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Are Doll Companies Biased?

Oct 21, 2008

    1. I searched the forum and didn't see anything like this, so I figured I'd start a thread. Mods, please move it if it's already been done. :)

      Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I've been noticing for a long time now that many doll companies have a sort of bias for their own country. I'm not sure if they realize it or not, or if they do it on purpose, and if so: why? I've seen that many companies are wringing as much money as they can out of the people who purchase from their English websites.
      Just look at any company's page in their original language (if you can navigate), and check out the prices and convert them over. I've seen it in Volks, DoD, many more... Sometime it isn't the prices either that seem unfair! Certain items are only available in their country of origin.
      This could be because of other issues or reasons beside a certain bias, but it makes doll owners in many other countries upset when a doll they love is only released in Japan... It's much harder and more expensive to get your hands on them in that case.

      In short:
      ~Do doll companies show favoritism towards people of their own country?
      ~Are they trying to get more money out of English-speaking customers, and why?
      ~What are other reasons that their prices are different between the different-language stores/certain dolls and doll events are limited to their own country?

      (I don't mean for this to be a negative discussion. I have nothing against the doll companies and am very grateful that they continue to offer excellent service to many parts of the world. :))​
    2. I don't think it's favoritism. A lot of the price differences are down to the constantly fluctuating exchange rates and the weakened dollar, several companies have recently adjusted their prices to compensate for that though so I don't think they've ever intentionally made the USD price higher than their own currency. The only way around that would be to charge for all purchases in their own currency but I get the feeling a lot of their international customers might be nervous of dealing with a foreign currency (not that those of us outside of the US get much choice anyway) so in that respect I think they're actually going out of their way for their international customers.

      They don't have to run international versions of their stores and a lot of them don't speak the best english so I imagine it's not an easy thing to do. But again, they do it for us, so that we can purchase their products.
      I've found for the most part that if a company has an item on their Korean/Japanese store that's not on their English one they'll generally still sell you it or move it over if you enquire about it so I really don't see that as an issue.

      From what I've gathered things have come a long way since the hobby first started, we're somewhat spoilt for choice with international stores compared to just four or five years ago so I'm grateful that we have the choice we do, it can't be easy to run a store in a foreign language and I really don't think they ever intentionally charge us more.
    3. I've always been under the impression that it is always more work and a little more hassle to engage in overseas sales. This includes needing a different set of paperwork, maybe different packaging because the items are traveling further, longer. Because of that, it makes sense that if there was a certain item available in rather limited quantities, they would offer it to clients that fit the company's convenience first. In this case, it's within their own country.

      Also, the international exchange rates fluctuate each day. Since they can't afford the time to change the prices on a daily basis, they mark it up a little when they accept a foreign currency to make up for possible gaps due to exchange rate differences depending on when the order was placed to when it was actually paid.

      I think they are biased, but I think a lot of it makes sense. I personally would rather sell something to a neighbor if I knew they wanted versus someone in Hawaii --not that I have anything against people in Hawaii, and I certainly love visiting there, but it is more work and more risk involved in getting it from here to there versus from here to next door.
    4. a lot of companies in many markets have country exclusive releases. not even their orgin country. so no i don't think that's biased at all. bleeding edge goth had a u.k. exclusive, and barbie often has candian, u.k. and asia, exclusive dolls. so no.

      and they have to pay someone for their bi-ligual skills for the english speaking customers so i'm sure that adds to the price increase.
    5. Quite true, everyone. I understand the fluctuating currency rates also, what with the USD going down and the Won going up... It's a rollercoaster!
      I'm very interested to hear your opinions!
    6. I also believe that this isn't limited to the doll industry. For example in Australia, we get books for a much higher price than the folks in the US, UK, Canada and so forth... for various reasons, persumably. Not just books; petrol/oil is a hell of a lot more expensive in Australia than it is in the US! I agree with the other responders that curreny fluctuation, highering of translators, taxation and so forth probably add to the slightly raised prices.

      ~Do doll companies show favoritism towards people of their own country?
      Probably, because working in the domestic market is easier, less hurdles etc.

      ~Are they trying to get more money out of English-speaking customers, and why?
      Possibly (I don't know why, but I personally think that this is unlikely). Maybe because English speaking countries tend to be the richest countries on the earth?

      ~What are other reasons that their prices are different between the different-language stores/certain dolls and doll events are limited to their own country?
      As mentioned at the star ;)
    7. I think it may have a lot to do with hiring someone to translate and manage the Q+A boards for other languages. Also, they could be trying to keep it at a stable price, whether or not it's more or less expensive by comparison, but the exchange rates fluctuate so much. I'd be irritated if one day it's $X and the next day it's listed at $X+$50. Probably helps to cover any losses when their own currency is weaker to have a general price all the time without fluctuating it.
      With that, I'd assume it's more stable to sell to people in your own country.

      Edit: Lorialet, that makes me so curious for a comparison of at the pump prices around the world.
    8. I think it might also have to do with what they are charged for your transaction (hence why a lot won't take paypal) not 100%sure on this but I believe dollzone explained it to me once when I asked them why it was cheaper on their site than the english site- or was it edendoll? not sure it was someone anyway!
    9. Just a little math, and then I'm answering the questions, too^^

      If the Won were going up, and the USD going down, they would have to charge MORE USD for their dolls. Now the "big Korean price adjustment" has shown us just the opposite - they ask 10-20% LESS in USD for their dolls.

      Conclusion: While the USD is indeed going down, the Won is going down EVEN MORE!

      When a currency is weakening you have to charge LESS in another currency to get the same amount as you got before.

      Now, to the answers :)

      Do doll companies show favoritism towards people of their own country?

      Hmmm...I guess. After all it's the easiest/quickest/safest way for them to get money for their efforts. But I also think that many companies show favoritism towards people living in the USA. Just look at Volks, or Elfdoll (USA retailer exclusive edition dolls, clothes, Dolpas etc). I think this is a slow process where doll companies are slowly opening their doors to the world - seeing the tendency (compared to years ago) I wouldn't be surprised if these differences reduced even more in the future.

      Are they trying to get more money out of English-speaking customers, and why?

      Nah - I'm pretty sure that they ARE getting more money, but that's like...playing safe. They definitely wouldn't want to lose money on us and go bankrupt, so they charge more - because there is the possibility that sometimes they get less with the currencies constantly moving.

      What are other reasons that their prices are different between the different-language stores/certain dolls and doll events are limited to their own country?

      Like littlepinkfaery mentioned: paypal - well, Korean companies are not too favored by paypal (their fees are very high if they want to withdraw money from their paypal account - at least that's what they say...) so they have to calculate that in, too (and when they stop using paypal - like Luts did for a while - half of the international customer-base starts complaining, and stops buying :sweat)
    10. I don't know if I'd consider it favoritism exactly.

      Some companies price higher due to fluctuations in currency, also probably due to hassles with accepting foreign payment. For example, extra fees from credit card companies for accepting foreign cards or payment services... There is also more work involved because they have to have an English speaker on staff to handle customer service and translate the website, often there may be some extra programming to have more than one version of the website.

      For releases, some of it is preference I'm sure... the companies want to make things that are special for their own country to reward their domestic buyers. Some of it, though, is licensing. For example, Volks Baron is a licenses character and was not supposed to be sold outside of Japan. I believe there have been a few licensed character releases that have been limited outside of Japan, if they have been allowed out at all.

      Either way, I don't really find it offensive. :)
    11. Hrm. What some people call bias, others will call patriotism. However I don't think either are the case here. I think the fact of the matter is, it's easier to deal within one's own country than to worry about customs overseas and people waiting on packages overseas and lost packages and the mail protocol in other countries. AFAIK, they didn't used to distribute overseas at all to begin with, and once apon a time to get anything you'd have to go through a (actual terms eludes me now :() person who shops on your behalf. So it has come a ways, and may improve in the future!
      Either way, I'm not too worried about it personally. If there's something I would have liked that's unavailable for my region, it's just too bad and I get over it or find a suitable replacement that I like equally :) It does suck for those for whom there will never be a suitable replacement for though, and I can sympathise with them that they may never recieve whatever dream item that isn't available to them in that region.
    12. as Smaug pointed out they are slowly getting US exclusives and River pointed out they haven't even been running English versions of their sites that long. When I got into this I had a really hard time buying a doll because there weren't many options of US sellers. But at the same time they will still have exclusives for their country and their stores, but its not all just their country either. DOD for instance has exclusives for the HK doll show, but they are a Korean company.

      As for charging more its already been said, its all about the exchange rate. There is a lot more work for them to send and deal with English speakers. They might have to have translators to deal with the orders and emails and then they have to ship outside of the country and paperwork for sending it probably. It makes sense to charge more, but to even so to get a similar value its not fair to just use the exchange rate. and its an English side of the site so why not put the price in USD. More people will be ok with paying in their currency.

      as for favoritism, maybe. But why not? Its like all the 'American pride' and 'Buy American' that goes on in the US. They want to support the customer base that is easily available to them. And some of them have stores in their country to promote these exclusives there even better. If there were more US companies I'm sure you'd see more US exclusives from them.
    13. I do find the contradiction interesting, that when it's another country its referred to as "bias", but when it's your own country it's "patriotism" or "supporting the economy". :lol:

      I agree that it likely has to do with the extra incidental costs (hiring a translator, costs of maintaining an English version of the website, currency conversion fees charged by CC companies). Plus the currency conversion rate.

      I don't really think of it as "favoritism" so much as "business practicality". In some cases, it just may not be practical to add an item to the English version of the site and go through all the extra effort... especially if it's a smaller limited item like a wig.
    14. It's not bias, it's business! :lol:

      ~Do doll companies show favoritism towards people of their own country?
      Any good business takes care of its main customer base.
      In Volks's case, their first market was Japan. These consumers are the ones that they have had the longest relationship with, so yes it's in their interest to keep their main customers happy. Also, it's so much cheaper and easier for them to host most of their Dolpas and do most of their business in their home market than overseas. That's yet another reason to keep their local customers happy! As far as the release of LE's, I think Volks has made an effort to make sure that all their markets get some exclusive releases. For example (pardon me if I'm wrong): Shinku in Japan, Ran in Korea, HTB Toppi in Europe, and Irvin in the US.

      ~Are they trying to get more money out of English-speaking customers, and why?
      No, I believe they're just trying to recoup the extra expenses that come from making their products available to an international market. It wouldn't be good business on their part to exclude profitable markets intentionally! A clearly unfair and unjustified price difference would turn away good business.

      ~What are other reasons that their prices are different between the different-language stores/certain dolls and doll events are limited to their own country?
      I think some good reasons have all ready been mentioned. Why does Volks have exclusive releases? Perhaps to show their appreciation to that particular market by giving them something unique and special, which also has the effect of increasing customer satisfaction with their company as well as enticing customers to spend more! ;) Japan may get more exclusives because Volks depends more heavily on their business than it does ours. Just plain makes sense to me.
    15. Its the exchange rate along with there are higher fees for engaging with over seas sellers and buyers. I have done importing and exporting and you would not even beilve the fees that a company has to pay.

      Its not favortism just life and economics.
    16. Smaug: Woops, you got me. I was referring to the value of the currency. ^^;
    17. I am the book keeper for my family's business and I can tell you, it's a major pain in the butt doing business across state lines ( different tax formulas, etc ) Heck, even within the state different counties have different taxes, and the customer being in or out of city limits affects things too, so I can imagine it's a nightmare for a small company like a doll company to do business over seas. So yes, if they inflate their prices I can totally understand why! I don't think they're doing it to purposefully pull one over on their Western customers. A lot of companies that do business worldwide have special limited regional products so again, I don't think doll companies are being mean when they release limited dolls or outfits that are only available at a special event, for example.
    18. Mayu: I know - I was speaking about that, too. Devaluation of a currency is kinda relative, because you have to have another currency to compare it to^^

      I don't really know much about the goings of international businesses, but what others said makes sense to me. I'm curious with all the new US and Europe based dollmakers whether they will have exclusive editions, molds etc. in their own country...
    19. Agreeing a lot with what the others are saying. As far as I can see, the reasons for the higher prices in overseas countries would be:

      1. Fluctuating currency exchange rates
      2. High Paypal fees
      3. Hiring an additional translator for websites and customer service
      4. Hiring agents overseas
      5. To cover the risk of lost packages overseas (insurance, refunds, etc)
      6. More work for lawyer + accountant when it comes to international business transactions (I don't know how it is in every country, but the businesses I've been in requires a lot of different paperwork and taxation for international businesses as opposed to domestic).

      Currently, I'm in an industry where our local businesses import from overseas and they're experiencing losses due to the steep change in the value of the Australian dollar.

      Another thing...even if they are showing favouritism for their own local customers (which I don't really think so), I can absolutely understand. Isn't that what patriotism is about? Isn't that what encourages the 'buy within your country' that so many people talk about?

      Argh...exactly right. Prices for books here are a terror. After conversion and even roughly taking into account taxes and currency exchange, the same textbooks here used to be double the prices in other countries (and I'm not talking about discounted books in third world countries - for those, it's quadruple the price).
    20. I do not find this offensive. Even if company price difference is because it wants to sell things a bit cheaper to people from her own country, what's wrong? I personally don't see anything bad in it. But, it is about other reasons as taxes and so on as well. People are having business, natural they need to make a profit on you.