Shop ASOS Like a Pro (U.S. Edition)

April 29, 2011

A fellow petite noticed a mysterious charge on her credit card earlier this week and asked me if I knew why she was charged a second time by ASOS. During our brief conversation she encouraged me to compile a list of shopping tips for ASOS since there are some readers who are new to ASOS. This "guide" may only be useful for U.S.-based shoppers.

1. Watch out for Foreign Transaction Fees + Customs

This is something to watch out for with all non-U.S. based companies. Even though ASOS recently acquired a warehouse/distribution center in Georgia, ASOS is still an U.K.-based company which means most credit card payments processed through them will accrue a foreign transaction fee.

I am able to avoid this fee because I always pay with Paypal and my Paypal-issued credit card. I am not entirely sure why Paypal transactions are exempt from the fee.

There are some credit cards that don't charge their users this currency fee (numerous Capitol One credit cards, a few Citibank cards, one Chase card that I know of, and specific American Express card types).

ASOS doesn't calculate potential customs charges for many of their international customers but they are committed to this U.S. market. So if you are charged customs on your order ASOS will refund you the difference. My orders all come through USPS and appear as regular mail, I've never had to contest a charge.

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2. Compare prices in GBP and USD. 

I have found that often times prices in USD are higher (not by much, maybe a few dollars at most) than prices in GBP (after the exchange rate has been accounted for). Not a big deal for most people but if a minute of my time can save myself $5 on an order, I'll gladly do the work. 

Take this Sixties Skater Dress with Belt, for example. It retails for £40.00 in GBP and $71.72 IN USD. At this time the exchange rate is 1 US dollar = 0.6004 British pounds sterling which would mean that after the exchange rate £40.00 is only $66.62.

Exchange rate for Paypal is actually really shotty (for example, yesterday they processed my order at a rate of 1 USD to 0.596ish GBP) but it's still cheaper than the price in USD.
3. Use your shopping cart to your advantage

ASOS has a nifty feature built into their shopping carts that allow you to both keep an item "on hold" for 2 hours.

Additionally, items that are not bought will be moved into your "Save For Later" list after the two-hour reserved period. Since ASOS has a questionable habit of running promos and then raising prices back to retail when they circulate coupons, you can use this feature to remind yourself of the prices of items when you first placed them in your cart.

4. Product Information

One of the biggest qualms I have with ASOS is that their stock photos are heavily photoshopped. With a company like ASOS that carries tens of thousands of items at once, I appreciate their efforts to show stock photos for every color variant. However, I have noticed that sometimes the colors seem to be applied post-production (Victoria's Secret does the same with their stock photos, except VS also photoshops the their gorgeous models within an inch of their life). The colors always seem more vibrant in the stock photos so expect the product to be a dimmer version of its online self.

Take the wildly popular ASOS Petite Tailored Pencil Dress for example. The left is the stock image for the "red" and the image on the right is how it looks in real life (more coral/orange than "red")


Also, always watch the supplemental videos when you can (I always turn the volume off before I watch the videos because I find the background music loud and distracting). The videos will show movement and fit much better than the stock photos do.

5. Coupons

ASOS's coupons are often "account-specific" in that unless you are signed up for their e-mails and have an account registered with them, the codes you find online (or posted on blogs) won't be valid.

And always be extra careful before you apply the coupons. I have had experiences in the past where I applied a one-use coupon at checkout and then decided to go back and edit my shopping cart content, and even though I never checked out, the coupon will show up as having been "used". And naive me thought I would check out anyway and just get the coupon applied retroactively, ASOS flat out denied me that request and told me that their policy is strictly enforced and that once an order is placed they can't make any changes to it. I thought this policy is inflexible but since they offer free shipping I always have the option of returning the merchandise and reordering.

Additionally, most of their 15%, 20% or 25% off coupons are only valid on regular-priced items. I have seen 10% off coupons that can be used on sale items but other than that I haven't been able to find better coupons that are applicable to sale items.

And they often have 20% off, no-coupon required sales events. I think those sales are as good a time as any to buy things that are on your wishlist (if it's a hot selling item) since coupons can rarely be used on promotional or sale items and even more rarely overlap with sales.

6. No Price Adjustment

ASOS very adamantly refuses to price-adjust. If something went down in price after you purchased it, in my experience you are better off re-ordering and sending back the item you ordered previously than trying to get a price adjustment. I think you should keep the tags on your ASOS garments before you actually wear it out for scenarios like this.

You are, however, able to cancel an order within 3o minutes of placing it. You just have to log onto your account and cancel the transaction.

6. Fit/Sizing

ASOS is the epitome of inconsistent sizing, as many of us learned last month when we ordered the tailored pencil dress. Even between colors there is a pretty noticeable difference in fit. I have clothes from ASOS that are UK4 Petite, UK6 Petite, UK8 Petite, UK6 Regular and UK8 Regular so it makes perfect sense for ASOS to offer free shipping and free returns otherwise I would never order from them no matter how attractive the prices are.

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I'll add to this list if I remember anything else. Does anyone else have anything to share?

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    Hi, so did you buy the ASOS clothes in British Pounds while living in the USA? And how? Thanks for this helpful article!

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