A Zen Market rant using Mercari

Well, I do have a couple of proxy buying accounts, but I strongly favor ZenMarket. They do a lot right. And frankly, it makes sense sticking with one, because you can pool auctions together for combined shipping. Most offer up to 45 days storage for free. Zen Market raised theirs to 60 days.

But… I’ve had some frustrations using Zen Market with Mercari.

The immediate painful one I just experienced is pricing. You see, sometimes sellers offer a discount on an item. So you’ll see the original price slashed and a discounted value in its place. In Zen Market? You don’t see the discount. You just see the original price. You have to contact Zen Market and ask them to revise it. And they will… but… if it’s on a weekend? No response until Monday. And waiting that long means you risk someone else buying the listing.

The other problem is less common, but it can happen. I had an item of interest on Mercari at ¥8,000. It was discounted to ¥7,600. So I sent a message to Zen Market. It was Friday evening at that point… which meant it was already the weekend for the Zen Market staff in Japan. No response. I waited a day. And then I decided I’d go ahead and make the purchase anyway. Well, as it so happened, while the “awaiting buying” was going, the price dropped further, to ¥7,000. And in fact, that was not showing as a discount, but instead as the set price. Zen Market went ahead and processed the payment on Monday. And guess what? They charged me ¥8,000 plus ¥500 (their fee). I explained the situation. And they said “Sorry, but if you see a price change, you can cancel the transaction and then submit again.” Well, I didn’t know the price had dropped until I looked at the listing after the buying was already in process. And guess what? They won’t refund the difference.

Now… ¥1,000 is pretty much nothing compared to the bulk of the prices we’ve paid for items. But for me, it’s the principle. Zen Market shouldn’t be charging me more than the list price. I really have to wonder if they submitted ¥8,000 to Mercari, who then paid ¥8,000 to the seller. Either Mercari pocketed the difference, or Zen Market did. That’s unfair to the buyer.

Anyway, I think it’s pretty uncommon for the price to change while waiting for the buying to be processed. But… I’m thinking next time that happens, if it’s a notable amount, I’ll cancel and then resubmit.

And one other annoyance with Zen Market and Mercari – you cannot communicate with the seller, as you can on Yahoo Auctions Japan. You can easily see how registered users on Mercari often ask sellers quesitons or negotiate on price. There is no way to do that with Zen Market. I wonder if any other proxy services have a better interface with Mercari.


The ‘take it or leave it’ attitude should not be rewarded. I boycotted Buyee after they screwed up one of my purchases and claimed ‘there is nothing they can do’ about blatant fraud. I still use their search engine and shopping cart to shortlist items of interest, but I complete my purchases elsewhere.


I agree. And that’s why I’m keeping a support conversation going with them. I think this pricing issue in how they deal with changes and discounts is poor. THEY SHOULD KNOW. When they process a payment, they pull the price of the listing via the API. And that API should be able to detect discounts. Even if there’s simply a price change, they should detect it and process the payment accordingly, then credit the difference back to the buyer. That’s just good practice. But… I suspect that the number of occurrences are too low for them to care about it.


Or the profit from the discrepancies is too good to eradicate.

I wish we had a mechanism to provide feedback – especially when sellers intentionally hide defects, etc.


I just had a shipment from ZenMarket. They did the discounts post shipment as credits for your next order.

I have ¥6664 ZenPoints on my next order. I didn’t realize I had that much in discounts.

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You can pool your shipments on mercari and yahoo.auctions on Buyee. Their limit is only 30 days though, which I agree, is a surprisingly inconvenient amount of time. 45 makes more sense due to some pencils taking a week (or more, somehow?) to arrive at their warehouse.


I didn’t try yet, but fromjapan offers since a few months the option to negotiate mercari prices (not for free tho).

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Well, good news. My needling them about this, asking for more precise information about where those excess funds went (to Mercari, the seller, or Zen Market), they finally relented and credited me the amount! So… what that really means is that it was Zen Market who kept it.

I am posting the full message here, so everyone can understand in more detail how Zen Market deals with payments of listings on Mercari:

Our commitment to consistency and efficiency is at the core of our operations.
As you rightly pointed out, once payment is made, cancellation cannot be made at that point and if the purchase needs to be handled manually, it will be a long wait if it happens during weekends.
There is more than enough time for the sellers to suddenly reduce the price during this period.

Even though there are purchases that need to be handled manually, a huge number of purchases are still processed automatically including during weekends. In the event that an automated purchase fails, we will handle the transaction manually during regular business hours.

If the price went down, it’s important to recognize that manually issuing refunds for each individual transaction due to price drops could introduce significant delays and inefficiencies in our service, impacting both our ability to fulfill orders promptly and respond to customer inquiries effectively.

Therefore, we have implemented this policy regarding pricing and refunds to strike a balance between efficiency and fairness for all customers. While we understand that this policy may be disappointing in certain situations, we hope you can understand the rationale behind it.

In light of your specific circumstances, and recognizing that you may not have been aware of this aspect of our policy, we have decided to make a one-time exception and return the funds to your balance. Please note that this exception is made in good faith and does not alter our standard policy, which remains unchanged. We are unable to offer refunds based on future fluctuations in item prices again, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

We genuinely value your understanding and hope that this explanation helps to alleviate some of your concerns regarding our policy. Should you have any further questions or require assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to our customer support team.


Yes, Zen Market has this nice little feature about accumulating “Zen Points” and you can use them towards shipping costs. You do have to specifically check on your balance and provide the number manually. They should give you the balance on the shipping payment page and a button to choose to apply the full value (I don’t see why you’d want to apply anything less).

Note that through May they have a 10% off, so use code May24.

YES! This is sorely missing. But I suspect there’s a reason why we can’t. It seems that when a transaction is completed through YAJ and an item is received by the purchaser (the proxy in our cases), they have to give feedback within a specific period of time. And so, if it was up to the final receiver, it would often be way too late… especially since items can sit for many weeks before being shipped overseas from Japan.

If there is a discrepancy, some services provide a means to deal with the seller. But it rests upon the seller choosing good faith. Once they get feedback, they’re under no obligation to deal with an issue after that. The other problem is… sellers are very touchy about dealing with proxy services. And if they have an issue, they will block the proxy. And then nobody using that proxy service can do transactions with that seller.

There was one seller I’d bought from a number of times without incident. But I guess someone had an issue. Zen Market refused to do business with them going forward, so they were blocked. That happened over 2 years ago. And if you look at the account’s feedback, they’ve done rather well over that time. So I made an appeal to Zen Market, but they refused to lift the block. Once it’s done? That’s it. I think it’s shortsighted…