Thursday, May 4, 2017
Hello, just posting another picture of a day in the life around Its-Not-Lego Town. Today, Molly is trying out the new Segway she got for her birthday. She heard news of the re-opening of the Sweet Shop bakery that just moved into the Lepin Cafe Corner building and wanted to see if she could ride over and try some of the delicious free samples.
It's a rough and bumpy ride past the Lepin Fire Brigade and the Lepin Town Hall. She waves to the newlywed couple that just got married. Just when she started getting used to the ride, she now finds her route obstructed by a large pallet of bricks right in the middle of where she plans to go. And there's no crosswalk in sight.
It looks like the construction workers are too busy working on the building to care that they are blocking the sidewalk. Why, they even parked their giant Sluban cement mixing truck on the sidewalk. Now, Molly has to decide if she takes her new Segway out onto the busy road, or turn around and go home and miss out on the free treats.
Friday, April 28, 2017
It all started with this message I got from Aliexpress. I tried to raise a dispute on an item I had not received. I ordered the item back in January or February but it still had not arrived. Most times, items take a long time to ship or they are not shipped at all. It seems to be happening more and more these days.
In past years, you could open a dispute knowing that your purchase was protected by the Aliexpress Seller Guarantee that said you would be refunded if the item you purchased wasn't received. At first it was 30 days, now it is 60 days.
I think the problem I am encountering is that because the shipping is so slow, several months to be exact, I have had to open a number of disputes for non receipt of items. Because after 60 days, you just don't know if you will ever get the stuff you ordered from Aliexpress.
So now they have blocked me from making any further disputes, despite the seller guarantee that they offer. I tried to contact Aliexpress support below but they were no help. I contacted them twice to no avail. Here's my recent chat log with them.
View Message HistoryInvo_18:35Hello,I am a service consultant Invo_Invo_18:35Thank you for contacting AliExpress. My name is Invo. How may I help you?me18:36hello, i contacted aliexpress support last week about inability to raise dispute. i was told it would be resolved by tuesday. it is now thursday and i am still not able to raise a dispute. please help.Invo_18:37I see.Invo_18:37May I know your name and order number please?me18:38order number is xxxxxxxx. name is me.Invo_18:38Thank you for the information you have provided meInvo_18:38May I know why do you want to open a dispute?me18:39because i ordered this on feb 27 and it is now 60 days, and i still have not received the item.Invo_18:39I am sorry to hear that you still have not receive your order. Rest assured that I will help you with this.Invo_18:39May I know if have you tried to contact the seller about this issue?me18:40yes, initially he offered to refund, but i said i could wait but now i'm thinking it will be another two months will be too long, so i would like to get the refund.me18:41unfortunately the system will not let me raise dispute and i don't know whyInvo_18:41Thank you for confirming this to me.Invo_18:41I am sorry to know that you were unable to leave a feedback or open a dispute. Rest assured that I will help you with this.Invo_18:41May I know what was the error when you tried to open a dispute?me18:42some message about my account is disabledme18:42but i don't know whyInvo_18:42Can I have a screenshot of this error messages please?me18:44me18:44what is the security concern regarding my account?Invo_18:45Thank you for the screenshot.Invo_18:45Please be informed that your account was still enable in our system, however our system disabled this action since many of our buyers do open a dispute and abusing the protection of Aliexpress.Invo_18:46However this concern is common since you are not the only affected many buyers in Aliexpress was affected to so don't worry.me18:47so i need to legitimately raise dispute for items that are not received and taking over 60 days, how can i do it?Invo_18:48To fix this may I know your email address please?me18:48my email address is firstname.lastname@example.orgInvo_18:49Thank you very much.Invo_18:50Sorry for the inconvenience, I just checked our system and there's no existing report in our system.Invo_18:51In this case I will send a reactivation request for your account to be enabled again, would that be great for you?me18:51thats what the last person said but nothing happened.Invo_18:52Exactly since there's no report, don't worry rest assured that I will talk to that agent for you.Invo_18:52Do not worry, I have already submitted a request to our system to activate your account in the site.Invo_18:52Kindly wait for our Higher Department to follow up to you within 48 hours through email for the confirmation.me18:52please reactivate my dispute function, i will take screen shot of this conversation in case this issue is not resolved in 48 hours.Invo_18:53Yes of course, you have the rights for this and don't worry I already sent it for you.Invo_18:53Our system says:me18:54is there a way i can check the status of my account? how can i check it?Invo_18:55Yes you can only check it by trying to open a dispute, however it will be done after 2 working days.me18:56but by then my orders will have already passed the dispute period, and i have not received those items.me18:57so what can you do to help me with this problem?Invo_18:58Oh don't worry about that because once the protection time is over, Aliexpress will be given you an extra 15 days of protection time, meaning you still have lots time to open a dispute.me18:58can you not raise the dispute on my behalf?Invo_18:59Oh I am sorry but it was impossible since we need to open a dispute using your account.Invo_18:59Don't worry because I already did what's best for you.me19:00if my account issue is not resolved in 48 hours, how can i escalate this issue? do you have a supervisor for me to deal with?Invo_19:01Oh take note it was 48 business hours.Invo_19:01Meaning Saturdays and Sundays are not included.Invo_19:01Yes of course we haveme19:02please advise what the procedure will be, should this issue not be resolved to my satisfaction?me19:03i need to know how to proceed if i don't get any results in the next few days.Invo_19:03Yes.Invo_19:04Please don't worry because I never had an issue that was not resolved, also I already provided your information to our higher department once it was done you will be able to open a dispute again.Invo_19:04Because I never encountered a issue that was not solved by requesting to our higher department.me19:05what is the higher department? you must understand i dont want to keep doing this.me19:05can you tell me what the higher department is and what it does?ca105334501319:06and how they can resolve my problem?Invo_19:06Higher department is the one who approves the request from lower department.Invo_19:06We are only from lower department.Invo_19:07Yes because they have the power to enable or disabled, also we are requesting to higher department for the refund as well.Invo_19:09So it means they are the one who handle this issue and our job is to forward the issue, also take note that I sent it urgently for you, because I know how important this for you.I am sorry to know that, but I hope you understand that I already did my part and my best for you, I hope you can appreciate it as well since, I am only from lower department.Invo_19:11Also please don't worry because this chat has been documented already.Invo_19:12The reference number is the order number you provided which is : xxxxxxxxx
The following morning, I received the following email from Aliexpress ...
AliExpress is committed to the principle of good faith and the protection of the interests of both buyers and suppliers. To maintain a safe and fair trading environment, our duties and responsibilities require the investigation into areas of clear dishonest trading activities, such as consumer fraud and counterfeiting operating to the detriment of consumers and reputable traders.
After we review your account activity in the Aliexpress Buyer Protection program, we regret to inform you that your account has been suspended considered to be at high risk of Abusing the Buyer Protection Programs. This is because your associated accounts were found continue to violate the Buyer Protection Program rules.
We do not allow:
· Claiming that an item is ‘not as described’ when the item condition is consistent with the description in the listing.
· Claiming an item hasn't been received when it has arrived.
· Opening a case when you have already received a refund from the seller or reimbursement from your payment provider.
· Opening a case against a seller to retaliate following previous disputes.
· Threatening to open a case against a seller in order to get a discount or additional goods and services, when the item arrived in the described condition.
· A pattern of excessively opening Buyer Protection cases.
To learn more visit: Rules about Abusing the Buyer Protection Program
If you have any concerns or questions, you may go to the Customer Service and Connect to our agent.
AliExpress.com Online Trade Security Department
Once you have received this notification, you are in a no win situation with Aliexpress as there is no apparent re-instatement of your account. Customer Service will not be able to help you either.
In fact, it seems to be happening to a lot of people who open a dispute and then have their account disabled. You can see more evidence of this here:
For now, it seems I can still buy items off Aliexpress but just can't dispute anything anymore. So be very careful when opening disputes on Aliexpress, or you will have your account suspended like mine was.
Monday, April 17, 2017
If you didn't know already, I have slowly been converting my Hsanhe branded mini modular building sets into full fledged modular buildings. Of the original six building sets, I converted the Seven-Eleven convenience store, the KFC fast food restaurant, the Starbucks coffee shop and the Apple store.
|Hsanhe Sweet Shop|
I then set my sights on what to do with the Hsanhe Sweet Shop, pictured above. I was originally thinking about just expanding the footprint by doubling the space, so I bought another Hsanhe Sweet Shop set with that plan in mind. But the more I mulled it over, it just wasn't challenging enough because I had already executed this idea with the Seven Eleven store.
Also, the idea of adding a pink building into my Its-Not-Lego town (the Hsanhe Sweet shop is made up of mostly pink and flesh coloured bricks) didn't seem that appealing to me.
|Cafe Corner before mods.|
So instead of adding another new building to the town, I started to examine each of the existing modular buildings that already existed. The first floor of the Lepin Cafe Corner seemed like a very good candidate. It was sitting empty and had enough floor space to accommodate the Sweet Shop expansion.
I didn't want to change the structure or layout of the Cafe Corner , so any changes I made would have to fit within the pre-existing space. I started off by making a list of what I wanted to accomplish by merging the Hsanhe Sweet shop with the Lepin Cafe Corner. Here's the list:
1. Replace the existing black window frames with white ones
2. Retain existing brick facade
3. Remove the angular front door
4. Move store entrance to the side of the building
5. Retain the little tables and umbrellas
6. Retain the decorative element
7. Retain the awnings
8. Add a back door
9. Retain the colour pallet of the Sweet Shop
Ok, so with that in mind, let's look at the improvements, starting with the exterior. I was able to brighten the exterior of the Cafe Corner by replacing the first row of dark blue bricks with yellow ones. Then I removed all the black window frames and replaced the with white ones.
|Bake shop entrance.|
You can see that I managed to keep the awnings and small tables. The small tables were already yellow so fit into the exterior colour scheme nicely. I chose the yellow colour because I think having a pink exterior for the Sweet Shop would have been too much of an eyesore. Luckily Its Not Lego town has city ordinances to prohibit gaudy colours on building exteriors.
The Lepin Cafe Corner initially had a swinging door on the side of the building, so I simply made it the new main entrance to the Sweet Shop.
|Sheng Yuan Candy Shop.|
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the Cafe Corner modification was what to do with the corner where the front door used to be. I tore out the door and the front steps and kind of left it empty being at a loss for what to do.
Then it occurred to me, that I had just recently completed building the Sheng Yuan Friends little shops. One of the shops had a rotating display. I could put this in the corner space and put a curved window in front of it. But then I discovered I needed more rows of bricks below and above the curved window. So that meant coming up with some curved bricks.
|Winner Brand Ice Cream Shop.|
This Winner Ice Cream shop set was sacrificed because it had all the parts I needed to complete the Cafe Corner mods. It had the curved bricks and even a curved window with printed designs on it. As a bonus I would take the door also because of the printed OPEN sign on it. The bricks were more orange than yellow, but this is as good as it was going to get.
I thought I could use the curved white roof pieces from the Winner building, but I couldn't make them fit into the existing Cafe Corner facade without redesigning both of the awnings.
It turned out that the inside of the Winner Ice Cream shop had just the right piece I needed in the way of the blue curved countertop. It fit nicely over the curved window. My only gripe is that the colour is blue. If it had been white, yellow or even pink, it might have integrated better into the Cafe Corner facade. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.
A closer look at all the newly added elements. It's still a bit kludgy looking but I'll try to refine it a bit more in the future.
I was still able to keep the decorative element above where the front door used to be and changed the mug to a cupcake.
Please feel free to try some of our free samples!
Ok, now that we have had a look at the outside of the new and improved Cafe Corner, let's move indoors shall we?
So here's the layout. As you enter the store, there is a huge U shaped setup along the back of the shop displaying all of the sweets for sale. All of these display cases come from the two Hsanhe Sweet Shop sets. I forget where all the buns came from, but I did use one of the brown crates leftover from my Lepin Market Street building mod.
On the other side is another wall of baked items, including a display case for pies and cakes, and next to that a cash register. You can see the little upright oven next to the rotating sweets display.
Against the window is the prep area. There's a small sink and mixer and bowl. Also a pan to make crepes. Against the wall, we got a shelf for tall glasses and mugs if you want a milkshake. Today's special milkshake flavour is banana.
As I mentioned earlier, I didn't want the whole Sweet shop establishment to be coloured pink, but I did want to preserve the some of it's history, so I put in a pink wall with the Sweet shop logo. In that wall, there is a passageway that goes underneath the stair case which was unused space in the original Lepin Corner Cafe. It can now be used to store stuff.
It also leads to a new back door where presumably deliveries will be made. In future I'll probably add an awning over the back door.
Here's one more look at the inside of the Sweet Shop. The two store employee minifigures also come from the Hsanhe sets.
Apparently, Storm troopers have picked up the scent of the new sweet shop. Prepare to be invaded!
Here is a list of the building sets I used for this mod:
1. Lepin Cafe Corner 15002 (knock-off of Lego Cafe Corner 10182)
2. Hsanhe Sweet Shop 6409-1 (2 sets)
3. Sheng Yuan Friends Shop SY759A
4. Winner Ice Cream Shop 7031
All of the sets were purchased from Aliexpress.com. Thanks for looking at my custom Corner Cafe building!