To OP, how did you find (and how did you manage) ordering on Taobao? There's probably a thread i can find... but certainly for price and penbbs selection I wish I knew how to order off the site.
Thanks for the review! This pen is definitely a portent of more good things to come on the slow boat from China.
Taobao is a challenge. I use a combination of browser translation plugins and reading the Chinese. Signing up for the site is pretty straightforward, but I found getting payment connected through Alipay opaque as hell. I'm still not 100% sure how I did it, i.e., who knows if I'd be able to duplicate correctly if I had to. I has its own password.
Once the Alipay system is set up, ordering is very straightforward. I always ship from the vendor - as opposed to using a forwarder who is able to aggregate items from multiple stores for the shipment out of China.
$ seems to be handled in two steps. You pay Taobao when you order but the vendor doesn't get the money until you confirm receipt. So when you get a package, you go back to the site and confirm receipt and, using something akin to a pin number, release payment to the original seller. You can also do product/seller reviews at that time.
That said, international shipping appears to vary greatly. I'm in the region so it's relatively cheap, though it does differ between sellers. There can also be a domestic shipping charge that is often waved for orders over a given value. How much they charge is normally part of how I figure which seller to use. For reference, an FPN member in another part of the world investigated shipping to their part of the world and found it unattractive and basically a dealbreaker.
The other pretty important deal has to do with shipping restrictions. Ink and silicon grease are no-nos (as would seem things like glass nibs). Some sellers are experienced enough to know to configure international shipments correctly to not have such "contraband." When outbound customs folks (or whoever) deems that a shipping contain contraband, the package appears to just stop. Then there's rigamarole you need to go through with the original seller to get the package returned and either reconfigured and reshipped or refunded. Taobao as a chat tool that connects directly to sellers to work on things like that or just chat up the help. The chat lines appear to be well staffed and more often than not English basically works.
If it works for you and once you get the hang of it, taobao is great. And they're working on it pretty hard so the above may be moot any time.
Edited by EDC, 02 February 2019 - 01:13.