L. M. Lloyd (ubik@austin.rr.com)
Thu, 13 Apr 2000 20:32:39 -0500

Hash: SHA1

OK, this is getting silly. I have been collecting resin kits since
the late '80s, and plastic anime models since the mid '70s. I have
been ordering from HLJ since '96, and have dealt with most of the
shops that sell anime kits over the web, as well as several of the
shops in the US, and a few shops in Japan. I can assure you that my
criticism of HLJ is not based on ignorance of the anime model market,
nor is it based on ignorance of HLJ's policies. As I have said
before, HLJ once had very good service, but as their volume of
customers has increased, the quality of service has suffered, to the
point now where they take over a month to get you brand new items.
Please don't regale me with another explanation of how the Japanese
retail distribution chain works, because Japanese products are
produced (on the average) more frequently than their American
counterparts (mainly because the average Japanese retail store has a
smaller storefront than the average American retail store, thus
necessitating more frequent orders due to fewer items being kept in
backstock). The simple fact is that many other stores have no problem
getting you new items in around a week.

Now, I am not saying that this means that "HLJ sucks!" In fact, as
the most popular online venue for anime models it is quite
understandable why they would have order backlogs. However, as
someone who collects mainly resins, I can not afford to be stuck in a
backlog while a limited production resin slips quietly through my
fingers. When I am spending $200-$500 on a single model, I expect a
little more priority service, than if I were ordering a $30 plastic
kit, this is simply the kind of service that HLJ can no longer
accommodate. Rainbow Ten on the other hand seems to have no problem
providing this type of service, provided that it is a model listed on
their web page (as most new resins are).

Basically, HLJ is fine if what you are ordering is a plastic kit that
is likely to be available for some time, but is just plain inadequate
if what you are ordering is a high demand limited production item
that will quickly disappear, quite possibly never to be seen again
(at least at retail price, rather than inflated collector's prices).
It all comes down to how much time you can afford to wait before
finding out if the shop in question will be able to get the kit you
desire. As a rule, I will receive a kit from RT before HLJ has even
told whether or not they have the kit in stock.

- ----- Original Message -----
From: Tomonaga <Tomonaga@xtra.co.nz>
To: <gundam@aeug.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2000 5:32 PM
Subject: Re: [gundam] What's the best??

> Judging from the posts, it seems that those who are unhappy with
> HLJ's service are only so because they are unfamiliar with HLJ's
> policies and also due to not knowing that model kitsets are only
> produced in batches in Japan.
> An 'in production' item does not mean it is being produced daily,
> all year around. It just means that they are still being built
> regularly in batches. How often and how many of a particular item
> is produced differs according to the company and the demand for
> that item. In most cases they only make one or two batches of
> standard production items per year. In other cases it may be once
> every couple of years.
> Because of this, at any particular time there is only a finite
> number of items available and once the batch is sold out, no more
> will be available until the next batch is produced, whenever that
> may be. So an 'in production' item can easily become unavailable
> for a certain stretch of time if it sells out.
> HLJ has taken the time to clearly note the production status of
> every item they have for sale. If it says 'spot' or 'limited' ,
> chances are unless you pre-ordered or ordered early the item will
> be sold out and it will be back ordered and you will have to wait
> for the next batch. There is always a chance that HLJ will be able
> to source the item from another distributor and ofcourse it is
> always possible to buy the same item from another retailer who has
> not yet sold out.
> HLJ seems to receive about 100 new orders everyday and all orders
> are processed once a day. After about 24-36 hours you will be able
> to see the actual availability of each item. If you are lucky and
> everything you ordered is available, then they will always ship in
> about a week after you order. (Right now this is their turnaround
> time and personally I find this quite acceptable)
> The 'problems' or 'unhappiness' arises when you order multiple
> items and only a few items are available immediately. This is
> pretty much because of HLJ's standing policy of minimising shipping
> costs to the customer. (It is ironic that HLJ's attempt to save the
> customers money actually infuriates the customers.)
> But if you want them to ship only the available items and don't
> care if you pay more than one shipping charge for the order, then
> you can request this through the order status page. You can also
> cancel the items that are not available if you are not willing to
> wait for them. In either case they will ship the items about a
> week after you ordered. Otherwise they will wait until all or
> almost all the items in the original order become available before
> shipping. But there is also a 2 month time limit for waiting for
> the others unavailable items before they ship the available items.
> If you are one of those people disappointed with HLJ and were not
> aware of the above facts then you should have checked out HLJ's
> Faqs/shipping policy/product availabiliy pages before you ordered.
> To those who experienced problems other than the above, HLJ
> switched servers and also upgraded their order system within the
> last couple of years and there were a lot of problems during this
> period. But as far as I can tell everything is running smoothly now
> and like I said above, if the items are available, then they will
> ship it about a week after you place the order. So as long as you
> keep in mind the Japanese production schedule and HLJ's policies
> you shouldn't have any problems with them.
> Tet

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