Frequently Asked Questions

Recently updated FAQ Page - Still a work in progress!

 

Ordering, Order Status & Returns

When you want to know where your order is, if it's been returned, how to re-ship it and stuff like that...

open-close-arrowMy order is lost, will you send me a replacement?

We're all about being fair, both to our customers as well as to ourselves. If a mistake was made on our part, we of course will replace or refund it.

 

Now that all parcels we ship have tracking, this has recently become much easier than in the past.

 

If a parcel is lost/stolen in the system before delivery and was shipped to the correct address, we will replace this.  

 

We will not replace parcels in which the tracking shows to have been delivered and left on the front door.  Please request signature at the time of order placement if this is a concern to you.

 

If the customer makes a mistake on the shipping address and it is returned to us, we will contact the customer and will re-ship. The customer will be required to pay for re-shipping fee if the shipping address was incorrect, however. 

 

When a parcel was correctly shipped by us, received by the post office but the parcel is not picked up in a timely manner by the intended recipient, and the parcel is then returned to us, we will re-ship but the customer is liable for re-shipment fees.  

 


Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowI'm having a hard time finding my orders and checking out, why?

Currently there are two customer types - Guest and Registered users. You can checkout either way but if you don't have a registered account, you won't gain bonus points and you'll have to fill out the shippping and billing data each time. 

 

If you can't find your old order, it's possible that you may have ordered as a "guest" in the past  but now are trying to checkout as a registered user.  Or vice versa - you had an account but now are trying to checkout as a "guest" instead.

 

If your orders in the past were made by checking out as a guest and you never actually registered an account, go ahead and register one.  We can merge all your old orders (and bonus points) in  together with your new account quite easily, just contact us. If you had an account and are trying to checkout as a guest, you can do that but you'll have to fill out the shipping and billing info again, and that's why your old orders aren't showing up.

Last updated on sept. 10, 2021
open-close-arrowWhere is my order?!

The answer depends on whether you used FedEx or the postal system for delivery.  

For starters, track your order by clicking on the "Order Status" link near the top of our website. You will need:

 

  • Order Number
  • Order EmailBilling
  • Zip/Postal Code

 Postal EMS & ePacket Orders

The postal system in still unavailble for many countries including North America.

 

As of this writing, the postal service in Japan is extremely slow and lethargic due to lack of air cargo space as a result of continuing COVID-19 issues. EMS, or "Express Mail" is anything but express anymore, we warn about this at checkout. It's not uncommon for a parcel to sit for 3-4 weeks before leaving the country.   ePacket is about the same, frankly.   In case you used the postaservice for delivery, patience is the only option.

 

Outside of COVID issues, there are other possible reasons your postal order may be delayed - these are common issues:

 

  • Is there freezing or bad weather occurring? Bad weather, typhoons, hurricanes, snowstorms, etc, both in Japan where we ship from, the receiving location, or anywhere in between can delay the delivery of orders by days to weeks. Is it anywhere near the the New Year holidays? This is typically the season where the slowest delivery times occur.
  • You were not home when the delivery was attempted and and a notice was left (or sometimes not.) This is probably the most common reason. If your order was sent by Express Mail and you do not pick it up within 10 days, they will  return it to us. It can take up to 6 months to have a parcel returned to us when this occurs.
  • You live in an apartment or work at an office and the parcel is being held by the front desk. This happens all the time.
  • Your neighbor has it. This happened in France once, the item was mistakenly delivered to the neighbor and held for a month.
  • Your order is being held by customs. Probably the #1 cause of delayed orders in Europe, especially in SPAIN.  This almost never occurs with USA or Canada orders, fortunately.
  • You "thought" you placed an order but didn't actually take the order process all the way to completion. Did you get an invoice from us by email right after you placed the order? You should have.
  • You "thought" you placed an order with us but actually placed it with another company? Unfortunately another company thought it was a good idea to start an online tea shop on Amazon.com with a name similiar to ours. We get inquiries all the time from their customers.  Make sure it was with us that you placed the order.
  • There was a postal strike - Happens all the time in Canada and Europe.
  • You paid by PayPal but didn't have enough funds in your PayPal account. When this happens, the order is placed on "hold" until PayPal can pull funds from your bank account. This is about a week delay.
  • You once used a different shipping address, moved, and forgot to change it back when you placed a later order. Happens all the time! We can only go by the address you give us.
  • We made a mistake. Yes, we make them once in awhile.

 

FedEx Orders

These orders almost never take more than a week. In fact, most arrive in 2-3 business days.  If it's been more than a week, do contact us because we've had a few turn up missing here and there.

Last updated on sept. 2, 2021
open-close-arrowThe amount shown in my currency on checkout and the amount on the invoice are not the same, why?

As we are based in Japan, our prices are based on the Japanese yen.  As a convenience to our customers, we have a currency conversion system in place to give the customer an idea of what it will cost them in their own currency. This exchange rate is updated every few hours. While the amount shown is close, since currency rates are constantly fluctuating it is not usually exact. 

 

What is shown on our site is the exchange rate that the currency markets are showing at the time of checkout. However, there is usually a spread from what’s shown in financial markets and what one actually gets when the currency is converted. This spread and fluctuating currencies are out of our control and it’s impossible for us to show exactly the amount charged in your own currency, only a close approximation.

 

Your credit card company may charge an additonal fee to you on a foreign transaction.  This highly depends on what credit card you use, we are not charging you that, however.

 

Our prices when viewed in Japanese yen, however, are exact. If you wish to know exactly what will be charged, in Japanese yen, you will need to switch to Japanese yen in the upper right part of our site.  From there, you can convert the currency manually on your side. 

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowHow do I add additional items to an already placed? order

For security reasons, we do not have access to, nor do we store your credit card data. We cannot simply add additional items and then charge you for it on our own, we don't have your data. If you paid with a credit card or PayPal, the only way to add additional items is to...

  1. Place a second order
  2. Contact us immediately and let us know you wish to ship additional items together with your original order
  3. We will then refund the additional base shipping charge.

This must be done before we ship your order, and we don't wait long before shipping so if you wish additional items, order them soon.

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowWhere is my order than I placed on Amazon.com?

We don't sell on Amazon.com.  Unfortunately another company thought it was a good idea to name their company something similar to ours, thus causing their own customers confusion.  We get asked this all the time by people who didn't even order from us.   If you purchased your items on Amazon.com, it wasn't from us.

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowHow Do I Apply A Coupon?

 

 

 

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021

Shipping Questions

For general questions about shipping, fees, methods, pricing...

open-close-arrowWhat are your shipping fees?

Shipping Fees Are Based on Weight & Size

 

Shipping fees are complicated and it is based on numberous factors such as your country, shipping method, weight, and size of parcel.  In our effort to charge only the minimum shipping charge possible, we have literally weighed every single item we sell to the gram and have implemented that with rather complex shipping tables to ensure you only pay for the weight of items you purchase and no more.

 

Because the shipping charges vary to such a great degree, depending on what and how many you add to your cart, we cannot state here exactly what your shipping charge will be here. 

 

Please fill out your cart and the total will show.  It's not exactly cheap to ship from Japan, but by doing this, we believe we now charge the absolute cheapest shipping charges possible.

 

Ceramic Items Sometimes Require Additional Shipping Fees

 

Some of our heavier or fragile ceramic teapots require us to put them in a bigger, heavier box. This increases the shipping costs.  The teapot might not weight that much but in order to get it to you safely we have to pack it that way. Again, we charge just what it costs to ship it an no more if possible. 

 

In Case We Charged Too Much Shipping...

 

Sometimes we find that our system charged you too much of a shipping fee. In such cases, we will refund the difference from the actual shipping fee.

Last updated on sept. 2, 2021
open-close-arrowDo you offer free shipping?

We do not offer free shipping because there is no such thing as free shipping. The fact is, if you are offered free shipping you will be paying for that shipping fee somewhere else in your order. Usually such offers are priced so that it bumps you into a new price tier where they (you) pay for your shipping fee through the profit on additional sales.  

Our policy is to just charge as close to the actual shipping cost as possible. Shipping fees are already expense and are a major hinderence to doing business (especially since COVID-19), we go out of our way to only charge the actual shipping price and do not desire to make a profit on shipping charges.

Last updated on sept. 2, 2021
open-close-arrowCan I have an Express Mail or Registered parcel left at the front door "unsigned"?

For Postal orders - Short Answer: No

 

For FedEx orders - Yes, mostly (see bottom)  

 

Postal Orders 

Long Answer: Unfortuantely, thanks to the high number of "Porch Pirates" (especially in the USA),  the good ol' days when you could have your parcel left at the front door unsigned for are over due to rampant parcel theft.  We've had this occur with a number of our customer's parcels and we usually end up on the losing end of the stick.

 

https://youtu.be/BPhOz9my4gQ

https://youtu.be/hNdFyclwUCY

 

We realize what a pain it can be to go to the post office (especially if you live in the USA) to pick up a parcel, and that probably 90% of the time the parcels will be delivered during a weekday while you are at work, meaning you will have to go pick it up.   We suggest that you choose a work address to have the parcel delivered to if at all possible, or perhaps a relative who is home duirng the day.  We can no longer accept requests to have parcels that need to be signed for to be left unsigned, and usually the postal service won't do it anyway.

Note: If your order was sent by Express Mail and you do not pick it up within 10 days, they absolutely will return it to us, and sometimes they don't even bother to leave a notice. We are not responsible for re-delivery fees.

FedEx

In the case of FedEx, it's the opposite - you need to let us know if you want it signed for.  Please contact us if you wish your parcel to only be left if it's signed for.

Last updated on sept. 2, 2021
open-close-arrowHow Can I Make My FedEx shipping cheaper?

Best Ordering Strategy To Save Money On FedEx Shipping

 

FedEx fees are based on a weight and size combination, and the weights are priced in tiers. Basically, the goal is to fit as many items in a tier without going over and jumping to the next price tier.  This will make the "shipping price per item" cheaper.  

 

If ordering 100 gram packages of tea, you can save on the "shipping price per item" shipping fee by ordering in quantities of either 3, 7, or 11 packages at once (because it costs the same to ship four 100 gram bags as it does eight 100 gram bags of tea).

 

You can add items to the cart then at checkout see the shipping price before you commit. 

 

Last updated on sept. 6, 2021

Taxes and Fees

We'll try to answer your questions about possible extra fees that you may or may not incur here.

open-close-arrowI live in Europe, how can I get out of paying VAT tax?

You can't really get out of it anymore. As of July 1st, 2021 there is no longer a 22 Euro exemption. 

 

We are based out of Japan, we will not collect VAT taxes on behalf of the EU even though they want us to.  That being the case, you most likely will have to pay that upon delivery.

 

If you are not willing to pay the VAT tax upon delivery, please reconsider ordering from us as it will be a total loss for all involved if you refuse delivery.

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowCan you cover my customs duties/tax/fee?

Short answer: No.

 

Long answer: While we go out of our way to help you avoid customs duties, we are not responsible for extra fees or taxes. Unfortunately, many EU customers are charged customs duties. This depends on the country, the amount ordered, and a multitude of other reasons. We *must* include an invoice inside of the parcel. We have had instances (Germany, France) where customs officials have returned the parcel for lack of an invoice. We cannot mark down the value of EMS parcels because insurance for loss is based on this figure. We used to mark items as a "gift" to help lower that taxes for our customers, but lately customs does not always see it as a "gift" and will actually charge you more. The strictness of the customs officials vary from country to country. Probably 95% of the parcels we send to the UK are not taxed but when they are, they are heavy handed and use "Parcel Force" to delivery the items, tacking on an extra shipping fee.

 

 

We've never had a USA customer have to pay customs fees.

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowCan you mark down our parcel value so I can pay less tax?

Short answer: No

 

Long answer: We used to do that, but now we cannot mark down the value of your parcel due to strict customs enforcement - They wil seize your parcel completely if it doesn't match, especially in Germany.  

 

Likewise, all insurance claims on losses are based on value marked on the box.  So again, please do not ask us to mark down the value of your parcel to avoid taxes, we wish we could but we can't.

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021

Country Specific Restrictions & Issues

Country Specific Restrictions & Issues

open-close-arrowCan you ship to my country right now?

The situaiton on which countries we can or cannot ship to, by which shipping method, is still in a constant flux as of this writing due to continued complications of the SARS COVID-19 situation.


Basically -

 

Japan's postal system is a mess because there are so few commercial airlines coming into or leaving Japan.  It's been at it's lowest point since 1960.  Postal mail ships on those airplanes and since there aren't many flights right now, air cargo space is limited and usually backed up. We can ship by the Japan Post to many places in Europe, but it will often be very slow.  But not always!  

 

We technically could use Japan Post to ship EMS only parcels to North America, but it's almost the price of FedEx and there will be a long wait (weeks to a month) for your parcel to even leave Japan.  Therefore we do not feel it worth using at this time.

 

FedEx - Super fast, they've got their own airplanes.  We can ship by FedEx to North America and most places in Europe and Asia.  But there are exceptions even within Europe. Spain and Italy are difficult.

 

Brazil, Mexico, and a whole bunch of other countries - it's difficult no matter what shipping method, so not yet. 

 

Middle East, Saudi Arabia, UAE - Recently FedEx shipments are getting in, so yes we can.

 

If you can't checkout and use your country's shipping address, it means we still cannot ship to your country. We're sorry, we will when it opens up again.

 

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021

Privacy & Safetly Concerns

Here's where we answer the most frequently asked questions regarding privacy, safety, etc.

open-close-arrowHow safe is it to order Japanese green tea online from O-Cha.com?

O-Cha.com began operations on the Internet in 1998.  Know that we have gone the extra mile,  spent the extra money to ensure that our site and web servers meet the latest technological and security standards. Our server is kept up to date.  O-Cha.com has been issued it's own security certificate and does not use an offsite 3rd party shopping cart system to process your private data. Credit card transactions are automatically processed with card data encrypted over a secure server using the latest technology.

 

We do not keep or know your passwords or credit card numbers - credit card data and passwords for encrypted data are tokenized and stored off site, preventing any possibility of unauthorized recovery.

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowDo you sell my data to anyone?

We do not reveal, sell, or lend in any way, shape or form, your personal information with any other company or entity - You will not end up on a spam list as a result of an order from us or by joining our newsletter should you decide to do so.

 

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021

Account & Bonus Points FAQ's

For questions regarding your account and Bonus Points

open-close-arrowHow Do I Use O-Cha.com Customer Loyalty Points?

Visit Our Loyalty Bonus Points Page

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021
open-close-arrowI can't login and/or the password recovery doesn't work!
  • When you originally created your account, did you use social login like Facebook, Google, PayPal, etc? If so, you need to login again using that social login. We can't recover the password in this case because the password is set my your social login site, not on our site.

  • If you didn't originally use social login like Facebook, etc, we have a password recovery link.

  • If it still doesn't work, it's possible you may have registered multiple accounts at some time in the past and they are conflicting with each other.

  • If your account is older than 2 years and you haven't signed in for almost that amount of time, it's possible your account was prunned during an update of our software.

  • Sometimes customers make purchases as "guests" and never create an account. In this case, it's possible for us to register you an account manually.

  • So if you originally signed up with social login like Facebook, please try usign that to login first. In case either your social login or password recovery doesn't work, please contact us and we'll fix you up.
Last updated on sept. 3, 2021

Brewing Green Tea & Matcha FAQ's

How to brew green tea and matcha...

open-close-arrowHow Do I Make Green Tea?

Visit our How To Make Green Tea page for more detailed information.

Last updated on sept. 3, 2021