Collecting albums and merchandise from our favorite K-Pop idols is one of the many aspects of becoming a fan. Sometimes, it’s not easy to contain our “feels” whenever the new items carrying our idols’ faces, names, and logos become available for pre-order─we simply cannot resist the need to get those collectibles in our possession.
K-Pop merchandise usually have to be imported from South Korea and, at times, Japan or China. Other fanmade items are sold through group orders (or GOs) from numerous online stores. A number of physical stores have opened in the past to cater to our K-Pop merch demands, but now that we’re all stuck in quarantine, online commerce becomes even more prevalent.
While many of us manage to complete successful transactions with trustworthy online sellers, a portion of the K-Pop fandom still falls in the trap of undelivered merchandise and bungled group orders. Once in a while, we’d encounter threads exposing so-called “scams” by a K-Pop shop or two, followed by long testimonies of supposed “victims” who are calling for a refund.
If you are worried about ordering your albums and merchandise online, here are some tips for you.
Research is important.
We need to be “crazy” about researching the shop or GO before sending the order form, especially if it’s your first time to buy merchandise. Read customer reviews. If there’s a mix of positive and negative reviews then think twice or thrice before parting with your hard-earned money.
Usually, online shops have a hashtag they use to track reviews. Delve into that as well because you might find negative reviews there that the shop doesn’t retweet. You may also try searching the shop’s username without the @ just in case some previous customers have complaints but didn’t tag the shop.
If possible, try to order your goods and merchandise from a well-known shop that has credible reviews.
Make reading a habit.
Read carefully the shop or GO’s terms and conditions, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and the like. Don’t hesitate to ask more questions to the seller if there are ambiguous terms in their selling posts just to be clear about what you’re getting into. But remember, always be polite! Be a responsible buyer. Make sure you’ve understand everything. If the terms say you can’t back out (unless you have a really valid excuse), then don’t make the life of sellers a hell, too!
Ask friends for recommendations or advice.
Your friends and Twitter mutuals have also likely bought merch before, so they would know where to shop and which ones to avoid.
Give yourself options.
Do not order from the first GO you see. Another one might open with more reasonable terms. You also have to consider the following: shipping period (and how long you’re willing to wait), price, and payment dates. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so be careful in choosing which shop gets your cash.
Cheaper doesn’t always mean better.
It is understandable that price is often the biggest deciding factor when choosing a GO, but cheaper doesn’t always mean better! Again, we go back to doing research and having options. Why is their pricing cheap? What if the item is a knock-off? Where is the shop getting their items? Does this come at a cost like a longer shipping period or additional fees yet to be disclosed by the shop? Again, always check the details, terms, and conditions.
If in doubt, don’t proceed with the transaction.
Sometimes, our guts have a way of warning us if there’s impending harm going our way. Are the alarm bells ringing in your head? Are you seeing some red flags? Listen to these signals and don’t hit that check-out button if you’re not 100% confident about the transaction.
What if all the slots get taken? What if the item becomes sold out? We’ve all had those fears, especially now that K-Pop becomes more in demand. But buying from online stores comes with a lot of risks, so it’s better to investigate a bit more just to be sure than sorry.