Ask Lilly: How to Buy Sex Toys Online
Recently I had someone come to me via my Yahoo Pingbox and 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.
I purchased my first “porn”-cheesy Playboy couples vid-the summer before college, with my then-bf. I kept it, and it was in a box of stuff when I was moving into my freshman dorm. My mother was trying to help me unpack my boxes….when they came upon my video. I was SO embarrassed. I said “Its not mine!! The box was open, somebody must have walked past and put it in there!” since the boxes were out in the hallway. I then got pissed off at her snooping and banned them from helping me, sending them outside to sit at the picnic tables and to probably discuss what a worrisome harlot their daughter was becoming, or something. I was mortified.
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.
About maybe 8 or 10 years ago or so, Amazon was THE SHIT. I loved them. Their turnaround time on shipping was fast, they had awesome prices, they carried so much stuff and you could sit there naked and do all your shopping. I had a couple Christmas seasons where every gift for everyone in my family was purchased on Amazon or Ebay. But then, their Free Shipping started to go south. It would take weeks to leave the warehouse. Then in more recent years they started letting in sellers. Now you have to treat these like you would Ebay – if the seller is not Amazon or a major retail box, you need to do your homework and read the sellers profile and ratings from customers.
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.
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”. EdenFantasys comes from “Web Merchants Inc”. Fascinations comes from “Apple Distributing”. 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.
I’ve purchased from retailers who don’t liaise with bloggers and received my sex toys in bubble envelopes…one time it was a toy that came in the crappy plastic clamshell type packaging. It was shoved into a bubble envelope that was barely big enough to hold it. Therefore, the envelope ripped at the seam partially, revealing my order contents. Long ago the husband and I ordered from Adam&Eve; sure the packaging might have been discreet but the mass-mailings of catalogs and dvd offers was NOT. Luckily this all went to our PO box at the time but when we go weeks without checking the box, we would find an obscene number of mailings from A&E. And they weren’t very discreet.
Tips for purchasing sex toys 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.
- 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.
- You’ll find a lot of bloggers talking shit about EdenFantasys – I think there’s a lot of things the company owner has done w regards to SEO/PR that are shitty/stupid; BUT I trust the reviews given by bloggers affiliated with them, they offer good sales, they ship things well and have good prices.
- 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.
- 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 unused 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. The only thing I can think of is that they’re trying to make sure the more naive un-toy-educated customers can’t find that toy for a lower price somewhere else. ALSO it could be a knock-off and you won’t know it until you get it in your hands. I have seen a large number of knock-off Njoy toys. A few weeks ago I was even emailed by one of the assholes who had the gall to try and get me to promote his shit, who was trying to sell Njoy knockoffs made in some poor middle eastern country AND they were using barely-photoshopped copies of Njoy’s own photos (copyright infringement).
- 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.