What You Need To Know Before Purchasing Supplements on iHerb | A Review

Prior to hearing about iHerb, I only ever searched for Burdock Root capsules on Amazon. Back in the Philippines, I had purchased from Amazon before using My Shopping Box as a forwarding service. Since I am in Vietnam as of the moment, I thought I could also shop on Amazon using a forwarding service that would ship to Vietnam. It was easy searching for forwarding services that supports Amazon and that ships from the USA to Vietnam but I found myself signing up from one forwarding service to another until another became 3 or 4 futile signups. Why? Because the forwarding services charge membership fees unlike My Shopping Box. I finally found the solution by simply entering “Burdock root capsules” on Google search. An ad for Burdock root capsules on iHerb is at the top of the results which I clicked right through.

It was a breeze signing up and I even had a $0.70 discount. I placed an order for 2 bottles of Burdock Root capsules on the day I signed up, June 7th, and I got the notification that my order would arrive in my Hanoi address via DHL on June 10th.

On June 10th, I was contacted by DHL via email that my shipment has arrived but that they would need more information regarding the contents.

1 – Here is the information you would need to supply DHL for customs clearance:

•       Description of goods (clear and specific: model, brand name, part number)
•       Origin of goods: Erlanger, USA
•       Material (Made Of): Vegetarian capsules
•       Equipment/Machine part (if applicable):
•       Use (applicable for equipment, chemicals): Supplements
•       Harmonized System (HS) code: 121190
•       100% New or Secondhand: 100% new
•       Company name, full address and registered VAT number for receipts printing: (not applicable for me)
Whatever product you order on iHerb, you may look for the harmonized system here.
2 – After determining that the Burdock root capsules I ordered was categorised under Health and Beauty supplements, I was informed about this:

According to Decree No.15/ND-CP, your shipment need provide import license from Ministry of Health:

  • The following import cases shall be exempted from state inspection on food safety;
  • Foods in certain quantity passed through immigration for personal consumption within the limit of duty free paid;
  • Foods in diplomatic bags, consular bags;
  • Transited food and re-exported foods;
  • Foods kept in bonded warehouses;
  • Foods served as samples or for testing or research purposes;
  • Foods served as samples for displaying at fairs and exhibitions.

However, with small quantity, please send me the photo of your passport and brand name of each item, and do the letter as attached, so that we can help you to submit to customs and wait for their approval.

In case customs officers still ask to provide import license, we will keep you updated.

3 – This is the template of the letter required:

To whom it may concern:

I am (Name).

Passport Number: xxxxxxx

Address: xxxxxxxx

I have a shipment sent by DHL Express AWB xxxxxxxxxx  from iHerb US which contains:

  1. Nature’s Way Burdock Root Vegetarian Capsules (supplement) ; Nature’s Way, Burdock Root capsules, 2 plastic bottles, $13.38

They are totally for my personal use, not for sale.

I confirm that all above information is truly right and I commit to pay all taxes arising from this shipment.

I look forward to receiving your help to release my shipment soon.

Thanks.

(Name)

4 – I replied with a passport of my photo and that template letter and the next day, June 12th, my Burdock Root capsules were delivered without any additional charges.

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ATM Withdrawal Limits in Vietnam

Having traveled to a few countries in Asia for the past year, I feel this information is share-worthy for potential tourists coming in to Vietnam. I have a GCash MasterCard from the Philippines and it is the principal card I use for ATM withdrawals and grocery purchases. However, I would run into a problem sometimes because not all ATMs accept my card even though the ATM machine clearly has MasterCard sticker on it. I’ve compiled this short information as a result of my own trial-and-error experience with most ATM machines.

Just like Indonesia, Vietnam’s currency employs many zeros and mindfulness is a useful asset when handling money here in Vietnam. In Thailand, I do not usually pay attention to the withdrawal limits in banks as I do not reach more than 7,000 Baht transaction/week. Here is the list of ATM withdrawal limits per transaction by banks I have tried:

SeABank – 5,000,000 dong/transaction

Techcombank – 2,000,000 dong per transaction (Each transaction will incur a 66,000 dong fee)

Sacombank – 3,000,000 dong/transaction

Vietcombank – 3,000,000 dong/transaction

Maritime Bank – 3,000,000 dong/transaction

 

Obviously, SeABank is the first choice to try. PVCom Bank, OCB Bank and Eximbank, unfortunately, would not accept my GCash MasterCard. I will try using a Visa card to experiment withdrawal with next time and will update it. For the meantime, hope this short information helps.

 

 

GCash Non-Dispense Dispute

As you all know I have been writing about the technical issues I have had with GCash and all of them have been resolved. In this article I am going to write about the GCash non-dispense issue I had with an ATM machine outside the Philippines.

As I have written in a previous article, withdrawing cash in ATM machines overseas can be tricky as some cards may not be accepted in all banks and you run the risk of trial and error as to which bank’s ATM machine would accept your card. Even if the ATM machine lists all the logo, it’s not an assurance that it would work. I have a GCash MasterCard and even though the bank in Hanoi I tried transacting with listed MasterCard on the ATM machine, I still encountered an error and the card ejected my card along with the transaction slip bearing the words “Issuer or Switch Inoperative”.

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No cash came out, of course, so imagine my confusion when I tried withdrawing funds in another bank’s ATM machine and saw the error message on the screen that my funds were insufficient for the transaction. I did not bring my Android phone at the time which has my Globe sim inserted in it so I did not see the text message from GCash that the non-dispense transaction at Shinhan ATM machine got my GCash balance deducted.

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I sent an e-mail to GCash about it and the customer service rep replied that it would take 7-14 business days for my funds to be reverted. My mistake was WAITING and doing nothing for the 7-14 days period. When I tried to follow up with them beyond the 14 business days period, I was told by the agent that she forgot to attach the Dispute Form for me to fill up. The reversal dragged on longer than expected because even when the second 14 business days period right after I submitted the Dispute Form, it took something like a week or so for me to see the funds back in my account and not without badgering GCash on Messenger, Twitter and via e-mail. Not to mention all my follow-up attempts were futile because their reps would not respond to me on time. Two weeks after I got my funds back was the only time when the replies from their customer service agents came in.

I know I have stressed this before in other GCash articles, but I am going to emphasize this issue one more time – please have a Dispute Form downloaded on your laptop or desktop computer to fill up easily in case you encounter any technical issues with GCash services, especially those that involve money reversal. You can download the Dispute Form here.

My Experience With PawnHero Philippines

At a time when I was strapped for a bit cash but don’t really need the full amount usually guaranteed by pawnshops which accept most iPhone versions and was too lazy to go around scouting for pawnshops, I was glad PawnHero Philippines was already there.

It was sometime in June 2017 when I tried PawnHero, an online pawnshop of some sort. At the time, I previously had my iPhone 6 Plus pawned to a local pawnshop which offered me a great deal but I was too burdened by the interest. I had to use my Android phone extensively while my iPhone 6 Plus was on a sabbatical and that was how I discovered the PawnHero mobile app in Google Play Store.

The PawnHero mobile app has a simple interface from registration of members to pawning your electronic gadget. There is a guideline, of course, as to which electronic gadgets are accepted. I sent photos of my iPhone 6 Plus and the accessories I still have for it and within 24 hours, I received a confirmation that my item was accepted. I also was able to pick the loan terms from 3 or 4 options – I picked the PhP6,543 loan for a 1-month period. I chose the details for the pick-up of the item and their delivery guy made sure I had the photocopy of a valid identification card and that my signature was also on the copy of the PawnHero form for when I complete the loan period.

The PhP6,543 loaned to me was even easier to claim because I chose to be paid via Coins.ph and the transfer was instant. (If you don’t have a Coins.ph account yet, just click on link to register.) I remembered paying PhP6,959 when I finally made the claim in August. I paid the loaned amount plus the interest using my Coins.ph account, too. It did not even take a few days after payment for my iPhone 6 Plus to be returned to the address I chose in the same condition as I had pawned it a month ago. The PawnHero delivery guy made sure I opened the package and checked my items thoroughly before he left.

PawnHero’s customer service is prompt and I definitely recommend you try pawning your electronic gadgets when you need a bit of cash for a while. I was invited by PawnHero to one of their seminars in Makati back in September-October 2017 but I declined as I was in another location at the time. This article is my way of telling them I did appreciate their services while encouraging others to try Pawn Hero, too.

 

Withdrawing Funds Using RCBC MyWallet Overseas

When traveling overseas we may overlook the fact that not all debit cards can be used in a lot of ATM machines. I would always recommend to bring two or more debit cards. I currently have the GCash MasterCard and RCBC MyWallet for the meantime.

I also have my PayMaya physical card which is already linked to my verified PayMaya virtual card account but I am excluding it for now because of the Ph500 roaming fee my Smart postpaid account would automatically charge me once I insert my SIM to a working phone here while being overseas. As PayMaya now requires a text verification upon logging in to the PayMaya mobile app, I don’t think it’s worth it using my Smart postpaid SIM when I have two other debit card alternatives.

In Thailand, I could withdraw funds from my GCash MasterCard in most ATM machines. Most 7-Eleven stores in Thailand have ATM machines outside the premises but you have to also make sure the ATM machine is not that of a local bank. As for the RCBC MyWallet, I have tried withdrawing cash from it in both Siam Commercial Bank and Krungsri ATM machines and have been able to transact successfully.

I should also like to mention that solely depending on GCash MasterCard is not a good option because of the monthly withdrawal limit. There were times when I’ve reached my limit in GCash on the last day of the month and I had to wait for the next day, the first day of the next month, to do a withdrawal. In case waiting might pose a hassle for you, it’s good to have other options too.

It gets tricky here in Vietnam for the RCBC MyWallet. Techcom Bank, BIDV Bank, Lienviet Post Bank, Vietcom Bank and Maritime Bank are the most common ATM machines I could run into and GCash would be accepted in all of these. The only ATM where I found I could use my RCBC MyWallet is that of VP Bank. Unlike Vietcom and Techcombank, you won’t come across VP Bank ATM machines in most big malls. I had to research VP Bank ATM locations online.

I do find my travelling situation to be unique but I hope this has helped anyone who has trouble finding a bank in Vietnam they can withdraw their funds with using RCBC MyWallet.

Changes To The YouTube Partner Program

Yesterday I have been obsessed with de-cluttering my email accounts and my main GMail account was a tricky one to clean up because it’s the oldest email account I have. The Google Drive bit was easier and the GMail account import was also a breeze in just a few clicks of a mouse but I was in a bit of a quandary with the YouTube account where I still have some videos which still show up under search engine results. It has been a slow crawl, though, as is expected of an account that you simply want to experiment with. But, getting that email from YouTube today about the Changes To The YouTube Partner Program was somehow uplifting for me. Couldn’t help but think the Universe is conspiring with my de-clutter goals.

The email regarding the changes to the YouTube Partner program basically says my YouTube channel did not meet the new threshold of 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. A huge part of me was relieved because I could delete my channel there anytime. I was, of course, a bit disappointed at my channel’s stats but it wasn’t like I was doing YouTube videos full-time. On the part of the advertisers, I do understand they want the most out of their revenue and I would be supportive of this new change regarding the threshold if I were in an advertiser’s shoes.

I would still download the videos before deleting my YouTube channel for good as I have linked some of those videos on some helpful articles here.

Some may not be welcoming of these new YouTube Partner Program threshold but some may just be relieved. I’d like to think sometime soon a similar YouTube platform would appear as it has always been with technology developments.