A couple of years ago, I heard people having bought colouring pens on Ali Express and Wish, in my Facebook group for adult colouring books. Out of curiosity, I went on to the sites and looked, but my first impression was that the ordering system was strange and even more so, the search engines were absolutely atrocious in my opinion. When searching for pencils, I got up sexy knickers and other things, as far from pencils as possible. So, I deleted the apps as quickly as I had installed them.
But this said, as soon as I joined the bullet journaling society, I once again started to hear about these places and saw evidence of what looked like really nice items. Like washi tapes, stickers and rubberstamps/acrylic stamps. Against better judgement, I did go ahead and did order some items. I say against my better judgement, since anyone going in to those sites ought to know better than to expect nice things to arrive or anything of quality. You do not get quality items from China, that is just how it is. All they do is copy off things from the west and make their own budget versions, inferior in both quality and look. And of course not everything cost. For a lot of items, you only pay shipping, nothing for the item itself. That in itself ought to be a warning sign.
I guess the reason these sites have become so popular, is the fact that everything is dirt cheap. So much so, that if you hate the item, you have not lost a lot of money and can put the thing straight in the garbage bin. It has also opened up the possibility for everyone with covetitis, to own the items they have dreamed of owning, at a lower price, that they can actually afford. They seem to think ”So what if it is not great? Who cares, it is almost the real thing, right?”
As for the items I did order. Well, after a three-four month waiting time, I could finally go with my pick up slips to the postal representative, which doubles as a supermarket, and fetch my tiny, tiny packages, having arrived via registered mail. And what arrived? IF the correct washi tapes were sent to me, they were useless all the same. My four purchased washi tapes can be summed up like this: The glue does not stick and they certainly are not of Japanese paper quality. Either they are completely plastic or of some strange thick paper, but never the famous see through, easy to rip tape. The box of stickers I ordered, are poorly made. And finally, the acrylic stamps stink of chemicals and can hardly be removed from the protective sheet they are supposed to be just stored on. Needless to say, there is no point in complaining or ask for your money back. You will not receive any replacement or apology of any kind. And definitely not your money back. You are not even allowed to give feedback for your items, so how others have been able to give feedback, is beyond me.
Now, some people are as happy as can be, with their wish and ali express bullet journal supplies. As usual, it is a matter of preference. Some of us, can’t abide bad quality. I myself is a perfectionist when I create and there is no way to create beautiful or satisfying things, with bad products. So, for me, wish and ali express is no option at all. What has happened in Sweden concerning this matter though, has had more far fetched consequences than you could ever dream of.
The Swedish government, has discovered an untapped source of income. To their horror, they found out that Swedes have been ordering millions of items from Wish for years now and the state having lost millions in taxes, thanks to it. The postal service called PostNord kindly informed them of this, when accused of not doing their job properly. You see, last autumn, lots of people did not receive their mail at all or did not receive packages ordered from EU countries. Not even domestic ones, made it to their destinations. Why? Because PostNord was overwhelmed with the China packages from Wish. EU and domestic packages went back to the senders, because no pick up slips were ever sent out.
How do I know all this? Well, I ordered acrylic stamps from a German artist on Etsy, a stuffed animal from a English seller on eBay and a Freddy Kruger outfit from a Scottish seller, also on eBay. The two latter were meant to be Christmas presents for my boys, so I sent for them in plenty of time, before Christmas, just to make sure they arrived in time. But they never arrived. To my horror, when I started to investigate the matter, I found out, that all three packages had been sitting for more than 14 days at the supermarket’s post office section. No slips for pick up had been sent out, nor any reminders. So there was no way for me to know that they were there and no way to fetch them either. Without the slips, no packages. Now, what ensued was tragic. I had to start a fight with the sellers on eBay. The stuffed toy seller said nothing but just paid back the sum. They would not hear of re-sending the item. The seller of the Freddy Kruger outfit lied and told me that the package had not arrived back to them, even though it could be tracked as having done so. I had to open a case against them on eBay to get my money back. And then take the risk and order from someone else and have it arrive here on the 22 December. Talk about last-minute! But the German package was the worse. The seller hardly spoke any English and trying to explain what had happened was not easy. After ten e-mails she agreed to finally re-send the package, but I of course had to pay for it! Why? After all, I HAD NOT DONE ANYTHING WRONG! But PostNord only claimed that if a package goes back like that, then it is the sender who has to re-claim the money at her local post office and then that post office has to claim the money in their turn, from PostNord. It would be easier to squeeze blood out of a stone! I know for a fact, that the German artist never got any money back from her post office and I do not dare to order from her again, since I am obviously not in her good books. Sad, because she creates some lovely acrylic stamps.
But let us get back, to the China packages. As usual big brother up in Stockholm have decided that the ordering outside EU must come to a stop. Politicians are going to teach us the right way, they are. One politician stated that we should not order outside the EU because noone knows what those items contain. They might actually harm us! But if this tactic does not work and we insist on being naughty, well all the migrants are costing a fortune, so we have ourselves to blame. The excuse for doing what they are doing will be politically correct of course. Our purchases give unfair competition to poor Swedish companies, so now we must pay as punishment. But the truth is that what we are paying for is to keep the liberal immigration policy going. Finally, the government has found an appropriate milking cow!
From the 1 March, every single package arriving from outside the EU, soon the UK will be added, has been charged 75 SEK / £6.34 / € 7.28 / $8.95 punishment fee, since PostNord personnel now actually have to do something for their salaries. They want that 75 SEK in order to print up a paper that will tell you that you must pay them 75 SEK. To this is always added tax to the government, according to what the item cost you. In other words, sending for a washi tape for a $1 will end up costing you $1 + 75 SEK + tax. Noone in their right mind will send for anything they do not REALLY need or DESIRE more than anything in the world, from Wish. For that amount of money, you can get the real thing, not Chinese fake products, manufactured in Japan, sold by an Etsy seller located in France or Germany, who have imported them cheaply from the country of origin.
How has this new rule struck the Swedes? Well, I just talked to an American lady who works in the local toy shop. She has lived in Sweden for 15 years now, being married to a Swede, and her family in the US has always sent her Birthday and Christmas gifts. Her sister was late in sending them this last Christmas, so the lady was caught by the new rules, which means that not only are you charged 75 SEK plus tax for things you have bought from outside the EU, you also get charged the same amount for gifts sent to you by friends and family. In order to get her family’s late Christmas presents sent to her, she had to pay 500 SEK / £ 42.28 / € 48.55 / $ 60 and she did not have a heart to refuse paying it, nor did she have a heart telling her sister what happened.
I talked to a Japanese lady whose mother sent her some items from Japan. Not only did it take one month for her to get the nasty letter, which tells you that they are holding your package in Stockholm and awaiting payment from you, but they require her to pay for her mother’s gift to be released and she plain refuses. She has decided to take up the fight with them and they are unbending. In other words, not only has PostNord and the Swedish government put a stop to world trade, but they have also decided to not make any difference between gifts and purchases. In this international world, where people often have married across borders, studied abroad and made friends all over, well, this is heartbreaking. To tell friends and family overseas, that there is no point in them sending anything but a Birthday card/Christmas card in the future, hurts, because which person does not appreciate the thrill of opening a gift now and then? And what does this have to do with China and Wish?
Wish sprung out of nowhere, as did Ali Express, and as far as Sweden goes, the sites will soon lose all their customers. It will take a while, till all Swedes contemplating to buy things from them, realize that PostNord and the government mean business. But after that, noone will say ”I bought it on Wish” and have everyone rush to that seller to get the same item, as have been the custom before. It is actually already happening, since I just read in a daily Swedish newspaper, that 700 000 packages are sitting at PostNord in Stockholm, the recipients refusing to pay the fees and just letting them remain where they are.
What are my thoughts? I want to say that all of it stinks. I really do not know why it makes me think of how the government introduced the people to gaming. State run casinos etc. Most of us objected to them, since we knew that it would create obsession and addiction in a lot of people. And that leading to a cost to society, when society has to pay for the treatment of the addicts. The new policy of stopping all packages smacks hypocrisy to me. It is all about money. It has nothing to do with protecting the population against something bad. This new policy has nothing to do with caring about people. It is all big brother.
Will I stop ordering outside the EU? No. Sweden’s selection of products over all, is poorer than poor. When it comes to everything. Food, clothing, you name it, but I will take this thing called Bullet Journaling, as an example. A man called Ryder Carroll, having ADHD, tried to get structure in his life and his planner system has exploded in to an entire industry. There are several notebooks available outside Sweden’s borders, for bullet journaling, in all price categories, while here, you have at the most three brands to choose from. THREE! The Swedish government is telling us that we should be content with only a few things offered to us! Which in my ears smacks of communism. And where people happy with only a few choices in DDR? In the USSR? No!
Then look at pens. The same thing. Someone sits somewhere and says that all shops in Sweden must sell only these few brands of pens, and that ought to be enough for the Swedish population. I have just written a long blog post about pens and how among other things, you can’t get bullet proof ink for fountain pens in Sweden. Here they have decided that we shall not have the option of waterproof, permanent ink! When you get to washi tapes and rubberstamps, the situation is insane. Someone have decided that Swedish women are not allowed to like CUTE! We are all supposed to be adult and be boring. And heaven forbid that we should have differing tastes. A Swedish woman/man with a feminine side, must not love cute pandas or bear rubberstamps from Japan, even though the rest of the bullet journaling world loves them. Nothing Japanese must cross our borders at all, because Swedish women are all rational and have put everything girlie behind us, when we climbed out of our nappies at age two. All of us must be feminists and have Gudrun Schyman as a role model (very adult communist who turned feminist).
I only have one more thing to say and that is that as long as noone in this country understands the market, us women will order, perhaps not from Wish, but certainly from Asia and the US. We will order Hobonichis from Japan because we want the best paper in the world, we will order stickers, washi tapes and rubberstamps from Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines as well as Japan. Because THEY have understood the market and what we all want. We are not a communist people intent on always adulting nor are we content with a GREY LIFE! And while PostNord and the government are making it hurt bad when being naughty, they can not stop a trade that all other EU countries allow. Shopping will just change its face.