Guide to Aliexpress

Introduction


Hello readers! As you might have noticed (if you have read any of my past reviews), I purchased most of my Chinese branded electronics from Aliexpress.com. When I first came across the website, I ran some background check on it before deciding to use it. Unsurprisingly, the general feeling towards the website based on most of the user reviews is amazingly negative! 


Nonetheless, I still wanted to give it a try as they seem to offer products at a much cheaper price than other competing online stores. One of the major push for me was that the texts on the website is at least using proper English and that they provide customer protection scheme through Escrow. 

If you are new and is still deciding whether or not to purchase through Aliexpress, this guide is intended for you so read on!

What to Expect

I think the simplest way to explain what Aliexpress is, is by saying that it is sort of like Amazon where sellers/companies get to advertise their products except in this case Aliexpress does not carry out any background check on the sellers (this includes some dedicated scammers!).


And also, Aliexpress is using a much more obscure payment method called Escrow instead of the well-known Paypal. So, if you want your experience to be trouble-free, make sure you use your common sense and not get caught up in the heat of the moment upon discovering a terrific deal.


Common Sense


While you can safely shop from any sellers on Amazon knowing that you are well protected, shopping on Aliexpress is a totally different thing. The following advice are mostly just common sense but more often than not, people tend to forget them.

1) If a deal seems too good to be true, then it most probably is.
Even if a seller is "just" offering a price that is USD30 cheaper, be wary and check their feedback scores! If they have none then save yourself a headache (and money) and look else where.

2) Always look at the feedback score.

A seller does not have to have a 100% positive score (although that would be ideal) but anything less than a 90% is a no-no for me. Also take a look on the number of feedback submitted. If a seller have a 100% positive feedback but only have 12 feedback in total, then I would suggest you to look at other more established sellers. It is possible that those feedback are self-generated by the sellers (through one way or another) although this might not always be the case, it is better to be cautious than losing your money for nothing.

3) Use shipping methods with tracking capability.

Personally, I have always opted to ship my stuffs using DHL instead of using the China/Hong Kong post even though these options are often offered for free. To me, why would one save a few bucks and risk losing your stuffs during shipping. Also, even if you opted for express delivery such as DHL, do NOT expect to get your items in time but at least using these courier will guarantee that you will get your items.

4) Buy items which are proven to be reliable.
Unless you are the adventurous type (like me :) )  then I would suggest you to not purchase newly introduced products with no reviews on it online. At the very least, wait for a month or two and see if there are any complaints online on the product. The reason for this is very simple; you do not have any real warranty by buying from these sellers.

Yes, they might say that they provide 1-year warranty but they will also tell you to ship it back (and then also pay for the return shipping) using anything but the well known couriers! Their reason for this is so that they do not have to pay for the import taxes, a shitty excuse if you ask me :). Personally, I had to ship one item back to China using UK's RoyalMail (tracked) and luckily for me it arrived safely and I got my money back but as always your mileage might vary (YMMV) so only purchase products which are proven to be reliable to prevent possible head (and heart) ache.


5) Never pay using bank transfer.
Always pay using credit/debit cards even if it means you have to use somebody else's. This will make your life easier in the long run if anything bad happened.


Experiences


Cheap prices do come with a (another?) price. If you are not willing to tolerate the following issues then Aliexpress is NOT for you.

1) Fake tracking number.


For every orders, there is a specified limit for how many days the seller have to ship your items before Aliexpress cancel them (Processing time) and refund your money. This is why many sellers gave a fake tracking number to trick the system into believing that they have shipped you items hence the orders won't be cancelled. A shady practice which I have experienced a couple of times before. All is not lost however, as in all of such instances, the sellers did give me the actual tracking numbers and this usually is after the processing time has ran out.

2) Out-of-stock items. 

There has been multiple occasions where I thought I have found an incredible deal from a 'good' seller and then immediately placed an order only to find out later that the item is out-of-stock. Now I have learnt my lesson; before placing any order, you should ALWAYS chat with the seller and ask if it is in-stock (this is bound to be an annoying experience for any of those English native speakers).

3) Refund


If you have ordered an item which is out-of-stock, sellers would often try to convince you to buy other items from their store of similar price. Of course, you can always agree to this if you trust them enough but most of the time I would just cancel the order and find other sellers.

Once you have agreed with the seller to cancel the order, a button to cancel the order will appear on your order and then Aliexpress will automatically start the refund process. I had to do this once and the money was refunded into my account 7 working days after I cancelled the order.

4) Slow shipment.
Yes, yes. It doesn't matter what they say, your items will not (never?) reach you in 3 days after you placed your orders. Most of the sellers on Aliexpress are simply drop-shippers which means that they still have to wait for THEIR supplier to ship the products to them.

This by itself might take a couple of days, hence the long processing time. From my previous experiences, the most efficient sellers will ship your products in 2 days but these sellers are really the exceptions rather than the rule. So in short, simply order as early as you can afford to:)

5) Communication with sellers.
Do NOT expect to have a conversation with any of the sellers in proper English but to be honest there is nothing wrong with that. I myself have a very limited vocabulary but at times it does frustrate me that the sellers never seems to bother to improve their English. If you are one of those grammar Nazis then Aliexpress will be your hell :)

Past Transactions

Under this section, I will provide a list of sellers which I have used before and give some brief comments regarding my experiences with them. I hope I can maintain this list over time as I continue to use Aliexpress.


1) Look Me - Hot sale fashion products and Wholesale accessories!
Recommendation level: Neutral. (Slow shipper)
Comments: Ordered on 17th June, posted on 25th June using EMS. Arrived on 28th June at UK.
Contact person is pleasant but will continue to contact you on TradeManager everytime you go online.

2) Shenzhen Eternal Technology Co., Ltd.
Recommendation level: Highly. (Fast shipper)
Comments: Ordered on 25th June, posted on 27th June using UPS. Arrived on 4th July.
Did not have to contact anybody, the seller took care of everything.

3) Noble Sports Trading CO.,LTD.
Recommendation level: Slightly against. (Did not update products descriptions, fake tracking number and slow shipper.)
Comments: Ordered on 9th August but few of the products were out of stock so had to change it twice.
Gave a fake tracking number so that Aliexpress won't cancel the order. Finally shipped on 15th August using DHL and received in on the 23rd August.

4) Shenzhen Beaconton Electronic Co., Ltd.
Recommendation level: Neutral (Slow shipper and fake tracking number)
Comments: Ordered on the 22nd September. Shipped on the 3rd October and reached me on the 5th of October using DHL. Also used fake tracking number so order won't be cancelled.

5) Shenzhen Nonstop Technology Co., Ltd.
Recommendation level: Trusted.
Comments: Actually ordered from them twice.
a) Paid on the 8th October. Shipped on the 12th October using DHL and reached me at UK on the 15th October.
b) Paid on the 21st October. Shipped on the 25th October using DHL and reached me at UK on the 30th October. Actually it arrived earler but once in a while DHL will decide to charge you some admin fees which you have to pay online first before they deliver your things to you.

Contribution Needed

Are you an avid user of Aliexpress? If so, feel free to write your experiences on the comment section below. Also, it would be great if you could write your own Past Transactions in the format above. I shall try to add your comments to this page and hopefully it will benefit others. Let us all work together against those nasty scammers and eradicate these useless sellers!

Conclusion

I hope this page helped you in making a decision about Aliexpress through one way or another. Regardless of whether you decided to use it or not, do comment below on why you do so. AliExpress by Alibaba.com

33 comments:

  1. This was very helpful to me cos am new to buying from aliexpress...i actually ordered a product from a seller a few days back with my credit card..my bank account was debited...the next day aliexpress cancelled my order and said they would refund me in 7days but my bank account got debited again and thats twice even after my order has been cancelled...i don't understand...please help!

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  2. Thanks for the Article!

    What would you say about the quality of the products sold there? I've never used the service, hence the question.

    Thanks

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  3. Good job.

    It helped me so much.

    Thanks ;)

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  4. i have now ordered about 4 items on this site. I have had all of the problems that you listed, fake numbers, out of stock etc etc

    But finally i have correct numbers for the tracking. They are at least now in my country and i can at least track the others.

    I did let them post thru china air on 2 items which have been sent about 3 weeks ago that i am yet to receive so these ones may be a bust but it was more of a test of the system to she how it works.

    In general i agree that pay the extra for the fast shipping as they take long enough to process the order anyway.

    jason

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  5. I ordered something 14 days ago and it still shows The supplier is processing your order I have tried everything and help? pleaseeee migliozzic@yahoo.com this is my Halloween costume :((((

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  6. My name is Mark Story and I work the international corporate affairs division at Alibaba Group. I'd like to thank you for this comprehensive blog post.

    I wanted to add that, in case people run into problems with sellers on AliExpress, they have a customer service team to assist you. There are a couple of different ways to get in touch with them. One is to fill out our online form.

    It’s here: https://login.aliexpress.com/buyer.htm?return_url=http://channel.alibaba.com/complaint/home.htm (you’ll need to log in) or send an email with the particulars of your situation to buyer@aliexpress.com.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Story
    Director, International Corporate Affairs
    Alibaba Group

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mark,

      I checked aliexpress contact us, there is nothing. The forum is not working for aliexpress. I tried all the options to complain about my seller. He is not responding to my messages and email, whether he has the item in stock or not. I really need some help in solving this order and want to place future orders with aliexpress, otherwise this will be my last and will spread the word through my blog and website reviews channel.


      Santhiratan

      Delete
  7. To Mark Story and all others reading this,

    We have used Aliexpress to purchase appx 300 orders and thousands of dollars worth of product. Please be aware that Aliexpress customer service will be less than helpful and in some cases not even contactable.

    Aliexpress Buyer protection was previously marginally ok, as in after a very lengthy dispute and alot of proof and communication you could get your money back (although this isn't viable for business use). Please be aware that the responses you get from Aliexpress staff will generally be templates and not very often will they be relevant to the case.

    Lately the Buyer Protection system is a joke, even after a lengthy dispute the most you can expect back is 50%-%60 of your money, no matter how good your proof is. If you send the faulty product back at your cost then you'll get 100% of your money back apparently, but generally the cost to ship the goods back is over 100% of the product cost anyway, so you loose even more. Obviously we've not chosen this option.

    The system works for Aliexpress sellers because they know they can never loose, they send you faulty goods and worse case scenario they get paid 40% - 50% which covers their costs. Because of this many many sellers on Aliexpress are selling factory seconds and faulty product intentionally. Expect many faults in the products that arrive to you, if you've factored that into the equation when you purchase then you may have an ok experience with Aliexpress.

    Buyer Beware.

    (I'll know how legit this website is by whether or not my post remains on the site.)



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  8. I ordered a product and the supplier says its out of stock. I try to cancel and click on the reason being that the supplier says it is out of stock . The supplier rejects my cancel order and insists that I say that I ordered the wrong products. Ive tried again and even started a chat with the is supplier and they keep telling me to say I ordered wrong product. Does anyone have an idea what the hell is going on?

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  9. Very helpful article thank you! I wish I have read it prior to placing orders. I had a good experience with most suppliers so far, however! Buyers BEWARE! "Eve's Temptation store" (Fashion Accessories) is the one to avoid! They took the longest to send their product out (3 months) there was ZERO communication - not a word was replied to any of my messages and questions. When the product arrived, most of it was not what was in the photos, items were missing and some items were substituted by similar looking product that I did not order. Lesson learnt.

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  10. This article is really good. Thankyou so much! I have just ordered a dress from AliExpress, it is supposed to be custom made. It's from Pall Wang's Store, so I'll let you know how it goes.

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    Replies
    1. THANKS for letting us know how it went.
      Why can't people learn to shut the fuck up, instead of making empty promises.

      Delete
  11. Hi, thanks for this comprehensive blog! I have been very vigilant in ordering thru aliexpress.

    Please if you can recommend some ali express stores that are reliable enough for fashion purchases. Thank you!

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  12. I ordered several items and I can't complain about the goods or the sellers. Just check the seller before you buy.
    Now I have received a counterfeit product and opened a dispute. I am very curious how they will solve this. They promise 3 times money back so I hope they do what they promise.
    I'll keep you posted!

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  13. I've also seen manufacturers list single items with bizarrely high shipping costs - as a form of advertising. They want you to know they exist, but they primarily want to sell large quantities (thousands of items, not built until ordered) to wholesalers. Sometimes these same companies will make a mistake and list a reasonable shipping cost... but that doesn't mean they will ever ship you the item if you order it.

    Always check number of sales (on both item/seller) and reviews. I'm up to 30+ purchases so far, mainly electronic components (and usually less than $10), and while there have been a couple items that were more cheaply made than I previously thought possible, it's been a positive experience.

    The most recent dodgy activity I've seen is a seller that ships without tracking numbers on orders less than $20. AliExpress doesn't appear to allow this, but the seller is doing it anyway and putting bogus tracking info on the orders. I don't think I'll be using that seller again, even if their prices are great - tracked post seems to arrive twice as fast.

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  14. great article, i buy regularly from aliexpress, mostly in bulk with dhl, i have 2 regular suppliers who ship my items within 48 hours with original tracking number, sellers mostly input wrong tracking number as soon as they send items to their shipping agents and after a day or two they resubmit the tracking info,
    my last purchase was on 14th may 14 in night and item was shipped 16th or 17th its due for delivery tomorrow and customs already cleared. so 5 days turnaround from china to uk is excellent i think.
    i would second that never never use any other shipping option when buying from china, only DHL or fedex etc. custom clearance is easier and much quicker

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    Replies
    1. Hi what sellers would you recommend?

      Delete
  15. Hello,

    I ordered a phone from Aliexpress. The phone stuck at customs and went back to the Seller. The dispute was opened, then escalated dispute. Seller agreed to refund half of the amount paid for the product. I did not agree to the Seller's proposal on half refund, somehow the button "Agree to the Seller's proposal" was weirdly pressed not by me and at the time when I did not open the PC...

    I sent thosand e-mails to Aliexpress on the issue and talked also to aliexpress chat.

    No solution.... I paid for the air.. In Aliexpress there are no Buyer protection programs is fact...

    Best regards,
    Larysa Shengiun

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  16. In moment i ve problem with 1 seller of aliexpress: 3 Mobiles ordered an payed by visa, got Trackin-Number from Sweden-Post next day. 4 days later the Tracking changed in China-Air-Number. 3 Artcles with 3 Tracking-Numbers, so it looks well.
    2 weeks later the Articles are in DE (Germany) and the German Post delivered: ... to 3 another persons in Germany.
    The trick is / was, that i saw in Tracking the real transport, thinking 3 Parcel will arrive @ me, but the adress was another!
    I find no way, to get information from China Air Mail, who was ordering the 3 Tracking-Numbers and what adresses are registered to deliver.
    Hardy / Stuttgart / Germany

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  17. i have 15 hours left until my order cancels automatically. the seller had amazing contact and was very knowledgeable - told me order would be processed in 4 days and item would ship within 7 days. but in the last few days communication is become less and no specifics anymore - even about certain options i chose on product, seller can not even answer what color the item is. now on day 11 i am not sure what happens next. does seller provide fake tracking number? does transaction cancel? will i ever get items? if not will i ever get money back? at least with ebay the sellers in my experience feel very strong to make good sale and communication because if nothing else they want the good feedback, here i don't know. my seller has many good feedbacks for this and other items, but there is no way to know if they are real transactions.

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  18. I purchased 4 Mobiles at a price of over a thousand dollar, I'm afraid it will not reach me, Since I suspect the seller provided me wrong tracking number. I'm hoping to get refunded for this. After this i will not transact anymore on ali express.

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  19. Since there're thousands of store on AliExpress, we need to share good vendors with each other to avoid scam. Welcome to my blog, I'm also doing shopping guide to AliExpress.
    http://www.gossipordie.com

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  20. After reading these am now scared and alarmed. u ordered a mobile phone from a seller "Han handsome" on 19th of September and I got a mail from aliexpress that the seller had shipped my order on 21st of September. Before this I communicated with the buyer for an extra battery and he replied in agreement. When ordering I chose the dhl option. I was debtied 22nd of September. A tracking number was put up on the order and I have tried tracking this on dhl with error responses "no results found". this is the 5th day after it had been "shipped" and the seller refuses to reply to any of my messages after the order had "shipped" I have asked for real tracking number and am yet to get any reply. please help me. This is my first purchase and he has a 100% rating with reviews. Help me please. angeluvcrystal@gmail.com

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  21. If you want to order cosplay from AliExpress, expect it to come in about a month and a half after you order it. I've had some nasty encounters with stupid sellers about the EXTREMELY LONG processing times...

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  22. Been on Ali for a couple of years only one dispute kept goods and got 60pc money back other than that positive experience. Ask yourself honestly why are you on Ali yes to get a bargain ,you look at a Gucci bag in shop $600 on Ali $60 you get it and the quality isn't up to much You feel ripped off wake up you ripped yourself off.i just follow a few simple rules always check sellers ratings ,never spend more than $30 , never buy branded western goods , always try and source chinese goods better quality never copied ,be patient your goods you bought will be arriving to you on the slow boat from China ,always try and chat to the seller build up some repore

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  23. This is one of the most important blogs that I have seen, keep it up! 3 credit scores

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  24. Very cool! I write a guide to buying from aliexpress www.oceanandsunset.com :)

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  25. Just in case this save someone the problem I am going through.
    Do NOT by to ZHONG LIUMIN. I bought a mi3 which result to be FAKE.

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  26. I was also one of the victim. Shippers assigned fake tracking number and i was checking tracking info to see the parcel is reaching my location or not. Finally it delivered to different location. I raised complaint to AliExpress and they said check with local post office. I checked with local post office and they said the parcel is delivered to right person. Initially i thought issue with our local post office. But after reading your article it seems FAKE tracking number used and they cheated. I did chat with them and they said they are forwarding the complaint to case management. I don't know how and when they are going to resolve my complaint. I ordered Android tablet cost of $71.00. Better don't order any product from AliExpress since most of the customers are cheated. I could avoid ordering product if i see this article before purchase.

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  27. I went through several companies on Aliexpress before I found a good one. Many of the experiences mentioned here, were ones I experienced as well.

    - Fake tracking numbers. Sometimes multiple fake numbers to extend their response time.

    - Completely false statements and different photos portray their products as one thing, but it turns out it's simply their version of someone else's product. For example, I was looking for sweaters, and they'd show screen-shots from TV shows saying they make those sweaters. But what you get is some weird knock-off version that barely resembles the original, in both design and materials.

    - They will insist clothing is made of the material advertised, until you expressly state that if it turns out not to be that material you will file a complaint. Only then will they admit it's not the material they claim.

    - Sometimes they'll show a number of photographs, then the small text at the bottom says something like: "The photographs shown here may not represent the actual product you receive." Which means to me, "Enjoy the photographs, but what you get will somewhat resemble what was pictured."

    - More often than not, my experience has been that the company will just ignore your order all together. No communication, no shipment... nothing. You file a complaint, the clock runs-out without a response and your money is refunded.

    - When they do respond to a dispute, they will adamantly insist you are trying to cheat them by filing a false complaint; as if you're the one trying to rip them off.

    Indeed, the cost to return these products is usually as much as you've paid for it, and you don't get that money back... so it discourages people from returning something. It would appear a number of these companies are counting on this quandary. I had one vendor actually tell me it wasn't practical to return the goods for a refund because I'd pay just as much to send them back and in the end have nothing. If I just kept what I'd been sent, then I'd at least have something. This annoyed me so much, I purposely returned the goods. True enough, it cost me almost to the dollar to return the goods. Yet at least they didn't get to keep the money.

    The good thing I can say about AliExpress is that so far their complaint system seems to work. I've sometimes had to wait a week or two, but always got my money back. They seem to be aware that a failure to do so will eventually result in no one buying through them.

    My successful method has been to purchase one thing from a company, just to see how they responded with communications, shipment and quality. That's how I found the one good company I still deal with today.

    Yeah I wasted some small amounts of money, and simply tossed some absolute junk some sent me, but in the end I'm now doing thousands of dollars with the one company I tested and found honorable.

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  28. I am totally cheated and pissed off with this ali express.

    I purchased a cloth from the below store:
    http://www.aliexpress.com/store/230811

    I closed the order immediately I received the cloth. Later I found that the cloth was damaged and cannot be used. Immediately I send the photo of the cloth with message and till now no one replied nor anyone reply on chat even if they are online. Now I am unable to contact the store.They are cheaters. They deducted my money and gave me the damaged clothes which is ready to be gifted to the Garbage. ALI EXPRESS SERVICE SUCKS. Guys please be aware of such cheaters. Loosing a small amount of money doesnt matters but cheated by such fake business SUCKS.

    "PLEASE BE AWARE OF SUCH FAKE SITES. THEY ARE FAKE AND THEY ARE LEAST BOTHERED OF CUSTOMERS AND QUALITY"

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