Let’s face it, Manila isn’t a great place to be if you’re a J-pop fan. Unlike Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, and even Bangkok — where CD stores regularly supply J-pop CDs to local fans, collectors in Manila have no choice but to go online for their JE or HAIKARA fix.
We all have our favorite online CD stores, but my quest to fill in gaps in my collection has led me to narrow the field down to three excellent sources: HMV, CD JAPAN, and YES ASIA. In order to help you pick and purchase from the retailer that suits your needs best, I’ve selected three bases of criteria and will rank each store on their performance in each field.
While all stores maintain a comparative price level (just USD 1 or 2 above or below each others prices), I think the store with the best deals for the lowly Philippine Peso is HMV. HMV quotes their prices in JPY and not in USD, giving you a slight edge over the generally nasty conversion rates credit card companies impose on the US dollar. It will also help you when you have your parcel taxed by customs, since their JPY conversion is likewise low compare to the US dollar.
Of the three stores, CD Japan has the most extensive selection of J-pop CDs and DVDs. While some might contend that YES ASIA has a bigger inventory, some of these merchandise are actually Chinese or Korean. HMV on the other hand does not have a large selection of older CDs and DVDs, so it’s not a good place to look for items that are not more recently released.
Of the three stores, YES ASIA is the only one to offer free shipping, and this is a great deal in more ways than one. Sure, both HMV and CD JAPAN offer safe and secure EMS and courier shipping, but sometimes SAL can be good too, especially if you’re trying to save money or if you’re attempting to dodge the tax man 😀 I’ve never lost a parcel via free shipping, and when a friend got hers lost in the mail, YES ASIA replaced the item within four to six weeks.
Some Words on Safe Credit Card Use
All three stores accept payment via credit card. When ordering from them, never do it in a public terminal like an Internet rental shop or a free-access Wi-Fi connection. You do not know if keyloggers have been installed in the computer, or if someone is monitoring the Wi-Fi signal, in order to steal your credit card number.
If the service asks for you to scan the card front and back for confirmation, always remember to block out the security pin (which is usually three numbers located somewhere on the back of your card). This is so it cannot be used by other people in case they manage to break into your e-mail account.
Last but not least, always check if the address bar displays the correct URL and not a fake redirect, and that the payment screen is secured by HTTPS. It’s always better to be safe, than sorry. Good luck and have fun shopping online!