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Order | Shipping FAQ's
How to use an American Express Card to checkout.
Can I have an Express Mail or Registered parcel left at the front door "unsigned"?
Can I add additional items to an already placed order to save on shipping?
How safe is it to order green tea online from O-Cha.com?
I think my order is lost, will you send me another one?
Country Specific Restrictions & Issues
What are your shipping fees?
Tips for avoiding high customs fees!
Do you offer wholesale?
How 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 technilogical and security standards. O-Cha.com has been issued it's own security certificate ( hover over the Comodo Seal located at the bottom of this page for more information ), 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 256 bit technology. We do not keep or know your passwords or credit card numbers - credit card data and passwords for encrypted data are stored off site, preventing any possibility of unauthorized recovery.
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 joining our newsletter should you decide to do so. Our site meets recent stringent PCI DSS requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures.
Can I have an Express Mail or Registered parcel left at the front door "unsigned"?
Unfortuantely, the good ol' days when you could have your parcel left at the front door unsigned for are over due to rampant parcel theft, especially in the USA. 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.
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.
If you wish to 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...
- Place a second order
- Contact us immediately and let us know you wish to ship additional items together with your original order
- We will then refund the additional base shipping charge.
It's been WEEKS, where is my order?!
It is the aim of O-Cha.com to ship all orders within 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are very strict about shipping your order ASAP, and we are also very strict about logging every single order as it leaves our facility. We know that it is in our best interests as a company that you the customer receive your parcel in the quickest amount of time. We KNOW that if your order takes too long or turns into a big headache that you may never purchase from us again. Sometimes despite our best efforts, however, your parcel can become delayed by reasons beyond our control. With that in mind...
Did you choose First Class shipping instead of Express Mail (EMS) or First-Class + Registered Mail? If so, as explained when you checked out, we don't know where your parcel is once we shipped it because there is no tracking on first class mail. If you send us an email asking us where your order is and you chose first class, we absolutely will not be able to tell you where it is or when it will arrive. We can only tell you what our experience has been.
First class orders to the USA & Canada typically take 7 to 11 days but they can and sometimes do take longer.
First Class orders to Europe & Australia typically take 10 to 20 days but they can and often do take longer!
Before contacting us we ask that you please review the following possible situations regarding your order status.
Express Mail Orders: Typically take 3 to 5 days, but this can vary depending on the country. You can track it with the tracking number provided in both your account and also on the invoice. This is THE most reliable, quickest way to ship, though it is a bit more costly. If you can afford it, we highly recommend this method first!
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.
Are you in SPAIN, Germany, Italy, France, Eastern Europe, The Philippines (and several others)? From our experience, German customs has recently been holding first class parcels for up to 6 weeks. In Italy, even Express Mail (EMS) parcels can take 3 weeks to be delivered. The countries mentioned above usually take longer than 11 days - they can take over a month to be delivered. Sometimes you will get lucky and have it delivered in a short time, and the very next order will takes weeks. Honestly, we have no control over this.
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 and Germany. 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.
There was a postal strike - Happens all the time in 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.
My 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 it. However, what happens with a parcel once it enters the various postal systems around the world is beyond our control once we ship it. This is why we leave the option to choose EMS shipping, First-Class shipping + Registered Mail (Europe), or First-Class shipping without registered mail to the customer. The Japanese postal system is stellar so lost parcels always occur after the item has left Japan.
We make sure that all customers who shop with us checkoff that they understand our policies about replacements. Although it's far from typical to lose a parcel when shipped first class, it DOES happen on occasion. We let the customer chose the level of risk they are comfortable with.
If the customer chooses only first-class shipping without registered mail and a parcel becomes lost, we will not replace this. We go by the shipping address the customer gives us so if the customer made a mistake on the shipping address and it becomes lost, we will not replace this. Under these circumstances, should the parcel be returned to us we will contact the customer and will re-ship provided that the customer pays the fee to re-ship it. We want you to get your tea!
We will send a replacement if EMS (express mail) shipping or First-Class with Registered mail was chosen as the delivery method and the shipping address was correct. The exception for this would be EMS parcels which were not picked up from the post office in a timely manner (somewhat common, especially in the USA) and which were in turn returned to us. In that case, we can re-ship the parcel but will have to charge shipping fees once again. If your country does not have EMS (there are a few), your only option would be to use First Class + Registered.
What is the status of my order & can I track it?
You can check the status of your order at any time by clicking on the Order Status link on the top of every page on our site. To check order status, you will need the order number and the email address you used to check out with. For EMS or 1st Class + Registered orders, all you have to do is click on the tracking number itself and a page will open up with tracking data.
Note that first class shipping cannot be tracked, another reason why we highly encourage EMS or 1st Class+ Registered shipping.
Can I have my Express Mail (EMS) or Registered parcel deliverd as unsigned?
Unfortunately, if you choose one of these two methods the parcel must be signed for. Gone are the good old days when it could be left on your front porch. We do understand what a headache it will be to try to go to the post office to pick up the parcel, especially if you live in the USA. If you think you are not going to be home when a parcel is deliverd ( as would be the case with your average working American ), we would recommend that you choose a work address as the shipping address.
List of Country Specific Restrictions
The following is our current list of specific countries where we have encountered "problems", where we restrict shipping to a certain method, or cannot ship to at all for one reason or the other.
- India - Your country restricts tea imports completely, so we don't sell tea to India, unfortunately.
- United Kingdom - Please read our specific section regarding United Kingdom customers.
- Spain - Your customs is ruthless lately and will hold your parcels for weeks to months, especially if you order a lot and have it shipped by EMS. Feel free to order small amounts of tea and have it shipped by First Class + Registered Mail, it will probably sail through. If you order tea ware or large quantities and use EMS, be prepared for long delays.
- Germany - Excessive delays in delivery by customs - sometimes up to 6 weeks for first class parcel! - We recommend you use First Class + Registered. EMS is efficient, but German customs are VERY efficient at charging you taxes if you use EMS.
- Italy - No matter what method you use, be prepared to wait. We recommend you use First Class + Registered.
- Russian Federation - We do love our Russian customers, they are really first rate green tea connoisseurs! But due to high incidents of fraud, we can only ship via EMS or First Class + Registered. Delivery time seems speedy, however.
- Ukraine - See Russian Federation above.
- Trinidad & Tobago - Excessive delays in delivery by customs. EMS or Registered Mail only.
Instead of marking up the price of the tea and claiming "free shipping!" or making the price of the "free shipping" at a point where you are forced to buy another item, our policy is to just charge as close to the actual shipping cost as possible. There is no such thing as "free shipping" and we do not desire to make a profit on shipping charges.
Beginning September 2015
We have implemented a new shipping system! Shipping is based strictly on weight - 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. 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.
Shipping charges are based on the Japanese yen, which may vary from your currency daily.
All orders shipped within 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
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 cannot mark down the value of your parcel due to strict customs enforcement - they wil seize your parcel completely if it doesn't match. 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. Instead, try to use First Class + Registered shipping to lessen (but not eliminate) chances of taxes being imposed.
We've never had a USA customer have to pay customs fees.
Tips For Avoiding High Customs Fees!
This mostly applies to European customers and others in Asia. Fortunately, USA & Canadian customs are almost never charged customs fees (so far).
Although customs fees and taxes imposed are beyond our control, we understand it's not really fun for you, as a customer, to have to pay high taxes, especially for products which are not even made in your own country. It's also not good for us if our customers have to pay high taxes as they will be much less likely to order from us - we feel your pain! With that in mind, we give you the following tips to help reduce your chances of being highly taxed.
If you are in Europe, you stand a good chance of being charged tax. The higher the value, the higher the chance you will be charged. If you use EMS, the chance of that happening increases greatly. It also depends on "what" you order, most EU countries will not charge a tax on tea leaf alone (though some do). If you are in the UK or France, in addition to the tax they will also charge you an additional delivery fee by POSTAL FORCE or Choroposte and this end up being more than the cost of goods purchased. It's a complete ripoff, but it is what it is. So here are our recommendations for EU customers:
If you only are ordering a few bags of tea, you can probably get away with first-class only shipping. Note that we won't cover that if it gets lost, however.
If you are ordering more than a few bags of tea or ANY tea ware whatsoever, to help avoid taxes we recommend that you choose registered mail. Please note that this does NOT guarantee you won't be charged tax, only that it lessens the chance considerably. It's just been our observation that EMS parcels almost always get hit with taxes and that registered parcels seldom do. In general, registered mail is the way to go for EU customers.
BIG TIP! If you are ordering a lot tea and also tea ware, consider placing a separate order for the tea and a separate order for the tea ware. When you combine both tea and tea ware and it gets taxed, they will charge for the full amout of the parcel including the tea. You can usually save money by placing separate orders even though you will have to pay a separate shipping charge.
Credit Card Orders
Your billing address MUST match with that on record at your bank, otherwise the order will not go through. In any case where the shipment is going to a party other than that of the cardholder, we may need to call the authorized cardholder for verification. For that reason, please include a valid phone number.
How to use an American Express Card to check out
1) To checkout using an American Express Card, simply choose "PayPal Express" as your payment method.
2) Click on the "Pay with a Card" button as seen below.
3) If you don't currently have a PayPal account and wish to create one at checkout, you will be given the option to do so but it's not mandatory.
Do You Offer Wholesale?
Currently at this time we do not offer wholesale. We focus on supplying our green teas and matcha directly to the consumer and we cannot sell wholesale any cheaper than what we are currently charging to our direct customers - there is little if any markup.