MisterTao - an English front to Taobao and Taobao agent, run by BuyInCoins

BuyInCoins started their own Taobao agent - MisterTao (www.mistertao.com).

It's and English front to Taobao - you can search in English and the results are also in English. I think they're using Google translate for the two way translation. I think the search is real time in Taobao, but maybe they have their own database, dunno.

The site is still in beta and so is sluggish and buggy, I got some SQL errors, sometimes it's not responsive, etc. Also, many of the product descriptions are completely missing, so no specifications for most.

They charge 10% commission off cost+shipping, but in the beta run they'll have 50% off commission fee and 40% off shipping. There's also a 4-5% PayPal commission fee.

Looks promising, some more expensive items are cheaper through a Taobao agent than through the regular retailers like DX, and the English search+results and the one site for search and buy (maybe can even combine shipping for lower cost) really streamlines the procedure of buying from Taobao.

I haven't made any purchase yet, but if it will work like BuyInCoins does (very short purchase to shipping time; very good customer service) then this could be a good rival to eBay, DX, etc.

That's good news.

Price-wise it won't rival DX, for sure. But there are many DIY hosts, drivers, flashlights, batteries that aren't available anywhere else.

Even price-wise it could rival DX, but only for the more expensive products.

I've seen Fluke 17B for ~75$ shipped, Uni-T UT71E for ~150$, AngelEyes charger for ~27$, XTAR WK-30 for ~22$, Autel MS509 for ~45$.

All prices are approximate since I don't know the package weight which is a factor of shipping cost.

But you're right, the good news is access to the many items that aren't available elsewhere.

That is good news. I hope it works out. I have never wanted to go through a taobao agent but if they run it well I would like to try it.

I did a fast math on how much a Sanyo 16650 2100mah would be . $8, and that's with all of their discounts. Not that good for me so far.

A few years ago, I used to be into LED watches. At that time, DX and the usual suspects had at most a handful of Tokyoflash clones and weren't very responsive to product requests so I pretty much had a choice between ordering the minimum quantity (often 3+ lots, DDU with zero quality control; in other words, not an option even if you were crazy enough to order 300+ watches from China with no sure way to offload them), going through a Taobao agent or begging people I knew at DX to pull some strings (which always took forever and hardly ever worked).

Right, so Taobao then. In my experience, having someone you already have some kind of business relationship with, act as your agent is ideal because you're unlikely to ever get your stuff within 45 days. Sure, you could preemptively file a case with PP and ask them to put it on hold, but most agents wouldn't want to work with you more than once if you did.

Depending on the product and the supplier, you may very well spend 2-3 months waiting for your order; sometimes even more, if something goes wrong at some point along the way. Orders also get frequently held up in customs. Having someone who already has a business and regularly ships other stuff handle things helps, but if the Chinese don't play ball (some agents don't ship out of one of the free ports) all bets are off.

On the other hand, if all goes well, it's a great way to get niche products you won't find anywhere in the Western world for weeks or even months. I wouldn't bother with any order-by-proxy shenanigans just to save a couple of bucks. There are too many people and too many steps involved and if anything goes wrong, you're pretty much screwed.

Anyway, I hope this works out. Having options is a good thing. :)

There are a couple of TB agents in operations for quite a while now. All of them run a similar business model. I find they are good for niche products but not any cheaper. My qualm lies with customer service & returns should things goes wrong factor with double postage & fees.

So, my order from TaoBao has finally arrived...

Not a flashlight related item, but a 10-25x42 monocular. Cost me 44.66$, of which 30.71$ is the item cost. So pretty expensive shipment, but it's still the cheapest I could find (DX used to have them at 37$ shipped, but they no longer carry them and I missed my chance). The cheapest currently outside TaoBao is about 51$ on eBay.

How it went - well, that was a bit frustrating actually.

MisterTao's site is buggy (much like BuyInCoins's, which is the same company, but a lot more so). Very slow, pages don't always load, attempts to write messages don't always work (so backup your message before sending it! also seems to work much better from the "messages" menu than from a product or order page) connections to database errors are frequent, and searches don't always show all items from TaoBao (it lists say 10 result pages but then stops showing items after the second page).

But the most frustrating aspect of it is the search - online translation to Chinese is almost nonexistent (I say "almost" because it seemed to have worked once or twice but 99.9% of the times if the TaoBao listing doesn't contain English words or some codes [like XML or 10-25x42] you'll never find it). Also, the searches are extremely slow, probably needs to connect to TaoBao and doesn't store TaoBao's database snapshot. My solution was to search directly in TaoBao or through Google (site:taobao.com). This also helps with page information as when you open an item in MisterTao you almost never get the elaborate description from TaoBao, but only an excerpt in the better case or nothing at all 99% of the time. But it's possible to jump to TaoBao's product page and look there, but it's not convenient. After getting to TaoBao's page from Google I took the listing ID and entered it in TaoBao to get the product from there. In MisterTao you can see seller ratings and they warn you if the seller rating is too low, nice touch.

From then on it was pretty simple, it's in the shopping cart, you say you want to buy it, wait several hours until MisterTao contacts the relevant Chinese seller for weight estimation, then they give you the (almost) final cost. After you've paid it takes several days until they ship (took 5 days in my case), and then comes the month and a half wait until it arrives. Now, the cost they give you is almost final since they charge by weight and the seller gives just an estimate of the weight, so they may refund several dollars if it was overestimated (I was refunded 2.58$, because the seller listed it as 700g instead of 560g) and say they would appreciate it if you actually weigh the package when it arrives and then ask for refund if shipping cost was overestimated or pay them back if it was underestimated. In my case it was spot on - my kitchen scales (purchased from BuyInCoins :) ) measured 559g, which translated to exactly 2.58$ difference in shipping cost. What's not very nice about the refund is that it doesn't go back to your PayPal account but gets in your MisterTao balance, just sits there for your next buy. I didn't notice it until now, so I've just sent a message to MisterTao asking for refund to PayPal.

Which brings me to one of the better aspects of MisterTao which is customer service - they respond pretty fast and have a good grasp of English. They are helpful and willing to satisfy, so it's easy dealing with them. My first attempt at buying this monocular was from a TaoBao seller that didn't have it in stock buy didn't tell them until after I paid, so they refunded to my MisterTao balance. After I contacted them asking for a PayPal refund they promptly did so. From my experience with BuyInCoins, if this is the same support team, they are very good and really try to solve all problems to my satisfaction.

The package itself was very good, corrugated box with soft polystyrene inside and the monocular arrived in perfect condition. I think this is how it came from the TaoBao seller but I can't really tell, it had no markings on it (looks like they were torn off, or it was a used box MisterTao had around). The box was wrapped in the usual gray plastic bag I know from BuyInCoins.

All in all I'm pretty happy with them, but there's a lot to be improved. If you really want something you can't find anywhere else or want to save some bucks, it's a good way to do so, just be aware of the downsides.

Oh, and the monocular itself is superb. It is of "VisionKing" brand, but it is rebranded for many other brands (such as Mystery). I have a 8x42 Mystery monocular which looks almost the same and it is really great. Both have very good optical quality, very smooth focus and zoom controls. I really like the 8x42's eyepiece much better than the 10-25x42's (it screws in and out instead of folding), but other than that, great zooming binocular, really recommended.

And they refunded to PayPal with no further questions asked. Why didn't they do that in the first place? Ah well.

I looked in to this a year or two ago, there are a bunch of Taobao agents, particularly located in Singapore (they like to buy clothes from Taobao). Most of the ones I saw rely on you finding the item yourself (probably via a combination of Google translate) and then telling them rather then using a buggy translation search engine. Some do offer a full service where they look for the item for you but they obviously charge more.

I smell mechanically separated chicken, also known as SPAM

I made another order with them a few days ago.

They changed the ordering method - now you first pay for the items and domestic shipping in China, then they order it for you and only after they receive it in their warehouse and pack it for sending to you they tell you what the shipping costs will be and you pay for it. Also, you something a little annoying , you can't directly pay with PayPal, you need to first transfer funds from PayPal to MisterTao and only then can you use that money to pay for the item or shipping. But they made this process easy, so it's not a real problem.

The calculate shipping cost still works, but with so many items missing their weight it's kind of a guess about the shipping cost.

But it still works smoothly as before, and it took only about two days since I paid the first payment (order from the TaoBao seller) until MisterTao sent it to the post office.


Found AngelEyes for 17.8$+shipping and fees makes it total somewhere around 24-26$, so Ill probably order one or two in the coming days.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Edit: Didnt order AngelEyes, instead went for decent deal on MAHA C9000 at Ebay.de and got myself two Sysmax Intellicharger i4 V2 chargers from DinoDirect as well when they were on sale :D

They are moving their warehouse these days so all orders are stuck in their respective statuses, mine is stuck at “under review” status, which basically means that they have got my money and thats it, they are not accepting any new orders either and even tho I was assured that my order will be processed “soon” they had no clue when it will be possible to make new orders…

Their site is buggy, too many items all of a sudden appear as copyright/paypal restricted items that cannot be purchased, I have Ganzo multi tool in my order and when I click item link it says that its prohibited item lol :smiley:

Search doesnt work at all at the moment, if you want to find something then use either Google or try your luck at Taobao and simply send Mistertao message with items that you are interested in when they finally come back into full operational statuss.

Other than that their customer service so far has been pretty good, I have received timely and polite answers to all of my questions…

That would be cool to actually have real native version of Taobao in English, not just countless middle-man’s like Mistertao, it would save quite a bit of cash probably and shorten the order and shipping time by considerable amount!

I find searching through any outlet to taobao is frustrating. It’s very hard to find what you want. When I use taobao-buying-agent, they also have a search feature (two in fact, the old and the new). I find the newer interface is much better at searching in english, but it is still a poor substitute. The biggest problem I find, is that there are no words in chinese that have the same meaning as some english words, specifically when you get to flashlight terminology.

I usually don't bother too much with flashlights. I buy drivers and leds. Those are much cheaper. I can buy a U2 for less than $3.00 each and shipping is based on weight, so you can get 20 leds and it doesn't weigh anything and that makes shipping very cheap. When I search for a led, I search "cree xml" and I get hits that way, but I have to add the advanced search terms for min and max price, to weed out all the flashlights.

Want to find the price on most of ths Skyray Kings? Search "flashlight nuclear" and you will find a lot of kings for sale. They refer to multiple xml as nuclear. I don't know why. You won't find "reflectors" for flashlights, as they call them "cups". Unfortunately, they call about everything that is round a "cup", so searching is useless. I usually end up searching for "flashlight" and just set the min/max dollar amount for what I am looking for, or I might just search "xml" the same way. I have found a couple of flashlight deals (40-50% off), which I will try to resell when I get them and mod them, but mostly, it's not cheaper to buy thru taobao (after the shipping), unless it's components like drivers and leds. I have found searching for "flashlight 26650" or "flashlight 18650" works, but generally, I just search for "flashlight" and deal with it.

That's my 2 cents worth.

LOL @ old lumens translation :D!

Ive checked flashlights too, and found that its not cheaper to buy with all fees un shipping charges, at least on all of those that I was looking for.

I'm a little sceptical. They are selling a lot of fakes.. I dont think I would trust them with LiIon cells. LEDs.. maybe. Drivers, reflectors and such shouldnt be a problem though.

Well, you never know for sure, but all the drivers I got were authentic NANJG 105C 2.8a and all the Cree LEDs on stars I got looked exactly like the ones I have been getting from CNQG. The tints seem to be correct. I know the lights I bought were original, I could see by the photos the agent took, before they were packed and shipped. I will know for sure, they should come this week (I hope). They have been sitting in California for a few days now. So far all my shipments have made it, in 2 to 2-1/2 weeks from this agent.

Turns out that from 29.06 till 07.10 no orders will be shipped out of China because of national holidays, now thats FU*NG LAME!
I will probably receive my order within 1.5 month from the day I ordered at best!