I'm not one to shy away from purchases online (I blame it on the introvert in me whereby I like to avoid crowds and hence malls and would rather buy things online). Purchases online from another continent however, is a different story. Light in the Box is an online company that is indeed based on a different continent.
I purchased my wedding dress online from Light in the Box. I checked out the reviews, and felt that you really can't go wrong for a wedding dress that costs less than $100 USD. I told myself that if it didn't fit I could alter it or if I really didn't like it, I could always just buy a different dress.
What is Light In the Box?
Light in the Box is an online retail company founded in China in 2007. To me, it is kind of similar to a ‘Chinese Amazon.com'. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LITB. They have all sorts of things, including wedding dresses, gardening tools, clothing.. everything you can think of. I believe everything is made in and is shipped from China though so the shipping and duty can be much more than you bargained for.
There have been lots of negative reviews of Light in the Box in the past with complaints of poor customer service, additional duties and taxes, inability to get your money back for refunds, and having to pay for the shipping for your refund yourself.
Here's What I think of Light in the Box
I have only purchased from Light in the Box once. Their low prices tempts me to use Light in the Box again, but the headache and anxiety with regards to following up to see whether I could get my duty refunded was a bit too much. Not too keen on going through that again.
Nonetheless, I ordered my wedding dress from Light in the Box. It cost $90 USD and after shipping costs and the $10 duty and tax insurance, it came out to around $130 USD. It arrived promptly and the item was as described (reading reviews is really helpful). On the website it states that if it doesn't fit you, you can ask for their tailor to correct it, but I would rather see someone in real life and pay for it than deal with waiting for Light in the Box. Also, there have been mixed reviews about that promise, apparently returns are very difficult to do.
Personally it worked out fine for me and I love my dress. I did have to alter it but I don't mind doing it in person and paying for it rather than playing Russian roulette with my wedding dress and paying for shipping to go back to them only to tell me that they don't want to do parking.
Does the Taxes and Duty Insurance Work?
If you pay for duty and tax insurance, Light in the Box will refund the amount that you paid (usually through the shipping company DHL) onto your credit card. I was wary about this because I had never heard of duty and tax insurance and given their iffy track record, I thought perhaps this was just a scam. For a $100 USD purchase, I paid about an additional $10 for the duty and tax insurance, in addition to about $20 of shipping cost. The duty charged was $60 which I had to pay for. I then created a ticket within Light in the Box and was able to eventually get my $60 refunded onto the credit card that I paid for the item with- this was only because I paid for the $10 duty and tax insurance.
So yes, the duty and tax insurance works! It takes a bit of time (I think for me about 4-6 weeks) for you to get the money back, but it is indeed credited back to your credit card.
Personally I think the customer service for Light in the Box is a little sketchy, though they did reply to my tickets very promptly. I never spoke to anyone in person though. Because the company is based in China, I'm not too sure whether they have someone that helps you from China or from North America.
Readers, have you tried purchasing from Light in the Box? What did you think?