Wednesday, March 12, 2014

LL Bean and Pobox.Ph : My Shopping and Shipping Experience

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience with Lands' End and Johnny Air. Setting aside the expensive shipping fees imposed by Johnny Air and poor customer service experience from Lands' End, everything eventually ended well. I'm enjoying abusing my first monogrammed tote. :) Proof to this, I'm using the bag since it arrived. I never changed my bag since that week. Heehee

As promised in the previous post, I will be sharing another shopping and shipping experience. This time, the experience is about LL Bean and Pobox.Ph.

Warning : Long post ahead :)

LL Bean is an American based company founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean. Hence, the company name. LL Bean is known for producing apparel and reliable outdoor equipment. It started as a one-man business in Maine and later expanded with global operations. As of date, the company is still maintaining its main production site and corporate headquarters in Maine.

LL Bean also operates in Japan. I discovered this when I was searching for Instagram users with LL Bean bags. My search results were dominated by Japanese women sporting their own monogrammed tote. I actually thought of ordering online in Japan. Since the country is nearer, the bag will arrive sooner. Unfortunately, I cannot navigate the page that was presented in full Japanese characters.

Among the products offered by LL Bean, I was obviously attracted to their line of boat and tote bags. 


You can check their boat and tote bags here

I can't remember how I exactly discovered LL Bean. One thing sure, another blogger led me to this company. At that time, I was restless with the limited earnings stored in my Paypal account. If I transfer the funds to my local bank account, the Php 250 transaction fee will hurt. I later figured out that using my funds for online shopping is the better option. I initially wanted to shop at Zalora. However, I was surprised when the site doesn't anymore accept my US dollar funds as payments. So the optimal solution, look for other interesting sites that accept dollar payments. LL Bean appeared as the best option since it offers bags that fit my limited funds. :)

Ordering at LL Bean was so easy. It follows the typical procedure of shopping sites, add the item in your bag, check out and pay.  The process will consume additional steps if you prefer customisation such as monogramming, zippers and additional pockets.

I was quite fortunate when I purchased the bag because there was 10% price reduction on all items. Yay! During the online purchase, I encountered a minor problem that was immediately resolved by the very smart and reliable customer service officer. Turns out, LL Bean's system does not accept Philippine based Paypal accounts for orders to be delivered to a US address. Simply to say, orders paid using a Philippine based Paypal account should be directly shipped to the Philippines. This will therefore prevent me from availing the services of Pobox.Ph and other cargo forwarding companies. This further meant that I have to pay expensive shipping fees and questionable custom taxes. Fortunately, LL Bean's customer service officer offered a smart alternative. He suggested, I purchase an e-gift card using my Paypal account. With this, I was able to escape the system's restriction of shipping an item to a US address while paying using a Philippine based account. 

Thank you Sir! I forgot your name but you were so smart and efficient. Everything was resolved by a very convenient online chat mechanism. 

LL Bean offers free shipping in US, regardless of amount of purchased. This is something Lands' End doesn't offer. In addition to this, LL Bean maintains its own tracking facility. All orders, regardless of size, weight and price, are entitled for tracking. On the contrary, Lands' End tracking facility is redirected to UPS' site. 

After a few days, my first LL Bean tote arrived in Pobox.Ph's US address. I thought everything would run smoothly. It was my first time to try Pobox.Ph. They were able to deliver my bag with minor problems that were likewise eventually resolved.

Pobox.Ph's process is quite different from Johnny Air. Johnny Air only requires an email to inform them of the item that is yet to arrive in their US office. Pobox.Ph requires signing up for a personal account. At first, I felt that Pobox.Ph's system is more organised and secured. A personal account with login name and password is more secured than a notification email. 

Pobox.Ph claims that the status of my package will be posted in my personal account. Unfortunately, I have to send follow up emails for posted updates. The entire waiting period from Pobox.Ph entailed sending repeating follow up emails.  When I paid the shipping fees, it took them days and as always, a follow up email to confirm and update. 

Despite the slow response of Pobox.Ph, they were able to deliver my package. They claim that they deliver within 5 weeks. True enough, they fulfilled their promise. 


The box used by Pobox.Ph was of the same size with my Lands' End package. I paid Php 1,386 ($ 30) for this size. You can see Pobox.Ph's rates here

On the positive side, here's what I appreciate about Pobox.Ph

1. They have predetermined fees, dependent on the size of the box that will fit your package. Hence, no surprising fees when your package arrives. 

2. They charge cheaper as compared to Johnny Air. However, Pobox.Ph uses cargo shipping. In effect, the lower fees meant longer waiting period. In my case, 5 weeks. 

3. Since they ship via cargo, weight is not a major issue. Rate remains the same as long as your items fit the designated box. This gives me an idea that for heavy items, Pobox.Ph seem to be the better option. However,  please note that they have additional fees for special products such as electronic gadgets. You can check the terms and conditions here

4. The shipping fee is inclusive of door-to-door delivery. Package arrives to your doorstep, unlike Johnny Air where you have to pick up either in Makati or Megamall. 

5. All packages immediately come with an insurance provision. You can read about it here. Johnny Air claims to offer but when I checked my receipt, there was a written disclaimer that my item was not covered. 

6. It maybe a minor thing but my package was physically safe and secured with Pobox.Ph. As you can see from the photo, the box was enclosed in a plastic wrap. This was way better than my box from Johnny Air, which was half-way opened. 

Unboxing the most awaited

LL Bean placed my order in a sealed plastic. It was fine because the bag is too strong and hard to be deformed. Anyway, Pobox.Ph did their job in shipping and handling. 


Without the plastic and papers, look how tiny is my bag for the box. Some of you might be interested to know the actual size of the box. You can check the details here. But if I will personally describe it, the box can almost fit a double burner gas stove. 


Oh finally!

Even though the bag is made of canvas, it can stand on its own.. even the handles! Truth is the bag's fabric was so hard and strong. This is contrary to those soft canvas bags sold in supermarkets. This also made me understand why this blogger soaked her LL Bean to salt water. The bag needs some softening procedures.  (Sobrang tigas ng fabric, as in)

My friend told me that the bag looks too small. I said, not really. Let me prove it then :)


This smallest LL Bean tote can fit a 1.5 liter water bottle, huge paperback, foldable umbrella, big wallet and kikay kit. It still has spaces for my mobile phone and coin purse.  


One of the few reasons why I love LL Bean. This gave me a break from all the Made in China items. :) I learned from their website that all bags are still produced in Maine. 


My monogrammed canvas family is now complete :)


After the long, boring and probably confusing post, here's a summary of my review for LL Bean and Pobox.Ph

LL Bean

1. LL Bean is the best in Customer Service! They provide this online chat mechanism (like Yahoo Messenger) where you can be assisted by a Customer Service Office during your purchase. 

2. They have a very good tracking facility. Unlike Lands' End who is depending on UPS' services.

3. They offer FREE SHIPPING to US regardless of the amount purchased. If you have kind relatives residing in US, you can take advantage of this offer. If not, you can consider availing the services of cargo forwarding companies or pay the $ 20 direct shipping fee to the Philippines. 

4. Lands' End canvas bag may win the aesthetics but when originality is considered, LL Bean owns it.   LL Bean was the first to create this classic boat and tote bag. 

Pobox.Ph

1. If you want cheaper shipping fees from cargo forwarding companies, Pobox.Ph can serve as your alternative to Johnny Air.

2. The waiting period is the main disadvantage of using Pobox.Ph. Since the company is using cargo shipping, expect a minimum waiting time of 5 weeks.

3. If you are buying heavy and bulky items, it might be best to use Pobox.Ph. You will end up paying cheaper fees because of the fixed and predetermined rates for boxes.

4. Pobox.Ph needs to improve the running of updates on the user's personal account facility. It takes them days to weeks to update details. This can really become a test of patience.  I actually checked my account before preparing this post. Up to this date, tracking details about my package is not yet posted. Hello! My package already arrived :)




PS Anyone interested to own an LL Bean Tote? Please email me :) maybe we can order together and share the shipping fees.  

19 comments :

  1. It was a long post but very informative. I know you like sleek, efficient looking clothes and accessories so at least you got what you wanted. When it arrived, it could have been entirely the wrong thing! That is what usually happens to me. I've been deliquent in coming to visit lately but my excuse is the operation..hope to be more with it as time goes on. Keep writing!

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  2. Did pobox.ph provided the box for you? Do they have a fixed amount for a small box?

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    1. Hi Nathaniel! Yes, they provided the box. You can check the rates for the size of each box here http://pobox.ph/new/index.php/welcome/services

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  3. I chose the we shop, we ship service. When they bought the item from amazon, the replies were so fast but now, I've been waiting for the shipping fee for 3 weeks now. I sent 2 emails and I haven't got a reply yet. How many weeks did you wait for your shipping fee?

    Btw, I like your blog. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mia! In my experience, they always reply late or sometimes never. I have to send follow up emails. I even have to inform them that my order already arrived in their US office and I'm waiting for the shipping bill or invoice. They may not promptly reply but they were able to deliver my order within the specified time frame.

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  4. would you recommend them po in for buying expensive things such as gadgets cause I'm planning to buy a ps3 at amazon and I'm hesitant to use their service cause I've read (another blog) that some of staff are opening and stole the things from the package (what a shameful act!) I'm considering na sa johnny air na lang even though it's so expensive at least safe yung package.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Angelus! I haven't tried shipping expensive items either through Johnny Air of Pobox. If I'm not mistaken, I think all cargo forwarding companies do some inspection before they ship your items here. I'm not just sure if it includes opening your package.

      The problem with Pobox, based from my experience, ang tagal nila sumagot through email or sometimes, not at all. Their online tracking system is likewise not updated. Overall naman, the item arrived to me within the required time frame.

      With JA, you really have to pay the price of shorter waiting period. If I may suggest, go for Johnny Air because of the "shorter waiting period" You see, kapag shorter ang lead time, lesser worries on your part : ) Lalo na in your case, medyo expensive ang item.

      I cannot however vouch for the safety of the item. As I have said, wala pa ako pina-ship na expensive item.

      Hope this helps.

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  5. Did you have to go to customs po to pay for duties, taxes, etc. or dineliver na lang siya talaga sa door niyo po? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Mark! PoBox sent my package through a door to door private courier service. If I'm not mistaken, Fast Track. Similar to Johnny Air, you don't need to pay for customs or duty taxes.

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  6. Hi! What are the dimensions of the 30 USD box that you used? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Mnel! You can check the dimensions of the box here http://pobox.ph/index.php/welcome/services

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  7. Hi! I'd like to use pobox.ph for purchasing books, I'm just wondering kung ilan kayang standard sized hardcover books ang kasya sa pinakamaliit na box nila? Tnx po :)

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    1. I forgot the dimensions of the box that was given to me. You can check out the details in Pobox's site. I'm sure meron dun. The one given to me though is the smallest. As I have mentioned in the post, it's size equivalent to a two-double burner gas stove.

      You might want to try Book Depository for buying books. The site is based in UK and offers free shipping to the Ph! Just search it in my posts, I blogged about it a few years ago.

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  8. Hi! mabuti nalang may ganitong blog, it really helps me. I also availed the shipping services of Pobox and same with your experience it really takes time to communicate and follow up on them. I bought the items at Amazon last July 22 pa and after almost a month no feedback on them so sobrang worried ako. When I follow up on them through email, they said that they have already received the package last August 3 pa! nagemail ako sa knila last week of August na (can you imagine that?). After nun may improvements na and I already paid the shipping fee through BDO. They informed me that they will send me an email for the tracking number. Sana lang po talaga magbigay sila as you have said, but since sabi mo naman po na safe po nakarating yung package mo e panatag na rin po loob ko. Thank you for this wonderful post. It really helps us. ^_^

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    1. Hi Reena! Thanks a lot. Good luck on your package. Hopefully it would arrive soon to your doorstep :)

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  9. helloo, ang PoBox na po ba ang mag eestimate kung anong box ang gagamitin depending sa items na iiship??

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    1. You can actually do estimation. You can find it over their website. https://pobox.ph/Services.aspx
      But then you have to remember, pobox will be the one to pack your items. So they are left with the final decision as to what box size they will use for your items.

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  10. Hi Miss Diane! Was the box used for your bag the smallest one? Very informative post btw. Thank you! :)

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