Tag Archives: shopping

Quest For An Umbrella

I have had many umbrellas in the past. From full-sized umbrellas, to the small travel-sized umbrellas. For many years, I had a preference for the small compact umbrellas because they were more convenient to carry around. Until one year, I don’t remember when as it seems like long ago now, my mum bought a full-sized umbrella that had a plastic covering on it.

The plastic covering covers just about the entire length of the umbrella, and allows you to pull it back to allow you to open up the umbrella. It’s probably easier to see it in action than to describe it with words:

I thought it was the most clever umbrella I’ve ever seen. But eventually I lost it, no idea where it went. I found some for sale at the shops and bought one, but my forgetful self lost that one too. Then a few years ago, my mum bought two of these umbrellas. She gave one to my sister, and one to me.

My sister soon lost hers. I remember that I held on to mine a little longer. Roughly two years ago, the winter after I started my new job, I had carried my umbrella with me in the morning as it was raining. Perhaps it was because it stopped raining in the afternoon, or perhaps I was just tired after a long day at work. Whatever the reason, I forgot to take the umbrella home with me.

The last thing I remember was putting the umbrella under my desk when I went to work that morning. I didn’t realise I had lost it until a day or two after. I searched the office, but it was nowhere to be found.

I searched many shops to find a replacement, but no matter where I looked, no store I visited had the umbrella with the drip-catching plastic covering.

Fast forward to 2014, I had been without an umbrella for a while, I didn’t even buy a cheap compact umbrella to use because I wanted the plastic covered umbrella. But I have given up on finding one in local shops. So I moved my quest to the world wide web.

The first matching Google result was for Wonderbrella, but given the crude amateurish look of their website, I kept looking and found Cloud Nine Umbrellas. Both websites seem to be for US-based businesses.

I decided to choose Cloud Nine Umbrellas because their website looked more professional. I placed an order online for two umbrellas since they had a $15 for two offer (one umbrella was $8). I waited a week for a response to my order but received none so I sent them an e-mail to follow up on my order. They responded promptly but claimed to have sent me an e-mail shortly after I placed my order to ask if I would agree to pay additional postage for international order. I never received any such e-mail. Nevertheless, I replied back to tell them to proceed. But later, they sent an e-mail to say that they were not fulfilling any international orders at this time. I replied back to ask if they had deducted any money from my debit card. Apparently they did, but assured me that it was refunded back.

So I move on to my second option: Wonderbrella. I placed an order online with them, but they soon replied back saying that they were not doing international orders either. Both websites for Cloud Nine Umbrellas and Wonderbrella indicate that international orders are possible. Misleading websites are misleading…

I have come this far and invested much time into finding a plastic covered umbrella. Given that the umbrellas from those websites are most likely manufactured in China, I turned my search to AliExpress.

AliExpress is a Chinese website which allows Chinese manufacturers/businesses to sell direct to customers. I find that the website feels very similar to eBay, except no auctions, just set prices. I couldn’t help but feel a little hesitant, given China’s reputation for dodgy counterfeit goods. But I really wanted that umbrella, so I searched AliExpress for sellers, and picked out one that looked the most reliable to place my order.

Photo from the AliExpress listing

I paid for my order immediately and a week later received notification that my order had been shipped. I also decided to purchase a tablet case for my new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 from AliExpress. But days passed and nothing was delivered, no tablet case, no umbrella. I was starting to worry a bit, and in the meantime the weather had been rainy, and I was without an umbrella.

Eventually the tablet case arrived, yay. But the umbrella was still nowhere to be found. According to AliExpress, delivery may take up to 45 days, so I continued to wait. I little over a month after I placed the order, it finally arrived! It hasn’t rained since I received it, so I am yet to test it against the elements, but so far so good.

My quest has come to an end, and I’ll try my best to make sure I don’t lose this one!