These are just some of the questions buyers face when shopping online.
In this TCAT & Lazada shopping review, you’ll find a comprehensive opinion of my recent shopping haul.
As a freelance designer & a traveling entrepreneur, I can’t do my work without my productivity tools. I’d be like,
“need to capture that,”
so lately I’ve been thinking I needed to do some shopping.
But then I lose track of time working and when it hits me, it’s sundown already! So what’s a girl got to do?
Online shopping, that’s what!
I’ve had my fair share of online shopping since 2008 and I’m very skeptic when it comes to great deals. Owning an online lifestyle brand called Tavolozza, I know how it is like to be on both ends as a consumer and retailer.
Online shopping in the Philippines has boomed since 2009’s and it’s fairly convenient now that online stores carry a lot of brands. No more traffic (yes I’m looking at you Metro Manila) and no more falling in line at the changing rooms and cashiers.
I’m flying to Palawan so 2 weeks ahead when I got a newsletter full of deals from TCAT, I said to myself, “hey I needed that solar powerbank and those vacuum bags!” and that’s how it started.
Quite frankly this shopping spree is out of my allotted purchases for the month, but when I always buy something (and if on impulse), it’s usually for long-term use.
See how ironic that is?
Anyway, here’s the breakdown of my purchases:
|Solar Powerbank with LED light||PHP 799 ($17.76)||30,000 mAh with 2 USB ports|
|Vacuum Compressed Bags||PHP 149 ($3.31)||2 pcs; for storing & organizing clothes systematically & lightly|
|WiFi Sports Camera||PHP 2,599 ($57.76)||1080P Wifi Sports Camera Black + delivery fee outside Metro Manila|
|Micro SD Card||PHP 149 ($3.31)||4 GB|
|Monopod||PHP 249 ($5.53)||Wired Monopod with Shutter Button (Black)|
I’m pretty pleased with my TCAT haul.
The solar powerbank is definitely my favorite. It will last me longer than my ordinary powerbank stick and I won’t have to worry about going back to my accommodation because it powers via sunlight!
This purchase was prompted by one incident in Bantayan Island when I was about to take a photo of the shore line with my phone and it died (Bantayan Island is a 6-hour trip from Cebu City). That’s a lesson learned!
I also bought vacuum compressed bags because I want to pack lighter than my previous Palawan trip to Puerto Princesa last May.
The WiFi Sports Cam, the micro SD card and the monopod are all equipment I bought for Go See Philippines. It’s funny how one year ago I longed for taking vacations while at work and now my vacations are actually my work!
Here’s my rating for TCAT:
Everything on their website is easy to find; each item can be found under a major category so buying related things was not at all difficult. In fact, this encourages you to buy on impulse! I can use the search button if I forgot something and during checkout it was a breeze. I paid via my VISA card and it was quickly debited from my account. The account dashboard where my orders can be found has links so I can navigate back to the product page with just a click.
Customer service responds quickly within 24 hours, even on Facebook. I’m impressed with their friendliness & willingness to assist their customers, even if it wasn’t sales-related. I asked about another area of topic and I was already given information within a day. I love brands that provide a quick response. TCAT wins this round!
If you’re looking for good value, TCAT is ideal for you. I was expecting to get about PHP 3,000-4,000 for the WiFi Sports Cam and about PHP 1,000+ for the 30,000 mAh solar power bank. I’d recommend buying here if you’re not into splurging. For general items like the ones I bought, the price hits my mark.
Product quality is very good. My items don’t have any defects and were shipped to me in tip-top shape. I thought the monopod wasn’t working and was close to filing a return, but it turns out it just wasn’t compatible with my Cloudfone mobile. They asked me to test it with another unit, and I did with my sister’s LG smartphone – it worked perfectly! Again, their customer service department solved this issue promptly and effectively so I would give them a huge plus for this! My only issue was the WiFi Sports Cam because it wouldn’t allow me to delete one file unless I format it. It does show a delete button per file but when you return to the gallery, the video is still there. Nonetheless, this is a nice beginner sports cam before you delve into the highly coveted and expensive Go Pro.
I ordered the item Friday, and they came around Tuesday next week via LBC. It was quick, except for the WiFi Sports Camera. They had to hold it due to stock availability. I didn’t get the color I wanted which was white so I followed up with them regarding the delivery of this unit after learning it wasn’t included in the first package they sent out to me. I was informed that the white unit won’t be available until later that month and I didn’t have time to wait so I opted for the black. Quickly though, they dispatched it that day and the WiFi Sports Camera came in Wednesday!
I love how my items were neatly and properly packed. The sports camera was in a sleek matte box and the other items (solar powerbank, etc) fit inside the small pouch together with the monopod. Since the packaging was compact, there was no room for the items to get damaged.
Returns & Refunds
I don’t have any qualms on their policy, because the customer service told me through our email correspondence they would replace my monopod if found defective.
I asked them, “how can I be sure that the quality control team finds it defective?”
They told me they’d send me a video.
Returns & refunds for TCAT will cost you a PHP 100 delivery fee, which is to be reimbursed when your item qualifies for the return/refund. However, if it is not defective at all, you will be charged the re-delivery fee as well and your PHP 100 delivery fee to them will not be reimbursed.
If you are not happy with the product you received, inform them immediately via email. You can learn more about their FAQ here.
Would I buy from TCAT again?
As for Lazada, I bought 3 items from them. I needed a backpack for my upcoming travel so I glanced at their site and checked if there was anything I’d like to buy.
Here are the items I bought from the site:
|Casual Daily School Bag Travel Backpack (Navy Blue)||PHP 749 ($16.64)||Water resistant with leather zipper pull. Padded shoulder strap and lightweight. Has laptop compartment inside, ample pockets & outside pocket for water bottle. Grip-press lock design on the front, easy access but is very secure.|
|Hanging Travel Mate Toiletry Kit Bag (Peach)||PHP 169 ($3.76)||A handy bag to store all toiletries; very handy & mobile when packing & using in the bathroom. Comes with a hanger hook.|
|Universal Tripod Stand for Projectors and Camcorders (Silver)||PHP 650 ($14.44)||A standalone accessory for DSLRs & point and shoot digital cameras; tripod base is equipped with rubber feet|
Here’s my rating for Lazada:
The website shows the majority of search filters on the left side, however, by default they show “by relevance” to your search. And even though you pick “from lowest to highest” to find the cheapest item you could buy with good value, there are some items that still make it through that are not relevant to search. So be wise when using the search filters, you need to spend a good time looking around and re-thinking your purchase because I almost bought a PHP 199 ($4.42) peach toiletry kit and then found a PHP 169 ($3.76) one. You end up with a sweet deal if you take your time. Another suggestion I have raised to Lazada is the custom form at the checkout so customers can input any special instructions regarding the transaction, especially for delivery.
Lazada promises a 24-48 hour response time. You usually get an autoresponder via email for every inquiry you send. So far, as with customer service via SMS, they also send an automated delivery notice and any other updates regarding your order to your mobile phone & email. The only downside is that whenever you have an issue to raise, you can’t reply to these messages they send you. You have to lodge another feedback through their contact form. Pretty inconvenient if you have multiple concerns.
The affordability of the prices for the items in Lazada depend on how much you can afford them. For example, some items are on the PHP 300 ($6.67) – 499 ($11.09) price point. Common items are below and within this range while the bag I bought was above PHP 500 ($11.11). For some that’s already cheap, but considering that Lazada is a multi-seller marketplace, chances are you don’t get the same quality for every purchase so that’s the risk you’re running. You can find the same items with the same quality somewhere else for a much lower cost. Of course, this is Lazada we’re talking about. And if you’re familiar, they’re in the same company group as Zalora so expect that the price you’re paying goes to the brand name & their supporting departments. I’ve been invited to sell in these two marketplaces before, but declined due to the retail terms. For the travel backpack and the peach bag, I’m very happy with the price I paid. I get to use a coupon valid from the mobile app for my purchase.
From the items I bought, the quality of the travel bag & the peach toiletry kit is satisfying. I loved how they look and how they were made. I haven’t used them roughly so after my Palawan adventure, I’ll have to update this review to see how they fared. The universal tripod is terribly dissappointing. I got the item later after the two bags arrived via Lazada Express and much to my dismay (and with my excitement too), I got a damaged item. The right side is already cracked and even though it was delivered undamaged, the plastic material of which the tripod was made of was of very cheap material. You can’t even glue this crack together because they don’t seem to just fit – which makes me wonder, the manufacturer must have known it before they sent it. I was so disheartened because I was supposed to take this tripod and test it out for landscape shoots in El Nido & Coron. I guess that will have to pass.
Lazada‘s delivery is quick. I ordered all items in one transaction but were delivered separately. According to their Help Center, they do so because the items come from various sellers.
My peach toiletry kit was delivered on a Sunday (which is highly surprising, I thought retail doesn’t deliver on a Sunday as it isn’t a business day) but I was not around due to a family event. I’m glad but disappointed about the early delivery on a weekend.
Why, you ask?
Well, first it is incredibly impressive they’d deliver on a Sunday, and second, they didn’t give notice ahead of time.
The delivery date notice just came morning of Sunday when I couldn’t reschedule my prior appointment. Lazada just sent an SMS (to which, again, I would remind, you cannot reply) that I will receive my parcel. Of course no one is at home and so the rider came and a package was delivered unsuccessfully. If the SMS was answerable then I could have just texted to deliver on a Monday but no, like my review with their customer service, you need to send in a feedback via the contact form every time you have a concern. Quite inconvenient if you’re on the go like me. I didn’t really like that my parcel was broken into different transactions because if my schedule isn’t predictable I wouldn’t be able to receive it. I’d rather have it like we do in Tavolozza, hold the items until the last one arrives unless the buyer states that delivery shall commence individually without the last item.
Lazada‘s packaging came in a sleek waterproof black pouch bearing their brand. I loved how it look, except when I had to open it and found that my tripod was flimsily packaged with a barely-enough sheet of bubblewrap.
Hmm. Probably the culprit as to why it was damaged.
Oh Lazada, I think you should invest more in safe packaging though more than the branding. Or at least orient your sellers regarding this. It is highly disappointing to an online buyer to get a damaged item they’ve been so excited to receive.
Other than this complaint, my peach toiletry kit and navy travel backpack were packaged okay. There was no box, just plastic and tons of paper. These papers are the invoice, the return form and the copy of your order.
Returns & Refunds
Up until this writing, I haven’t received my refund for the tripod. I rated it 40% because I was deeply dissatisfied despite the quick return process through LBC.
I was also told by LBC that refunds from Lazada take a hefty amount of time.
And though I’ve filled the paperwork, I haven’t been contacted by their support since. I even sent a reminder through their contact form specifically to address this issue.
Still no feedback.
The LBC branch here in District Dasmarinas has also noted that they get plenty of returns and refunds for Lazada – watches, cellphones, shoes, but mostly gadgets. I haven’t tried buying a high-value item (and thank goodness I haven’t bought my sports cam & HD storage from them) or I will have to wait forever to get my money back or to have a decent item that works.
I’ll update you soon as I get refunded. For now it has been almost 2 weeks and still no response.
You can learn more about their policies and FAQs here.
Would I buy from Lazada again?
Most likely yes. Just small items for now, I’m scared to buy high-end stuff. If Lazada refunds me then probably I will.
Online brands should know that refund/return is a ticking time bomb of trust by the consumer and they should respond, if not resolve it immediately.
So that’s all for my online shopping haul. I’ll have to write my Daiso Japan haul next (still related to my travel purchases)! This one I’m very excited about – I got really great items under PHP 900 ($20)! If you’re a frugal shopper like me, that post is tailored for you!
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What have you bought from TCAT & Lazada? Have you experienced buying from these sites?