Disclaimer: The “iHerb” trademark and logo are owned by iHerb, LLC. This post reflects my own personal opinion and is not sponsored or endorsed by iHerb.
If you are looking for a one-stop shop for all your dietary supplement needs, and especially if you are looking for a place other than Amazon to buy from, then you must have heard about iHerb.
Located in Pasadena, CA, iHerb is one of the largest U.S.-based online retailers of nutritional supplements, health foods and personal care products. They carry a massive selection of the most popular brands in the industry and there’s hardly any supplement you won’t find at this store.
iHerb ships worldwide and they are particularly popular among international consumers, especially those located in Japan, Russia, and many other countries across the globe. That explains why many of the reviews on their website are machine-translated from foreign languages.
Despite their apparent popularity, there is a considerable number of negative reviews of this vendor on TrustPilot, SiteJabber, Pissed Consumer, and other websites. Some unhappy customers even go as far as calling the company a scam!
So what’s the deal with all these negative reviews, and how reliable is iHerb?
Let me try to make sense of some of the most common things that iHerb customers have complained about:
- Poor Customer Support Experience: Some people were unhappy with the level of customer support provided by iHerb and their failure to resolve certain issues. The company only provides support via email and chat, but not via phone. Some customers complained about not receiving a response from customer support, their emails being ignored, and/or receiving automated replies. Some have only managed to get their issue resolved after submitting a complaint/negative review on third-party review websites. This tells me that there are probably too many support requests being submitted by users, and too few support reps to duly and fully address each request.
- Unexpected Duties and Taxes: One of the most common complaints from international customers is that they were surprised to learn about the high amount of taxes and duties they had to pay to get their shipment cleared by customs. Although iHerb has several localized websites, all orders are shipped from the USA. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere impose high taxes on certain imported goods, and dietary supplements are often among heavily taxed items. Some customers may have to pay about an additional 50% or more of the order total in duties and taxes, in addition to shipping fees. If you live in a country that imposes high taxes on imported products, don’t be surprised if you end up paying almost double the original order amount due to taxes and extra processing fees from the courier!
- Items Not Received: Again, this is another common issue with international deliveries. Some countries have customs restrictions on imported goods and some products may not make it through. In case the package doesn’t go through for one reason or another, iHerb will only issue a refund after they receive the items back (shipping at the expense of the buyer). Also keep in mind that shipments sent via standard USPS service may take weeks or even months to reach certain international destinations.
- Blocking of Negative Product Reviews: Some users claim that iHerb blocks/removes negative product reviews from their website. The company asserts that they do not deliberately censor negative reviews, and that their automated system may have “accidentally” blocked some reviews. Anyway, it’s always a good idea to do a thorough research and check out user reviews on different websites before deciding to purchase a certain product.
Considering the hundreds of mostly negative reviews on a couple of third-party websites, it may seem like most of iHerb’s customers were unhappy with their experience with this company, however, those are only a small fraction of the people who shop at this store.
The company has millions of customers from all around the world, and just like any other company out there with such a huge customer base, mistakes are bound to happen and there will always be a proportional number of unsatisfied customers.
You see, satisfied customers don’t usually bother writing a positive/rave review, while unhappy/angry/resentful customers often have a stronger urge to post a negative review. Maybe because they feel the need to warn others, they are trying to get the company’s attention to their issue, or it’s just a way of getting back at them after a bad experience.
Yes, iHerb is a legitimate business and it is safe to buy supplements from them. Are they perfect? No, and no other company is! If you think Amazon is a better place to shop at, well, take a loot at the thousands of negative reviews they have here and here and elsewhere!
That being said, I think they can do a better job addressing support requests more thoroughly and diligently. If their support team is often overwhelmed by the large number of tickets, that should be the company’s problem to deal with, and not at the cost of some customers’ satisfaction. Maybe they need to hire more reps so that no request goes unanswered or rushed through.
If you have had a negative experience with iHerb and looking for another reliable supplement store, I’d recommend you check out PureFormulas. They have an outstanding product selection from many of the most reputable brands in the industry, including practitioner (doctor trusted) brands that only a few online stores carry.
Another reliable store to check out is Life Extension. Unlike iHerb, Life Extension mostly sell products of their own brand, which covers every health category you could think of. This is one of the most highly thought of brands in the industry known for their research-based supplement formulations. If you are looking for a one-stop source of high quality supplements at reasonable prices then this company is definitely one of the best alternatives to look into.