You might remember this post I did on a recent haul I picked up from Sephora, using parcel forwarding company HopShopGo. Many of you wanted more details so I promised a review post on the service, once I completed my second order (which should be winging it's way to me as I type this). Everything seemed well until I decided to put in a spontaneous order on Saturday night for the much coveted, newly released Urban Decay Naked Palette 3. The order went through on the Sephora website without any problems, leading to much happy dancing in my flat...until I received an email a few minutes later stating that the order had been cancelled!
|(Image sourced from Google Images)|
Here's what I got back via Facebook message (verbatim, with the exception of names which I've removed for privacy reasons):
"Hi, your order could not be approved because the address used is associated with multiple users. If you have a different address you can have the order shipped to, you are welcome to replace the order. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Sephora Facebook Team"
Naturally, I wasn't very happy with that answer, and replied, stating that parcel forwarding was the only way in which Aussie beauty lovers had access to Sephora. Before I could finish typing, I received another reply, stating:
"Hi, while we do not have stores in or directly ship to Australia, we are excited to let you know that select products through Sephora are now available on the Australian online shopping Mall, Tarazz. Please paste the URL listed below into your browser for more information. http://www.sephora.com/australia"
That answer really frustrated me for several reasons, which I will list below:
a) Tarazz only carries selected Sephora products, all at higher unit costs than those offered on the Sephora website, and which are also subject to high shipping fees (though, admittedly, much lower than the crazy shipping fees quoted several months ago)...this leads to my next point, being,
b) Yes, I'm aware that prices quoted on the Sephora website are pre-sales tax. However, some parcel forwarding companies like HopShopGo are in tax-free states, which mean that the prices you pay are exempt from taxes anyway (unless you exceed the tax-free limit for your country - $1,000 Australian Dollars, in case you were wondering).
c) I could understand if Sephora was associating multiple orders to the same address with fraud, however, with HopShopGo, you are provided with individual IDs which differ for each person (this goes on top of the generic parcel forwarding address, much like an apartment number changes for the apartment address).
d) In this modern age where social media reigns supreme, Sephora are banning beauty bloggers based in other countries from accessing their products. This could ultimately end up shooting them in the foot as it cuts off a lot of free publicity for their products.
I raised these issues with Sephora but never got a response back afterwards, so I took my concerns to HopShopGo to ask for an explanation.
The rep explained that Sephora was now one of few online retailers that enforced Brand Owner’s Rights – a policy of not allowing their products to be shipped out of the U.S due to distributorship rights. She also explained that the 'Buy For Me' Concierge Team (a service offered by HopShopGo which purchases your products on your behalf) would still be able to make purchases at Sephora as they had separate address systems, however, the fee would amount to 10% of the total sum of purchases, meaning it could add up to quite a considerable amount if you purchased in bulk. I also asked if we could use our Sephora VIB points with the order, but was told that it would not be possible with the Buy For Me Concierge Service.
I also came across several forum threads on new Sephora practices, pertaining to accounts being blocked due to purchasing too many products and being suspected as 'resellers', which you can read here and here.
Overall, I find the whole issue rather disappointing. I was just getting into the thrill of purchasing products that weren't available here, like Urban Decay, so it's a little sad to have that taken away from us. Sure, there are other retailers we could try, but it can take months for some of the sites to stock up on new releases.
Of course the argument for supporting your country's economy will always be there, but when you think about it, we are still paying for groceries, clothing, utilities and many other items that pour money back into the economy. Was it too much to also ask to treat yourself to a rare beauty product from overseas from time to time? Clearly, the answer was yes.
What do you think of the whole issue, lovelies? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to find someone in the US who would be happy to forward parcels on to me.