Back in November, I was doing some research on switching my gigantic tower server into something that is a small-form factor machine that still slightly match up to my needs to run all my lab instances. So before I decide to let go of the tower desktop, I was deciding between Intel NUC or Gigabyte BRIX. As I resides in Singapore where mostly goodies (mainly latest technology) that was released will not be made available in Singapore market within three months or it will never appear due to whatever reasons anyone could think of.
At that point of time, I was pretty attracted by the latest release of the Gigabyte BRIX NUC with the Haswell chip. As a person who does a lot of online shopping, I chance upon the service provided by comGateWay (BuyForMe Service) where it really interests me. So in this post, I am going to share my thoughts of this service that I have went on to try making my first order from NewEgg through comGateWay spending couples of hundreds.
Here is the breakdown:
- Who is this service for?
- What is the charges like?
- What is the process of the purchase?
- What are the problems faced? (In my experience)
- Who is at loss?
Who is this service for?
Generally, this type of service provided by comGateWay serves a few groups of people similarly to what vPost has to offer.
- Shoppers who do not resides in United States but hope to purchase merchandize from retailers that resides in United States.
- Shoppers hope to purchase from retailers who resides in United States that do not offer International Shipping.
- Shoppers who do not have a valid United States credit card to process the payment for the purchase.
So I fall in one of the group where I am a resident of Singapore and I do not have a United States credit card along with a United States postal address.
What is the charges like?
Nobody runs a business like a charity and even charity also provide salary / wages to the volunteers even if it the bare minimum. So running a service like this require funding to keep the business healthy.
I am going to extract some sample from comGateway website directly instead. Let’s imagine I am now purchasing an item that cost me USD 100.00 and it weighs around 1.5KG, this is the charges comGateway will charged me should I use their service.
Credits to comGateway.
From the image above, we can see that comGateway charges a 5% of the cost of the merchandize and does not include the shipping charges between my retailer to the designated address of comGateway. So it will cost me approximately USD 17.00 in order to process the international shipping from comGatweway designated address all the way to the lovely Singapore where I resides.
Does it sounds cheap? Well, it really depends. Let’s take a look at the real-life example. The order that I have made.
Just take note that when I was keying into the comGateway BuyForMe form, I didn’t include the shipping from NewEgg to comGateway therefore I was told that the final amount to be paid will be included which I need to clear before the item will be shipped out from comGateway designated address to Singapore.
What is the process of the purchase?
To better illustrate how comGateway works, this is an assumption that I have made in the following diagram.
- Shoppers (illustrate myself) fill up the form through comGateway website. Make payment to comGateway first.
- comGateway will then follow the instructions that I have provided through the form and make the necessary purchases through the “Vendors”. (For this part, I will explain a little more later on in the Problem section.)
All-in-all, NewEgg (or any other retailers) will not know whether you were the one that made the purchases. It is known to the retailers behind the scene which I have classified as “Vendors”.
Do note that any communication will always be between myself (or yourself) and comGateway and not to the intended retailers.
What are the problems faced?
If the merchandize that was purchase is not faulty, this service provided will be a perfect one. However, things doesn’t always ended up in a nice way or in any way that one would expect.
So it all happens when I received my Gigabyte Brix and I couldn’t get the system to boot up. Thereafter, I tried to lodge a support ticket with NewEgg directly but unfortunately since I am not the one that have made the purchase, that leaves me out with many details such as,
- Order number
- Invoice number
- Order date
- Purchaser email
- Purchaser card type
- Purchaser mobile number
So I felt a little frustrated and I contacted comGateway directly. So they told me that in order to protect the privacy of the “purchaser”, all these details could not be divulge to me. The only way is that they could aid in getting the “purchaser” to contact NewEgg to explain on the problem nature. (Look, for this, since the coordination will includes so many parties, this simply takes a couple of days before I could proceed with the next action.)
In the end, probably NewEgg have suggested to have the item shipped back to them so that they could process the returns either by swapping for a new set or doing a refund of the product based on the cost. When comGateway informed me about this, I could do nothing but to have it shipped back to comGateway designated address via DHL from Singapore. It costs me SGD 105.00 to have it shipped back.
After I happily (why happily? at least one item is off the tray now and things are moving) shipped it off, I patiently waited for the replies from comGateway to see if they have received my package before they once again have to go through the iteration of packaging the box to have it shipped back to NewEgg.
One greatest disadvantage of this multiple parties relationship is:
The very first email that I have sent to comGateway was on the 24th November 2013 and this case was dragged all the way till 29th December 2013 before it decides to close a couple of days ago which I will have an email detailing it.
At the time of creation of this blog entry, it is 3rd January 2014 at around 11.30am (GMT +8) so the it will be around 2nd January 2014 that they informed me the refunds is going through, like finally.
Who is at loss?
As per the topic, who is at loss for the whole process? Me, yes, the shopper will have to bear all the cost and charges for every action they have committed since the day they decided to buy from the retailers who do not support International Shipping. Let’s calculate the loss –
- I made a total purchase of US$489.98 to NewEgg and I am getting back US$400.65. (a loss of US$89.33 which is for the miscellaneous deductions as highlighted above)
- I paid comGateway US$24.50 as a fee for the service rendered. (the 5% charge)
- I paid around US$10 for the shipping from NewEgg to comGateWay.
- I paid SG$105 for the shipping from Singapore back to comGateWay.
So the total amount that I am getting back in reality is – SG$390 after conversion from USD to SGD.
I am not trying to discourage people in using this service provided by comGateWay, however, I hope that people would consider what to purchase online before deciding what service to be used in order to enjoy the same merchandize that folks are enjoying in United States.
I would definitely be using this service provided by comGateWay the next time when I am buying something but definitely not computer hardware.
Just my two cents. Cheers!