of just one company?  Either way, wouldn't they just send it back to Memebox in one box?  Whatever, at this point, I was so drained, I just wanted my stuff already.  $47.10 for ePOST or $63.80 for EMS?  Sure, just give me my things.  They emailed me with tracking a couple of days later...USPS tracking.  I waited for the ePOST tracking, but finally emailed Hena about it a day or so after.  So just FYI, you might have to work a little for your tracking.

What I've learned...

Avecko is a great buying service.  It is.  Because otherwise, you wouldn't be able to try out many lesser known Korean beauty products, or be limited to paying ridiculous markups for certain brands (LJH comes to mind).  However, you have to put a lot of thought into your purchases, considering not just price after handling fee and domestic shipping, but also shipping weights and savings afterward.  Some products just straight up aren't worth using Avecko for, as you can get them from other sites that offer much better shipping (or even from US sites, and they'd arrive even faster!).  Avecko is a store that happens to also offer a buying service.  They only make roughly 10% of what you buy, so there's not much in it for them.  Caveat friggin' emptor, y'all.

Coming up next is Part III of my Avecko series, which will be more tutorial and spreadsheets and useful information.  Let me know what you think or would like to see!