Oct 102010
 

IMG_20140517_154631Recently I had someone ask how a certain sex toy retailer shipped their toys to me; if it was safe, would her roommates know what was in the box, etc. Purchasing sex toys is still a VERY private matter to most people. Been there, done that, I’m not the sort who would have wanted my mother to know what was in that box when I lived with her. But of course, there’s a lot more to know about how to buy sex toys online than what the shipping box looks like.

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, by now you know the places I recommend you shop from. But in the end, it goes beyond just buying from reviewers’ affiliate links. There’s a LOT of sex toy buyers out there who just…have no clue. I know I surely didn’t the first time or two I bought sex toys. Back when I was first buying toys, blogger (real, honest people) reviews were not around. I had nobody to look to for recommendations, no feedback on good companies to deal with, etc.

I also want to say this: No company is 100% perfect. In retail (or hell, anywhere) You cannot please 100% of the people 100% of the time.

Today I was looking into purchasing a vibrator for myself rather than requesting to review it; I just wanted to see what the cost was, if anybody had it on sale, if it would be worth it to me to purchase it on my own. I found the toy I was looking for, $30 cheaper than the sites I trust…..at Amazon. But dig deeper and you’ll see that it’s not “Amazon”. It’s another company (an unknown perhaps) selling via Amazon. Doing this made me realize why it’s not worth it to pay $30 less for a toy from some unknown retailer via Amazon. While many of his ratings were 4 or 5 out of 5, there were still consistent, but infrequent, bad ratings. Customers saying they never got the item, never heard from the seller. They paid for it, were charged for it, but never got it. Could this happen with any of the retailers I support? Sure it could. But the retailers I support are heavily intertwined with bloggers – bloggers who have readers, bloggers who twitter, bloggers who will not hesitate to to call out the retailer publicly on their mistake and get it corrected. And they’re all heavy into social media. Quickest way to get the attention of a company you have a beef with? Talk to them publicly via Facebook or Twitter. They will get on it pronto.

Moving on to another reason for purchasing from a reputable sex toy retailer – the packaging/shipping. All of the places I affiliate/review for send things out very discreetly: plain brown box (or usps priority mail packaging) and they have a vanilla-sounding primary company name that they use. SheVibe‘s package came from “Order Fulfillment – SV Inc”. Every site will tell you (and if they don’t, avoid them) exactly how discreet their shipping is and what address it’ll come from. Yes….if a very determined and nosy person truly wanted to know, they could likely Google these names and find out where you actually purchased from.

6 Tips on How to Buy Sex Toys Online, Safely and Discreetly

 

Search for product reviews from bloggers to make sure the toy is being represented accurately

I don’t feel that the on-site short-paragraph-blurbs that can be put up by just anybody should be viewed as honest reviews. I trust bloggers (most of them) to give me an accurate portrayal of the toy. Read more reviews from the blogger before trusting their opinion. Make sure that they don’t give every single toy a hugely glowing recommendation. It’s not often, but some will do that just to get sales (and more toys passed their way).

Go to Twitter and do a search on the company name

See if anybody talks about them, good OR bad. Take what you find with a grain of salt, though. A scorned blogger is a vocal, dramatic blogger. We all do it.

  1. Liberator, for example, has said some really dumb things on their blog/Twitter (and you’ll see people calling them out on it). Do I think their company is bad? Not exactly – they just have bad PR/writers.  BUT I also wouldn’t order directly from them, either. Their shipping boxes are not discrete. When I got the Black Label Ramp/Wedge, it stated clearly on the box who it was from and what was contained inside. But I love their products; I’d just recommend you purchase them elsewhere if you’re able.
  2. Edenfantasys is not a place I’ll recommend anymore. For the why, you’d better just go here.
Avoid Amazon, Ebay, and AliExpress. For different reasons, avoid Adam & Eve

I realize that a $100+ toy requires pause for a number of shoppers; the chance at getting that toy for 30% less is tempting. But this is one of those times when you get what you pay for…..and you might get burned by going with a place such as Random Seller XYZ on Amazon just because they’re a lot cheaper. You may actually be getting a couterfeit sex toy which means any warranty would not be honored AND the toy could be made from an unsafe material. This is especially true of Njoy sex toys – there’s a lot of knockoffs out there. Njoy uses 316 grade medical quality stainless steel. A cheap Pakistani knock off could be made of anything…even toxic heavy metals.

The first three places I mention all live at the intersection of Shady Lane and Back Alley. I wouldn’t trust anything from those sites. But Adam & Eve? While they do still sell a bunch of toxic shit, the reason I tell you to avoid them is that they have hung onto their decades-old practice of sending you catalogs and porn advertisements via mail. No, not email. Snail mail.

Research the site’s return policy

While you can’t return a toy that’s been used, you should make sure that it is in good working order and is what you expected/ordered. Reputable sites will let you return most defective products. Reputable *manufacturers* give a limited warranty on their toys to guard against defects.

Don’t purchase a toy if the company will not say who the manufacturer is, or what the materials are

I’ve seen a lot of companies that, for some reason, sell toys from reputable manufacturers but change the manufacturer’s toy name. I’ve seen sites that won’t list the manufacturer’s name. Why they would do this is beyond me.  ALSO it could be a knock-off and you won’t know it until you get it in your hands. I have seen some reputable companies who have this tactic and it still baffles the hell out of me. I want to be able to search for reviews!

Avoid sites that don’t have a strong online presence. Make sure they’re on Facebook and Twitter, at least, and make sure they update at least once a week, but preferably more than that.

Ask a sex toy reviewer/blogger.

Don’t be afraid, we don’t bite! Not most, anyways. Most reviewers/bloggers love to get reader questions, we LOVE helping people because we were once in your shoes. We all work with a number of companies, and have our favorites – but for some, their favorite or their least liked might be based on that company’s willingness (or lack of) to send the blogger product to review. There are a few major sex toy retailers you’ll see missing from my site, not necessarily because of a problem with them that you should be concerned about, but it’s a problem I have with their behind-the-scenes ethics. The two companies that I 100% fully back and support and want you to buy from are Tantus and Shevibe. These companies are run by fabulous people who care about their customers and their community. They need to be supported, because we need more companies like this.

 

 Posted by at 4:46 pm
  • http://lusciouslily.blogspot.com Luscious Lily

    I wish there had been a guide like this when I bought my first sex toy. I was completely clueless. I’m definitely pointing some “clueless friends” to this link. you did a great job on this.

    I’ll second asking a blogger. Personally, I LOVE wandering around the internet digging up answers to their questions. Working on one right now, actually. :)

  • http://rockinwithacockin.blogspot.com Rockin’ with a Cock in

    Awesome post, Lilly. I don’t understand why some companies don’t put the material and/or manufacturer in the description, either! I think you’re right about them not wanting people to find the toy cheaper elsewhere. If that’s the case, boo on them.

    Hey! Listen up, people who want to know what a toy’s name really is or who makes it: If you’re unsure, ask one of us bloggers! Tweet about it, blog about, email one of us. Surely someone has seen it *somewhere* and can help you.

    If that second paragraph wasn’t enough to convince folks, I’ll explicitly support Lilly’s #6 list item at the end there…sex reviewers/bloggers are friendly! (if not a bit overly enthusiastic at times, heh) We like talking about toys, and we like helping people. ^_^

  • http://askgarnet.com Garnet Joyce

    Early to Bed often changes the names of sex toys but not because they are trying to deceive anyone. They do it because so many toys have/had awful names or completely generic ones that serve no use and sound just like several other toys. The problem came when better manufacturers started coming up with better names that ended up duplicating e2b’s names so that they then had to come up with new names for those toys as well so no one got confused. I think that this was a disservice to e2b more than them trying to deceive people. It made it difficult for knowledgable customers to search for the toys they wanted on the site or to find e2b through a search engine search. Lelo ended up contacting e2b to discuss the name changes and e2b changed them to coincide with the actual names. At this point I’m pretty sure they only change the names of toys of the manufacturers who continue to use offensive names or ones that are really generic or sometimes even misleading. E2B is a trustworthy company who cares deeply about its customers and its community. Plus, of the reputable manufacturers they are usually the lowest price.

    ~ while I can somewhat understand that reasoning, I still don’t understand why E2B won’t list the manufacturer for most. I just did a quick browse and the only one I saw a manufacturer named was on the Lelo toy. I noticed another one, an egg vibrator that was named “Greta” – It’s actually the Silk Touch Egg Vibe by Topco. I don’t see what the problem was with “Silk Touch Egg Vibe”. You say they do it because the names are too generic but “Greta” tells me absolutely nothing about the toy. It’s just a female name. There is no way, if your site was the first I saw it on, to look elsewhere to confirm that E2B has the lowest price or to see what reviewers had to say about it. So no matter your reasoning, if they weren’t trying to deceive with a name change then the manufacturer (Topco) AND the actual toy name should be listed somewhere in the information about the toy. I looked at a couple Tantus toys and not even they have the manufacturer listed. Just as finding out a toy is made by CE will make me not buy it, finding out that a name I can research as being reputable, such as Tantus, would make me want to purchase that dildo over another.

  • http://askgarnet.com Garnet Joyce

    I think it may be more of an outdated interest in keeping the environment comfortable. This was something that was more important when the sex toys had names like “clit bumper” and “supercock.” Although some still have those names. However, I bet that if you talked to Searah, the owner, she may have better reasoning about it than I do since we never really talked about it when I worked there. Knowing her and knowing the shop though I do know its not for deception purposes. I mean heck she’s an anticapitalist, feminist, business owner.

  • Heidi

    Great Article! We try to explain a very similar checklist to our customers here in Australia – where womens’ retailers are very few and far between. The best one by far is MaXXX Black in Sydney, which is the first and only women’s and couples store. I love it in there, and their website is lovely. Plus they are the only adult shop in Australia to have a 100% phthalate-free policy on toys for women. If you have more readers like me in Australia I highly recommend they check them out.