Is AliExpress Safe, Reliable, and Legit? Everything You Need to Know
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What Is AliExpress?
In the event that you are not familiar with AliExpress, the following is a brief introduction. The Alibaba Group, which is a multi-billion dollar firm that began as a business-to-business buying and selling site, owns a significant portion of the company, which operates as a massive online store. Since then, it has branched out into areas such as consumer-to-consumer transactions, business-to-consumer transactions, cloud computing, and payment services.
To give you an idea of just how large Alibaba is, during the 11/11 Singles’ Day event time in 2021, they announced sales of over $85 billion. This can give you an idea of just how massive Alibaba is.
The online consumer marketplace for overseas buyers is known as AliExpress and is operated by Alibaba (while TaoBao is for domestic Chinese). It makes it possible for small enterprises in China to offer their products to customers in other countries.
It’s a lot like Amazon in that respect: you can find almost everything there. On the other hand, in contrast to Amazon, every single seller on AliExpress is a third party. AliExpress by itself does not engage in any retail activity. Simply said, it serves as a marketplace. That implies the quality of the encounter you have will be highly variable depending on the seller.
Why Is AliExpress So Cheap?
If you look at a selection of the goods that are offered on AliExpress, you will undoubtedly realize almost immediately that many of the prices are quite affordable. Why is this the case? There is a plethora of explanations that could be to blame, all of which are very typical.
You’re Buying Direct
To begin, there is always the possibility that you are purchasing items directly from the manufacturer, which will result in a decrease in the overall cost of the sale to you. In comparison to the costs of production in other nations, those in China are significantly lower. It’s also possible that the enforcement of laws on intellectual property is too lenient.
Because they are made in China and you can buy them straight from the manufacturer, many different types of electronics (including this 4WD Arduino robot that we constructed) can be purchased at amazing discounts on AliExpress. This means that you do not pay the retail markup that is often charged by a middleman.
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The second reason for an item’s low price could be that it is either counterfeit or that it was discarded during manufacture, possibly as a result of failing to meet the strict quality standards set by the brand. AliExpress is not an exception to the general perception that China is a hub for the creation of counterfeit goods. If the brand in question is not a Chinese one, your chances of finding an authentic version of it on AliExpress are practically nil.
Some sellers will engage in questionable listing tactics in order to compete with the hundreds of other sellers who offer the same goods at a price that is comparable to theirs. The most popular strategy is to offer a low-cost accessory as an additional buying option alongside the primary product. This accessory is typically quite modest. The price of the accessory, and not the primary product itself, is presented on the search results page.
You can see an example of a block toy that was promoted with a price of $4.64 in the following example. That’s a fairly decent price for a building set with 541 pieces! But if you follow the link, you’ll discover that the vendor has now included a “bag of 10 balls” for the price of $4.64. In total, the brick toy will set you back $56.93. That’s a significant break from the norm.
There are some great deals to be had on AliExpress; however, not all of the products are legitimate, and the prices are rarely as low as they appear to be at first. There is a wide variety of counterfeit goods available there, ranging from electronics to clothing.
When making a purchase from AliExpress, it is absolutely necessary to be able to differentiate between a legitimate offer, a dubious listing, and an obvious attempt to cheat you out of your money.
How Long Does AliExpress Take to Deliver?
On the product page for each item sold on AliExpress is an estimate of how long it will take to get the item; typically, this ranges from 20 to 60 days. In addition, based on my observations, it is extremely wrong; therefore, you should disregard it.
Since the COVID-19 problem began, AliExpress has extended the “Buyer Protection Time” to a maximum of ninety days. In other words, you won’t be able to claim a refund for something that wasn’t delivered to you until after a period of ninety days has passed.
Yes, waiting for something that you’ve purchased online for three months is a very long period to do so! That does not mean that it will take ninety days; rather, it just means that it possibly could.
From what I’ve seen in the past, the typical amount of time it takes for an item to arrive in about two weeks. When we ordered more than 30 products during the 11/11 deals, more than half of them arrived within two weeks.
An estimated shipping time from AliExpress
Unfortuitously, this is also dependent on the mode of shipment that was chosen. Cainao, AliBaba’s in-house shipping service, was launched in 2018, and the company has its own warehouses as well as shipping partners in all of the major nations. I have discovered that the Cainao Global Economy is really poor.
Even if you are alerted that a product has arrived in your country, it is possible that the box will remain in the Cainao warehouse for at least a month before it is finally delivered. One of the parcels that Cainao was supposed to deliver to me took over two and a half months to arrive, while the other two packages were never delivered (though I received a full refund, eventually).
On the other hand, conventional shipping through AliExpress is typically done by airmail, and then the final leg of the journey is taken care of by your regular mail carrier in your area (Royal Mail in the UK, or USPS in the USA).
The most dependable method of shipment is provided by courier companies like DHL or UPS; however, these premium services come at a higher cost.
Once the cargo has been dispatched, a tracking number will be assigned to it regardless of whether or not the shipping was free. However, it may take up to a week from the time a box is actually dispatched until a tracking number is assigned.
After then, you should be able to track the item as it makes its way through the various postal facilities in China and, after a considerable amount of time has passed, arrives at the customs clearance agency in your nation.
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example of tracking the delivery on AliExpress
After ten days have passed, if you still do not have a tracking number, you need to get in touch with the seller. However, you won’t be able to initiate an official non-delivery issue until after the maximum delivery period has passed.
Despite the fact that I’ve used AliExpress for business over the past ten years and spent thousands of dollars there, I’ve only had to file a few disputes due to non-delivery. One of them was traceable to the customs office in my city, but it had been there for a whole month without being processed. The vendor volunteered to ship it again, and sure enough, I ended up getting both packages approximately one month later.
In other cases, we were able to provide a complete refund. There was one instance in which only a portion of an order was delivered. Unfortunately, because the seller had a tracking number, it displayed as delivered even though only a portion of the order had been fulfilled, even though this was not the case. AliExpress made a decision that favored them, and as a result, I was unable to get a refund. The lesson to be learned from this experience is to videotape oneself opening every package.
Automatic Taxation in the EU and the UK; in the USA Up to $800
In the past, vendors had a tendency to designate their wares as a generic “gift” with a low item value. This allowed the package to be exempt from any additional taxes that might have been imposed on it. At least in Europe, it would appear that the tax collector has finally found and closed this loophole.
Beginning in July 2021, customers shopping on AliExpress from a country that is a member of the EU will notice that the company will charge an additional 20% VAT to any order that is less than €150. This cost is not indicated on the sales page, which has been the case for clients in the UK since January 2021 (although this change will take effect later). When looking at the product page, you should consider an additional 20% in case you end up having to pay tax after clicking the button that takes you to the checkout page.
VAT will not be added automatically to packages with a value of more than €150 or £135; instead, the shipping firm will handle this for you. However, you will be responsible for the additional handling charge, and there is a possibility that you will also be required to pay import tax.
As long as the total value of your item does not exceed $800, you won’t be subject to additional fees for having it shipped to the USA. If you go over that limit, you’ll have to pay an additional import tax of 25%.
What About AliExpress’s Quality of Goods?
The majority of the time, the items you purchase will be identical to those that can be found on the high street. On the other hand, there are situations when you can discover that you are dissatisfied with the merchandise. It’s possible that the dress you ordered does not have the appropriate amount of material thickness, or that the colors are not what you anticipated. In that instance, you need to keep your expectations reasonable when communicating with the merchants.
The fact that you do not like the products you purchased is not a valid justification for requesting a refund unless there is a particular error in the listing that you can point to as being the cause of the problem. So, if you’re not pleased, what can you do about it?
Consider it a valuable learning experience, and steer clear of dealing with that vendor in the future. If the item was genuinely delivered and there is no discrepancy between the product description and the product photo, then AliExpress will not assist you. You received the value that you paid for.
There is a possibility that you could negotiate a partial return. If giving the product a rating of one star was your first inclination while reviewing it, you should probably no longer consider doing so. Ratings are essential, and they can be the only negotiating tool you have.
You might feel tempted to send the items back, but you should proceed with extreme caution if you do this. It is quite expensive to ship something back to China—often more expensive than what you spent for the item in the first place—and you will not receive a refund for those shipping costs. The process of tracking products that have been shipped back into China is, at best, inconsistent, and sometimes the items can just vanish altogether at the Chinese customs office.
Take into account the true cost of what you’re purchasing.
You can get a sense of the level of quality to anticipate by watching some videos on YouTube. These days, “AliExpress haul videos” are all the rage. In addition, after you’ve located a store that you can have confidence in, you should think about adding it to your “Follow” list so that you can purchase from them again.
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The Real Threat that AliExpress Poses: Scammers and Fake Products
When it comes to online shopping safety, both AliExpress and AliPay are reliable platforms. They are not immune to defeat, but then again, nothing or nothing is, and they have a solid track record. Therefore, you can rest assured that the risk of having your information taken from one of these businesses is equivalent to the risk of having such information stolen from more well-known services such as Amazon or eBay (remember, even eBay had a massive data leak).
My AliPay account has, for a very long time, been linked to a number of different credit cards, and I have never once been a victim of fraud. Bear in mind, however, that I live in the EU, which means that the chip-and-pin technology on my credit card, in addition to the verification number on the back of the card that isn’t saved, protects it. Consumers in the United States are still forced to deal with outdated financial technology that makes it much simpler to conduct fraud.
Never Invest in Brand Name Products Offered on AliExpress
In the majority of countries, brands are afforded additional legal protection. It is possible that you do not care whether a thing is genuine or not; but, if you purchase counterfeit products and your box is investigated, the items will be taken away from you. Customs inspectors will likely come knocking on your door if it appears that you have purchased a significant quantity of those goods with the intent of reselling them to a third party.
counterfeit AirPods sold on AliExpress
This guideline is broken, however, when it comes to Chinese businesses because they almost always have an official storefront on AliExpress.
Examine the Previous Customers’ Opinions Before Making a Purchase
There is a good chance that the feedback and reviews of a seller will contain evidence of the vendor’s history of committing fraud against customers.
reviews and comments left on AliExpress about a bogus store
Be aware of sellers that make any references to not delivering the products or supplying goods of lower quality. Be aware of stores that have just opened with generic names like “shop325423456,” as these businesses have likely been set up to steal your personal information.
Be sure to Perform a Thorough Inspection of Your Order
Once It Has Been Delivered Since the Escrow System Permits You to Delay Payment Until You Have Obtained Your Order, You Have the Ability to Verify That You Have Obtained What You Paid For. Check to see that everything you ordered is there, that it appears to be the same as what you ordered, and that if you purchased a brand-name item, it does not appear to be a fake. You could even want to video the unwrapping process so that you have evidence if your order turns out to be missing something.
There is a 15-day window after you have confirmed receipt of an item during which you still have the option to file a dispute over the products.
Take Extra Precautions With Your Storage, Memory, and Graphics Cards
Even if you are purchasing from a stall in the Shenzhen market, it is still a regular con, but one that is much simpler to pull off online. You purchase a memory stick that, when inserted into Windows Explorer, claims to have a capacity of 64 gigabytes, but in reality, it has a far lower capacity. You won’t know that the firmware has been modified unless and until you really try to utilize the drive in its entirety. The con artist has long since vanished, taking your money with them.
If you are ready to take the chance nevertheless, you should make sure to test the drive as soon as you receive it using a tool such as h2TestW.
Because of the recent crackdown on cryptocurrency mining in China by the Chinese government, you should also be cautious about purchasing a graphics card, as many miners will be attempting to sell off second-hand cards in the near future. The stressors caused by a year of intensive mining 24 hours a day are significantly different from the tensions induced by playing the odd video game. However, there is nothing wrong with buying used items.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a Refund on AliExpress
Start a dispute with the seller if a package just doesn’t arrive or if you have any other problems with the transaction. You begin the procedure by interacting with the “friendly” Eva customer care bot, which can be found in the bottom right corner of your orders overview page after you have successfully logged in. After selecting the appropriate option from the list that has been provided, you will need to wait while the bot fills your orders.
At this point, it is essential to keep in mind that the protection time has been extended to 90 days for the majority of orders due to challenges with the supply chain and shipping. You will not be able to file a dispute for your order if it is still within this delivery window because it will be too late.
submitting a refund request to the eva bot on AliExpress
Eva will ask you to confirm that you want to open a disagreement if the delivery window has passed or if you are reporting some other quality concern. Once you have confirmed that you do want to open a dispute, the process of negotiating with the seller will begin.
In the event that it is required, you are able to contribute proof to support your claim. Your claim may be denied by the seller, or the seller may offer you an alternate solution, such as a partial refund; you will have the option of accepting or declining this solution. This process will continue until both sides are satisfied with the resolution. If within around 45 days (it is not precisely clear how they estimate this date), a resolution is not found, an AliExpress agent will then step in and make a decision.
45 days must pass before a dispute will be resolved by AliExpress.
In spite of the fact that I have had relatively few issues when obtaining a refund, it is abundantly evident from listening to the comments provided by other users that new customers are dealt with in a manner that is distinct from that of existing customers. If this is your very first order on AliExpress, there is a good chance that any refund request you make will be denied because the company has no incentive to keep you satisfied.
In such a scenario, submitting a chargeback through your credit card might be your only available choice.
The available information indicates that purchasing anything from AliExpress is quite safe. However, exercise caution and keep a level head. There are deals to be gained, but there are also a lot of scammers and things of low quality.
However, many of the same sellers now advertise their wares on eBay and Amazon as well, and there is not a significant pricing difference between the three platforms. Even though it costs a bit more, I would recommend shopping on eBay or Amazon instead of AliExpress whenever possible given the substantially improved level of consumer protections offered by these two online retailers.
Make sure you research the seller thoroughly before buying an item from them, especially if the item you desire can only be found on AliExpress or the pricing is drastically different from other places.