Sunday, 8 April 2012

MISS A’s SPREE EXPERIENCE (PART 2): So, Are Sprees For You?

I am no founder of sprees but I suppose sprees existed because groups of friends could share shipping costs or take advantage of bulk buying discounts from merchants. However, now that it has evolved to a profit taking level, it is no longer as innocent as 1+1. (Note: I labelled some spree organisers profit taking individuals because they do make gains from cash rebates and exchange rate fluctuations, no matter how small the gain per spree-ist might be.)
So are sprees for you? Well, it depends on individual and the type of spree.

Generally, you should think twice if the spree involves high value items and you are required to pay a huge deposit or full payment for it. The rationale for this is the higher the value of items, the more attractive it is to spree organisers to just disappear…
Secondly, sprees are probably not for you if you do not like waiting for too long for your items to reach you. A typical spree might take a couple of weeks to close and another couple of weeks for the spree organiser to purchase your items and get it shipped domestically within the country of purchase i.e. USA/UK/Europe. After that, it will take another couple of weeks for the items to be shipped to Singapore. All in all, from my experience, I would say, be prepared for a good 1.5 to 2 months wait.

Thirdly, sprees would not be your cup of tea if you are the type who expects good customer service for money spent. After all, spree organisers do not treat you, the spree-ist as their customer. In fact, some spree organisers see themselves as doing a big favour to the spree-ist by helping them reduce shipping costs. That is why almost all their terms and conditions shout “Enter at your own risk”.

Homework, homework!

Nonetheless, I feel that sprees are here to stay, for they still fulfil the needs of certain online shoppers especially if you are just buying a very small, light-weight and low priced item. In such cases, it would be illogical for you to do your own shipping – the base shipping charge itself is probably more expensive than your item. And in these cases, customer experience probably does not matter that much.

In all cases, shoppers should always do their homework before participating in any sprees. As most of the sprees are repeated, you should be able to get some good indicative shipping charges by looking at the total shipping costs paid by past spree-ists. This gives you a basis to question the organiser should actual shipping costs charged to you exceeded by too much. However, this could only reduce but still not eliminate the chances of the spree organisers passing additional costs to you from other sprees they are organising at the same time. After all, the items are with them before you paid up so they are still the kings.

Do some research on the spree organisers. If they are so arrogant when dealing with spree-ists who complained in the forums, the chances are higher that they will use your items to hold you hostage or even disappear from this virtual world totally since they don’t look like they intend to do this for long.

In addition, do not get lost in the world of sprees. It is easy to forget the initial objective of why you are joining a spree i.e. to save costs. Sometimes, after paying for exchange rates determined by the spree organisers, topping up for international shipping charges, paying for registered local courier such that you receive your items in good conditions, and paying for additional GST because the spree organiser could not keep the value of items to be below S$400, the total price you have paid for the item is almost close to or just slightly cheaper than what you would get buying elsewhere from physical retail shops or online blogshops.

At times, a better alternative might be to round up a few friends and ship your items yourselves. There are a few more commonly used freight forwarding companies in Singapore (Vpost, Comgateway, Priority Tag or Borderlinx , just to name a few) which might have promotions from time to time. Bear in mind, you won’t have to pay extra for domestic courier within Singapore as their charges include delivery to your doorstep!    

So, are sprees for you? You decide for yourself.       

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