I normally have nothing but good things to say about iHerb but I had a terrible experience with the live chat on the website. The real cause of my problem is that when shipping by China EMS you need to enter a China ID card number (身份证）for customs clearance purposes. In the end I had to cancel my order and place a new order with SF shipping but I had to remove one item that is not available to be shipped by SF Express. Check my iHerb page for more information and tips about shopping on iHerb from China.
Below is the live chat transcript from iHerb. It felt like I was talking to a bot, not a real person.
Mary De Chavez Sat, 03/12/16 07:59:54 pm Asia/Hong_Kong
Thank you for contacting iHerb. May I have your name please?
Client 08:00:05 pm
Mary De Chavez 08:00:14 pm
Client 08:01:18 pm
My order status for [withheld] says "waiting for ID validation". What does that mean?
Mary De Chavez 08:04:50 pm
To answer your question. Let me pull up your order number first okay?
One moment. Thank you.
Client 08:07:26 pm
Mary De Chavez 08:09:23 pm
Thank you for waiting.
Upon checking further, what you have uploaded is incorrect.
What we can do is to cancel or you can cancel your order too and place for a new one.
Let me give you the link for your reference okay?
One moment please.
Client 08:10:43 pm
what I have uploaded is incorrect? I didn't upload anything
I was not asked to upload anything
Mary De Chavez 08:11:03 pm
Client 08:11:07 pm
I was only asked to enter my passport number which I did
Mary De Chavez 08:11:26 pm
Duties are calculated upon “Personal Use Import Goods Classification Form” and “Personal Use Import Goods Duty Price Form.” iHerb has already registered products with Chinese Customs. New products will not be available for a purchase until the registration process is complete. All duties and taxes will be prepaid by customers on iHerb’s checkout page. For more information, please visit the following links: http://www.customs.gov.cn/publish/portal0/tab399/info231089.htm；http://www.customs.gov.cn/publish/portal0/tab399/info363071.htm Please check Customs information carefully on Chinese Customs official website (www.customs.gov.cn), or call 010-65194114 for any import regulations and restrictions before placing your order.
Please check the information above that I gave you.
Client 08:12:42 pm
that is just information about customs rules
Mary De Chavez 08:12:50 pm
We may suggest to cancel your order
and upload for a new one.
Client 08:14:18 pm
I was not asked to upload anything during the order process
If I make a new order it will be the same
Mary De Chavez 08:14:53 pm
That's the reason why you got an email stating the status of your order.
Client 08:15:05 pm
I didn't get any email
Mary De Chavez 08:15:12 pm
Before placing an order the system
will ask you to do it.
Client 08:15:18 pm
I'm just checking the order status on the iherb webpage
I really don't understand what you are talking about. When I placed the order it asked me to enter my passport number. I entered my passport number. Nothing else was asked. I received an email confirming my order and saying that it will be shipped. On the iherb webpage if I check the order I can see the status says "waiting for ID validation"
Mary De Chavez 08:18:21 pm
I understand that. Kindly cancel your order and place the correct passport number.
Client 08:18:59 pm
I did place the correct passport number
[WITHHELD] that is my passport number
Mary De Chavez 08:19:50 pm
I understand that too.
Kindly repeat your order again.
The system did'nt recognize it that is why the status you got is like that.
Client 08:21:25 pm
If the system didn't recognize it then do you think the system will recognize when I repeat the same order with the same passport number?
Mary De Chavez 08:21:40 pm
And use Chinese character in your shipping name okay?
Client 08:23:12 pm
I don't understand
how can I use chinese character in my shipping name?
Mary De Chavez 08:24:15 pm
Use Chinese characters then. You're shipping name is not as I check here.
Client 08:24:36 pm
I don't understand
I have made many orders before
Mary De Chavez08:25:08 pm
I am sorry for any confusion.
Client 08:25:18 pm
I did not change the shipping name or shipping address
Mary De Chavez 08:25:40 pm
Please cancel your order and place for a new one. And the instruction that I gave you earlier.
Client 08:25:42 pm
My name does not have Chinese characters. The shipping address has Chinese characters. Just the same as my previous orders.
you didn't give me any instruction
Mary De Chavez 08:26:12 pm
All you need to do is to convert it into Chinese character in your keyboard.
Client 08:26:27 pm
Mary De Chavez 08:26:28 pm
Or you may google it.
Client 08:26:34 pm
Mary De Chavez 08:26:43 pm
Let me give you an example okay?
Thank you for waiting. Here's what I found in your shipping address: [withheld] 珠海,广东(519040) [Country] (CN)
And I converted you name into Chinese character like this [withheld] · 詹姆斯 · [withheld]
Client 08:30:57 pm
I found an email in my SPAM now
It asked me to go to this website to enter my Chinese ID card number but I don't have a Chinese ID card number
Mary De Chavez 08:31:30 pm
Great! That's right.
Client 08:32:14 pm
I can only choose Chinese ID card, cannot choose passport
Mary De Chavez 08:32:51 pm
Then please do that.
Client 08:33:31 pm
Please do what?
What you are saying makes no sense
I got an email asking me to verify my ID but when I go to the page to verify my ID I cannot choose passport only can choose China ID card but I don't have a China ID card
Mary De Chavez 08:35:09 pm
Please choose China ID card.
You can use your friend China ID card.
Client 08:35:49 pm
Why can't I use my passport?
I made many orders before, didn't have any problem like this
Mary De Chavez 08:37:03 pm
That's before. We're sorry for that.
We have changed it.
Duration: 38m 32s
Chat started on: https://secure.iherb.com/info/Contact
I ended this chat after 38m because it was going nowhere. After I made a new order with SF Express shipping it was fine. China EMS shipping method will not work unless you enter the name and China ID card number of a Chinese citizen.